State Capitol Report


February 13, 2015

Contact Me

State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

PH: (608) 266-0455
TF: (888) 534-0065
FAX: (608) 282-3665

On the Web:


Upcoming District Events

Kenosha Snow Daze Festival
When: Saturday, February 14 from 12-3pm
What: Free, family-friendly winter festival
Where: Downtown Kenosha
**Click HERE for a map of ice sculpture locations**

Downtown Kenosha Restaurant Week
When: February 14-22
What: Nine days during which participating restaurants will serve "prix fixe" menus for breakfast ($10), lunch ($10) and dinner ($20 & $30), as well as "Sweets & Treats" specials too. A great opportunity to try a new dish, or many new dishes.
Also: Don't forget there is a FOOD DRIVE to benefit the Shalom Center's food pantry happening during Restaurant Week.

House of Nutrition Health Seminar
When: Sunday, February 15 from 12-3pm
Where: House of Nutrition, 5824 6th Avenue
What: A free "one-on-one total wellness event for the mind, body, and soul"
Questions: Call 262-652-4787

Premiere of Ruby Dee Documentary
: Tuesday, February 17 at 7pm
Where: UW-Parkside
Tickets: $15/person, available at

KUSD PTA Founder's Day Dinner
When: Monday, February 23rd, 5:30pm
: Parkway Chateau, Kenosha
What: The annual fundraising dinner for the KUSD PTA. The money raised provides scholarship funds for KUSD high school graduates.
Keynote Speaker: Dr. Bryan Albrecht, President, Gateway Technical College

Great Kenosha Pizza Bake-Off
When: Sunday, March 1st from 5-7pm
Where: UAW Local 72, 3615 Washington Rd
What: Sample pizzas served from local pizza establishments and vote for your favorite tasting pizza to win this year’s “People’s Choice Award”!
**Proceeds from this event go to support Optimist youth programs in Kenosha.**

KAC Spaghetti Dinner
: Thursday, March 5th from 4-6:30pm
Where: KAC, 1218 79th Street, Kenosha
What: Spaghetti dinner fundraiser - all proceeds go to the Kenosha Dream Playground Project
Tickets: $1/ticket in advance; $5 at the door; Last day to purchase advance tickets is March 2nd.

Third Annual Police and Firefighters Ball
: Saturday, March 7th at 5pm
Where: Madrigrano Marina Shores, 302 58th Street, Kenosha
Tickets: $60/person (includes buffet dinner, tap beer, wine, soda, dessert; cash bar also available)
Contact: Keith Dumesic, 262-605-5262 or

Susan B. Anthony Award Dinner
When: Friday, March 20th
Where: Parkway Chateau, 12304 75th Street


February is National Black History Month


As you know, February is Black History Month throughout the United States. In February, we focus in particular on the role, experiences of, and contributions of African Americans throughout our nation's history. All too often, these deeds and stories go untold or forgotten despite the significance they have.


If you are interested in celebrating Black History Month here in Kenosha, you may consider attending the Urban League of Racine and Kenosha's breakfast on Wednesday, February 25 from 7:30-8:30am.  Dr. Junith M. Thompson, MD SC will be honored.


The breakfast will take place at MIRAZ Restaurant/Pancake House, 7500 Sheridan Rd, Kenosha. Tickets are $5 in advance or $8 at the door. Simply drop off or mail $5 to: 1418 68th Street, Kenosha, WI 53143 or call 262-652-2111.


ICYMI: Menominee,
Hard Rock leaders make
game-changing offer


Earlier this week, the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin and Hard Rock International made a game-changing new offer to Governor Walker, in hopes of convincing him to reverse his initial decision to reject the casino.


Two days later, I joined my fellow southeastern Wisconsin legislative colleagues in sending a letter to Governor Walker, asking him to at least meet with the Menominee and Hard Rock leaders. The BIA has said it will accept Gov. Walker's decision to reverse his earlier position if he does so by Thursday, February 19th.


Click HERE to read the Menominee/Hard Rock proposal. Click HERE to view the letter from legislators. 



Visit to Ocean Spray


I was pleased to start out the year with a tour of Ocean Spray. Since I was elected to the State Assembly I have met with and toured several manufacturing sites in Kenosha. By doing so I hope to gain a better understanding of our local economy and what can be done to help these employers. I was recently appointed as the Ranking Democratic member of the Jobs & Economy Committee and plan on making several more tours in this session. I’d like to thank Lou Molitor at the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce for arranging this and other tours as well and joining me on the Ocean Spray tour.


