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March 22, 2019

Contents

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Girl Scouts

The Girl Scouts of Wisconsin came to the Capitol this month to visit offices and talk about their experiences and what being in Girl Scouts means to them. Girl Scouts have been around for 107 years, teaching girls skills they need to make the world a better place. And of course, the cookies are delicious!

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 District Day

Last Friday I had the pleasure of touring two fantastic places in the 51st district with my staff, Jake and Jacob. The first place we visited was GreenCo Industries in Monroe. GreenCo is a non-profit organization that provides day services and work services for over 100 adults and teenagers with disabilities. It was amazing seeing the high quality of work performed and the highly dedicated staff. Thanks Randy for showing us around!

The second place we visited was Badger State Ethanol in Monroe. We went on a full tour of the entire operation of how ethanol is made and the incredible advancements they are making to limit as much waste as possible. Their goal is to produce environmentally friendly products through environmentally friendly processes. Thank you to Stephanie Schmidt and Kurt Koller for taking the time to give us the tour!

 

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First Water Quality Hearing

Clean water is not a Republican or Democrat issue, it is a State of Wisconsin issue. This is the mindset I asked my fellow committee members to adopt as we began our inaugural Water Quality Task Force hearing at the State Capitol in Madison on March 20th. Wisconsin is blessed with an abundance of quality ground and surface water. Our residents rely on this resource as a pillar of both our economy, through agriculture and tourism, and our health, through clean drinking water. It is our responsibility as legislators to work together and identify the ways we can ensure this valuable resource is preserved for the benefit of our state.

Our mission began with an inaugural informational hearing at the State Capitol in Madison. The committee heard from water experts at the Department of Natural Resources, the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection, and the Department of Health Services. Each department presented an excellent overview of their role in maintaining clean, safe drinking water for residents of our state.

First, the DNR outlined each water quality concern ranging from lead, nitrates, and bacterial contaminates, to algal blooms and our aging public water infrastructure. Being aware of every challenge, no matter how small, is imperative to making progress. Next, DATCP discussed how their organization plays a role in groundwater monitoring and fertilizer oversight to assist landowners in the protection of our water resources. Through programs like the Producer-Led Watershed Protection Grant, a group of five or more farmers can receive incentive payments to experiment with conservation practices. Finally, DHS contributed key information on how each contaminant affects our health and their research on emerging contaminates.

To conclude our hearing, Ken Bradbury, State Geologist and Director of the Wisconsin Geological & Natural History Survey established the link between Wisconsin’s geology and water quality. Much of Ken’s research is focused on ground water quality, and he will be a vital asset to our committee going forward.

I cannot stress enough how important neutrality and fairness is to integrity of this process. By relying on experts and focusing on data, not politics, I believe we can be successful. To ensure this, Ken and representatives from DATCP and DNR plan to attend many of our hearings around the state and provide their expertise. Each hearing will include ample time for the public to give input. At the conclusion of our hearings, the committee will release a report along with policy recommendations to bring before the legislature.

Following our second informational hearing on April 3 in Madison, we will begin our tour of the state. I am excited to get to work on such an important issue and I encourage you to attend one of our hearings. To stay up to date on the committee’s proceedings, please visit waterqualitywi.com

 

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Flooding

 I visited Darlington last week to tour the flood damage with Sheriff Reg Gill, Police Chief Jason King, and Lafayette County Economic Development Director Abby Haas. This is the worst flood since 1993 cresting at 17.62 feet and is now receding. Police Chief Jason King told WKOW “The impact on the businesses here wasn’t as bad as it could have been 25 years ago because of the flood mitigation efforts that had been done over the last 25 years.” Many of the historic buildings were raised and had metal plates put in front of the doors to keep the water out.

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Recent Visits

I had the privilege of hosting the Wisconsin Water Well Association at the Capitol. With the Water Quality Task Force starting, it is important to hear from them because their goal is to provide and protect groundwater. Thanks for coming in and sharing all the valuable information as we look for solutions to the water quality issue.

Brandon Masbruch representing the National Association of Insurance and Financial Advisers-Wisconsin stopped in to talk to Senator Marklein and myself about how legislation can affect the financial security and peace of mind of Wisconsin citizens. Also Brandon Talked about a great learning day at local high schools where the students take part in a program that teaches them how to balance expenses, a job, and a family in a fun and interactive way. Thanks for stopping by!