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Stewardship Reauthorization Plan 

Last week, I introduced and circulated for cosponsorship a bill to reauthorize the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program (KNSP) for 8 years.

The 2019-2021 budget did not include a plan to reauthorize the program long term. 2019 Wisconsin Act 9 included a two year authorization, at current bonding levels of $33.25 million annually. Governor Evers stated when he introduced his budget it was his intention to bring together a taskforce of stakeholders and interested parties to work on a plan for reauthorizing the program. Nearly a year later, that still hasn’t happened.

As legislators, it is our responsibility to set both the policy and the appropriate spending level for any future KNSP reauthorization. We recognize the path forward to the next KNSP reauthorization must include actionable steps to address legitimate concerns about the cost of existing and future principal payments and debt service obligations.

The KNSP reauthorization plan reduces the current level of annual bonding by approximately 30% and reduces overall spending by approximately 7%. The biggest difference going forward, is that $10 million of the proposed $31 million in total authorized spending is cash, which helps trim back the amount of bonding and future debt dramatically, without compromising the goals of the Stewardship program. The reauthorization plan would be for 8 years, with the next reauthorization to be in 2030. The new proposed funding levels include GPR bonding of $21 million annually and SEG Forestry of $10 million annually.

I hope that Governor Evers, my colleagues on both sides of the aisle, along with the many stakeholder groups who have a vested interest in the future of the KNSP will take a serious look at this proposal. I believe it bridges a gap between being fiscally responsible and protecting Wisconsin’s conservation values. I invite them to bring their feedback to my office so we can work on having a good plan in place before the next budget cycle.


Background on the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program was created in 1989 Wisconsin Act 31 to preserve valuable natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. The conservation and recreation goals of the Stewardship Program are achieved through the acquisition of land and easements, development of recreational facilities, and restoration of wildlife habitat.

Under the program, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) acquires land and provides grants to local units of government and nonprofit organizations for land acquisition and property development activities through the issuance of 20-year tax exempt bonds. Annual debt service payments for principal and interest on stewardship bonds are primarily funded from general purpose revenues (GPR), with a portion paid from the segregated (SEG) conservation fund.

Since its creation in 1989, the program has been reauthorized twice—in 1999 Wisconsin Act 9 and in 2007 Wisconsin Act 20.

 White House Summit on Human Trafficking

I am thrilled to announce I will be attending a summit at the White House on Human Trafficking on January 31, 2020. I was selected to represent Wisconsin as a policy area leader in the state.

Speaker Robin Vos recommended me for the opportunity based on my extensive involvement in efforts to combat human trafficking in Wisconsin over the past nine years. “Rep. Loudenbeck started working on anti-human trafficking policy long before most people in Wisconsin even recognized it was happening here. Rep. Loudenbeck was recognized for her work to combat human trafficking by the National Conference of State Legislators and was one of four legislators in the country to receive the Woman in Politics Making a Difference in 2018,” said Vos.

I authored my first bill to combat human trafficking in 2011. Since then I have authored multiple bills to help prosecutors and law enforcement fight back against the evil forces that profit from this brutal form of modern slavery. I have also passed laws to create a human trafficking resource center hotline poster, help children who are victims of sex trafficking, and improve policies for child protective services.

In addition, I authored several laws allowing for better access to employment, mental health services, and shelter options for vulnerable populations, such as homeless and unaccompanied youth, who are often targeted for human trafficking.

I’m looking forward to discussing this critical issue with leaders from across the nation!

Hometown Hero

Chief Deputy Barb Tillman 

The Wisconsin State Assembly members representing Rock County honored recently retired Rock County Sheriff’s Chief Deputy Barb Tillman as a Hometown Hero.

Tillman retired in December after 37 years of service to Rock County. She is a trailblazer in every sense of the word. She was the first woman to hold the ranks of sergeant, lieutenant, captain, commander, and chief deputy in the Rock County Sheriff’s office.

I’m incredibly thankful for her lighting the way for women in law enforcement.

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2020 Century and Sesquicentennial Farm and Home Awards

The Wisconsin State Fair is pleased to announce applications are now available for the 2020 Century and Sesquicentennial Farm and Home Awards. This prestigious award is given to families who have dedicated their life to Wisconsin farming for 100 or 150 years. 

The 2020 Wisconsin State Fair, presented by U.S. Cellular, will take place Thursday, August 6 through Sunday, August 16 at Wisconsin State Fair Park in West Allis. 

To qualify for the award, families are required to provide proof of continuous ownership of a property in the State of Wisconsin for either the last 100 or 150 years. All property owners will be honored at a special Century and Sesquicentennial Farm and Home Award Program held on Tuesday, August 11th in conjunction with the 2020 Wisconsin State Fair. 

Applications are due by March 1, 2020 and are not available online but can be picked up in person in your County UW-Extension Office

Legislation Update

Assembly Bill 501: Pay Progression for State Public Defenders

The Senate companion bill (SB 468) passed the Senate unanimously this week. The bill requires approval by the Joint Finance Committee before it can be placed on the calendar for a vote in the Assembly.

Assembly Bill 503: Floating Treatment Wetlands

The Senate companion bill (SB 485) also passed the Senate unanimously this week. It is available for scheduling in the Assembly and I anticipate it being voted on in February.

Assembly Bill 556: Teaching Directive

Both the Assembly and Senate versions of this bill have received public hearings and will hopefully be scheduled for committee and floor votes within the next several weeks.

Assembly Bill 737: Open Enrollment Limits

I recently introduced Assembly Bill 737 to address an issue that was brought to my attention by the Elkhorn Area School District (EASD) administrator. Current law allows a family to apply for open enrollment to a maximum of three districts within a given school year. The law does not allow for any accommodations/additional applications if a student is denied admittance into all three of the districts to which they applied.

Virtual school options are numerous in Wisconsin, which was not the case in 1999 when the language limiting the number of open enrollment applications was put into statute. This bill removes the limit on the number of schools a student can apply to under open enrollment for applications to a virtual charter school.

The EASD is often able to accept expelled students from other schools by admitting them into their virtual school, or one of their other programs.  Unfortunately, two families were recently denied enrollment into the EASD’s virtual school because prior to applying to Elkhorn’s virtual school their children had already been denied by three other school district and state law says that after three denials the family can’t apply to any more schools until the next year.  Due to the way the statute is currently written these families had no other public school option their children even though the EASD was willing to enroll the students in their virtual school.

AB 737 received its first public hearing this week and is scheduled for a senate hearing next week. A special thanks to EASD Superintendent Jason Tadlock and Administrative Assistant Jodi Essman for making the trip to Madison to testify on this bill! 

 ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

Milton Courier: Loudenbeck selected for White House Summit on Human Trafficking

Beloit Daily News: Legislators Laud Focus on Wisconsin's Agriculture

Lake Geneva Regional News: State lawmaker reports on bills passed in Madison

WCLO: Loudenbeck introduces bill to reauthorize Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program

Empower Wisconsin: Stewardship bill bails out Evers' broken promise

My capitol office is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

 If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Update, please feel free to contact me.   

Rep. Amy Loudenbeck 
State Capitol, Room 304 East
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967| |