State Capitol Report
Boofest - Kenosha Public Museums
All above activities are free. Sponsored by the Friends of the Museums.
Kemper Center Haunted House
23rd Annual Pasta for Shalom Spaghetti Dinner
To Kill A Mockingbird
When: November 6-8, 13-15, & 20-21
Where: Rhode Center for the Arts
What: Theatrical adaptation of Harper Lee's Pulitzer Prize winning novel. Scout, a young girl in a quiet southern town, is about to experience the dramatic events that will affect the rest of her life. She and her brother, Jem, are being raised by their widowed father, Atticus, and by a strong-minded housekeeper, Calpurnia. A powerful literary classic adapted with care for the stage.
Tickets: $13/adults; $10/students, seniors, or military. Click HERE for more details.
NAACP Freedom Fund Banquet
When: Saturday, November 7, 5:30pm-Midnight
Where: Parkway Chateau, 12304 75th Street, Kenosha
What: Keynote Speaker - Art Howell, Racine Chief of Police; Color Guard - Kenosha Law Enforcement Officers; Special Honors - Mayor Keith Bosman and Kenosha Police Chief John Morrissey; 2015 Positive Impact Awards; Silent Auction
Cost: $65 per ticket; Purchase by calling (262)-374-0888 or emailing Kenoshanaacp@yahoo.com
10th Annual Food Drive
When: Saturday, November 14th from 10am-2pm
Where: Time Warner Parking Lot - 1403 Washington Road, Kenosha
What: Kenosha County Board Chairman Edward Kubicki is hosting the 10th annual food drive to benefit the Shalom Center
Wisconsin Historical Tour: Kenosha
Where: Kenosha Public Library Southwest
What: The Wisconsin Historical Society Tour is stopping in Kenosha! Check HERE for a list of fun events in the district!
On November 11th, we will once again celebrate the important contributions and sacrifices made by veterans of our nation's armed services. Throughout our nation's history, our military has secured our freedom, protected our country, and fought injustice around the world. It is important we recognize those who have served, learn about their experiences, and thank them for their service.
The Wisconsin Historical Society is sponsoring multiple events in Kenosha for Veterans Day:
Wisconsin Veteran Stories Documentaries
When: 10am, 11am, 1pm
Where: Kenosha Public Library Southwest
What: Three special screenings showcasing a series of war and veteran history-related documentaries. At 10 are stories from WWII. At 11, a moment of silence will be held, followed by a documentary on the Korean War. Finally, at 1, Vietnam veterans share their stories.
Tracing Your Military Ancestors
Where: Kenosha Public Library Southwest
What: Learn how to use the military collections of the Wisconsin Veterans Museum and the Wisconsin Historical Society Library Archives to put together the stories of your ancestors who served their country through military service.
1st Brigade Band: A Concert of Civil War Music
When: 6:30pm doors, 7pm concert
Where: Walter Reuther Central High School Auditorium
What: Re-enactor musicians will play from original Civil War sheet music on period instruments and read solders' letters from the Wisconsin Historical Society's vast Civil War collection.
The City of
Kenosha's official trick-or-treating hours for 2015 are 4pm-8pm on
Click HERE for some important
Halloween safety tips.
The Great Lakes Higher Education Guaranty Corporation announced an expansion of their Career Ready Internship Grant, and Carthage College was among the announced recipients, receiving a grant of $349,146. Recipient colleges will spend the next few months planning and reaching out to businesses and nonprofits to set up opportunities for students, with paid internships beginning at the start of 2016. The program goes through May 2018. I applaud Carthage College for winning this grant, and look forward to seeing the positive impact this program will have on our community and local businesses.
To learn more about the Career Ready Internship Grant, visit its website.
To learn more about Carthage College, visit their website.
KRW Tri-County Tobacco Free Coalition is a partnership by our three neighboring counties to educate the public on the hazards of tobacco use, effects of second hand smoke, promoting cessation, and supporting youth in choosing a tobacco free life. The organization plays a big role in helping to make our community tobacco free, and the facts show why this is important:
If you or someone you know has a tobacco addiction and wishes to seek help, I would encourage you to contact the KRW Coalition to get more information. Together, we can make our community healthier and safer for all.
This month, organizations across the country came together to raise awareness for bullying and prevention. The campaign was founded by the Parent Advocacy Coalition for Education Rights (PACER) in 2006, and has grown in participation. The month looks to dispel the notion bullying is a "natural" activity in childhood, instead highlighting the detrimental effects it has on self-esteem, anxiety and depression, and school performance. Through outreach to school and parent organizations, the campaign hopes to change the social acceptance of bullying. To find out more about PACER and Bullying Prevention Month, click HERE.
The White House also released a new anti-bullying initiative on October 14th called "Act To Change." Resources include posters, videos, tips for standing up to bullying, and information on how to start a community dialogue to change the culture of bullying. To find out more, visit their website HERE.
