State Capitol Report


April 17, 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

First Annual Downtown Kenosha Inc. (DKI) Downtown Cleanup Day
: Friday, April 24th from 9am-4pm.
Where: Veterans Park, Just southeast of Kenosha City Hall: 625 52nd Street. Kenosha
What: DKI, Sam’s Club, and Bear Real Estate are sponsoring a cleanup day. Participants are still needed to sweep sidewalks, pick up trash, and make a good showing to beautify Kenosha’s downtown!
For more information: Click HERE to visit the event’s webpage.

Get beHIND the aRTS Studio Tour
When: Saturday, April 25: Racine Studio Tour & Sunday, April 26: Kenosha Studio Tour
What: A self-guided tour of over 45 visual and performing artists’ studios featuring over 75 artists throughout Racine and Kenosha. Click HERE to view a list of studio locations.
**Don't forget the Preview Party on April 24th, at 427 Main Street in Racine
For more information: Click HERE to visit their website.

Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association’s Coin Sports Bar Benefit/Fundraiser
When: Saturday, April 26th from 6-10pm.
Where: Coins Sports Bar at 1714 52nd St. Kenosha
What: Proceeds will benefit Kids Fish n’ Fun, New Life Ring Kiosk Kenosha Harbor, and Pike River clean-up. Accepting $10 donations. One lucky person will win $100 cash. Attractions include free beer and food, prizes, raffles, and a 50/50 auction.
For more information: Click HERE to visit the KSFPA's website. For tickets contact Jim Zondlak at For donations contact Erica Pitner at

Women and Children’s Horizons (WCH) 6th Annual "Strike Out Abuse" Bowl-A-Thon
When: Saturday, May 2nd from 1-5pm.
Where: Guttormsen Recreational Center: 5411 Green Bay Rd, Kenosha WI
What: Gather 5 friends, coworkers, and/or family members and register your team of six for only $50. Registration fee includes three games of bowling, shoe rental, soft drinks, food, and loads of fun. Registration deadline is April 24th. Click HERE to register now. Your participation will help WCH provide services to victims and survivors of domestic abuse and sexual assault.
For more information: Contact Lori (Bastian) Hanson @ 262-656-3500 or email

Congregations United to Serve Humanity(CUSH) Banquet
When: Thursday, May 7th starting at 5:30pm
Where: Madrigrano’s Marina Shores, 302 58th Street, Kenosha WI
What: Social Hour starts at 5:30pm, Silent Auction Buffet Dinner starts at 6:00 pm. Keynote by John Nichols (Washington correspondent for The Nation Magazine). Tickets for $40 will be available soon. Also now accepting advertisements for the yearbook and donations for the Silent Auction. If interested, contact
For more information: Click HERE to visit CUSH’s website. 

Kenosha Sportfishing and Conservation Association’s Annual Kids’ Fish n’ Fun
When: Saturday, May 9th from 9am-noon.
Where: Anderson Park Pond, 22nd Ave, Kenosha. Behind Tremper High School
What: For kids ages 4-12 with an adult. No pre-registration required. Attractions include lure selection, casting, bait selection, fly tying, DNR ecology, catch and release, and fish cleaning.
For more information: Click HERE to visit the KSFCA’s website or email

Bark For Life of Kenosha
When: Saturday, May 9th from 10am-2pm
Where: Historic Simmons Field, 7817 Sheridan Rd, Home of the Kenosha Kingfish
What: A noncompetitive walk event for dogs and their owners to raise funds and awareness in the fight against cancer. Enjoy demos, games, vendors, ballpark food and more.
**All dogs must be on a leash.

