State Capitol Report


May 11, 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:


Upcoming Events


Town Hall Hearing on AHCA/RyanCare

When: Friday, May 12th @ 1pm

Where: UAW Local 72

What: Forward Kenosha has invited Speaker Paul Ryan and Congressman Mark Pocan to discuss what the healthcare bill passed last week by the U.S. House of Representatives would mean for Wisconsinites.


Help Stamp Out Hunger

When: Saturday, May 13th

Where: Your Home Mailbox

How: Step 1 - collect and bag healthy nonperishable food items / Step 2 - Place bag of items by mailbox for letter carrier to deliver to a local food bank or pantry

Fine print: Donate healthy, low-sodium, low-sugar items such as beans, canned tuna in water, peanut butter, soup, vegetables, pasta, pasta sauce, oatmeal and other whole grains, canned fruit, canola or olive oil and canned meats. Please do not donate items that have expired or are in glass containers.


Kenosha Craft Beer Week

When: May 13th - May 21st

Where: Click HERE for information on participating locations


2017 Mental Health Awareness Vigil

When: May 17th @ 6pm

Where: Civic Center Park, Sheridan Rd. & 57th St. (across from Post Office)

What: Please join us as we celebrate support, advocacy, and empowerment for adults recovering with mental illness

**Preceded by: 5pm Open House at Bridges Community Center, 5718 - 7th Avenue, Kenosha

**Keynote Speaker: Miss Kenosha 2017 Kaitlyn Rhey

Sponsored by: NAMI Kenosha County, Bridges Community Center, Inc.


Kenosha County Older Americans Month Celebration - Derby Day: Run for the Roses!

When: Thursday, May 18th from 10:30am-12pm

Where: Local UAW 72 Hall, 3615 Washington Rd., Kenosha

Cost: $16/ticket

Tickets: Available at Kenosha ADRC, 8600 Sheridan Rd, M-F, 8am-5pm

Contact: 262-605-6646


CUSH Celebration Banquet

When: Thursday, May 25th at 5:30pm

Where: Local UAW 72 Hall, 3615 Washington Rd., Kenosha

Keynote Speaker: Rabbi Tiferet Berenbaum

Tickets: $40/ticket

For more information: Click HERE for info


Kenosha County Veterans Council Memorial Day Ceremony

When: Saturday, May 27th @ 11am

Where: South end of the Kenosha Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Rd

**This event will be followed by a pulled pork dinner.**


Navy Club Ship 40 Memorial Day Service

When: Monday, May 29th @ 9am

Where: Navy Park, at the corner 6th Avenue and 54th Street


Wills & Power of Attorney Clinic for Vets

When: Saturday, June 24th from 10am-3pm

Where: Kenosha County Job Center, 8600 Sheridan Road

Who: The State Bar of Wisconsin's pro bono program, along with Tabak Law, LLC, will have volunteer attorneys available to advise and provide free estate planning documents for participants

To Qualify: An individual must meet the following conditions

 - Be a veteran or the spouse/surviving spouse of a veteran (documentation will be required prior to the day of the clinic)

 - A single veteran with an income of less than $3,000/month or a married couple with combined income of less than $6,000/month

 - Have less than $650,000 in total assets for a single person or less than $1.3 million in total assets for a married couple

Registration information: You must register in advance and complete an estate planning questionnaire prior to June 9. Married couples must sign up for two separate time slots for the day of the clinic. Each spouse will have their own time slot to work with separate attorneys.

To Register: Contact Kenosha County Veterans Service Office Ali Nelson at 262-605-6690.


May 14-20, 2017 is Women's Health Week


National Women's Health Week is an observance led by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services Office on Women's Health. The goal is to empower women to make their health a priority. The week also serves as a time to encourage women to take steps to improve their health.



To improve your physical and mental health, you can:

Find out what additional steps you can take based on your age.


Local Impact: Kindred Kitties

Kindred Kitties is a non-profit, no-kill rescue organization aimed at proactively addressing the plight of homeless cats here in Kenosha. Kindred Kitties is an all-volunteer organization dedicated to finding loving, permanent homes for cats and kittens, promoting responsible pet ownership, and participating in community events to advocate for cats and educate the general public.


Kindred Kitties offers a variety of services and information on their website, including excellent cat care resources for current and hopeful cat owners, some great tips about what to do if you find a stray cat, helpful information regarding spay/neuter options, and even offers cat adoptions.


If you are interested in becoming involved with the work and mission of Kindred Kitties, there are many different ways to do so. Perhaps you would be interested in fostering a cat or kitten? Want to be a volunteer at the Kindred Kitties facility? Perhaps sponsoring a cat with special needs is the right option for you. There are many ways to be involved and become part of the excellent work being done by Kindred Kitties.


