After a summer full of community events in Sheboygan County and a lot of research and public input on ideas for legislation through the committee process, it is finally almost time to reconvene on the Assembly floor. These desks and chairs will be filled next week Thursday, September 24th, when the entire Assembly meets to debate ideas to keep moving Wisconsin in the right direction.
This week, the bipartisan Speaker's Task Force on Alzheimer's and Dementia met at the Capitol for the first time to receive expert testimony about how these conditions affect Wisconsin families and what lawmakers can do to help them. I am honored to be part of this task force and am looking forward to discussing ways to improve what our state does to enable the delivery of quality care to patients and support to their families.
I am also pleased to announce that AB 115, my bill to help provide financial flexibility to the hundreds of small cemeteries across Wisconsin, received a public hearing this week in the Assembly Financial Institutions Committee. I am very appreciative of the efforts of several of my constituents, who volunteer their time and energy to maintain cemeteries in Sheboygan County, who made the long drive to Madison to share their experiences and help me persuade my colleagues in support of this measure. The bill has already passed in the state Senate, and I expect to move forward in the Assembly soon now that the public hearing has occurred.
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!
Putting Wisconsin to Work
New Job Center of Wisconsin website. This week, the Department of Workforce Development launched its totally redesigned, mobile-friendly state Job Center of Wisconsin website. (The link to the Job Center website is always available in this newsletter by clicking on the icon at the bottom of this page.) Today, there are more than 87,000 Wisconsin jobs posted on the site and more than 42,000 resumes available for employers to search, all at no charge to the user. The site is much more streamlined than before; for example, it used to require approximately 25 steps to create a new account to access the site, but now it requires only four quick steps. A second phase of the website redesign effort is expected to be complete within a few months, which will include a "quick search" function to enable users to explore job postings even if they have not yet created an online account.
Wisconsin Fast Forward grants. It is not too late for businesses to apply this year for Wisconsin Fast Forward funding. The program supports employer-led worker training projects that benefit skilled/semi-skilled job seekers or incumbent workers. Grant applicants can be a single business, a consortium of businesses or employers who partner with local economic development organizations. Some deadlines have already passed, but others (especially for those small-business applicants with 50 or fewer full-time employees) are approaching in early October.
Your Government Working for You
SCAM ALERT! Do NOT open any e-mails from "State Court" alleging that you are required to appear in connection with "the case." Delete it immediately and do NOT open any attachments! The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) warns that this is an ongoing scam happening across the country; these e-mails are not legitimate, and opening any attachments will expose your device to malicious software. Generally, Wisconsin courts will not send you e-mail.
New driver's license design. Beginning soon, all new Wisconsin driver's licenses and ID cards will feature a new design that will make our cards the most secure in the United States. Black-and-white photos will be laser-engraved into the plastic card instead of being printed on its top layer; the signature, date of birth and expiration date will be slightly raised above the surface, enabling you to feel them; and UV ink highlighting intricate Wisconsin artwork will be on the front. There is no need to replace your existing card until it expires.
Enhancing public assistance. Nearly a quarter of Wisconsin's two-year budget assists individuals in need, and no one disputes that we need to ensure that such aid is directed to the people who need it most. Last week, Governor Scott Walker approved scope statements submitted by several state agencies, completing the first step in implementing drug screening of able-bodied adults seeking certain welfare benefits. A number of other ideas are also under consideration in the legislature, including:
Placing a photo ID on FoodShare cards to deter fraud, which has approximately doubled from $3.6 million in 2012 to more than $6.6 million in 2014 (AB 222);
Creating a reasonable limit on the number of replacement FoodShare cards (AB 200);
Sending all public assistance recipients an annual statement of benefits (AB 140);
Eliminating inactive FoodShare accounts (AB 188); and
Ending benefits for individuals who repeatedly commit intentional fraud (AB 212).
It is not fair to Wisconsin families who actually depend on government assistance when these programs are defrauded or misused, nor is it fair to middle-class taxpayers who foot the bill. I am committed to doing everything possible to deliver help to the folks who require it while cracking down on those few bad actors who abuse our system.
Thanks again to the gentlemen (left) who traveled from Sheboygan County to Madison to testify in support of AB 115 this week. Your help has been invaluable in moving this bill forward! And I deeply appreciated the opportunity to address the annual convention of the Wisconsin Motor Carriers Association (right) at the Blue Harbor Resort. The trucking industry accounts for no fewer than 160,000 jobs in our state (1 out of every 15 jobs). Congratulations on your 75th anniversary as an association!