State Capitol Report
Legislative Champion Award Ceremony for State Representative Tod Ohnstad
When: Friday, September 18 from 12:30pm-1:30pm
Where: UW-Parkside Student Center, Alumni Room (900 Wood Rd, Kenosha)
What: I will be honored with the Legislative Champion award by the Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA) for my leadership in advancing Wisconsin's economic development programs and policies. Drop by to say hello and learn more about WEDA and economic development in Wisconsin.
2nd Annual Rally for Recovery
Simmons 115th Anniversary Celebration
Kenosha's The Big Read Kickoff
Oktoberfest at Kemper Center
Cuentacuentos Bilingue - Bilingual Storytime
When: Tuesday, October 6 from 7:15-8pm
Where: Southwest Library, 7979 38th Avenue, Kenosha
What: Kenosha Public Library's monthly bilingual storytime, featuring stories and songs in Spanish and English. Children of all ages and their parents are invited. This is a fun opportunity to celebrate Hispanic Heritage Month with your kids while learning some Spanish.
Travel Wisconsin just released their 2015-16 Wisconsin Fall/Winter Event Guide. It includes hundreds of events throughout the state from September through March. You can stop by my office in the Capitol to pick up your copy, or you can view it online HERE.
Some upcoming local events featured in the guide include:
Great Lakes Brew Fest
When: Saturday, September 19 from 3-7pm
Where: Racine Zoo, 200 Goold Street, Racine, 53402
What: The largest southeastern Wisconsin beer event boasts a roster of 75 craft brewers from across the cuontry offering unlimited samplking of more than 150 beers, ciders and meads, along with live music by the kilties Drum & Bugle corps and fantastic views of Lake Michigan.
Kenosha History Center Chili Cook-off
With a mission of reducing the impact of alcohol and other drug abuse by providing education, prevention, intervention, and referral services, Hope Council is an amazing resource here in Kenosha. Hope Council runs a wide variety of programs to help individuals and families struggling with alcohol and drug issues, as well as acting as a clearinghouse for resources. Hope Council provides assistance for families needing to have an intervention with a loved one, assessment and referral services, special families programming, and community education and prevention services, just to name a few.
For more information about the resources available through Hope Council as well as more about getting involved, I encourage you to visit their website or call the main office at (262) 658-8166.
As we celebrate Hispanic heritage over the coming month, I want to take a moment to recognize the importance of this commemoration. In 1988, President Ronald Reagan expanded what was then "Hispanic Heritage Week" to a full month. September 15 was chosen as the start date to coincide with the declarations of independence by Costa Rica, El Salvador, Guatemala, Honduras, and Nicaragua on that date in 1821. Mexico, Chile, and Belize also have independence dates during the month. The celebration is meant to recognize the rich culture of Hispanic and Latino Americans, and their contributions to our country. These Americans have served in our armed forces, built businesses, developed scientific breakthroughs, and advanced the rights of workers of all races. I applaud the continued annual celebration of this history, and I thank Hispanic and Latino members of the Kenosha community for their important contributions.
As your state representative, one of my jobs is to introduce legislation
to address Kenosha's needs and concerns. I will be focusing more and
more on the laws and policies of our state. I'll be devoting time to
researching what changes would make sense for our state. If you have
ideas for possible legislation, I'd love to hear about them! Do you have
an idea for a state law that needs fixing? Have you had an experience
that brought a state problem to light that you would like to see
I hope the transition back to school has been smooth as we end another beautiful summer. The Legislature is back in session this month, and I have some exciting Hot Car/Good Samaritan updates to share with you. In this State Capitol Report, I give you news regarding my Good Samaritan bill, which has now passed in Senate and Assembly Committees. Also, I have an update on a wage theft bill authored by Sen. Wirch, on which I am proud to be the Assembly lead. In addition, I have updates on the Kenosha Dream Playground Project, Wisconsin AmeriCorps, and other events around Kenosha.
As always, if you have information you'd like me to share in future State Capitol Reports or if you have issues you'd like to see brought up, please let me know. And if you or someone you know is having difficulty in dealing with a state agency and would like help, I hope you will give my office a call. You can always reach me at (608) 266-0455 or Rep.Ohnstad@legis.wi.gov.
It is my honor to serve you.
Legislative Session Information
The Assembly is scheduled to be in session on Thursday, September 24 at 1:00 PM. At this time it has not been announced exactly what bills will be voted on. We are concerned about the possibility of a bill banning the sale and use of any fetal body parts, even for research. This comes despite a federal law against the sale of fetal body parts and no evidence it is being broken in Wisconsin. These actions would jeopardize life saving research and threaten the $27 billion impact such research has on our state. Other possible bills are targeting women's health care centers which provide birth control services and cancer screenings.
In the past month, I have signed on as a cosponsor to a number of important bills. Senate Joint Resolution 47 calls for an advisory referendum submitted to the voters in 2016, asking whether they favor a nonpartisan system of redistricting. Our country and state have seen the incredible examples of extreme "gerrymandering," where districts are carved into unusual shapes meant to favor one party while splitting up communities of voters. I believe it is time for Wisconsin voters to have a say in whether they want legislators to continue drawing their own boundaries. I also signed on to Senate Joint Resolution 50, which would recognize September as National Suicide Prevention Month. It is vital we promote available suicide prevention resources to prevent these terrible tragedies.
On Saturday, September 5th, staff member Joanna Beilman-Dulin and husband George welcomed their second child, Neil Franklin. Big sister Clara and family are all healthy, happy, and excited to start this new chapter in their lives. As Joanna takes her maternity leave off with Neil, the office welcomes Alec Foote Mitchell as her replacement. Alec is a senior undergraduate at the University of Wisconsin - Madison, finishing up his final classes for graduation this fall. He is excited to work for Rep. Ohnstad and the people of Kenosha.
