Friends and Neighbors,

Happy Labor Day weekend! To all the workers who have contributed to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country – thank you. This weekend is usually a sign summer has come to an end, but also a sign the school-year is beginning. While teachers are rushing to finish tidying up their classrooms, eager students and parents are finishing checking off their school supply list. To all those who teach and to all those who learn – best of luck this school year!

Madison has been slow this past month, especially with the budget process being over. However, I still kept myself busy by working on legislation and attending events in our community. While many legislators use the slow summer months as an excuse not to come to Madison, I use it to get ahead and get things done for Wisconsinites.

I always welcome your feedback and opinions, so please feel free to contact me. Also, if you would like something to be included in future e-newsletters, just let me know at (608) 266-0455 or


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Current Legislation

LRB-1502; Lead Testing of Child Care Centers

Lead poisoning is extremely harmful to young children, who absorb lead faster than adults. Lead poisoning can hurt a child’s brain and nervous system and slow down growth and development. Because of this, I introduced legislation with Senator LaTonya Johnson which would require drinking water in child care centers to be lead free. Specifically, a building used for child care must be tested for lead within six months of submitting or renewing licensure.

In Wisconsin, 4.6% of tested children under 6-years-old had elevated blood lead levels. In Milwaukee, the rate of lead poisoning was 8.6% of tested children under 6. To put those rates in perspective: Flint, Michigan had a rate of 4.9%...Wisconsin is experiencing almost double the rate Flint was. It’s clear this is a public health crisis – I’m hoping both Democrats and Republicans can work together and get this bill signed into law.  

Earlier this month in Kenosha, Governor Evers signed Executive Order 36 which created a position within the Department of Health Services to serve as the coordinator of the state’s efforts to address the lead crisis. It’s great to have a leader who focuses on addressing important issues like this.

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AB 221; Federal Retirement Benefit Tax Fairness

Currently, there is a tax disparity between retired federal workers receiving social security and former federal employees not receiving social security, but instead receiving a pension. I have introduced a bill to end this disparity. Joining me as lead authors are Representative Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) and Senators Sale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Fred Risser (D-Madison).

Prior to 1984, all federal employees were covered by the Civil Service Retirement System (CSRS) rather than social security. Beginning in 1984, all new federal employees and those who chose to change plans were covered by the Federal Employees Retirement System (FERS), which is covered by social security. State law exempts social security benefits from the state income tax. It also provides an exemption for CSRS pensions for employees who were members prior to 1964. However, post-1964 CSRS federal employees are excluded from provision and their pensions are taxed in Wisconsin.

The state’s tax laws create a donut-hole where certain federal retirees are still being taxed based on their older plans. Our bill aims to provide level treatment among these retired workers and how their benefits are taxed by the state. Neighboring Illinois, for example, exempts both social security and federal pensions from state taxes.

This bill has been referred to the Committee on Ways and Means; one I’m a member of. It’s likely this bill will have a hearing on September 12th – I’m hopeful other members of the committee will realize the disparity along with the bipartisan work which went into this legislation.  

AB 190; Wetland Mitigation Banks

I introduced this bill with Representative Ron Tusler (R-Harrison). AB 190 would require wetland mitigation to occur closer to the site of a development project in order to better protect against flooding and preserve local habitats and groundwater filtration.

This bill was referred to the Assembly Committee on Environment and had a public hearing on August 15th. Wisconsin takes issues of wetland mitigation seriously and I was proud to testify about the importance of my bill.

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Assembly Joint Resolution 75

The May 3rd explosion and fire at AB Specialty Silicones was a devastating event. I authored a resolution which honors the lives of the individuals involved as well as their heroic efforts to look out for one another. Joining me in authoring this resolution was: Representative McGuire, Neubauer, and Kerkman; cosponsored by Senators Wanggaard and Wirch.

LRB-3949; Requiring Background Checks on Gun Sales

Currently, under federal law, anyone who purchases a weapon from a federally-licensed firearms dealer has to undergo a background check. However, private-party transactions are not covered by federal law, meaning no background check is required. So those who are not allowed to own a gun federally can still “legally” purchase them from non-licensed sellers: gun shows, flea markets, newspaper, or the internet. This bill would expand the requirement for a state check to cover all firearm purchases in Wisconsin. This is a very dangerous loophole and one our state needs to fix.

