State Capitol Report


March 10, 2017

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:



Daylight Savings Time Begins Sunday


Don't forget to turn your clocks forward one hour when you go to bed on Saturday. Daylight Savings Time begins 2am on Sunday, March 12th.


It’s also a great time to change your batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors and get other emergency safety items ready for spring storm season. Visit ReadyWisconsin for more safety information and ideas.



Upcoming Events


Under One Roof - Shalom Center event

When: Friday, March 10th from 6-8pm

Where: Circa on Seventh, 4902 7th Avenue

What: Music, dancing and drinks to benefit Shalom Center’s plans to renovate a building into a permanent homeless shelter as well as the Shalom Center soup kitchen

Tickets: $20/ticket, available at


Annual Corned Beef & Cabbage Dinner

When: Saturday, March 11 from 12-4pm

Where: Westosha Senior Community Center, 19200 93rd Street, Bristol

Cost: $10/adult; $6/kids 6-10; free for children under six years old

**Carry-outs are available.**


New Shalom Center Facility Groundbreaking

When: Wednesday, March 15th @ 4pm

Where: 4314 39th Avenue, Kenosha

What: Groundbreaking program and ceremony, followed by reception with light refreshments at the new facility


Susan B. Anthony Women of Influence Awards Dinner

When: Friday, March 24th @ 5pm

Where: Madrigrano Marina Shores, 302 58th Street

Sponsors: the Kenosha Women’s Network, AAUW—Kenosha Branch, and Tempo Kenosha

Contact: Wendy Gauss at 262-960-5283


5th Annual Kenosha Police and Firefighters Ball

When: Saturday, March 25th from 5-11pm

**Doors open at 5pm; Dinner at 6:30pm

Where: Madrigrano Marina Shores, 302 58th Street, Kenosha

Support goes to: Kenosha Professional Police Association and Kenosha Professional Firefighters' Association Local 414

Cost: $75/ticket; $600/Table of 10

**Includes buffet dinner, tap beer, wine, soda & dessert. Cash bar also available.

Attire: Formal attire suggested

Contact: Jason Melichar (262) 605-5295 or


CUSH Lobby Day at the Capitol

When: Thursday, March 30th

Where: State Capitol

**The day includes: bus ride with fellow advocates; issue-specific breakout sessions; march at the Capitol; legislative visits to discuss CUSH issues

Cost: cost for registration and materials is $25, scholarships are available

**Madison Action Day t-shirts available for $10. Each affiliate will be a different color - CUSH is yellow.

For more information: Visit the CUSH Kenosha website


Habitat for Humanity Kenosha Blue Jean Bingo and Fish Fry

When: Friday, March 31st from 5-10pm

**Buffet Dinner 5-7pm

**Bingo 7-10pm

Where: UAW Local 72 Hall, 3615 Washington Road

Cost: $30/adult; $50/adult couple; $20/ages 11-17; $12/children 10 and under

What: Event in support Habitat for Humanity's mission to provide affordable housing in Kenosha County


WisItalia Annual Recognition Dinner

When: Sunday, April 2nd from 1-3pm

Where: Italian American Club, 2217 52nd Street, Kenosha

Tickets: $20/adult; $15/students

**Tickets available at the St. Joseph Catholic Academy Upper Campus main office, 2401 69th Street, Kenosha


KAC Casino Night

When: Saturday, April 8th from 7-10pm

Where: Kenosha Country Club, 500 13th Avenue, Kenosha

Tickets: $50 in advance; $65 after April 6th

**Tickets available online and at KAC, 1218 79th Street. Tickets are also available at the door.

Supporting: All proceeds from this event will benefit the Kenosha Achievement Center.


DNR Spring Hearings and Wisconsin Conservation Congress County Meetings

When: Monday, April 10th @ 7pm

Where: Bristol School District #1, East Gymnasium, 20121 83rd Street, Bristol, WI 53104

Agenda: Click HERE for more information



Local Impact: Habitat for Humanity Kenosha

Habitat for Humanity Kenosha works in our local community to make simple, decent and affordable housing available to those who need it the most. Partnering with many community organizations and businesses throughout Kenosha County, Habitat for Humanity Kenosha builds and rehabilitates simple, decent houses alongside our homeowner partner families.