Relay For Life of Kenosha
When: Friday, August 7th at 6pm (continuing through the night)
Where: UW-Parkside's Outdoor Track, 900 Wood Road
For more information: call Kelsey at (262) 523-5516, email, Click HERE for our Facebook page, or visit


April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month


Sexual assault is any involuntary sexual act in which a person is coerced or physically forced to engage against their will, or any non-consensual sexual touching of a person. Sexual assault is a form of sexual violence, and it includes rape, groping, forced kissing, child sexual abuse, or the torture of the person in a sexual manner. In a national survey conducted in the United States of America, 14.8% of women over 17 years of age reported having been raped in their lifetime (with an additional 2.8% having experienced attempted rape) and 0.3% of the sample reported having been raped in the previous year.

In 2009, President Obama was the first U.S. president to proclaim April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month. Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM) is an annual campaign to raise public awareness about sexual assault and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence. Each year during the month of April, state, territory, tribal and community-based organizations, rape crisis centers, government agencies, businesses, campuses and individuals plan events and activities to highlight sexual violence as a public health, human rights and social justice issue and reinforce the need for prevention efforts.
The theme, slogan, resources and materials for the national SAAM campaign are coordinated by the National Sexual Violence Resource Center each year with assistance from anti-sexual assault organizations throughout the United States. Here in Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault Inc. in Madison oversees the state’s many service providers and victim’s resources.

If you would like to learn more about SAAM, sexual assault, or if you want local outlets for yourself or a loved one, here are some helpful resources:

National Sexual Violence Resource Center
Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault Inc.
• Click HERE to find local service providers and victim’s resources throughout Wisconsin

ICYMI: School and Classmates Honor Student with Down Syndrome


This past March, Kenosha’s Lincoln Middle School saw lots of local and national news coverage regarding the heart-warming story of Desiree Andrews, an eighth grade student at Lincoln with Down Syndrome who is also a member of the school’s cheerleading team.

During one of the school’s basketball games last year, three student athletes walked off the court in the middle of the game to address mean-spirited comments directed at Desiree. The basketball players involved are now up for a citizenship award and other recognition from the city of Kenosha. In light of these students’ actions, Lincoln Middle School has renamed their gymnasium “D’s house” in honor of Desiree. Desiree is also introduced at home games, along with the team.

To learn more about this amazing story, follow the several links to local and national news sites with articles covering Kenosha’s Desiree Andrews and Lincoln Middle School:

NPR: National Public Radio
Kenosha News
WBNS-10TV Columbus, OH


Kenosha City App


Did you know the City of Kenosha has an App available for download? By clicking HERE from your smart phone and downloading it, you can stay up-to-date on snow plowing notifications, access important City links, receive the latest press releases, and report pothole and over-head street lighting issues.


Depending on your phone, simply choose the appropriate icon at the bottom, then follow your standard procedure for downloading apps.  After downloading the app, don't forget to register your account. This will ensure you receive the important notifications the City sends out.


More tools will be coming to the App later this year, but there's no time like the present to download it and begin keeping in touch.



State Resource: Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services' Tobacco Prevention and Control Program (TPCP) funds a comprehensive program including youth prevention programs as well as the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line and outreach to healthcare providers across Wisconsin.


The Quit Line, available at 1-800-QUIT-NOW, provides free telephone coaching on how to quit, plus two weeks of quit-tobacco medication. With these tools, tobacco users are 4x more likely to break their addiction. Since 2001, the Quit Line has helped nearly 250,000 callers. 1,720 of these callers have come from Kenosha. This equals an estimated $2,954,400 in healthcare cost savings for those who quit.


To those who have quit smoking, good work! To those who are interested in quitting but aren't sure how to do it, I encourage you to call the Quit Line and make the most of this resource. You are not alone.



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 think we can officially declare spring has finally sprung here in Wisconsin. After a long winter, it's nice to have the sun stay out longer, hear birds chirping, and spend time outdoors in a whole new way.  Things are beginning anew here in the Capitol as well, with more and more committee hearings being scheduled and bills being introduced. I am pleased to give you a brief update about some of the things that have been going on.