2015 Wisconsin Act 5 requires the Wisconsin Department of Justice to create human trafficking awareness posters with information about the National Human Trafficking Resource Center (NHTRC) and their national confidential hotline number (1-888-373-7888). This poster has the potential to save lives, as it provides victims with a simple number to text or call. In order to be effective, however, NHTRC needs complete information about local resources to best help victims.
The Wisconsin Crime Victims Council and the Wisconsin Women's Council are working with NHTRC to build a complete directory of Wisconsin referral services. The list includes organizations providing services such as:
If you or a friend knows about any such organization, please email the Crime Victims Council at firstname.lastname@example.org. You can also share this flyer to spread the word about the campaign to end human trafficking.
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 you would like to see
As we gear up for fall and Halloween, I want to share with you updates on the Legislature, events in the district, and issues affecting Kenosha. First, I have information on a number of important bills being rushed through the Capitol this month. I also have updates on my work for Wisconsin's environment, Great Lakes, and wildlife. Included throughout is information on an array of events happening in our community in the coming month, as well as instructions on 2016 open enrollment, the 2015 Rally for Recovery, and a wonderful Capitol performance by Kenosha's own Tremper High School Wind Ensemble.
I wish you all a happy Halloween, and hope you stay safe and have fun!
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 Update: Attacks on Civil Service, Fair Elections, and Women's Health
As we head into the last two weeks of the 2015 Session, legislative Republicans and Governor Walker are speeding through their unpopular and devastating bills. First up, an overhaul to Wisconsin's 110 year old civil service law. Assembly Bill 373 would eliminate the blind state examination hiring process and give supervisors greater power to fire employees based on subjective standards. The processes of hiring employees through these blind examinations and retaining them based on years of service were implemented to prevent against widespread cronyism and political patronage. I worry these changes will remove protections for public employees which have guarded against politically-motivated hiring practices for the past 110 years.
Next up, an attack on Wisconsin's nationally admired nonpartisan Government Accountability Board (GAB). Assembly Bill 388 would overhaul the GAB and turn it political, with Republican and Democratic appointees taking the place of current nonpartisan judges. The bill models the new GAB after the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), with an equal number of Republicans and Democrats voting on elections issues. This political structure guarantees ties on any important or partisan issue, and we need only look to the FEC to see the effects of this gridlock. Unlimited money and questionable campaign practices have gone unchecked on the federal level, making the FEC one of the most ineffective agencies in Washington. I am appalled at this politically-motivated attack on our democracy, and even more appalled at how Republicans have tried to sneak this past the people of Wisconsin. The bill was released on October 7th, closed for co-sponsorship on the Friday the 9th, and at 4:41 pm on that day, we were notified only one joint public hearing would be held on Tuesday the 13th. This rushed process was designed for one reason: limiting public input from the people of Wisconsin.
Lastly, Republicans continue their attacks on women's health. Unfortunately, AB 310 passed the Assembly on September 24th, over the objection of every Democrat in the chamber. As I mentioned in last month's update, there are two other bills which would be devastating to women's health, life-saving research, and our economy. AB 311 would further defund women's health organizations, and is targeted at Planned Parenthood, Wisconsin's top provider of important health screenings and services. AB 305 would ban the use of fetal tissue for life-saving research, resulting in a devastating blow to a research field which adds $27 billion to Wisconsin's economy.
I wish I could tell you these bills were defeated or slowed down. Unfortunately, Republican control of the Legislature makes it likely all these bills will pass. Indeed, AB 388, along with bills to protect politicians from John Doe investigations and make Wisconsin's campaign finance laws the loosest in the country, passed the Assembly on October 21 along party line votes. The civil service bill passed the Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations on October 21 and will be taken up by the full Assembly next week. AB 305 and 311 have both passed committee and are available for scheduling. I will continue to fight these bills, as I believe they are bad for the people of Wisconsin.
First Lieutenant Scott Schumacher Honored in Assembly
Representatives Barca, Kerkman, and I were proud to honor the late Scott Schumacher before the Assembly on Tuesday, October 20 as a hometown hero. Schumacher served the Kenosha Fire Department for over sixteen years, and received the Exceptional Performance Commendation for Bravery after he pulled a young child from a burning house. Throughout his career, he answered over 10,000 calls for service, during which he was awarded numerous life-saving merit citations and achieved one of the highest success rates in paramedic procedures in Kenosha Fire Department history. First Lieutenant Schumacher also served on the Firefighters Local 414 Executive Board, was involved with the charitable organization C.A.R.E., and volunteered as the President of the Lakeland Little League program. What makes his life all the more impressive is the fact he accomplished a majority of these successes after receiving a diagnosis of cancer.
First Lieutenant Schumacher passed away from cancer on February 25, 2015. He is survived by his loving wife, sons, and daughter.
People like Lt. Schumacher embody the best of Kenosha and humanity. He risked his life to save countless others and helped make our community a better place to live. While the City of Kenosha is deeply saddened by his passing, we know his actions will live on through the lives he saved and the inspiration he provided us.