Habitat for Humanity Kenosha homeowners invest hundreds of hours of their own labor into building their Habitat house and the houses of others, in addition to a down payment and monthly mortgage payments. More information about owning a H4HK home is available HERE.


There are numerous ways to get involved with Habitat for Humanity Kenosha, whether as an individual volunteer or as an organization, and I encourage you to do so.



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


If you earn up to $54,000, 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 2016 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 at:

  • Kenosha Senior Citizens Center, 2717 67th Street, 9am-3pm on Thursdays through April 6th, by appointment only. Call 262-359-6095 for an appointment.

  • TruStone Financial, 6715 Green Bay Road, 9:30am-3pm on Tuesdays through April 11th. 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 through April 11th, by appointment only. Call 262-891-3436 for an appointment.

Taxpayers must bring a photo ID and Social Security cards along with all income and expense documents pertaining to tax year 2016.


To file for Wisconsin Homestead Credit, taxpayers must bring their 2016 real estate tax bill or Certificate of Rent signed by their landlord.



Inspiring Words

"The difference between a mountain and a molehill is your perspective."


 - Allen Harold "Al" Neuharth was an American businessman, author, and columnist who was the founder of USA Today.



Ed Garvey

On February 22nd, one of Wisconsin's great progressive leaders, Ed Garvey, passed away. Ed was known well throughout Wisconsin and throughout the nation for leading the National Football League players union, running for Governor here in Wisconsin, and founding Fighting Bob Fest.

As Glenn Stoddard, Ed's former law partner, said so well, Ed was "an intelligent man, extremely motivated to fight the good fight for the little guy whose civil rights were being trampled by government or big business."

You can read Ed Garvey's full obituary from the New York Times HERE, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel HERE, or the Wisconsin State Journal HERE.

Rest in peace, Ed. We were truly fortunate to have known you.


Friends and Neighbors,


In politics, like in so many other parts of life, sometimes when it rains, it pours. It seems everyday there is a new battle being waged against Wisconsin's middle class, whether on the state level or the national level. In this e-update, I share with you a few highlights of what is going on in Madison and in Washington, a thank you to the amazing advocates and constituents who visited the State Capitol from Kenosha, a congratulations for some excited new homeowners, some district updates, and a small tribute to Ed Garvey.


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


In solidarity,


Tod Ohnstad
State Representative
65th Assembly District

Rep. Ohnstad testifies alongside Kenosha Mayor John Antaramian and Kenosha Water Utility manager Ed St. Peter in support of Senate Bill 48, which would provide stakeholders with a mechanism to provide and receive financial assistance that can only be used to change out a property’s lead laterals


Analysis of Governor's Budget Continues

Since Governor Walker gave his formal budget address on February 8th, Wisconsin has been anxiously awaiting additional details about the actual components of his budget proposal. With the recent publication of the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau's breakdown of the Governor's budget proposal, we continue to learn more about the proposal. (You can view the LFB's publication online HERE.)


I was pleased to attend a legislative forum on Monday hosted by the Kenosha County Long Term Care Workforce Alliance, Kenosha County Commission on Aging and Disability Services, NAMI Kenosha County, NAMI Racine County and Society’s Assets. You can view the Kenosha News article about the forum HERE.


I will continue to analyze the specifics of the budget as the Joint Finance Committee begins its work on the proposal. I hope you will continue to keep me informed of your thoughts on this important bill between now and June 30th.


Gov. Walker Cuts $30 Million in Funding for UW-Parkside building project

On February 21st, the Department of Administration (DOA) released Governor Walker's capital budget proposal, which outlines his proposed 2017-19 spending on public buildings. He is recommending spending $803 million on state building projects over the next two years, more than half of which would be borrowed. The budget limits new construction and defers or delays several projects - including $30 in funding for UW-Parkside's planned Wyllie Hall construction - that will ultimately drive up costs


Frustratingly, the Governor is once again placing the burden of maintaining Wisconsin’s infrastructure on our state’s future generation. This capital budget proposal is yet another example of kicking the can further down the road. Our state facilities are increasingly obsolete, and the past six years of budgets have continued to allow these facilities to decline. Yet, this move will ultimately cost taxpayers more in the long run.


In fact, last year the UW Board of Regents indicated that the backlog of needed repairs in the University of Wisconsin System has grown to an estimated cost of $2 billion. Gov. Walker's capital budget proposal is simply unacceptable.