In this state capital report, I have included reports regarding several items of upcoming legislation, including my "Just Cause" bill and a bill to establish the five-lined skink to be Wisconsin's state lizard. Other recent legislative topics of interest found in this month's report include decisions regarding Wisconsin's admitting privileges as well as the state's voter ID law. This edition of my capital report also consists of upcoming happenings in Kenosha pertaining to the opening of the Amazon Fulfillment Center and new funding for the Kenosha Public Library. I hope these materials are informative and helpful to 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


Wisconsin State Capitol in Springtime


 "Just Cause" Bill to be Introduced

Since my last news letter, I have had the privilege of co-sponsoring legislation relating to the wrongful discharge for employment. This bill, Assembly Bill 160, would ensure Wisconsin employers can fire an employee only if they possess a just cause to do so.


Currently, Wisconsin is an "at-will" employment state. Essentially, an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason or for no reason at all without incurring legal liability. The only instance where an employer cannot fire an employee is a situation consisting of blatant discrimination or if the employer commits an illegal act. Employee contracts can protect employees from being fired “at will”, but many employees do not enjoy this safeguard. Thousands of hard-working Wisconsinites remain vulnerable to termination from their employment for reasons unrelated to their actual work performance.

In an effort to curb the growing vulnerability of Wisconsin workers, we are introducing legislation to require a “wrongful discharge” standard for employee terminations. Under this proposal, for an employee to be discharged, a seven-part test must be satisfied, requiring: (1) fair notice; (2) prior enforcement; (3) due process; (4) substantial proof; (5) equal treatment; (6) progressive discipline; and (7) mitigating and extenuating circumstances.

Should an employee feel his or her termination does not meet this standard, this proposal will provide a one-year period following the date of the employee's discharge in which the employee can bring legal action in circuit court. In such an event, the employer would bear the burden of proving the employee’s discharge met the required legal standard.


If the "Just Cause" bill interests you, family, or friends then please keep an eye out for its progress as the legislative session continues or feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns.

Bill to Introduce a WI State Lizard

A Young Five-Lined Skink


In the past few weeks, I was proud to introduce Assembly Bill 159, which would designate the five-lined skink as Wisconsin's state lizard. In the annual Wisconsin Blue Book, the five-lined skink would be pictured along with Wisconsin's other state symbols at the beginning and end of the book. This idea for legislation comes from Mrs. Grimm’s 4th grade students at Edward Bain School of Language and Arts in Kenosha.


Also known as Plestiodon fasciatus, the five-lined skink is one of the most common lizards found in Wisconsin. The five-lined skink is a small to medium-sized lizard growing to about 12.5 to 21.5 centimeters or 4.9 to 8.5 inches in total length. Young five-lined skinks are dark brown to black with five distinctive white to yellowish stripes running along the body and a bright blue tail. The blue color fades to light blue with age, and the strips also may slowly disappear. The dark brown color fades, too, and older skinks are often uniformly brownish.


One fun fact about the common five-lined skink is when threatened by a predator, the lizards can drop (as in detach) their tails. The vertebrae in the tail actually have fracture planes where the tail can separate, and muscles that close off the blood supply almost immediately. The bright blue severed, wriggling tail can distract a predator and allow the lizard to escape.


The common five-lined skink is one of four lizard species in Wisconsin. They require sandy soils for burrowing and hibernating, and as a result, have very patchy distributions across Wisconsin. The common five-lined skink will typically emerge from hibernation in late April or May and then re-enter hibernation in early September. Skinks live in oak and pine barrens and along the edges of dry hardwood forests or in grassy openings in these forests. They prefer damp microhabitats such as rotting logs and stumps where they find abundant food and also nest. If you find yourself in such an environment, be on the look-out for the five-lined skink!


Wisconsin's Voter ID Law

On March 23rd, the U.S. Supreme Court turned away a challenge to Wisconsin’s voter identification law, allowing the law to stand. I am disappointed the United States Supreme Court chose not to consider the challenge to Wisconsin’s Voter ID law. However, I am pleased the attorney general at least recognized implementing this policy prior to the April 7th election would have led to widespread confusion and potentially disenfranchise a large number of voters, many of whom have already cast absentee ballots. While it was not in place earlier this month, voter ID will be required going forward.