Ocean Spray has been in Kenosha for 45 years. It is one of nine plants, with two others also located in Wisconsin. Sitting on 40 acres, the plant is 425,000 square feet. They employ 224 people, 173 of whom are members of the International Association of Machinists and another 51 salary employees. Cranberries are big business in this state. We are the largest grower in the U.S. and the cranberry is our state fruit.

Tim Peoples has been the Plant Director for a little over three years and has overseen over $10 million in plant improvements. They have a unique apprenticeship program which has been recognized by the State and provides employees the opportunity to become journeymen. More exciting products will be arriving on the shelves this spring and hopefully more plant improvements as well.



Local Resource:
Safe Harbor Humane Society


Safe Harbor Humane Society is an important nonprofit organization, whose mission is to house, care for, and find loving homes for animals orphaned, abused and neglected in Kenosha County. Each year, Safe Harbor takes in about 3,100 animals each year, and places a majority of those animals into good homes.


Located at 7811 60th Street, Safe Harbor has an adoption process for prospective forever families, as well as volunteer opportunities for animal lovers who want to spend some time helping animals in need. Safe Harbor always needs individuals willing to foster as well, as some animals have special needs when they come to Safe Harbor.


In addition to these services, Safe Harbor runs several other important programs and clinics, ranging from a vaccination clinic to low-cost spay and neuter services to euthanasia and cremation services. Current and prospective animal owners face a variety of circumstances, and Safe Harbor is a great resource here in Kenosha.


Safe Harbor is open on Mondays, Tuesdays, Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays. They can be reached by phone at (262) 694-4047  or Click HERE for their website.


Thank you, Safe Harbor, for the work you do on behalf of animals in our community, and for bringing together so many animals with their new forever families!



Seeking Your Ideas
For Legislation


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 addressed?

I believe the best legislation comes from constituents like you. So, I hope you will contact me to share your ideas for bill! You can
email me with your legislation ideas or you can call my office at (608) 266-0455.



Friends and Neighbors,


Since my last State Capitol Report, things have been very budget-focused up in Madison. On February 3rd, Governor Walker gave his budget address and officially introduced his budget proposal to the state legislature. Since then, I have been pouring over the details available on the proposal.


As I have always said to you, my focus is on improving economic opportunity. Wisconsin needs a budget that puts families and economic opportunity first. In this update, as the next several updates to come, I will share with you details about the budget and the budget process. It's a lengthy process, but it's an incredibly important decision-making document as the state budget will set the priorities for Wisconsin for the next two years.


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


It is my honor to serve you.


Tod Ohnstad
State Representative
65th Assembly District


Gov. Walker's 2015-17 State Budget Proposal Officially Introduced

Last Tuesday, I traveled up to the State Capitol to listen to Governor Walker's official State Budget address. In his twenty-four minute speech, Gov. Walker offered some highlights of his proposed state budget for 2015-2017. In the days since then, I have been working hard to get into the nitty gritty of the actual budget details to figure out more specifics about the Governor's budget, and how it would affect Kenosha.


What I have found so far is unfortunately quite alarming. The budget proposal includes:

  • $300 million dollar cut to the UW System;

  • $125 million dollar cut to Wisconsin's K-12 public schools, just in the first year alone;

  • SeniorCare being gutted;

  • complete elimination of IRIS, the Medicaid Home and Community-Based Services (HCBS) waiver for self-directed long-term supports;

  • elimination of all state funds for Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin Public Television;

  • effectively ends the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Fund, which protects and preserves Wisconsin's natural areas for the public to enjoy for hiking, fishing, and hunting.

SeniorCare Gutted Under Proposed Budget

One of the most troubling elements of Governor Walker's budget proposal is his proposed elimination of SeniorCare. As you may know, SeniorCare is a prescription drug assistance program for approximately 85,000 Wisconsin residents who are 65 years of age or older. 


Unlike Medicare Part D, SeniorCare has a simple enrollment process, a $30 annual enrollment fee, income-based deductibles and co-payments of just $5 for generic medications. SeniorCare has no strict enrollment period or penalty and no gaps in coverage. Most participants save hundreds of dollars each year by utilizing SeniorCare’s prescription drug benefits instead of Medicare Part D.


To help save SeniorCare, I have a petition on my website and Facebook page that you can use to make your voice heard to the Governor and legislative Republicans. Please take a moment to download, print, sign and mail in a petition. Ask your friends, family, and neighbors to do the same. This is a statewide petition, so they do not need to live in Kenosha to sign.


