September 3, 2021

  

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Outdoor Recreation Generates
$7.8 Billion for Wisconsin

This Thursday, I appreciated the chance to hear from the Department of Tourism at our Forestry, Parks & Outdoor Recreation Committee Informational Hearing. The Department of Tourism shared an update from their Office of Outdoor Recreation that was created in the 2019/21 budget and renewed in this budget. We're one of the first states in the Midwest to have an office dedicated to the outdoor recreation industry, so I had looked forward to the update on how the Office has helped Wisconsin in the past few years. A clip from the update can be viewed by clicking the WisEye image below.

One of the key takeaways that we learned in the hearing was that $1 in every $40 generated in Wisconsin is from outdoor recreation related activities. This means that outdoor recreation generates $7.8 billion to the state's economy. On top of that, the outdoor recreation industry also supports 93,000 jobs statewide. From the update, I'm pleased with the progress made and work being done in this office, and am glad that we've continued our support of outdoor recreation in our most recent budget. 

Along with the Informational Hearing, we also heard testimony on a new bill, Assembly Bill 285, which would require the DNR to issue a free boat launch permit to veterans over the age of 65. Current law doesn't require a fee for the use of boat launches, and while free use is encouraged by the DNR, fees are able to be charged to launch to fund operating and maintaining boat access sites owned or operated by municipalities, lake management districts, and other access providers. This bill would say that for veterans over 65, neither the DNR nor county may charge a fee for a boat launch permit. We heard from folks around the state on this, and I think we all appreciated the chance to learn more about this promising bill. 

Back to School!

The new school year has begun, and kids are back in the classrooms! Each new school year brings changes for our kids, and now more than ever things have been particularly challenging to say the least. Whether they're just starting Pre-K or in their final year of High School, it's an exciting time of year and I wish all our students, parents and teachers a safe and productive year!

Submit Your District Plan

A few weeks ago, I mentioned a website developed by the legislature that gives Wisconsin residents the opportunity to directly participate in the redistricting process. New district maps are redrawn every ten years to reflect changes in population that we see from US Census data. This time, folks can submit map ideas for how the districts should be redrawn, and the website is now taking submissions.

Statewide, regional or community maps can be submitted to the legislature now through October 15th at www.DrawYourDistrictWisconsin.com. Click on the above image for a how-to video on submitting your plan! 

Question of the Week: 
Vaccinating Minors Without Parental Consent

Vaccination has long been an important tool in America to help protect the health of our communities, going all the way back to when George Washington conducted the first mass inoculation of an army at the height of the Revolutionary War. These days, vaccination remains vital, particularly in light of COVID-19, however over the past 20 years vaccination rates have dropped significantly, with fewer and fewer children receiving all their recommended immunizations on schedule. One legislator says that the drop in vaccination rates is driven by misinformation, conspiracies or lies that have been spread, and as a result parents have been opting their children out of vaccinations using the exemptions in Wisconsin law.

Current law says that any child or person who is less than 18 years old defers most of their medical decision-making authority to their parents or guardians. However, one legislator has introduced a new bill that would allow minors at least 16 years of age to request and receive vaccination regardless of their parent or guardian's consent. If a parent or guardian is refusing to provide consent to the vaccination, the physician or other health care provider would obtain the minor's consent before billing a third party for the services. If the minor does not consent to billing a third party, the minor shall be responsible for paying for the services, which the Department of Health Services shall bill to the minor.

According to the bill author, there is evidence that, when given complete information and control over their preventative medical care, teenagers will decide to receive some or all vaccinations that had previously been withheld by their parents. Supporters say that this change would give minors the ability to make their own vaccination choices in a time where they are gaining more and more independence. They say it would allow for responsible decision-making from individuals of driving age. The bill follows the lead of several other states in the US that allow minors to make at least some of their own vaccination choices. 

Opponents of the bill say that even minors who are 16 and older are still too young to be able to understand the risks and consequences of medical decisions like this. They say that since they are still minors, the responsibility for their safety still rests with their parents so the parents or guardians should be the ones making the medical decisions. In addition, those who express concerns with the safety of vaccinations fear that minors even at 16 are still too susceptible to the influence of media and peer pressure to be able to make an informed decision like this, so the parents should still be in control. 

Vaccination is a particularly relevant issue these days, so I'd like to hear your thoughts on this bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Organ Transplant Discrimination

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 Thursday afternoon. Because of the support shown for this bill, I've decided to become a co-sponsor. 

DNR Announces CWD Response Plan Review

The DNR recently announced they will be forming a committee to review Wisconsin's chronic wasting disease (CWD) response plan to help us better address this pressing issue. More information on CWD is available here for those who aren't familiar with the disease. Back in 2010, a 15-year CWD response plan was approved through 2025, which would guide the DNR's approach to addressing CWD in the state for those years. A part of that plan involves a review of the agency's progress every five years to see where we are in meeting the plan's goals and objectives. 

This fall, the DNR will get a group of stakeholders together to share input on the plan's implementation and thoughts on future actions to take. These stakeholders from conservation, business, hunting and tribal governments have already been invited, and the meetings this fall will be open to the public with recordings posted on the DNR's website. Once the committee completes its review, expected in early 2022, the department will consider its input alongside public comment. The DNR expects to present the review’s findings to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) in late spring 2022.

Happy Labor Day Weekend

Labor Day is seen as a day of rest for many hardworking Wisconsinites, so after the tough months we've had I hope you enjoy this weekend however you choose to spend it. There's many great events and festivals happening around the district this weekend, so whether you get out and enjoy what our communities have to offer, or spend the time at home with family, I wish you a very happy Labor Day!

Upcoming District Events

The following are just a few of 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.