Wisconsin was one of four states in which a dispute over voting rules reached the Supreme Court last fall. Of the four states, only Wisconsin’s new rules were blocked at the time.


The next statewide general election in which the voter ID law will be in place is the February 2016 spring primary, although it is expected there will be local, special elections before then in which IDs will be required.


Voters' rights have been under repeated attack for the past four years. This anti-democracy agenda will not create a single job or improve our economy. Numerous voter suppression laws have been passed, including severely limiting early voting and making it harder for seniors in residential facilities to vote. A federal judge estimated that the voter suppression law could disenfranchise up to 300,000 Wisconsinites. Even one person who is prevented from exercising their constitutional right to vote is too many, and I will continue to do everything I possibly can to encourage people to vote and make voting accessible to all.


Constituent Visits to the Capitol

Kenosha Tavern League Members visit State Capitol


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.


Admitting Privileges

On Friday March 20, a federal judge struck down a Wisconsin law which passed last session to require doctors performing abortions to obtain hospital admitting privileges. An admitting privilege is the right of a doctor, by virtue of membership as a hospital's medical staff, to admit patients to a particular hospital or medical center for providing specific diagnostic or therapeutic services to such patient in that hospital. The judge ruled any benefits to women's health from the requirement are "substantially outweighed" by restricting women's access to abortion. Studies show that the safety rate for such procedures is roughly 99%.

After the bill passed last session, Planned Parenthood and Affiliated Medical Services (AMS) sued the state, arguing the requirement will force abortion clinics clinic to close because its doctors couldn't get the necessary admitting privileges. The groups argued this would amount to restricting access to abortions in Wisconsin. Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union noted that only four health centers provide abortions in Wisconsin. If the law took effect, the groups said, the largest of those centers would be forced to close immediately, and the remaining three "will not be able to absorb the unmet need."


I am pleased the court prioritized women's health and ensured this constitution. You can click HERE if you want to read the full 91-page opinion.

Amazon begins hiring for

Kenosha Fulfillment Center

The Amazon Fulfillment Center, located at 11211 Burlington Rd.


Amazon is now hiring for more than 1,000 full-time positions for its more than 1 million square-foot fulfillment center under construction in Kenosha. At the facility, Amazon employees will pick, pack and ship small items to customers like books, electronics or consumer goods. Associates will work alongside innovative technologies, including Amazon robotics that will be used on a daily basis to fulfill customer orders.


If you're an interested candidate, then click HERE to apply.


Kenosha Public Library Wins Funding

for S.T.E.M. Education

In the upcoming weeks, Kenosha children in grades 3-5 will receive strong support for digital skills development geared at promoting science, technology, engineering, and math (STEM) education. This valuable source of funding derives from the federal Library Services and Technology Act (LSTA). LSTA is the only federal program exclusively for libraries. State libraries use the funds to support statewide initiatives and also distribute the funds through sub grants or cooperative agreements to public, school, academic, research, and special libraries.

Aside from administering funds to state libraries, LSTA also consolidates federal library program while expanding services for learning and access to information resources in all types of libraries for individuals of all ages. LSTA links libraries electronically and helps provide users access to information through state, regional, national, and international networks. In many states, the state library network provides enriched content databases for information access to all in the state.

The grant, amounting to $18,914, will be used to purchase computers and robotic equipment in support of year-long Computer Coding Camps for Kids at the library. By providing free access to local professional mentors, the Kenosha Public Library (KPL) hopes to improve children's science, technology, and math problem solving skills through fun and engaging activities, connect the "why" and "how" of the technology children use in the classroom and at home, and strengthen each child's confidence that s/he is part of the digital future. As a strong supporter of Wisconsin’s libraries, I am thrilled that KPL will receive such funding, as public libraries are resources crucial to the education of Wisconsin’s youth and residents of all ages. Thank you KPL for making this a possibility for our children.


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