To the whole team at Kindred Kitties, thank you for your contribution to our community!


Good to Know: Gateway Urban Farm and Market


Did you know Gateway Technical College is home to an Urban Farm and Market? It is open from 4pm - 8pm on Thursdays between now through October 12, 2017, located at Gateway Technical College's Kenosha Campus in the Pike Creek Horticulture Center at 3520 30th Ave.



Gateway's Urban Farm and Market offers a unique selection of organically grown heirloom fruits and vegetables as well as a special selection of fresh, dried and potted herbs. A fun selection of in-season products and more! Garden flowers and houseplants, vegetable plants and hanging baskets are available through mid-summer.


The student-run farm is managed by Kate Jerome, Urban Farm Director, garden author and teacher. She will host workshops and demonstrations, so come to learn!


ICYMI: KACVB Names Community Blog Team


The Kenosha Area Convention and Visitors Bureau has announced the new members of its Community Blog Team. These individuals will be writing for the Visit Kenosha blog beginning later in May and will contribute for the next 12 months. The new blog team will explore the Kenosha Area as "tourists in their own town" and share their adventures, tips, and hidden gems with local residents and travelers to the Kenosha Area.


Blogs are typically posted twice a week at The bloggers are: Tricia Andrews, Christina Brzezinski, Nancy Davies, Gary Eckstein, Dana Harvey, Anna Hegland, Brittany Langham, Allen Radeck, Jared Rasmussen, and Erin Stuckey.


Inspiring Words

"There is no greater calling than to serve your fellow man. There is no greater contribution than to help the weak. There is no greater satisfaction than to have done it well."


 - Walter Reuther




Friends and Neighbors,


In recent days and week, it seems our national elected officials have been considering and taking more and more outrageous actions in Washington. Our newspapers, televisions, and social media feeds are often full of important information and alerts about what is going on in our nation's capital. That is one reason why I am always so pleased to send you my monthly State Capitol Report. I want you to hear from me about some of the things going on in Madison, which can affect your life in a huge way very quickly, and provide some helpful updates about changes here at the state level which may have a big impact for your life.


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


Early morning snapshot of tulips lining the Wisconsin State Capitol walkways



Joint Budget Listening Session A Success

I was pleased to join State Senator Bob Wirch and Representative Peter Barca to host a joint budget listening session this past Monday evening at Kenosha's Northside Library. I was even more pleased to hear from such an engaged group of more than one hundred people who came to share their thoughts on Wisconsin's state budget with us. Thank you for taking time out of your schedules to speak with us. It is clear there is a lot of concern about the state budget as it is currently proposed.


It was a great time to hear from you on state budget issues because the Joint Finance Committee has recently begun making changes to Governor Walker's original budget proposal. JFC will be meeting in executive session meetings, during which JFC members vote on whether to keep Gov. Walker's proposal as it is or make small changes or make larger changes. Once JFC finishes this work, the budget will head to each house of the legislature for additional votes.


Whether you are concerned with our state transportation dollars, medical assistance programs, K-12 education, higher education, clean water, or another issue affected by Wisconsin's biennial budget, I hope you will let me know your thoughts. You can email me or call my office at (608) 266-0455 or (800) 534-0065. Hearing from you helps me represent the needs and interests of the 65th District in Madison.



Republicans Unveil 'Transportation Plan'

To Raise Taxes Average Wisconsinites,

Give Huge Tax Break to Super Wealthy

As reported by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel earlier this week, the Assembly Republican caucus released a so-called 'transportation plan' which would actually give a $1 billion dollar tax break to Wisconsinites earning $300,000 or more while raising taxes for average Wisconsinites. According to analysis by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, most tax increases under the Assembly Republicans' plan would be shifted to Wisconsinites making less than $60,000 per year.



I think this plan is wrong for our community and wrong for our state. We shouldn't enact tax policies to help the rich get richer while at the same time increasing taxes on regular Wisconsin families. We need to cut taxes on the middle class and make sure the rich pay their fair share. I call on my Republican colleagues to scrap this plan, reach across the aisle, start talking to one another, and pass a more equitable, sustainable plan to fund Wisconsin's transportation needs.



Rep. Ohnstad and Colleagues Urge Wisconsin Attorney General to Oppose Changes to Student Loan Protections

Recently twenty-one state attorneys general wrote to U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos to voice their concern with her decision to repeal crucial protections for student loan borrowers put in place by the Department of Education under President Obama. Our Attorney General was not one of them.

As a co-sponsor of the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill, which would enable Wisconsinís student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates and allow Wisconsinís student loan borrowers to deduct their student loan payments from their income tax, I know student loan debt crisis is hurting the nearly 1 million Wisconsin residents with student loans. That is why I joined dozens of colleagues to ask the Attorney General to join those 21 states in opposing Secretary DeVos's actions.


