November 5, 2021

  

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Fighting for our Forestry Jobs

I've mentioned two important forestry bills I've been working on recently in my earlier e-updates. This week, both the Timber Direct Sale Threshold bill and the bill to help the Verso and Park Falls paper mills took another step forward in the legislative process with Public Hearings in the Assembly. 

As the chair of the Assembly Committee on Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation, I oversaw the Public Hearing for Assembly Bill 682 on the paper mills this Tuesday. Members of the committee had a chance to hear from legislators, industry professionals and members of the community on how this bill would help both the forestry industry and our state's economy. Wisconsin is the #1 paper-producing state in the nation, so I was pleased to see so many people show up and share their support for this bipartisan bill to help maintain the Park Falls and Verso paper mills. 

I also had the opportunity to share my support for Assembly Bill 640, which increases the timber direct sale threshold to give land managers more flexibility. This issue came out of discussions in the Council on Forestry, and will allow contractors to work more efficiently and quickly to maintain a competitive sale process while promoting sound forest management plans. While not the flashiest or most eye-catching bill, this is nevertheless an important change that will help those working in our forestry industry better manage minor sales and their forested lands. 

It's great to see both of these bills making progress this week. I'm hopeful that members of the Senate will follow the Assembly's lead in supporting these efforts to help our forestry industry. 

Wabeno/Laona High School Girls Volleyball Team
Head to Championship

Photo Credit: REBEL Volleyball Laona/Wabeno Facebook

Congratulations to the Wabeno/Laona High School Girls Volleyball team as they head to the State Tournament in Green Bay. Fans from around the area and country have been cheering them on. After winning their semifinal game on Friday, they head to the Division 4 Championship game this Saturday. Best of luck, and good luck tomorrow Rebels!

Help Decorate "Tribute to our Troops" Tree 

Photo credit: WI National Guard Public Affairs Office

The "Tribute to our Troops" tree began under Governor Doyle to recognize service members in Wisconsin, and is a special tree at the Executive Residence every Christmas. The tradition was continued by Governor Walker and Governor Evers. 

Family members of Wisconsin’s service members — past and present, stationed in Wisconsin or abroad — to send an ornament dedicated to their loved one. The invitation is open to families of Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guard members. Ornaments can be plain, fancy or personalized to honor our fallen service members, those who are deployed overseas this holiday season, and all who wear the uniforms of our nation’s armed forces.

To be included on this year's tree, the ornaments must be received no later than November 26th, and those sent will not be returned. The ornaments will be displayed at the Executive Residence in Maple Bluff, though there will be no holiday tours this year due to COVID-19. To send in an ornament, mail it to the following: 

WI National Guard Service Member Support Division
ATTN: Mr. Liam Walsh
2400 Wright Street
Madison, WI 53704

Question of the Week: 
Increase Veterans Outreach & Recovery Program Staff

Our veterans have faced many challenges that we can't begin to imagine. That's one of the reasons the Veterans Outreach and Recovery Program (VORP) was created, which supports veterans by connecting them to community services while providing case management and support. Their main focus is on treatment and recovery for veterans facing any number of challenges. More specifically, VORP can help connect veterans to mental health services, substance use treatment, financial assistance, housing, utilities, claims and benefits assistance, employment, education, and more. 

Currently, the VORP program has 11 Outreach and Recovery Regional Coordinators (ORRC) who staff their region in the state. A new bill was introduced that would add funding to allow for the hiring of an additional 7 full time ORRCs to the VORP program to expand access to the services available. 

Supporters of the bill share that while VORP has been successful in helping veterans around Wisconsin since it was created, being understaffed has limited the program's ability to help all those veterans in need. They say that additional staff positions would mean that more veterans get access to the services they need. Without funding the additional staffing positions, they say we are missing out on an opportunity to help our veterans in underserved communities. They also say that by adding staff, VORP would be able to increase the services they provide to include suicide prevention services.

Opponents of the bill are concerned that by just funding staff, it doesn't actually directly fund the services that veterans are using. They think the money would be better spent going directly to the services the staff are trying to connect veterans to. Opponents also feel that veterans already have quite a number of resources such as the VA or local organizations that can help connect them with services. They feel the money would be better spent to increase the money available in programs meant to directly help them instead of by hiring people to tell veterans what services are available. 

We owe a debt of gratitude to our veterans. With the important role they play in our country and community, I would like to hear your thoughts on this new bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Safe Roads Save Lives Act

I've heard from many people around the 36th Assembly District in response to last week's question. The chart below represents the responses from constituents to the question as of Friday morning. 

Open Enrollment is Here: 
November 1, 2021 - January 15, 2022

Open Enrollment for the federal health insurance marketplace is now open through January 15, 2022. All Wisconsinites are eligible to enroll in one of the health plans available on the marketplace, and those already insured can renew, change or update their plans during this period.

Last year, the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) launched WisCovered.com as a new accessible resource for consumers. By visiting WisCovered.com or calling 2-1-1, people can get connected with free, expert help to guide enrollment decisions. Rates on the individual market are expected to be lower in 2022 on average than rates in 2021, and many carriers have expanded their coverage areas for 2022, so you may have more options than you thought. Check out this interactive map of health insurers available by county, or visit WisCovered.com for more information. 

Remember to Fall Back on Sunday

Daylight Savings Time officially ends on Sunday, November 1st, when we revert back to Standard Time. Don't forget to set your clocks back an hour and enjoy an extra hour of sleep!

Upcoming District Events

The following are just a few of the events that will be occurring soon around or near the 36th Assembly District. Please let me know if you have an event you would like to have considered for inclusion on this list. As always, remember to take proper precautions when at events for COVID-19 and check their webpages for any updates or cancellations.

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.