State Capitol Report


March 6, 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

Kemper Center Fish Fry Dinners
When: Fridays during Lent, 5pm
Where: Kemper Center

Low-Cost Animal Vaccine Clinic
When: March 7th, 9am-11:30am
Where: Safe Harbor Humane Society, 7811 60th Avenue, Kenosha
What: Opportunity for low-cost animal vaccinations
- Dogs & Cats: Rabies, microchip, pedicures
- Dogs: Distemper/parvo combo, heartworm test, canine cough
- Cats: Feline leukemia/FIV/heartworm test, distempter/respiratory combo

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

St. Patrick's Day Ballroom Dance
When: Saturday, March 7th, 7-10pm
Where: Kemper Center
What: Music provided by The Pat Crawford Big Band; Cash bar - complimentary dessert buffet
Tickets: $15/person - available at the door

United Way of Kenosha Co. celebration dinner
When: Thursday, March 19, 5:30pm cash bar, 6:00pm dinner
Where: Radisson Hotel & Conference Center, 11800 108th Street, Pleasant Prairie, WI
What: The results of programming for the past year will be shared. The work of local volunteers and partners will be highlighted.
Tickets: $40/person, RSVP by March 11

Susan B. Anthony Award Dinner
When: Friday, March 20th, 5:30 - 9:30pm
Where: Parkway Chateau, 12304 75th Street
Tickets: $40/person, deadline is March 13th

Frank & Cheryl Parise's 8th Annual Autism Benefit
When: Saturday, April 11, 1-6pm
Where: UAW Local 72, 3615 Washington Rd
What: There will be a silent auction, raffles, food and fun! Tickets are $5.00 at the door. A majority of the proceeds this year will go toward our local school, special education rooms.
For more information: Click HERE for Facebook event link


March is Colon Cancer Awareness Month


Colon cancer is the second-leading cause of cancer-related deaths in America. On average, your risk of being diagnosed with colon cancer is about 1 in 20, but this risk varies widely depending on your personal health and family history. It is worth knowing 90% of colon cancer diagnoses are in individuals 50 years old or older. Additionally, if you have a parent, sibling, or child who has or had colon cancer, your risk is 2-3 times higher of developing the disease yourself.


Early diagnosis is crucial to give you the best chance of survival. Early detection saves lives, so don't be afraid of colonoscopies!


If you would like to learn more about colon cancer, or if you want more resources for yourself or a loved one, here are some helpful resources:


ICYMI: Kenosha's Winter HarborMarket Returns Saturday


After being closed for two months, the Kenosha Winter HarborMarket will reopen this Saturday, March 7th, starting at 9am and ending at 1pm. The Winter HarborMarket will take place at Rhode Center for the Arts at 514 - 56th Street.


The reopening will feature a fun social atmosphere with more children's activities than in past, music, and as always a great chance to enjoy a cup of coffee.


A list of participating vendors can be found HERE



Kenosha County Historical Society seeks volunteers


The Kenosha County Historical Society is seeking volunteers for the upcoming season. Volunteer position to be filled are at the Kenosha History Center and the Southport Light House and Light Station Museum.


Volunteers work as docents, greeters, catalogers, archival processors, clerical assistants, and also work on special projects and events. Volunteers to guide school tours this spring are specifically needed.


For more information about becoming a volunteer, please call 262-654-5770 or go to



Local Resource: Flu Vaccinations Offered By County Health Offices


The Kenosha County Division of health is offering flu shots for people six months of age or older. A nasal spray is available for healthy kids ages 2-18. They are available at:

  • Kenosha County Division of Health, located in the Job Center/Human Services building, 8600 Sheridan Road, from 7am - 6pm weekdays;

  • Racine/Kenosha Community Action Agency-WIC office, 2000 63rd Street, from 8:30am-3:30pm Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday. (Hours on the second Tuesday of the month are 9:30am - 5:30pm. Hours on the third Saturday of each month are 9am - 2:30pm)

Fees are based on a sliding scale, starting at the $12 administration fee for pediatric vaccine (6mos - 18years). BadgerCare is accepted. For adults, vaccinations are $30, with Medicare (Part B) or BadgerCare accepted. No appointment is needed.


For more information, please visit or call 262-605-6700 or 800-472-8008.




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,


I write to you after a marathon two weeks of time spent at the State Capitol. Just an hour ago, the Assembly wrapped up a 24-hour long floor session, during which we debated and voted on the so-called Right To Work bill. Over the past two weeks, though, I have witnessed an incredible surge in constituent engagement through emails, phone calls, petitions, testimony, and numerous rallies. Even when I disagree vehemently with the policy at hand and get frustrated to see such policies being passed by the current legislature, it is inspiring to see and hear from so many Wisconsinites who care about their communities and want to make our state a better place to live.


In this State Capitol Report, I have included a full report about Senate Bill 44, the petition drive to save SeniorCare, a final update about the proposed Kenosha casino, and information about the Joint Finance Committee's public hearings around our state, among other things. I hope these materials are helpful and informative for you.


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


It is my honor to serve you.