Speaker Ryan Skips Town Hall Forum; Introduces Plan to Kick People Off Health Care

Photo credit: Kenosha News Photo by Sean Krajacic


Since Election Day last year, people throughout Kenosha have reported difficulty reaching our congressman Paul Ryan and his legislative offices. Whether via phone or in person, Speaker Ryan seems to be constantly unavailable to his constituents. Just a few weeks ago, Speaker Ryan failed to attend a town hall forum at UAW Local 72 hall to which he had been invited. In doing so, he missed the opportunity to meet with and hear from nearly 450 of his constituents on the issues that affect them the most.


Even worse, Congressman Ryan and his fellow House Republicans this week announced their so-called replacement plan for the Affordable Care Act. This plan has the full support of President Trump.


It's no wonder Republicans have been trying to hide this plan. Some estimates say 15 million people could lose their health care benefits. Here in Wisconsin, Jon Peacock of Wisconsin Council on Children and Families said Ryan's plan "would very significantly increase the number of people in Wisconsin who are uninsured." For millions more who aren't kicked off their health care, it would still make their care more expensive than it is today.


While we know certain details about Ryancare, like how it includes an even bigger tax giveaway for insurance company CEOs who would once again be able to count huge executive salaries as deductible business expenses, there are still a huge amount we don't know. How much will it cost? How many people will lose their health care? How many people will go bankrupt from medical bills?


Paul Ryan owes the people of his district - including the people of Kenosha - an explanation of why he is attacking their healthcare and why he is refusing to listen to his constituents. I encourage you to continue reaching out to him. His contact information, along with an option to send him an email, can be found HERE.


A Warm Welcome To The Neighborhood

Late last month, I had the immense honor of helping to welcome two new families to the neighborhood. Rebecca Freund and Lakeisha Varnado and their respective families moved into the sixth and seventh home built through Habitat for Humanity Kenosha. HERE is the Kenosha News article about their dedication ceremonies.


Rebecca Freund and crowd listen as Fran Hansen of Habitat for Humanity Kenosha says

a few words of congratulations and welcome


Lakeisha Varnado and sons cut the ribbon at their new home

(Photo credit: Kenosha News Photo by Sean Krajacic)


According to the Kenosha News, a total of 177 volunteers spent 1,100 hours constructing the homes under the supervision of construction manager Bob Petersen, a retired construction worker. Thank you all for your work.


Welcome to the neighborhood, Rebecca and Lakeisha and families! We're thrilled you are here.


March is Women's History Month

Throughout the month of March, our nation celebrates Women's History Month. During this time, we devote special attention to the often-overlooked contributions of women to events in history and contemporary society. It also corresponds with International Women's Day on March 8th.


Here are some interesting resources regarding Wisconsin women in history:

Last but not least, I want to highlight
Wisconsin Women Making History, a digital resource providing students and lifelong learners with information about remarkable women who have contributed to our state's great legacy. I encourage you to check it out.


Far too often in our nation's history - and still today - the contribution, role, and impact of women on their communities go unrecognized. We must and can do better moving forward to recognize women's impact in our communities and to enact policies which empower women to chart their own course for their lives in every way possible.


Constituent Visits At The State Capitol

This month, I got to meet with several constituent groups from Kenosha. I love hearing from you directly about the issues most important to you and to our shared community. Thanks to everyone from the Kenosha Public Library, Gateway Technical College, ABATE of Wisconsin, Lemon Street Gallery, and of course our outstanding Kenosha County Treasurer and Kenosha County Register of Deeds.







Mexican Consulate Offers Wide Variety of Services In Milwaukee Office

On Tuesday this week, I had the pleasure of speaking with Julian Adem, lead consul for the Mexican Consulate in Milwaukee. I was reminded how many different ways Mexican Consulate officials are able to assist individuals here in Wisconsin.


Open since August of last year, the Mexican Consulate provides passport services (including consular ID cards), assists with emergency documentation preparation, offers basic legal and medical services, and shares helpful financial literacy information.


Of particular note, Mr. Adem emphasized these services are available to undocumented individuals and documented alike.


The Mexican Consulate is located at 1443 N. Prospect Avenue, Milwaukee, WI 53202. Its main telephone number is (414) 944-7586. Please check out the Mexican Consulate's Milwaukee office WEBSITE and FACEBOOK PAGE.



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