Rep. Ohnstad Good Samaritan Bill Makes Progress in Both Chambers
I am happy to tell you AB 308/SB 230, my bill which would exempt individuals from liability for breaking into hot cars to save a person or pet, has progressed in both the Senate and Assembly. Alderman Rocco LaMacchia and I testified before the Senate Committee on Judiciary in support of the bill on Tuesday, September 1. On Thursday, September 10, the committee unanimously passed SB 230. And, on Thursday, September 17, the Assembly Committee on Judiciary held a public hearing on AB 308. I, along with Rep. Kerkman and Kenosha Chief of Police John Morrissey, testified in support of the bill.
We too often see tragic news stories about children and animals left in parked cars, where temperatures can quickly become deadly. Just this summer, we were given a sobering reminder when a police dog in Brown County died after the air conditioning failed in a squad car. What many people do not know is that even if a good samaritan takes action to save a person or animal, they could still be liable for damages. I decided to author this legislation after hearing from the Kenosha City Council about the need for more clarity in this area. The bill would give good samaritans immunity from civil action if they reasonably believe they needed to act and cooperate with police.
I applaud the recent actions in the Legislature, and hope the bill continues to move forward in both chambers with bipartisan support.
Rep. Ohnstad Testifies on the Good Samartian Bill with
Alderman Rocco LaMacchia
Request for Proposals for 2016-2017
The Wisconsin National
and Community Service Board (WNCSB) is seeking proposals from
nonprofit organizations, state and local units of government,
institutions of higher education, faith-based organizations, and Indian
tribes to operate national service programs addressing Wisconsin
communities' needs through AmeriCorps service.
Notification of Intent to Apply is due to WNCSB by Wednesday,
September 30, 2015 at 4:30 P.M. Central.
Rep. Ohnstad Urges Stronger Wage Theft Laws
On Tuesday, September 15, the Senate Committee on Labor and Government Reform held a public hearing for Senate Bill 5, which would protect workers in Wisconsin by strengthening wage theft penalties and requiring disclosure of employment terms. Senator Robert Wirch (D-Kenosha), the author of the bill, testified in support. I have signed on as the primary Assembly sponsor, and on Tuesday registered my support for the bill to the committee and circulated a letter to its members urging their support. Below is a portion of that letter.
"Wage theft is a
pressing concern for Wisconsin workers, and puts a strain on the middle
class and economy. While Wisconsin statutes provide for certain
recourses after wage theft has occurred, state law needs to be
strengthened to adequately protect workers and law-abiding businesses. I
believe SB 5 contains common-sense reforms that give cheated workers a
better opportunity to pursue legal action while also providing strong
penalties that will deter future violations. In addition, requiring up
to date terms of employment will help to clarify wage and working
requirements for both employees and businesses.
KDPP Community Build a Success!
L to R: Rep. Ohnstad, Alder Dave Paff, School Board member Mike Falkofske, Alder Curt Wilson on Day 1 of KDPP's Community Build
I can hardly believe it, but by the time you receive this e-newsletter, the Kenosha Dream Playground Project will have gone from a dream to reality.
After years of fundraising, organizing, planning, and - finally - building, Kenosha now has a fully accessible and inclusive playground for ALL children in our area. The official ribbon-cutting is still a few weeks away, but I would be remiss if I didn't highlight the hard work of Tammy Conforti and her team, as well as the Kenosha Achievement Center for its leadership as well. And THANK YOU to all of the individuals who were part of turning this project into a reality for Kenosha kids and families.
I am always so proud to tell folks about the amazing KDPP. And now, to know our kids and their families have somewhere they can truly access and enjoy, well, there aren't enough words to describe the gratitude and joy of all of us who have been involved in the project along the way. This is an example of community and hard work at its finest.
The official ribbon cutting ceremony is set for 1pm on Saturday, October 10th at Petzke Park.
Rep. Ohnstad Recognized by Wisconsin Economic Development Association (WEDA)
On Thursday, August 20th, the Wisconsin Economic Development Association held its annual meeting in Stevens Point. WEDA honored a handful of individuals for their work on economic development issues. I was honored to receive recognition from WEDA for my work on this issue in the Assembly.
Since my first term in office, I have served on the Assembly Jobs
Committee. I currently serve as the ranking Democratic member on the
committee. I also had the privilege of serving on the Legislative Study
Committee on Tax Incremental Financing last year. Thank you to WEDA for this recognition. I
look forward to continuing to focus on these important issues!
Every five years, the Wisconsin Board for People with Developmental Disabilities (BPDD) is required to develop and formalize a five-year plan. This plan focuses on systems change to improve the quality of life for people with developmental disabilities. BPDD is developing its next five-year plan this year, and is seeking input from folks around the state.
To that end, BPDD is holding "conversation cafes" around Wisconsin over the next several weeks, where individuals can voice their opinions and contribute to the development of the next five-year plan. All are welcome: self advocates, parents, siblings, providers, policy makers, caregivers, and employers. Participation is free, but an RSVP is requested (though not required).
If you cannot attend a conversation cafe, you are welcome to provide feedback via BPDD's online survey, which can be found HERE.
For more information, or to RSVP, please visit BPDD online at http://www.wi-bpdd.org/stateplan/ or call Fil Cissa at 608-266-5395.
2015-16 Wisconsin Blue Books Are Here!
Every two years, Wisconsin produces an official Wisconsin Blue Book, a
biennial manual of state government. Compiled by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), the Blue
Book is a gold mine of information about our state.
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