Wednesday, September 30

 
 

Dear Friends,

Fall is here, and it's a beautiful time of year as the colors change around the 46th Assembly District.

As we reflect on nature's colorful transition in the seasons, it's hard not to consider what the legislature is doing to protect our environment. I believe we're moving in the wrong direction. Read more about my efforts to protect our environment in the column to the right.

Autumn is a season of change. For the legislative majority, that change can't come soon enough. Below, you'll find my thoughts on the desperate need to rein in corruption in state government.

Please remember that I am here to serve YOU. Do not hesitate to contact me regarding state issues that concern you. My door is always open to you. Please stop by and visit to discuss any state matter.

Sincerely,

Gary Hebl
State Representative
46th Assembly District
 

 

On Wednesday, I joined my Democratic colleagues to draw attention to a pattern of corruption and deceit by the majority party and our governor here in Wisconsin. Read more below about our efforts to eradicate corruption in the State Capitol.

Weeding Out Government Corruption
 

 

This legislative session, we have witnessed a seemingly unending effort to upend good government practices in Wisconsin.

Shielding politicians from John Doe corruption investigations. Replacing nonpartisan judges on the Government Accountability Board with partisan appointees. Eliminating the Legislative Audit Bureau. Gutting Wisconsin's open records laws.

Taken independently, these seem like bad governance proposals. Considered together, we see a clear effort by Wisconsin Republican leaders to make it harder to weed out government corruption.
I joined my Democratic colleagues today in calling out majority Republicans for their attempts to block themselves from public scrutiny.

The GAB has been held up as a national standard of fair, unbiased government oversight. But Republican leaders find accountability to be politically damaging, and now theyíre willing to dismantle the GAB to shield themselves from scrutiny.

Beyond that, Republicans have supported eliminating the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau, which provides unparalleled oversight over government entities, including, most notably, a recent audit of the flailing WEDC, in which the Audit Bureau found numerous missteps and failures.

This pattern of hiding potential government corruption isnít coincidence. The Republican majority is focusing its time on creating a perfect storm of bad governance. And itís scary. It should scare good government advocates, it should scare the media, and it should scare Wisconsin citizens.

Corruption breeds in the dark. We cannot allow the Republican majority to increase government secrecy by dismantling and politicizing Wisconsinís ethics watchdogs, abandoning Wisconsin's open records legacy, and shielding politicians from criminal investigations.

Earlier today, I joined my Democratic colleagues in calling on the Republican majority to end their efforts to usurp good government in Wisconsin. You can read more here.

 


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It's time to get serious about protecting our environment

During the last two legislative sessions, the legislature has lost its way when it comes to protecting our environment.

Take, for example, a law passed last year that stripped many of Wisconsinís environmental protections in order to cater to a single mining company that has since left the state without creating any jobs.

I have introduced legislation to repeal this destructive new law. My bill would restore our stateís stronger environmental standards that were replaced in 2013 by relaxed rules for iron mining in Wisconsin. For example, my bill eliminates language which states that when considering a mining permit, the Department of Natural Resources should presume that significant adverse impacts to wetlands is necessary. The bill restores previous language directing the DNR to presume significant adverse impacts to wetlands to be unnecessary. My bill also eliminates new statutory language that allows the filling of lakebeds or other navigable waters.

A West Virginia coal mining company was able to convince the legislative majority to abandon our stateís environmental legacy and repeal generations-old environmental standards. That company Ė which paid hundreds of thousands of dollars to organizations that benefited Gov. Walker and legislative Republicansí campaigns Ė has now abandoned the state. It is time to do right by our environment and restore our previous conservation standards.

If a company is going to attempt to mine in Wisconsin, that company should be required to live up to our previous, stronger environmental safeguards. As we have seen already, it is not worth it to potentially sacrifice our world-renowned natural resources in order to bend the knee to a mining company.

It is imperative that we protect our natural resources, especially our water. So I was shocked during the last budget cycle to see the majority party strip away control of local governments to craft their own shoreland zoning standards which meet the unique needs and demands of local bodies of water.

Shoreland zoning law is in place to protect Wisconsinís lakes, ponds, rivers, and streams from irresponsible shoreland development which could deteriorate coastlines and lead to polluted waters. Who knows the complexities of bodies of water better than local governments?

Environmental impact and tourism often go hand in hand. Providing greater protections over our lakes and rivers means a more marketable tourism industry. Considering that Wisconsin tourism generates nearly $19 billion each year, protecting our natural resources isnít just good for our environment Ė itís good for our economy.

Imposing a one-size-fits-all approach on shoreland zoning doesnít work. Thatís why I have introduced legislation along with Senator Janet Bewley (D-Ashland) to repeal this statewide restriction and restore local control over shoreland zoning standards.

Wisconsin has a long and proud conservation legacy. Continued efforts to strip away environmental protections will undo the life work of such conservation champions as Gaylord Nelson, Aldo Leopold, and John Muir. I will continue to fight to protect Wisconsinís environment and uphold our conservation tradition.



I was honored to receive a thank you note from Staff Sgt. Paul Oakey, a constituent currently serving in Afghanistan, for providing him with a Wisconsin flag. Pictured here is Staff Sgt. Oakey with the flag, which flew over the State Capitol.

Thank you for your service, Paul!

 


Please do not hesitate to contact me at:

Rep. Gary Hebl
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-7678
rep.hebl@legis.wi.gov

 

 

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