State Capitol Report


February 24, 2016

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:


District Events

Downtown Kenosha Restaurant Week

What: Downtown Kenosha restaurants offer special, fixed price menus for Breakfast ($10), Lunch ($10) and Dinner ($20 & $30)

When: Now through February 28th

Where: Various participating downtown restaurants


Anderson Arts Center Fiber Exhibits

When: Now through March 20th

Where: Anderson Arts Center, 121 - 66th Street, Kenosha


Great Kenosha Pizza Bake-Off

What: Sample over 40 pizzas served from local pizza establishments and vote for your favorite tasting pizza

When: February 28th from 5-7pm

Where: Parkway Chateau, 12304 75th Street, Kenosha
: $10/adult in advance ($12 at the door), $5 in advance ($6 at the door) for children 10 and younger. Tickets are available in advance at the Boys and Girls Club of Kenosha (1330 52nd St)

Susan B. Anthony – Women of Influence Awards Dinner

When: Friday, March 18th, 5:30-9pm

Where: Parkway Chateau, 12304 75th Street, Kenosha

Tickets: Click HERE for more information


ICYMI: Walker Resumes His War On Workers


On Sunday, February 21st, the Editorial Board of the New York Times published a scathing editorial column about Governor Walker's recent gutting of Wisconsin's long-time civil service system.


The Editorial Board wrote: "The patronage-friendly measure Mr. Walker signed in the name of better government is no more convincing than his presidential campaign. It undermines the welfare not only of the state’s 30,000 workers but of Wisconsin citizens who are losing an important part of their heritage of government fairness."


Click HERE to read the editorial in full.


Local Resource: Kenosha's County Veterans Service Officer


Wisconsin's County Veterans Services Officers (CVSOs) are the frontline fighter in the effort to assist veterans in obtaining hard-won benefits programs. The CVSO is a county employee who manages and coordinates the delivery of veterans' benefits, both federal and state, to eligible recipients. Among the duties of a CVSO are to counsel veterans about their benefits, assist veterans in applying for and using those programs, and develop outreach mechanisms to make local veterans aware of their benefits options.


For more information about CVSOs throughout Wisconsin, you can click HERE to visit the CVSO Association of Wisconsin. For Kenosha's own CVSO, you can also click HERE to view the Kenosha CVSO's very helpful webpage or call (262) 605-6690. HERE is a summary of services and assistance provided by the CVSO office.


Good to Know: Kenosha Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA)


If you earn up to $53,000, the Kenosha County Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (or "VITA") site can help prepare your basic tax forms free of charge to you. VITA locations in the city of Kenosha are:

Simply click HERE to find out when each location is open, how to make an appointment, and what information and paper to bring with you.



VITA is an amazing resource for taxpayers here in Kenosha. Just last year, more than 1200 taxpayers received assistance, saving an estimated $407,636 in tax preparation fees and bringing approximately $1,717,676 in refunds back into the community. HERE is a full summary of 2015 VITA coalition program results.

Thanks to the Kenosha VITA Coalition, made up of: United Way of Kenosha County, Gateway Technical College, Carthage College, the Internal Revenue Service, and Kenosha County.


Good To Know: Tax Aide


Tax Aide, sponsored by AARP and the Internal Revenue Service, provides low- and moderate-income taxpayers, with special attention to ages 60 and over, with assistance in filing their personal taxes.


Trained volunteers will be available through April 7th at:

  • Kenosha Senior Citizens Center, 2717 67th Street, 9am-3pm on Thursdays, by appointment only. Call 262-359-6095 for an appointment.

  • TruStone Financial, 6715 Green Bay Road, 9:30am-3pm on Tuesdays. There will be daily sign-in sheets, with 25 taken in the morning and 20 taken in the afternoon.

  • Westosha Community Center, 19200 93rd Street, Bristol. 10am-3pm Tuesdays, by appointment only. Call 262-891-3436 for an appointment.

