Friends and Neighbors, 

I hope you’re having a great year so far. It’s been a very busy month for me - I’ve been in Madison more days than Kenosha this month, but frequent travel to Madison is expected during the last month of scheduled floor periods. Speaker Vos has indicated the Assembly doesn’t plan to meet until next session.

Last week, the Assembly was in session Tuesday and Thursday, with Thursday being perhaps the last day. It’s safe to say we got a lot of good bipartisan bills passed, but I wish we could have done more to tackle the issues our community and people across Wisconsin care about. I hope next session we can close the dark store loophole and focus on modernizing our outdated marijuana laws while eliminating racial disparities in the criminal justice system.

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


Next Session Goals

Closing the Dark Store Loophole

Republicans have refused to take action on closing the dark store loophole this session. This loophole allows big retail stores like Walmart to reduce their property taxes by assessing their stores as if they were vacant or “dark” stores, thus lowering their tax bills. It seems as if they would rather keep the tax burden placed on home-owners and small businesses. It’s simple – homeowners and small business should not be paying more in property taxes to subsidize national retail chains. I was a cosponsor of Assembly Bill 146, which was a bipartisan bill to close this unfair tax loophole. The bill was referred to the Committee on State Affairs, which I’m a member of, but it didn’t even receive a public hearing.

Marijuana Legalization

This session we overcame a hurdle in reforming our marijuana laws. A few Republicans have finally spoke publicly regarding their support of legalizing medical marijuana. Even though it was a small hurdle, any progress towards legalization is a step forward.

However, it’s been 10 years since Wisconsin even held a public hearing on legalizing medical marijuana. Similar to how old laws are often revised in the Assembly to keep up with modernization, marijuana still hasn’t had a chance to be debated. I believe it’s time to let the public have their say on this issue next session. Every session since I was elected, I have introduced a package of bills to reform our marijuana laws, but the Republican majority continues to take no action. Many other states, including many of our neighboring states, have already taken the step; it’s time for Wisconsin to join them. I hope next session we can focus on helping those with chronic illnesses get the care they deserve while clearing out our prisons with low-level marijuana offenders.

Minimum Wage Increase

Wisconsin’s minimum wage has been frozen at $7.25 an hour since 2009 when federal law increased it from $6.50. Had the minimum wage kept up with inflation since 1968, it would now be about $10.56. If we had kept it up with the overall growth in income in our economy over the last four-and-a-half decades it would have been $21.16 per hour.

42% of workers in this country make less than $15 an hour. It’s not just teenagers working at fast food restaurants who make under $15 an hour – over 46% of these employees are 35 or older. This session, Republicans gutted Governor Evers’ proposal to increase minimum wage in the budget and refused to support recent legislation introduced by Rep. Melissa Sargent to increase minimum wage to $15 an hour. I was a proud cosponsor of this bill and was disappointed to see no action on the bill from the other side of the aisle.

Addressing Health Care Costs

When Governor Evers introduced his proposed budget, he insisted Wisconsin accepts the federal dollars to expand our health care system, a process known as Medicaid Expansion. 1.1 million Wisconsinites rely on Medicaid for health care and this expansion would have covered childless adults, parents, and caretakers with incomes up to 138% of the federal poverty level.

Furthermore, if Republicans would have supported accepting the $1.6 billion in federal money, it would have allowed 82,000 additional Wisconsinites access to affordable health care while saving our state $324 million. Given many Republican Governors across the country have taken federal Medicaid support and 70% of Wisconsinites support expansion, Republicans played politics instead of listened to the people of Wisconsin. To date, 37 states have adopted Medicaid Expansion and Wisconsin is among the 14 who have not; we need to do better.

Medicaid Expansion Map.PNG

Criminal Justice Reform

Wisconsin is now spending more on Correction costs than we are on the UW-System. It doesn’t matter if you’re a Democrat or Republican, this should not be the case. At a time when we have more people incarcerated than ever before, Republicans recently introduced a ‘Tougher on Crime’ package. One bill in the package, Assembly Bill 805, would require two new facilities the size of Oshkosh Correctional Institution to accommodate the increased prison population as a result of this policy. This was a bill I voted no on. Sadly, it passed the Assembly and Senate and is currently sitting on Governor Evers’ desk; I hope the Governor veto’s this bill.

