May 22, 2015

Uber Announces Expansion to Lake Geneva Area

This week we received some great news for our area! Starting this past Thursday, the popular ridesharing service Uber is expanding to Lake Geneva. It will be a great transportation alternative for our residents and will also appeal to tourists who already use it in places like Chicago. The announcement comes as Governor Scott Walker signed my bill into law that made the expansion possible.

Ridesharing is now allowed in Wisconsin if the company gets a statewide license, conducts background checks of drivers, and carries ample insurance. You will need a smart phone to download the app to take advantage of the service. For more details on the announcement and instructions on how to use the service, including a code for free rides this weekend, you can visit this link:

Public Benefit Reforms Passed by State Assembly
Bills would require drug testing and limits on food purchases.

Last week the Assembly passed legislation aimed at reforming Wisconsinís public entitlements. First, we passed bills that would require drug testing for certain individuals applying for unemployment benefits and taxpayer-funded work programs. Those who fail the test would become eligible for drug treatment programs. Our goal is to ensure those individuals get help so that they can become more employable and return as productive members of the workforce. In fact, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, there are eleven states that already require drug testing of welfare recipients.

Second, legislation was also passed that would reform the FoodShare (food stamp) program. Under the bill, public aid recipients would be limited on how much junk food they can buy. Food stamp recipients would be required to use two-thirds of their monthly benefits to purchase nutritional foods such as beef, pork, poultry, fish, vegetables, dairy products, and food available under the Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) nutritional program. Those on FoodShare would also be banned from purchasing crab, lobster, shrimp, and other shellfish with taxpayer-funded benefits.

It is our goal to ensure these public assistance programs help those who truly need the help, while reducing abuse and misuse of these taxpayer-funded benefits. In fact, FoodShare was originally intended to act as a nutritional supplement for those in need.

The purchase of junk food like the ones pictured above, would be significantly reduced under the reforms.

The reforms seek to promote the purchase of nutritious foods, like the items above.

70 MPH Bill Signed Into Law by Governor Walker

After passing both the State Assembly and State Senate, legislation that would allow the DOT to raise the speed limit on certain highways was signed by Governor Walker. Wisconsin was the last state in the Midwest to raise the speed limit. It is important to note that the bill takes safety into account by only allowing the DOT to raise the speed limit on certain stretches of the interstates as well as other four-lane highways that have overpasses, underpasses, and ramps. The speed limit on roads that have direct cross traffic will not be increased.

Map courtesy of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Tourism Spending on the Rise

According to Department of Tourism Secretary Stephanie Klett, tourism in Wisconsin was up $1 billion last year, a 5.5% increase. It was an outstanding year as the tourism economy grew to $18.5 billion from $17.5 billion in 2013.

The following are highlights of recently released economic impact figures for tourism in the State of Wisconsin:

  • Total four-year growth of tourism activity is $3.7 billion, up from $14.8 billion in 2010, a 25 percent increase.
  • Visitor growth in 2014 topped 102 million, an increase of 7 million visits since 2010.
  • Per trip spending increased by 5.3 percent, led by recreation and entertainment, with a 7.8 percent increase, followed by lodging with a 7.2 percent increase, and food and beverage at a 6.4 percent increase.
  • Tourism supports 187,643 jobs and over 6,200 jobs have been added to Wisconsinís total employment since 2011.
  • Visitors generated $1.4 billion in state and local revenue, saving Wisconsin taxpayers $620 per household.

In our area, the Walworth County Visitors Bureau reported a 3.44% increase in tourism spending in Walworth County from 2013 to 2014. That translates into a dollar amount of $16.5 million. 2014 marks the 6th year for Walworth County as the 6th largest contributing county, in terms of direct visitor spending throughout the state. Unlike Walworth, other counties in the top six include those with major sports teams or state government buildings like Milwaukee, Dane, Waukesha, and Brown.

Delavan Christian School Visits the Capitol

7th and 8th graders from Delavan Christian School visited the State Capitol this week. Representative August and Senator Nass took time to greet them and answer their questions about state government.

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State Capitol Room 119 West
PO Box 8952 Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-1190