All returns will be filed electronically unless special circumstances require a paper return.


Taxpayers must bring a photo ID and Social Security cards along with all income and expense documents pertaining to tax year 2015.


2016 Spring/Summer State Tourism Guides Available


Last week, I received a visit from Tourism Deputy Secretary Sarah Klavas, who dropped by to highlight the always popular Spring/Summer Events Guide prepared by the Wisconsin Department of Tourism for 2016.



This month-by-month guide provides an outstanding overview of many exciting events throughout the entire state of Wisconsin. As you begin thinking about spring and summer travel, I encourage you to check out the guide and give thought to visiting a part of the state which might be new to you, as well as taking part in the excellent tourism opportunities right here in Kenosha!



Deputy Secretary Klavas provided several guides to hand out to folks who drop by the office, but you can also the guide online. If you would like a hard copy mailed to your home, just click HERE to request one online.


Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau Receives State Grant


Congratulations to the Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau, which recently received a Tourist Information Center (TIC) grant from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism for the amount of $7,500.00.

The Tourist Information Center (TIC) Grant Program supports tourism industry partners that provide services for meeting, greeting and directing travelers on the road. Grant dollars help defray the center’s costs for customer service staffing and also fund improvements to signage, audio visual equipment, and display equipment such as racks or shelving.

I am proud to serve on the Assembly Tourism Committee.


Friends and Neighbors,


As I write to you today, the Assembly has wrapped up its legislative business for the 2015-16 session, despite there being another entire month available for legislative action.  Speaker Vos decided to conclude the floor session last Thursday, February 18th, so the last month has been a whirlwind of legislative activity.


In this e-update, I have a summary of the legislative session, a few specific legislative highlights, and a rally recently held at the State Capitol. There is also useful information about some local resources in our area and district events you may find interesting. Even though the Assembly has apparently wrapped up its formal work, there is still a lot going on and a lot of important action to take. I hope you find this update helpful.


As always, if you would like something to be included in future e-newsletters, just let me know at (608) 266-0455 or


Tod Ohnstad
State Representative
65th Assembly District


A bust of Robert "Fighting Bob" La Follette sits in the State Capitol

It was purchased for $12,000 in the 1977 Wisconsin state budget.


2015-16 Legislative Session Wraps Up

The 2015-16 Legislative session has come to an end, adjourning the earliest it has since 1970.


It has been a session full of disappointing legislation which fails to meet the needs of the people of Wisconsin. At a time when Wisconsin’s middle class is shrinking faster than in any other state, where our median income has actually shrunk in two thirds of our counties, and we are 37th in the nation in private sector job growth, there was no real legislative agenda to boost our economy. In fact the exact opposite is true with the passage of the so called Right to Work Legislation and Prevailing Wage Law.

Wisconsin has the third worst percentage of graduates with student loan debt but the Republicans failed to join with Democrats to pass a bill at no cost to taxpayers which would have allowed students to refinance their debt just like people do with houses or cars. This would have been a huge boost to the state putting millions of dollars back in the economy.

Wisconsin has the third worst roads in the country and nearly 2,000 deficient or obsolete bridges as well. However, instead of addressing our aging infrastructure, we have kicked a bigger can down the road borrowing more money at outrageous interest rates.

Our public schools continue to be under attack where over $800 million will be diverted into unaccountable voucher schools in the next ten years. No surprise as these voucher schools have been huge contributors to the Republican legislators and the Governor. On the last night of the session an amendment was added to a bill costing KUSD alone $263,102 in revenue limit authority.

Our groundwater, forests, lakes and wetlands all came under attack on various bills this session.

In an effort to consolidate their power, the Republicans have passed over 100 bills since 2011 taking away local control from cities and counties . They have opened the door to more corruption and cronyism with bills that eliminated civil service protections and campaign finance laws which open the floodgates of money into our elections. They have made it harder to vote, especially for the poor, the elderly, the disabled and college students.