Wisconsin prisons are currently at 133% capacity, with an estimated 23,609 inmates as of February 7th, 2020. We need to work on smart policies to address crime, not build more prisons and incarcerate more people for low-level crimes. I understand we need to keep communities safe, but increasing the prison population doesn’t accomplish this. Rather, we should focus on reducing the social and economic impact of mass infarction on vulnerable communities.

What Else is Happening? 

Kenosha Community Health Center Tour

Earlier this month, I toured the Kenosha Community Health Center and learned about all the different services they provide for our community. I’m proud of the work they do every day; thank you again for having me!

The Kenosha Community Health Center has been in Kenosha since 1995. They service three sites in the City of Kenosha and just recently opened a new site in Kenosha County. As a patient focused center, they work to provide patients with the best quality of service possible. Please click here to learn more about the Kenosha Community Health Center. 


$15 Minimum Wage Press Conference

As mentioned earlier, I was proud to support legislation introduced by Rep. Melissa Sargent which would increase the minimum wage to $15 an hour. It was great to stand up with a number of my colleagues and advocates to show Wisconsin needs to increase the minimum wage.

15 an hour.jpg

Governor Bill Signing

I was pleased to stand alongside the Governor as he signed two bipartisan bills into law: one I helped introduce and one I cosponsored. Assembly Bill 287 and Senate Bill 163 both improve certain health care practices in Wisconsin.

Bill Signing SB163_AB175 -134.JPG

Kenosha Achievement Center Breakfast

I always look forward to the Kenosha Achievement Center Legislative Breakfast. Many community members and elected officials gather together to discuss issues impacting our community and ways we can overcome them.


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!  

Income Taxes

The Kenosha VITA Coalition works together with IRS-certified volunteers to provide free income tax preparation assistance to low-to-moderate income families. Their services are a great asset to our community and I encourage you to click here to see how they may be able to help you! 


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 subscribe to Labor Times by liking their Facebook page. You can also read my February report by clicking here. If you would like to subscribe to the Southeast Wisconsin Labor Times Newspaper, call (262)-595-0329 or email 

Request a Wisconsin Blue Book 

Remember, my office has 2019-2020 Blue Books to give away. Each legislator receives a limited supply of these Wisconsin resource books every two years, which function somewhat like an almanac for the state.

If you are my constituent and would like to request a copy, please call or email my office with your name and home address at (608) 266-0455 or


Upcoming Events 

What: Kenosha History Center 2020 Exhibit

When: Until Sept. 30, 2020, see times here

Where: Kenosha History Center

What: Lakeside Band Festival

When: February 29, 7pm

Where: Carthage College

What: The Cat's Pajamas in Concert

When: March 7, 8pm

Where: Wyndham Garden - Kenosha Harborside 

What: KAC Spaghetti Dinner

When: March 12, 4:30-6:30pm

Where: Kenosha Achievement Center, 1218 79th St

What: Pi Day 5k Run 

When: March 14, 2-3pm

Where: Place De Douai in HarborPark

What: 20th Annual Bowls & Books Soup Fest Contest 

When: March 25th, 10am-6pm

Where: Rhode Center, 514 56th St


What: Civil War Medical Weekend

When: March 21-22, time TBA

Where: Civil War Museum

What: Kenosha Expo Homeshow

When: February 29 & March 1st, 10am-4pm

Where: UW-Parkside, 900 Wood Rd

What: The Rodney Marsalis Philadelphia Big Brass

When: March 19, 7:30pm

Where: Parkway Chateau at Brat Shop, 12304 75th St Kenosha

What: St. Patrick's Day Weekend at the Biergarten

When: Petrifying Springs Biergarten

Where: 5555 7th Street, Kenosha



Phone: 608-237-9530           



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