State Capitol Report
Kenosha Public Museum Travel Adventure Series
When: Friday, November 20 at 7pm (Doors at 6:15)
Where: Reuther High School Auditorium, 913 57th St., Kenosha
What: For the 79th year, Kenosha Public Museum has offered professional filmmakers the opportunity to share their experiences through movies and interactive discussions. Join them on November 20th for the next film in the series, "Steamboating Alaska's Inside Passage"
Cost: $5/Adult, Children 15 and under are free
Mayor's Turkey Run
Kenosha's Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
UW-Parkside Theatre: Almost Maine
When: December 2-5 at 7:30pm, Dec 4 at 10am, and Dec 6 at 2pm
Where: 900 Wood Road, Kenosha
What: Welcome to Almost, Maine. A town so far north it’s almost not in the United States. One cold, clear Friday night in the middle of winter, while the northern lights hover in the sky above, Almost’s residents find themselves falling in and out of love in the strangest ways. Knees are bruised. Hearts are broken. Love is lost, found, and confounded. And life for the people of Almost, Maine will never be the same.
Cost: $18/adult, $14/Seniors & Staff, $10/Student
Historic Holiday at the History Center
Downtown Kenosha Inc. will be hosting a volunteer opportunity for you, your friends, and your family. Volunteers will be decorating and cleaning 6th Avenue in preparation for the upcoming Lighten' Up Festival.
Everybody is welcome to come. Children must be accompanied by a parent or guardian. DKI will be providing a lunch for volunteers and will provide the materials necessary for cleanup and decoration.
This is a wonderful opportunity to spend a Saturday with members of the community all while making Kenosha a beautiful place to live.
or to register, click
When: Saturday, November 21st 8am-5pm
Where: 6th Avenue, Downtown Kenosha
UW-Extension Kenosha County is a partnership among Kenosha County, UW-Extension, USDA, and local partners and volunteers. They offer important programs for members of our community interested in agriculture, leadership, and development. Below are their major programs:
Leadership Kenosha: A partnership with the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce and businesses in Kenosha County. The program is aimed at "developing a diverse group of emerging and existing community leaders by enhancing their community knowledge, civic network, and leadership skills to ensure the continuing vitality of our community." To find out more, click HERE or apply HERE.
Youth Development: The Youth Development program states its purpose as this: "Through research, education, and community-based partnerships, Kenosha County UW-Extension Youth Development programs are focused on helping young people gain knowledge and skills to become productive citizens." There are nine main programs offered, including 4-H, Youth As Resources, Youth in Governance, Afterschool Ambassadors, Youth Quest, Tech Wizards, Red Cross Babysitter's Training, Recipe for Leadership, and It's in the Bag. To find out more about these programs, go HERE.
Nutrition Education: The Racine Kenosha Nutrition Education Program (RKNEP) is a program of the Wisconsin Nutrition Education Program (WNEP). Their mission is to use research-based education in nutrition to support and strengthen the community. Those who receive are eligible to receive FoodShare, an orgnization or school where at least 50% of the population receives FoodShare or reduced price lunch, or other limited-income parents may participate in the program. Participants will learn how to plan an prepare nutritious meals, save money, food safety, physical activity guidelines, and make use of other community resources. To learn more, go HERE.
Economic Development: UW-Extension Kenosha works with local business partners to analyze economic issues, capitalize on local opportunities, and implement strategies to increase economic well-being and quality of life. To find out more about their business partners, click HERE.
Master Gardeners / Horticulture: A major program at UW-Extension is the partnership with the Master Gardener program. Each year, volunteer training classes are held for interested individuals. So far, there are more than 200 members and more than 30 projects throughout Racine and Kenosha Counties. The Master Gardener program teaches participants in the science and art of gardening. Once the program is completed, Master Gardeners work extensively to train, educate, and beautify their communities through gardening. To learn more, click HERE.
