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June 30, 2017
 

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Happy 4th of July!

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 Appointment to Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care

This week, I was named a member of the Speaker's Task Force on Foster Care. The committee was formed with the responsibility of examining Wisconsin's Foster Care System and searching for ways to improve the system for both parents and youth. 

As a court appointed guardian, licensed foster parent, and father of two adopted sons, I believe I have the opportunity to make a real difference on this committee. This issue has always been a priority of mine since becoming a state legislator, and I hope to continue this as a member of this task force.

The task force will look at all aspects of the system, including families who have not yet entered the child welfare system, are currently part of the system, and youth who are exiting the system and looking to enter the workforce or receive an education.

I've always believed that providing support to youth as they exit the system is key. Whatever we can do to assist these young adults pursue higher education or enter the workforce goes a long way towards preventing future generations from ending up back in the system.

Over the coming months, we will be traveling the state and holding public hearings in order to gather feedback. We plan to present our findings, along with legislative recommendations to the Assembly by the end of session.

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Klondike Cheese Visit

On Monday, I kicked off "Wisconsin Cheese Day" with a tour of Klondike Cheese in Monroe with Senator Howard Marklein and Governor Walker. While famous for their Feta cheese, Klondike also produces other varieties such as Muenster, Brick, and Havarti. Thank you to the Buholzer family for being great hosts!

June Dairy Month

Here in Wisconsin, June is a time where we celebrate our rich dairy history. As the America’s Dairyland, it is only fitting that we dedicate June as Wisconsin’s Dairy Month. This time of year is filled with breakfasts taking place at farms all around the state. First hosted in 1970 in Jefferson County, this tradition has grown to include 70 breakfasts each year. These events give families the opportunity to visit a local farm and learn about how Wisconsin’s dairy industry operates, as well as enjoy a home-cooked Midwest breakfast with plenty of milk. Earlier this month, I attended the Iowa and Lafayette County Dairy Breakfasts where I helped prepare and serve meals to Wisconsin families. We are truly lucky to have such a special tradition here in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin’s dairy industry has influenced my legislative priorities as well. Just recently, you may have heard that the Mineral Point 4th grade class proposed that cheese be designated as Wisconsin’s newest state symbol. Their efforts led to a visit from the Governor at their school to sign the bill into law just in time for summer vacation.

Before our local schools shut their doors for the summer, I made it a priority to visit each school district for a meeting with the superintendent. During my visit, I was made aware of an issue the Monroe School District has encountered with their School Day Milk Program. This program, subsidized by the state, provides a carton of Wisconsin-produced milk at a daily milk break to students in Pre-Kindergarten through Grade 5 who qualify for free or reduced price meals. For some districts, students who are able to afford milk, along with the state reimbursement, make up the lost revenue. Other districts, such as Monroe, run deficits of $10,000 each year due to the state only funding 50% of claims made by districts around the state.

 In the governor’s budget, the state contribution to this program has remained constant, while the cost of milk continues to rise and more students are claiming free or reduced price lunch benefits. To remedy this problem, I have submitted a budget motion to increase funding so that school districts aren’t forced to discontinue this program due to financing concerns.

Dairy is such an important asset for Wisconsin. Locally produced and loaded with nutrition, we should do what we can to keep it in our schools for all students to access.

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Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission

On Tuesday, I attended the Southwestern Wisconsin Regional Planning Commission (SWRPC) Annual Meeting where I had the opportunity to meet with local leaders and discuss ways to develop and expand economic activity in Southwest Wisconsin. Following the meeting, Stephanie Klett, Wisconsin Tourism Secretary, gave the keynote address.