What do a bunch of elected officials in Madison know about foster care, you ask? Check out this short video (click on the photo above) to hear the members of the Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care share a few of their stories. What an honor it is to serve as a member of such a distinguished team to try to help a population who is so often overlooked. New this week, the task force has a new website where the public may follow our progress and access the same resources/testimony that the task force is using. I'm looking forward to the fall legislative season when I expect that our group will have some proposals ready for wider consideration.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. Best wishes on your weekend!
A Once-In-a-Century Opportunity
The Assembly Committee on Jobs and the Economy held a public hearing this week on August 2017 Special Session Assembly Bill 1, the incentives package that constitutes Wisconsin's end of the deal to bring Foxconn to our state from overseas. In case you missed it, last week's newsletter described the Foxconn investment in Wisconsin and what that will mean for businesses and employees in our state's economy. Governor Scott Walker called it a "once-in-a-century opportunity for our state and our country, and Wisconsin is ready."
I urge you to click here, read the proposed legislation for yourself and share your reaction with me. (Like any proposed legislation in Wisconsin, the first several paragraphs are "plain-English analysis" of the legalese that follows.)
Although environmentalist critics have already accused the bill of providing "radical" exemptions to the permitting process, Department of Natural Resources (DNR) spokesman Jim Dick said this week that the DNR will have plenty of opportunity to evaluate potential environmental harm when the agency examines permit applications regarding water and air pollution. Dick explained that the provision that exempts Foxconn from conducting a state-level environmental impact statement (in addition to a federal one) is about saving time and streamlining the process, not being lax on environmental standards. The truth is that the proposed legislation increases the existing environmental requirements for wetlands restoration: current law requires a company that destroys wetlands to create 1.2 acres of new wetlands for every acre destroyed, but Foxconn will be required to create fully 2 new acres for every acre destroyed. Radical indeed.
It is not too late for you to affect the conversation. Please contact me with your opinions and your questions!
Helpful Tips for Renters
Late summer is a common time for renters (especially new renters such as college students) to move into or out of properties. To help both renters and landlords better understand their rights and responsibilities under Wisconsin law, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) publishes a short "Tenants' Rights and Responsibilities" fact sheet and a longer "Guide for Landlords and Tenants." Security deposit conflicts rank among the most frequent consumer complaints that DATCP receives each year; many conflicts can be prevented if landlords and tenants communicate clearly about expectations up front.
When moving out of a rental property, consider asking your landlord to do a preliminary walkthrough with you before your final checkout inspection to get a sense of any needed cleaning or repairs that might affect the refund of your security deposit. Provide the landlord with your new address and a reliable way to reach you (i.e., phone or e-mail) so that your security deposit can be returned promptly. Take detailed photos of the property before your final checkout inspection so that you have proof of the condition in which you left the property.
When moving into a rental property, take the time to carefully read your lease agreement. Unless otherwise agreed, you are probably responsible for routine minor repairs and basic maintenance/sanitation. If your lease requires a security deposit, you have seven days to complete a check-in report that documents preexisting conditions. Take this seriously; if you fail to complete a check-in report within seven days, you may forfeit your ability to contest security deposit deductions later. Don't be afraid to take photos, submit the photos to your landlord with your check-in report and keep copies of everything for yourself. Understand the conditions under which either you or your landlord may terminate your lease agreement.