Flags across the state are flying at half staff this week in honor of Marine Sergeant Carson Holmquist of Grantsburg, Wisconsin. Holmquist was among five servicemembers who died in an attack in Chattanooga, Tennessee last week. He had served deployments in Okinawa and Afghanistan. He will be laid to rest in his hometown this weekend. My thoughts and prayers are with the Holmquist family, and I ask that you do the same.
Two other big pieces of news have broken over the past several days that have implications for the Wisconsin legislature's priorities in the weeks ahead.
First, the Wisconsin Supreme Court finally put a definitive end to the "John Doe" investigation of several conservative organizations and Governor Scott Walker's recall campaign. The Supreme Court ruled that no crimes were committed by these groups; the ruling criticized certain prosecutors and the state Government Accountability Board (GAB) for pursuing a theory "unsupported in either reason or law." This news follows the recent discovery of a relationship between the GAB director and a federal IRS official who illegally targeted conservative causes nationwide. The unfortunate truth is that the supposedly nonpartisan watchdog of Wisconsin's government abused its powers unlawfully, wasted massive sums of taxpayer money and employed reprehensible methods in an attempt to suppress citizens' free speech. This is unacceptable, and the legislature will be taking steps this fall to add safeguards to the John Doe investigation process, reform the GAB and rewrite ambiguous campaign finance laws.
Second, the whole nation was appalled to see undercover videos of Planned Parenthood officials haggling over the sale of aborted children's organs for profit. No matter what your stance on the legality of abortion, this gross disrespect for human dignity shocks the conscience. I will be eagerly supporting efforts already begun by other Republican legislators to prohibit the sale or use of aborted children's body parts and establish legal standards for the disposition of these children's remains.
As always, I encourage you to follow my updates on social media or contact my office directly with your questions. I'll see you at the parades this weekend in Cedar Grove and Random Lake and next weekend in Sheboygan!
Upcoming Vote on Bucks Arena Legislation
The Assembly will be in session on Tuesday, July 28th to debate legislation to provide state funding toward construction of a new arena for the Milwaukee Bucks. The bill already passed the Senate last week on a bipartisan 21-10 vote. In one of my recent newsletters, I shared why the math behind this deal makes sense for Sheboygan County taxpayers; it's actually cheaper to build the arena and keep the Bucks in Wisconsin than to let the team leave the state! For more details, I encourage you to watch this short video from Department of Revenue Chief Economist John Koskinen who explains the same information he presented to the legislature earlier this spring. (Click on the image below; the video will pop up in a new window on your computer.)
DNR Application Deadlines Approaching; State Lands for Sale
The DNR is reminding hunters, trappers and sturgeon spearers that August 1st is the application deadline for a number of fall licenses and permits. Even if the deadline is not yet approaching for your favorite season, it is always a good idea to purchase your licenses early and beat the rush! Click here for a list of application deadlines that are approaching soon.
And did you know that there are currently 32 live online auctions taking place to sell government property? The Wisconsin Surplus Online Auction website enables the public to bid on a wide variety of surplus property including land, vehicles, office furniture/equipment, play structures and much more. Among the auctions occurring now are the sales of five different parcels of vacant DNR-owned land, totaling approximately 220 acres, across the state. Pictures and descriptions (as well as contact information for individuals who can answer any questions) are available on the website.