Tod Ohnstad
State Representative
65th Assembly District


Right To Work Rushed Through Legislature

Over the past two weeks, an extreme, anti-worker bill has been forced through the Legislature at warp speed - the so-called "Right To Work" bill. Legislative Republicans called an extraordinary session on Friday, February 20th, and by the end of the following week, Senate Bill 44 had been forced through the State Senate without any changes being made, despite the bill receiving near-unanimous opposition during the Senate Labor Committee's public hearing and despite rallies of thousands of people in opposition to the bill.


Workers Rally at State Capitol during Senate consideration

of so-called "Right To Work" bill


After passing in the Senate, the bill came over to the Assembly. As a member of the Assembly Labor Committee, I had the privilege of listening to public testimony on the bill on Monday, March 2nd. It was a long day of twelve non-stop hours of testimony from citizens from all over Wisconsin. It was humbling to hear their stories about working both union and non-union jobs, and their fears about what the future could hold if Right To Work becomes law in our state.


Reps. Ohnstad, Mason, and Sinicki listen to testimony

in Assembly Labor Committee


Two days after the public hearing, the Assembly Labor Committee held an executive session. My Democratic colleagues and I offered a handful of very reasonable amendments which would have made a bad bill slightly better. Sadly, all four amendments failed.


Finally, over the last twenty four hours, the full Assembly debated and took votes on Senate Bill 44. I spoke several times on the bill, sharing both my own personal experience of working in both union and non-union plants giving voice to the opinions you expressed to me, which were overwhelmingly against right to work. (You can watch my first floor speech of the evening HERE.) I had hoped my words and those of my fellow colleagues against SB 44 would be persuasive. Unfortunately, earlier this morning - an entire day after session began - the Right To Work bill passed the Assembly on a 62-35 partyline vote.


I am incredibly disappointed not more legislative colleagues from the other side of the aisle refused to listen to public outcry on this bill. Despite being just a few pages in length, the bill represents a massive change in state law - one which I fear will put Wisconsin workers in a more vulnerable and more dangerous position. We should be doing everything we can to support and strengthen Wisconsin's workers in the middle class, not make life and employment even less stable.


Governor Walker has said he will sign Senate Bill 44 into law on Monday of next week, despite having told Wisconsin voters as recently as September during his re-election campaign he did not support right to work in this session. I sincerely hope he will change his mind between now and Monday, but I'm not holding my breath.


#SaveSeniorCare Petition Drive: DEADLINE EXTENDED


One of the most egregious elements of Governor Walker's proposed budget for 2015-2017 is the elimination of SeniorCare. As I mentioned in my last e-newsletter, I am strongly opposed to this elimination, as I believe SeniorCare is good for Wisconsin seniors and good for Wisconsin taxpayers. It is a win-win, and we should do everything we can to preserve the program.


Given the importance of SeniorCare, I am pleased to tell you the deadline to sign the "Save SeniorCare" petition has been EXTENDED to March 15. Simply click HERE and sign the electronic petition, or print out a hard copy of the "Save SeniorCare" petition in hard copy, sign it, and send it to my office. The more signatures we collect, the more impact these petitions will have on Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans. Please sign and share the petition far and wide!


Kenosha Casino

By now, I'm sure you have heard the unfortunate news that Governor Walker refused to approve the Kenosha casino by the February 19th deadline. In the days leading up to the deadline, there was incredible activity by casino supporters working to convince the Governor to change his mind, both in Kenosha and in Madison, and even along the highway from Keshena to the State Capitol.


Menominee Rally in support of Kenosha casino fills State Capitol


I had the privilege of speaking at a rally of several hundred members of the Menominee Tribe of Wisconsin. (You can watch my speech by clicking HERE.) The rally was at the conclusion of their march from Keshena to the State Capitol in Madison. It was truly humbling to witness so many individuals arrive after walking more than 150 miles in hopes of convincing Governor Walker to change his mind. Sadly, he chose not to do so. The casino will not become a reality in Kenosha.


Rep. Ohnstad speaks at rally of Menominee Indian Tribe of Wisconsin members in support of Kenosha casino


This is very disappointing news for many many people in our community. But I want to you know I am committed to Kenosha's economic development, and I am committed to working with anyone interested in making an investment in our community. Despite the frustrating setback handed to Kenosha by Governor Walker, we will come together as a community and continue building and strengthening our community.


Joint Finance Committee

Schedules Budget Hearings


After the official introduction of the proposed state budget by the Governor (which happened in early February), the next step in the budget process is the Joint Finance Committee's consideration of the budget. One important element of the Joint Finance Committee's work is its public hearings that are scheduled around the state. These public hearings are where public citizens can come before the Committee and express their thoughts and concerns on the proposed budget.


This session, the Joint Finance Committee has scheduled four public hearings. Those dates and times are:

All public hearings will begin at 10am and are scheduled to conclude at 5pm, except the hearing at Reedsburg High School, which will begin at 9:30am and conclude at 4pm..


I am disappointed there will not be a public hearing by the Joint Finance Committee in Kenosha. However, I do want to reiterate to you how seriously I take the emails and letters you send me, as well as your phone calls and Facebook messages. Particularly for a bill as important to our state and community as the state budget, I hope to hear from as many Kenosha residents as possible. I will have a chance to vote on the budget as a whole, so it is important to know how you feel and how you are affected by each of the many budget components.




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