Agriculture: UW-Extension Kenosha County provides invaluable resources for local farmers. Their website includes information on tractor safety, agricultural land rental resources, pesticide applicator training, equine information, a quarterly newsletter, and more. Follow more information on their agriculture program and resources, click HERE.
This November, we recognize the important and often unnoticed work family caregivers do for our communities. Across the country and state, millions of family members care for someone who is ill, disabled, or elderly on their own time without pay. Many times, these individuals give up their free time or even work to help care for a family member. The work of these family caregivers saves our economy billions in health care costs and gives those suffering from a health condition the care they deserve and need.
The Caregiver Action Network (CAN), an advocate and resource for caregivers, lists the theme for November 2015 as RESPITE: Care for Caregivers. The acronym is meant to remind caregivers they must relax and rest, something which can be hard to come by when working a job and caring for a family member.
R - Rest and Relaxation
E - Energize
S - Sleep
P - Programs that can help you
I - Imagination
T - Take Five
E - Exhale
People who act as caregivers are associated with an increased risk for health issues from chronic stress. Following those steps will help to reduce this burden and allow a caregiver to give better care to their family member.
For more information on CAN and caregiver issues, click HERE.
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 make sense. 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
It has been both an exciting and disappointing month at the Capitol. I'll give you the good news first: My bill to protect Good Samaritans who rescue a vulnerable individual or pet from an overheated locked car was signed into law on November 11! Sadly, there were plenty of bad bills which were passed and signed into law as well, including two which will open Wisconsin politics to unprecedented corruption. In the face of over 10,000 job losses in the state this year and rankings showing us dead last in the nation for new businesses start-ups, Republicans decided to not call an extraordinary session for jobs, but rather for changes to campaign finance and election laws which make it easier for dark money to corrupt our elections.
In this newsletter, I've also included information on fun events around Kenosha, job opportunities, and some great local resources.
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.
Ohnstad Good Samaritan Bill Signed Into Law
Governor Walker signs AB 308 at signing ceremony
On Wednesday, November 11, Governor Walker signed into law my bill protecting Good Samaritans from civil liability if they rescue a vulnerable individual or pet from an overheated locked car. It is officially 2015 Wisconsin Act 103.
This bill has truly been a community-led effort. It began as an idea in September 2014, when the Kenosha City Council, led by Alderman Rocco LaMacchia, unanimously passed a resolution calling for protections for Good Samaritans in these situations. During the past year, I have worked with Alderman LaMacchia and the City Council, Kenosha Chief of Police John Morrissey, Rep. Kerkman, Sens. Wirch and Wanggaard, and other legislators to craft, amend, and pass this bill. I am thankful for the broad bipartisan backing this legislation has seen.
Act 103 passed by voice vote in the Assembly on October 27th and the Senate on November 6th. At the signing ceremony, I was joined by members of my staff, representatives from the Wisconsin Chapters of The Humane Society and American Academy of Pediatrics, and Kenosha Alderman Rocco LaMacchia, who was instrumental in helping to pass this legislation.
The Extraordinarily Corrupt Session
In a state ranked 34th in private-sector job growth, 3rd worst in percentage of graduates with student loan debt, dead last in new business start-ups, and with over 10,000 job losses this year, you would think Republicans would be scrambling to call an extraordinary session to work with Democrats to pass meaningful jobs and education legislation. And you would be wrong, because instead, Republicans were focused on a different set of priorities: protecting their donors and legalizing corruption. After the Assembly passed AB 387 & 388 on October 21, the Senate decided the bills did not go far enough. During weeks of closed door, partisan discussions, Republicans agreed on amendments to both bills which somehow made them even worse.