Protecting Wisconsin families by passing common-sense gun control legislation is the right thing to do. However, Republican leaders have repeatedly said they will not support this bill. It is extremely disappointing they would choose special interests over protecting Wisconsinites when vast majority of people in our state support mandatory background checks, including 8 out of 10 gun owners. I refuse to let any Wisconsin community become the next target.

I am a cosponsor of this bill and was proud to stand alongside my colleagues as they introduced this bill:

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What Else is Going On? 

Amazon Tour  

I had the opportunity to tour the Amazon Facility in Kenosha with my colleague Rep. Tip McGuire. This is a huge facility bringing a vast amount of workers to our community. At the end of the tour, Amazon surprised the Boys & Girls Club of Kenosha with a $15,000 donation. It was a great moment!


Steamfitters Local 601 Tour 

This 58,000 square feet, $12 million building paid by their members shows the true value of labor unions in Wisconsin. This facility included classrooms as well as training areas for fabrication and welding. It also included a 3-story rigging structure which allowed apprentices to train in a climate-controlled-environment. This is an outstanding facility for the journeymen, apprentices, and helpers who work in the HVAC industry in Southern Wisconsin.

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Salvation Army Tour  

From fighting hunger to empowering children, the Salvation Army has a lot of great resources to better our community. I was pleased to learn how members of our community can utilize these resources for themselves or their families. Senator Wirch and Rep. Tip McGuire joined me on the tour.

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Eagle Scout Award 

I attended the Eagle Scout ceremony for Alex Columbus. It was a great ceremony and he sure was one happy kid. These ceremonies are always fun!

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Kenosha County Aging & Disability Resource Center 

Volunteer Guardian Services is a program located in the Kenosha County Aging and Disability Resource Center (ADRC) within the Kenosha County Division of Aging and Disability Services. The program provides qualified legal guardians to elderly and disabled adults in need. Since its inception, the program has grown to include over 40 guardians who make a positive difference in over 70 people’s lives. If this program sounds interesting to you, click here for more information so you can start making a difference!  

Labor Times Column 

Every month I write a column in the Labor Times Newspaper where I discuss my legislative priorities, events I participated in, and what's happening in our community. I encourage you to read my June column by clicking here

Upcoming Events 

What: Creative Space Exhibit: Imagenes de Latin America - a memorial exhibition of modern art from Latin America

When: Through Sept. 15

Where: 624 57th St. Kenosha, WI

What: Kenosha Classic Cruise-In Car Show

When: August 31st, 9am-4pm

Where: Downtown Kenosha

What: Kenosha Laborfest

When: Sept. 2nd, 11am-5pm

Where: Therese Festival Grounds, 2020 91st Street

What: Kenosha Streetcar Day

When: Sept. 7, 10am-4pm

Where: Joseph McCarthy Transit Center, 724 54th St. 

What: Public Craft Brewing Co. End of Summer Block Party

When:  Sept. 7, 11am-10pm

Where: Public Craft Brewing Co. 716 58th St. 

What: City of Kenosha Fall Festival

When: Sept. 14, 11am-3pm 

Where: Veterans Memorial Park, 625 52nd St. 

What: Great Lakes Civil War Forum

When: Sept. 14, 8:30am

Where: Civil War Museum, 5400 First Ave

What: Rock Painting 

When:  Sept. 19, 6-7:30pm

Where: Southwest Library, 7979 38th Ave 

What: Pike River Cleanup

When:  Sept. 21, time: TBD

Where: Petrifying Springs Park, 5555 7th St. Kenosha

What: Kemper Center Oktoberfest

When:  Sept. 28, 4-10pm

Where: Kemper Center, 6501 3rd Ave


What: Cheese-A-Palooza

When: August 31-Sept. 1, time: TBD

Where: HarborPark, 400 54th Street

What: Labor Day Sidewalk Sale

When: August 30-Sept. 2, all-day 

Where: Pleasant Prairie Premium Outlets 

What: Lemon Street Gallery Featured Artist Exhibit

When: Sept. 4 - Sept. 29, 11am-6pm Wed-Sun

Where: Lemon Street Gallery & Artspace, 4601 Sheridan Road

What: Walk in the Woods Art Fair

When: Sept. 7, 10am-4pm

Where: Hawthorn Hollow Nature Sanctuary & Arboretum 

What: Kenosha Food Truck Tour 

When: Sept. 26, 5-10pm

Where: Petrifying Springs Park Pavilion 1



Phone: 608-237-9530           



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Copyright © 2017 State Representative Tod Ohnstad, 65th Assembly District. All rights reserved.