The deadline for signatures is March 1st, so time is of the essence. Let's make our voices heard! Click HERE to download a copy of the petition or HERE to sign electronically.


UW-Parkside Would Be Hit Hard

Under Governor's Budget

After Governor Walker announced a $300 billion cut to the University of Wisconsin system I reached out and met with UW-Parkside Chancellor Debbie Ford and some of her staff about what this would mean for our campus.

First let me say a few things about UW-Parkside. Nearly 70% of Parkside students come from Kenosha and Racine counties. It is the most racially diverse campus in the system with 30% of their students being people of color. Parkside is particularly important as, if not for Parkside, it is unlikely many of these students would go to college. Sixty percent of UW-Parkside graduates are the first in their families to earn a college degree.

Tuition at Parkside is the lowest in the system. In state tuition is $7,326 compared with a statewide average of $8,893, or $30,094 average private non-profit schools. Their partnerships with Gateway Technical College and other community colleges make it even more affordable to get a four year degree. And those pay off both for the students and community alike. In their computer science department there is a 99% placement rate. In pre-health there is a 90% placement rate compared to a national average of 40%. The school is highly accredited and is partnering with several local businesses to train the next generation of managers and innovators.

Parkside is essential if Kenosha is to continue to move forward with economic development. As employers look to locate in Kenosha, our educational opportunities are a major factor in their decision making. Parkside has already faced budget cuts that have cut to the bone. This latest proposal in the Governor’s budget to cut nearly an additional 13% of their state aid is not acceptable. Kenosha and Wisconsin deserve better.


Mentoring Resolution Passes Assembly


One of the first legislative proposals I introduced this year, Assembly Joint Resolution 2, seeks to declare January as "Mentoring Month" in Wisconsin. While January has come and gone already, I am pleased to share the Assembly passed my resolution unanimously in yesterday's official floor session. I was also honored to have Rebecca Stevens, RSVP Manager at KAFASI, and Randy Hutson, who serves as a mentor, join me at the Capitol to witness the passage of AJR 2.


I currently have the privilege of serving as a mentor for a young student in Kenosha, in my third stint as a mentor. Being a mentor is incredibly rewarding, both for mentors as well as the young people they are mentoring. I believe passing this resolution will go a long way in raising awareness about mentoring and encouraging people throughout Wisconsin to consider becoming a mentor. If you would like to learn more about becoming a mentor, please click HERE to contact Rebecca Stevens.


Habitat For Humanity Kenosha Turns Keys
on Second H4HK Home, Seeks Applications

On Saturday, January 31st, I had the privilege of attending the blessing and dedication of the Lavine Family home, the second home built through Habitat for Humanity Kenosha. Lisa Lavine and her children, Jennifer and Ritchie, will be moving from Twin Lakes to Kenosha to live in this home, having put in hundreds of hours of their sweat equity into building their house. It was a special moment to witness the end of their hard work and to see how excited they were to move into their new home and begin a new chapter in their life as a family. Congratulations, Lavine Family! And welcome to Kenosha!


If you or someone you know are interested in learning more about Habitat For Humanity Kenosha, particularly about what is required of a prospective H4HK homeowner, I encourage you to visit the H4HK website's "Own A Home" section. There is a one-page pre-application form, as well as a lot of helpful information and answers to frequently asked questions. You can also visit H4HK's Facebook page.


Constituent Meetings at the State Capitol

One of the highlights of being your State Representative is meeting with Kenosha residents when you come to the State Capitol. Meeting with you in person provides me with a better understanding of the issues you are facing right now, as well as the needs of our community. It is also fun getting to show Kenosha folks some of the behind-the-scenes parts of the Capitol.


This month, I had the pleasure of meeting with folks from the Kenosha County government, from Society's Assets (which serves individuals with disabilities throughout southeastern Wisconsin).


L to R: Clerk of Circuit Court Rebecca Matoska-Mentink, County Clerk Mary Schuch-Krebs, Rep. Ohnstad, Supervisor Boyd Frederick, Supervisor Dayvin Hallmon


L to R: Tami Jandrowski, Rep. Ohnstad, Jennifer Huff


If you are planning a trip to Madison, whether for fun or as a citizen advocate, I hope you will contact my office to set up a time to stop by! Just call (608) 266-0455 or email I look forward to seeing you.




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