When the Assembly originally passed Assembly Bill 387, it represented a dramatic loosening of campaign finance rules which would put Wisconsin as one of the worst in the country in terms of disclosure and control of elections by dark money political groups. The Senate decided to take it a step further by effectively ending any restrictions on coordination between a dark money Political Action Committee (PAC) and a candidate's campaign. While the authors still allege the bill restricts coordination, the amendment leaves the previous restrictions as only a shell with a loophole so big you could drive a semi-truck through it. It is appalling the lengths Republicans will go to promote the interests of big money Super PACs over the people of Wisconsin, who cannot give million after million to candidates and parties to influence elections
Senate Republicans also managed to worsen the destruction of our nationally-revered and nonpartisan Government Accountability Board. Assembly Bill 388 turns it into a partisan gridlock board, with political appointees sitting on two 6-member commissions. Just like the Federal Elections Commission (FEC), one of the most ineffective agencies in Washington, this structure of three Democrats and three Republicans is meant to do one thing: ensure ties on any major decisions so there can be no oversight. When the Senate received the bill, Republicans decided to make it even more partisan by effectively giving power to decide hiring of the administrator to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Legislative Organization (JCLO). Should the board be gridlocked on choosing an administrator (as it is set up to do), JCLO would get to choose an interim administrator for a year. This process will continue in perpetuity, allowing Republicans to install a favored partisan to lead the commissions.
I am proud of my Democratic colleagues, who have stood up to these disastrous proposals every time they have come before us. We debated for hours when the two bills first passed on October 21, and we debated again for hours on Monday, November 16 when the amended bills came before us. Unfortunately, they passed again by largely party line votes.
State Capitol Office Closed November 26&27
In honor of Thanksgiving, I am closing my State Capitol office on Thursday, November 26th and Friday, November 27th. The office will re-open at the start of business on Monday, November 30th.
Last week on November 11th, our nation observed Veterans Day. Like so many others, I took the opportunity to think about the incredible contributions our veterans have made to our community, state, and nation, and to thank many of our local veterans for their service to our country.
I was pleased to attend memorials throughout the week hosted by the Vietnam Veterans, the VFW, the Naval Veterans, and an event for the 240th anniversary of the U.S. Marines.
As always, I tried to keep in mind the purpose of Veterans Day: A celebration to honor America's veterans for their patriotism, love of country, and willingness to serve and sacrifice for the common good. To our veterans, I thank you for your service and your sacrifice. And to our veterans' families as well, I thank you for the important role and service you played and continue to play.
Seasonal Work at Amazon and Local Job Resources
Amazon recently announced it would be hiring 100,000 associates nationwide for the holiday season, including jobs here in Kenosha at our new fulfillment center.
To find out more
or to apply for a position, follow this
Looking for other work? There are plenty of local resources to help you in your search:
Nominations Open For Wisconsin Women-Owned Businesses
Do you know a longstanding woman-owned business in Kenosha? Nominations for the annual Governor's Trailblazer Awards for Women in Business are now open! There are two categories for awards. The first, Pioneer, recognizes a business which is currently solely or majority owned by a woman or series of woman, and has been for the past 25 years. The second, Torchbearer, awards a family-owned business currently run by a female relative of the founder which has been in operation for three generations or more. Anyone may nominate a business for these distinguished awards. Since 2007, more than 50 Wisconsin women-owned businesses in 22 counties have received trailblazer awards.
Learn more and nominate a business HERE.
Constituent Visits to the Capitol
Rep. Ohnstad with Tammy Conforti and Rep. Barca in the Assembly
On Monday, November 16, I was pleased to introduce Tammy Conforti to the State Assembly. Tammy was central to making our new Kenosha Dream Playground a reality, and I thank her for her work and dedication to our community.
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.
Rep. Ohnstad Thanks Outgoing Staff Member
Rep. Ohnstad and Alec on the Assembly Floor
With Joanna Beilman-Dulin returning after Thanksgiving from her maternity leave, her replacement, Alec Foote Mitchell, will be moving on to a new position. Beginning in December, Alec will be working for Rep. Josh Zepnick (D-Milwaukee).
Rep. Ohnstad thanked Alec on the floor of the Assembly on November 3rd, and wishes him the best in his future endeavors.
Open Enrollment for 2016 Health Insurance Coverage Happening NOW
Open Enrollment for 2016 coverage is officially underway. 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.
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:
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