Sec. DeVosís decision to repeal rules put in place by President Obama to protect borrowers from questionable practices used by student loan servicing corporations has the potential to increase costs for borrowers as well as the student loan default rate.


You can view our letter to Wisconsin's Attorney General by clicking HERE.



Thinking Ahead: Getting a REAL ID compliant drivers license or identification card

In recent weeks, my office has gotten several inquiries about REAL ID compliance for drivers licenses and state identification cards. I want to take a moment to refresh your memory about the history of REAL ID and what will soon be required under this federal law.


In 2005, based on recommendations from the federal 9/11 Commission, Congress passed a law known as "REAL ID" which strengthened security standards for state-issued driverís licenses and identification cards.


Here in Wisconsin, REAL ID enrollment is optional. So, Wisconsin issues both REAL ID-compliant and non-compliant driver licenses and ID cards. It is a personal choice which type of card to get when you are getting a new card or renewing an old one. The Wisconsin DMV's website about REAL ID has a helpful breakdown of decision considerations and documentation requirements.


I encourage you to consider now whether having a REAL ID compliant card is important to you, because beginning on October 1, 2020, the federal Department of Homeland Security will require a REAL ID compliant license or identification card (or another acceptable form of identification such as a passport) for domestic air travel and other federal purposes.


If you do not apply for a REAL ID-compliant card and change your mind, you can still apply for one at a later time. But since there is a cost associated with getting a new card and it can take time and planning to do so, I encourage you to consider your choice now rather than waiting until later.

To get a REAL ID compliant driver's license or identification card, you will need to provide additional documentation. Specifically, to get a REAL ID license, even if you have held a Wisconsin license for many years, you will need to provide proof of the following:

  • Name, Date of Birth, and U.S. Legal Presence

  • Identity

  • Social Security Card (or other proof, such as a W2)

  • Address (where you live)

  • Name Change (if different from the name on the birth certificate)

I encourage you to make use of the WisDOT interactive driver licensing guide. If you have questions about REAL ID compliance you can always contact the Wisconsin DMV's Driver Information Section by email or by phone at (608) 264-7447.



Fishing Licenses and Stamps Now Available

Last Saturday, May 6th marked the opening of the 2017 fishing season here in Wisconsin. The Wisconsin DNR is reminding anglers that the new license year began April 1. Licenses and stamps for the 2017 year are on sale now through GoWild.Wi.Gov. Fees for the 2017 license year remain the same as last year.

Anglers fishing Lake Michigan and all other Wisconsin boundary waters are also reminded they must possess a paper copy of their license to be legal. The paper printouts are required so law enforcement officials in the surrounding states can verify compliance with license and stamp regulations.

More information about length and bag limits as well as places to fish can be found on the DNR website, by searching "Fishing Regulations."


DWD To End Automated Telephone System For Filing Unemployment Claims

Starting May 24, 2017, the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development will retire part of its automated telephone system to file Unemployment Insurance (UI) claims, shifting virtually all filing of initial UI claims online using a computer, tablet or smart phone. Claimants can call UI help center staff for guidance in using the online process or, if they are unable to use online services, staff will file the claim over the phone. Weekly claims will still be accepted through the automated phone system until the weekly phone system is retired in a future phase. Many UI claimants already use DWD's online system for filing initial UI claims, as well as weekly claims, so this change may not affect everyone.


To file an unemployment claim or seek answers to claims questions online, UI customers can log on to and create a username and password. For help using online services or if you are unable to go online, please call 414-438-7713 or 608-232-0824 between 7:45am and 4:30pm Monday through Friday.


DWD has announced it has provided additional training to UI help center staff, cross-trained DWD staff who work in the state's Job Centers, and is communicating the upcoming changes to Wisconsin's network of over 450 public library locations in communities across Wisconsin to help those without a personal computer or mobile device file their claims.


If you have been relying on the DWD telephone system to file UI claims and you experience difficulty with this new system, please feel free to call my office for assistance. Ensuring you get the temporary cash benefits to which you are entitled while you are out of work is a top priority for me. My staff can be reached at (608) 266-0455 and they are happy to assist. 



Remembering Norm Buchholz

Late last week, Kenosha lost a truly great human being with the passing of Norm Buchholz at the age of 94. I had the privilege of knowing Norm for many years, and I know many here in Kenosha will join me in mourning this great loss. I extend my heartfelt condolences to Norm's wife of 71 years Dorothy, his son Douglas, his daughter Janis, grandson Jason, great grandson Talon and his wide network of friends and extended family. Norm, you will be missed.



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