October 29, 2021

  

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Rep. Mursau Introduces New Bill Supporting Wisconsin's Forestry Industry

Click the above image to view Rep. Mursau's press conference

You'll likely remember from last week's e-update celebrating Forest Products Week the importance of forestry to our state. Wisconsin’s forest products industry has an economic impact of over $24 billion and supports 64,000 full and part-time jobs in the state and impacts all 72 counties. Living in the Northwoods, we personally see the importance of forestry to our communities and economy on a regular basis.

The forestry industry, like many others, was desperately impacted by the pandemic. It's estimated that 10.5% or 15,000 jobs tied to the forest products industry were lost as a result. While efforts were put forward to help support businesses and employees impacted by job losses, the forestry industry hasn’t had the same level of support. That's one of the reasons I introduced a new bill with my Assembly colleagues that could provide targeted state support to reopen two paper mills. The bill could result in positive impacts felt well beyond the communities in which these mills are located. 

This new bill would assist with the Verso and Park Falls paper mills. Verso was the final destination for about ¼ of all the pulpwood cut in Wisconsin. The mill used to employ 900 people in Wood County, but the impact of its closure has been felt well beyond Wisconsin Rapids. The bill would provide up to $1 million to keep the mill operational so financing to reopen the mill has an opportunity to succeed. The bill would also provide $15 million for a loan guarantee to secure financing to reopen the Park Falls paper mill.

Forestry and related industries have long been a pillar of our state's economy, particularly in the Northwoods. Not only would this bill bring jobs back to the forestry industry, but by supporting the industry, it would help spur recovery in other forestry-related sectors of the economy. I was proud to be able to speak on the importance of this bill before the Assembly Session this week, and look forward to the bill receiving a public hearing next week.

Recognizing Annie Krawze: 
36th Assembly District's First Responder of the Year

On Tuesday this week, I joined Senator Felzkowski in honoring Annie Krawze as the 36th Assembly District's First Responder of the Year. She was joined by her family in Madison as she and others around the state were recognized for their exceptional service to our communities. I was glad we had the opportunity to present her with this honor, and we had great discussions about the challenges facing our rural emergency service departments. 

In past sessions, I've worked with many of our rural emergency service departments on efforts to help support them and help them continue to serve our most rural communities, including 2019 Act 139 addressing the funding for the Length of Service Award. It's been a challenge, but it's not one I'm willing to throw in the towel on. I remain in contact with a number of departments, and will continue working with my colleagues to find ways Wisconsin can ensure our departments and first responders are properly supported. 

Senate Hearing on Timber Sale Threshold Bill

This was a busy week in Madison. I was particularly happy to have the chance to testify before the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing and Forestry in support of my timber sale bill I mentioned in my past e-update. The bill (Assembly Bill 640/Senate Bill 607) would increase the direct sale limit to $10,000 or 500 cords equivalents, whichever is less.

This important bill will allow more discretion among professional forest managers while also maintaining ideal forest management and industry supply. It was good to see the support it had in the committee and to have the chance to answer any questions from the committee members. I hope to see it on the Senate floor soon for a vote.

Question of the Week: 
Safe Roads Save Lives Act

A bipartisan bill was recently reintroduced this session, after it was approved in committee last session. The bill aims to address reckless driving and provide an additional tool for law enforcement agencies to identify violations. The bill would let law enforcement agencies in a first-class city (currently only Milwaukee) use an automated speed enforcement system to identify speed limit violations. It would also let them enact an ordinance that authorizes the use of traffic control photographic systems on highways in the city to identify traffic signal violations. 

Supporters of the bill say that vehicle crashes and reckless driving have become an increasingly serious problem, with fatalities on the rise, and that this bill would work on fixing this in our most populated municipality. They say that even with increased patrols and diversion techniques, police and city leaders need more help in curbing the widespread reckless driving. By allowing them to use these new tools, it would help them better enforce compliance with traffic laws and help tackle the 65% increase in traffic-related deaths the city has seen since 2011. 

Opponents of the bill are concerned that it only focuses on one municipality instead of making it statewide. They would like to see the money instead go to local law enforcement agencies around the state to help with enforcement issues in areas outside of Milwaukee. There are also concerns with the effectiveness and accuracy of these new tools, and whether it could lead to people receiving violations they didn't commit. 

Road safety impacts us all on a daily basis, so 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:
Tuition Rates for Children of UW-System Alumni

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. 

Prepare For Open Enrollment: 
November 1, 2021 - January 15, 2022

Open Enrollment for the federal health insurance marketplace is coming up soon. From November 1, 2021 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. 

Blue Books Still Available

The 2021/22 Wisconsin Blue Book is still available through my office for anyone interested in a copy. I've sent out over 100 so far throughout the 36th Assembly District with Sen. Felzkowski, but still have quite a few left. If you'd like a physical copy of the blue book, please submit your request here:

Order a Blue Book

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.