Reps. Ohnstad, Barca, and Kerkman speak about Lt. Schumacher before the full Assembly. They were joined by family, friends, and community members.
Great Lakes Legislative Caucus
At the end of last month, I had the pleasure of attending the 2015 annual meeting of the Great Lakes Legislative Caucus held in Buffalo, NY. I have been a member of GLLC since my first months in office, and I have been impressed at the work being done throughout the Great Lakes region by members of both sides of the aisle to address the unique issues we face.
At the GLLC annual conference, we held sessions on issues related to preventing the spread of Asian carp, mitigating potential hazards of crude oil transport, and procedures for preventing toxic algal blooms. The caucus also voted on five resolutions, including reducing phosphorus in the Great Lakes, maintaining harbors, and supporting waterfront community revitalization. I heard from and met with legislators representing multiple Great Lakes states and Canadian Provinces. I appreciate the diverse geographical and political makeup of the Caucus, and believe it plays an important role in protecting one of our greatest shared resources.
Rep. Ohnstad Receives Top Assembly Humane Score
The Wisconsin chapter of the League of Humane Voters released their Humane Scorecard for the 2013-14 legislative session, and I was given the top grade in the Assembly with an "A." The scorecard took into account 11 animal-related bills from last session, and graded Representatives and Senators based on their vote on the floor or committee, or their status as a co-sponsor.
In 2013, I was the lead Assembly author of Senate Bill 319, which would have strengthened protections for animals taken into custody who are victims of animal fighting. I also co-authored Assembly Bill 230, which would have given victims of animal fighting a better chance at finding a new home. These bills, along with my co-sponsorship of Assembly Bills 94, 223, 486 and Senate Bill 199, were all pro-animal actions I took during the last legislative session.
I have long been an advocate for better treatment of animals. This session, I introduced Assembly Bill 308, which would provide exemptions for a person who calls police and breaks into a hot vehicle to save a person or pet. After hearing from officials in Kenosha, I believe this bill will allow good samaritans to act when they see danger, and help to prevent the hot car tragedies we see all too frequently in the news. I myself have two dogs, Bella and Sadie, and I look forward to supporting more pro-animal legislation this session.
Open Enrollment for 2016 Health Insurance Coverage Begins November 1st
Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage starts November 1, 2015. This is important to be aware of because if you don’t enroll in a 2016 plan by January 31, 2016, you can’t enroll in a health insurance plan for 2016 unless you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period.
Click HERE to check out the Open Enrollment page, which answers a lot of frequently asked questions. You can also check out the "Get Coverage" page on the website to determine if you qualify for a Special Enrollment Period outside of the normal Open Enrollment time frame.
If you are unsure about what plan is best for you or you would like to talk with an enrollment expert for any reason, I encourage you to contact one of the many fantastic Certified Application Counselors available in Kenosha. These CAC's help consumers enroll in coverage through the federal exchange. HERE is a list of Wisconsin's registered CACs across the state. In Kenosha, you can find CACs at:
Rep. Ohnstad Speaks at Recovery Rally 2015
I had the great opportunity to attend the 2015 Rally for Recovery on September 19 at Pennoyer Park. The rally, sponsored by the Hope Council, aimed push back against the perception drug and alcohol addiction are character flaws. Guida Brown, Executive Director of the Council, spoke to this point at the event: "Addiction is a disease, and there shouldn't be any stigma associated with it. We need to talk about it more."
Throughout the rally, we heard incredible stories from members of our community about how addiction has affected them personally and the lives of loved ones. I also had the honor to read a portion of the "Recovery Bill of Rights." Students from Reuther High School and Students Against Destructive Decisions (SADD) presented displays on the dangers of smoking and spoke out on the impact of drugs on our community. I am incredibly impressed with the turnout and support this rally received, and plan to continue working in our community to push for greater resources and more discussion on this important issue.
Rep. Ohnstad and community members speak at Rally for Recovery
Tremper High School Wind Ensemble
Performs at the Capitol
I was happy to see the Tremper High School Wind Ensemble perform at the 2015 State of Education Address on September 17. It was incredible to listen to such a large group of talented students demonstrate the value of music and the arts. I was impressed by their performance, and proud to see Kenosha well represented by this fine group of musicians.
It is such a pleasure to meet with folks from Kenosha when you visit the State Capitol. If you have a trip planned to Madison later this spring and summer, please feel free to stop by my office at 128 North, or give my office a call to let me know you are coming. If I'm in Madison that day, I'd love to see you.
2015-16 Wisconsin Blue Books Are Here
Every two years, Wisconsin produces an official Wisconsin Blue Book, a
biennial manual of state government. Packed full with information
compiled by the Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB), the Blue
Book is a gold mine of information about our state.
Last Call: Kenosha's Farmers Markets
With fall in full swing and winter just around the corner, we are in the final weeks of Kenosha's outdoor farmers markets. Here is a list of the times and days of the week for each location.
With the outdoor
farmers markets coming to a close for the season, of course, you can
still enjoy Kenosha's WinterMarket. Click
HERE for more
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