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June 11th, 2021


This Week in the Legislature


Contents

  • Committee Testimony
  • Floor Session
  • Lafayette County Dairy Breakfast
  • Meeting with Police Chiefs
  • Budget Survey
  • Happy Birthday Frank Lloyd Wright
  • Vaccine Information

Committee Testimony

This week I testified in the Assembly Committee on Tourism regarding Assembly Bill 391 (AB-391) a bill I co-authored with Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City). This bill directs Governor Evers to use funds from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to re-open all of Wisconsin’s historic sites.

During the height of the pandemic the Wisconsin Historical Society transferred staff to help the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), Department of Health Services (DHS), and other state agencies respond to the public health emergency. Currently, the Wisconsin Historical Society faces a budget shortfall of about $2.4 million due to the loss of program revenue in 2020 because of pandemic related shutdowns. As a result of the current funding challenges, the majority of Wisconsin’s historical tourism sites will not open until 2022. Below is a list of all the closed sites from around the state:

  • First Capitol – 185th Anniversary - Belmont
  • H. Bennett Studio & Museum - Wisconsin Dells
  • Pendarvis – Mineral Point
  • Reed School – Neillsville
  • Stonefield – Cassville
  • Villa Louis – Prairie du Chien
  • Wade House – Greenbush

Of the sites listed above, the First Capitol in Belmont and Pendarvis in Mineral Point are both in my legislative district. The First Capitol is celebrating its 185th anniversary this year.

Wisconsinites should have the ability to learn more about the first territorial government and celebrate the occasion of the 185th anniversary. Pendarvis, a collection of 19th Century structures later preserved by Bob Neal and Edgar Hellum in Mineral Point also remains closed. Once again, Wisconsinites should be able to explore and reflect on what daily life may have been like 180 years ago.

I also testified in the Assembly Committee on State Affairs on Assembly Bill 390 (AB-390), a bill I also authored with Representative Travis Tranel (R-Cuba City) and Representative Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc). Also joining me in testifying were Molly Wiegel, Dr. Martin Cleary, and Jed Gant representing Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County (MHLC).

AB-390 directs the Governor to provide grants from the federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) to the Memorial Hospital of Lafayette County in Darlington, for emergency medical services across the state, and for the city of Reedsburg community center.

Specifically AB-390 directs $4 million of the federal ARPA funds for the reconstruction of the hospital. MHLC is 70 years old and is the only county owned hospital in Wisconsin. The facility is desperately in need of updates.

This legislative proposal also provides an additional $11 million through the existing Funding Assistance Program (FAP) funding formula that would significantly bolster government support for our emergency medical services. This money would be able to be used for a variety of expenses, including medical equipment and tools, safety devices, radios, and classroom training aids. Our first responders have been invaluable throughout this pandemic. This funding increase should help them respond to the negative economic impacts from the pandemic.

Finally, this proposal provides the city of Reedsburg community center with a $400,000 grant that will help modernize their HVAC system, restrooms, and provide for additional upgrades. The community center will be available for a variety of public programming following the upgrades.

In an earlier proposal put forward by the Governor a series of funding opportunities were identified. Under the Governor’s proposal those projects would have been paid for using state tax dollars that were available as a result of increased federal funding. Under AB390 the Governor would instead be directed to use federal funds available through ARPA.

Session Update

 This week the Assembly was in session to vote on a short list of bills. One bill of particular interest is Assembly Bill 336 (AB-336).This bill which passed both the Senate and the Assembly ends the additional $300 federal unemployment assistance.

I continue to hear from small business owners in district struggling to find workers as they begin to fully re-open. In Wisconsin and nationwide, unemployment claims continue to fall each week while workforce shortages continue to worsen.

This bill provides more incentive for those currently unemployed to return to the workforce and help our economy grow as we continue the pandemic recovery.


Lafayette County Dairy Breakfast

This weekend Lafayette County will be hosting its 45th annual Dairy Breakfast. The breakfast will take place this Saturday June 12th. The price of admission is $5 for adults, $3 for children under 10 and preschool and younger children free.

The breakfast is being hosted by Highway Dairy Farms in Darlington (16639 State Rd 23, Darlington). 

I will be in attendance working the service line during the early morning shift. Stop on by and say hello and enjoy a delicious dairy breakfast as we celebrate June Dairy Month.


Meeting with Police Chiefs

This week I also had the privilege to meet with two local police chiefs, Jason King (Darlington Police Department) and Szvon Conway (Monticello Police Department). 

During the meeting we discussed legislative priorities for local police departments this session and reviewed the legislation from the Speaker's Task Force on Racial Disparities. Many of the initiatives in the package are already standard police procedure for the police departments in our district. The Assembly will be taking up these bills on the floor in June.


Spring Surveys

A reminder that my spring surveys have been sent out. These surveys are valuable for me as your state legislator because it gives me your input and feedback to ensure your interests are being met at the state capitol. 

I am encouraging all of my constituents to take the time to fill out the survey and send it back to my office. If you want to save a stamp, you can also fill out the survey online at the link here.


Frank Lloyd Wright Birthday

This week was the 154th birthday of the world-renowned and Wisconsin-born architect, Frank Lloyd Wright. His legacy remains strong in our state, with many structures standing as monuments to Wright’s commitment to art and connection to nature, including the Taliesin in Spring Green.

During the 2015 legislative session I authored a bill that was signed into law creating the Frank Lloyd Wright Trail. The trail located throughout Wisconsin identifies to motorists and outdoor enthusiasts specific Frank Lloyd Wright designed buildings, including Spring Green's Taliesin Preservation.


Vaccine Information

For all full list of vaccine sites statewide please click the vaccine finder link here.


Have a Great Weekend!
As always, please do not hesitate to follow up with any additional questions or concerns you may have. I can be reached at Rep.Novak@legis.wisconsin.gov or (608) 237-9151.

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