They stay up late thinking of new ways to keep them in office with no regard for what it does to our democracy. With a 39% approval rating in recent polls it is clear the people of Wisconsin are not happy with the actions being taken.

Even though we are officially out of session, I will be busy working on constituent services and preparing legislation for the next session.


Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce Honored By State Assembly

During the last few weeks of session, I was pleased to join my fellow Kenosha area colleagues from both sides of the aisle to honor the Kenosha Area Chamber of Commerce on its 100th anniversary. For any organization to reach such a momentous year is remarkable. For the Kenosha Chamber to reach 100 years, though, all of us in Kenosha are better of because of them. Congratulations again to Lou Molitor, chamber staff, and all of the local businesses belonging to the chamber. Thank you for all you do for our local economy and our community.


To view the Assembly Joint Resolution, which now awaits a vote by the full Senate, please click HERE.


Legislative Alert: LRB 4524 Raises
Concerns for Wisconsin's Veterans

Since my last e-update, you very likely heard about a controversial proposal, LRB 4524, which would allow the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs (WDVA) to approve a county veteran service consortium to administer veteran benefits and services and makes county veterans service officers (CVSOs) optional for counties. Over the course of just a few weeks, I received many contacts from veterans and veteran groups who shared very real worries about the effect LRB 4524 might have for veterans in Kenosha.


I joined these folks in their concern for the implications of LRB 4524 for Kenosha's veterans. I felt the proposal would endanger the CVSO system, which I believe serves Wisconsin veterans very effectively and ensures every veteran has someone locally they can contact for information or assistance.


Thanks in large part to the quick action of Wisconsin’s veteran community, the authors of LRB 4524 decided to “scrap” the proposal for the current legislative session. They indicate they will study the issue in greater detail by creating a task force which will meet over the summer before suggesting any further legislative action. This is good news for Wisconsin veterans, because it means this huge change will not be rushed through at the expense of veterans. I will definitely keep my eyes open for the announcement of this task force, so I can keep tabs on its work.


For more information about Kenosha's CVSO, please take a look at the featured "Local Resource" in the right-hand column of this State Capitol Report.


Constituents Visit The Capitol

This month, I've had the privilege with meeting with many constituents who traveled from Kenosha up to Madison to talk about some of their most important issues. We've talked about topics ranging from legislation to funding needs to our the importance of technical colleges like Gateway Technical College and public libraries and community health centers like our own Kenosha Community Health Center.


Rep. Ohnstad with students and advisors from Gateway Technical College


Rep. Ohnstad with Kenosha pharmacist Dino Gallo

and pharmacy students from Concordia University


Thank you to everyone who has made the trip to Madison to highlight these important issues. I know it takes a lot of time and effort to advocate!


'Dia Sin Latinos' Highlights Impact of Latino Community through Wisconsin

In response to several anti-immigrant bills being pushed through the state legislature, thousands of Latino individuals, families, businesses, and supporters took part in February 18th's "Day Without Latinos" by rallying at the Wisconsin State Capitol and taking a stand in communities throughout our state.  I was already in Madison for the last Assembly floor session day of 2016, and I was proud to stand with so many others in support of Latino and immigrant Wisconsinites.



Since the start of 2016, more than 1,000 individuals have come to the State Capitol to formally register opposition to SB 533/AB 723 and AB 450/SB 369, two bills that would restrict local control and make Wisconsin more hostile to immigrants. When these bills were making their way through the committee process, I took time to join my legislative colleagues in calling attention to the issues at hand and calling on



I voted against both bills, but unfortunately both of them passed the Assembly. AB 450 is now awaiting action by the State Senate where there have been indications that it may not be taken up there. SB 533 however is ready for Governor Walker's signature, after which will would law. If you want to contact Governor Walker to ask him not to sign these anti-immigrant proposals into law, you can do so via phone at (608) 266-1212, via email at, or via web form by clicking HERE.




If you would like to have your name removed from this email list, please reply to this message with “Unsubscribe” in the subject line