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State Capitol Report

Friends and Neighbors,

As we head into the holiday season, I wish you the very best. This is one of my favorite times of year: catching up with friends and family, celebrating the season, and reflecting gratefully for all we have. I am writing to provide some updates on what has been going on at our State Capitol this fall. I’ll cover new legislation that I have authored, some great events I've been able to participate in, and other local and state news. You can also request a 2019-20 folded highway map or Wisconsin Blue Book by clicking the link at the end of this newsletter!

Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions, ideas, or concerns. I am happy to meet with you, visit your workplace, take a tour of your business, or attend a meeting of your organization – just ask. To stay informed, feel free to check out my Facebook page and website for updates, including news stories and photos of my meetings and visits around the district.  


Thank you for following along, and please let me know how I can best serve you. Your voice is very important to me!


Katrina sig.png

Katrina Shankland, 

State Representative

71st Assembly District

Water Quality Task Force Updates

Working across the aisle to protect our water quality is my top priority. Since my last update, the Speaker’s Task Force on Water Quality has concluded its public hearings. Over the past year, we've heard from folks from 12 different parts of the state: Lancaster, Janesville, Mauston, La Crosse, Sturtevant, Tomahawk, Stevens Point, Milwaukee, Green Bay, Marinette, Menomonie, and Superior.

My colleagues and I are now in the process of crafting our task force report and recommended legislation. The Department of Natural Resources, DATCP, and DHS have all released their own report and recommendations based on the observations of their respective departments and what their representatives observed at the hearings. You can read those recommendations here.


I went on Wisconsin Public Radio's Route 51 in October to talk about our efforts (listen here), and I was also recently interviewed with the Chair of our task force, Rep. Todd Novak (R-Dodgeville), on Wisconsin Eye's Newsmakers segment. We talked about the work the task force has been doing throughout the course of this year. You can watch the interview here, or by clicking the image below:




Wisconsin Farm Becomes First to be AWS Certified in North America

In late October, it was wonderful to join the River Alliance of Wisconsin and The Water Council to celebrate Miltrim Farms Inc., a large dairy farm in Marathon County, as they became the first farm in the nation to certify their on-site water stewardship practices using the International Water Stewardship Standard (“AWS Standard”).  If you're familiar with LEED certification for green building, AWS is a similar certification for water stewardship. The AWS Standard has already been adopted by some major industry players, including MillerCoors, but it had not previously been applied to individual farming operations in North America until now.

Miltrim Farms' leadership is a great model for more farms to follow suit. This model marries both farm profitability and resiliency with water stewardship and sustainability, and I am really impressed with David of Miltrim Farms for his hard work on the farm and commitment to water stewardship. 

I look forward to working with folks across Wisconsin to advance these kinds of initiatives and provide support to them so more farms can get this certification and work to protect our water, both in quality and quantity. You can learn more about this project by watching this video from the River Alliance.


Photo (below): Rep. Shankland celebrates Miltrim Farms' AWS certification with folks from the farm, River Alliance of Wisconsin, and The Water Council


Suicide Prevention Bills Pass in the Assembly

I am proud to be a cosponsor of several bills originating from the Speaker's Task Force on Suicide Prevention which passed in the Assembly on November 7: AB 524, AB 525, AB 527, AB 528, and AB 530. The package includes grants for farmer tuition assistance, peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs in high schools, suicide by firearm prevention efforts, and general suicide prevention programming. There is also a bill to require the Department of Health Services to implement a statewide suicide prevention program. These bills passed nearly unanimously in the Assembly and are now awaiting a vote in the State Senate.


Board of Regents Visits UW- Stevens Point


Photo (above): Jenny Resch, Student Regent Olivia Woodmansee, Rep. Katrina Shankland, Tyler Hillery, Chancellor Bernie Patterson, Nikolaus Butz, Regent Michael Jones, and Rep. Nancy VanderMeer tour UWSP on September 13, 2019. Photo by UW-Stevens Point Communications and Marketing


Wisconsin Blue Books & "A Hero's Welcome"

The Blue Book is the most comprehensive source for information about the State of Wisconsin.  This edition also contains an important feature article, “A Hero’s Welcome,” written by LRB analyst Jillian Slaight.

In the summer of 1919, the Wisconsin Legislature enacted laws to provide for temporary support for World War I veterans with disabilities, cash bonuses for service, and bonuses for veterans to pursue education. Wisconsin led the nation 100 years ago with these new programs, many of which were precursors for later federal legislation, such as the GI Bill.  At the time, passage of these veterans programs was far from guaranteed: it was an uphill battle for advocates to convince legislators of the distinct challenges veterans faced, and there were political divisions in the legislature, intense conflict between the legislature and the governor, and legal challenges in the courts.

“A Hero’s Welcome” is a story about the sacrifices of the Wisconsin veterans who served their country in combat only to return home to face political divisions over how their military service should be recognized and rewarded. But it is also a story about political statesmanship, as members of the 1919 Wisconsin Legislature overcame discord to enact innovative veterans legislation.

The 2019-20 Wisconsin Blue Book celebrates the enactment of this vital and historic veterans legislation. You can access it online here, or you can request a hard copy for free from my office!



Click here or on the image below to request a 2019-20 state highway map or Wisconsin Blue Book.



Photo (above): Rep. Shankland introduces her "Healthy Herd, Healthy Hunt" legislative package 

Healthy Herd, Healthy Hunt Legislation

In September, I introduced the “Healthy Herd, Healthy Hunt” legislative package (AB 533, 534 and 535) to help prevent the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin. The legislative package includes bills that would provide funding for CWD research and management, funding for CWD testing kiosks, and funding for carcass disposal sites and dumpsters. I was proud to have members of the Wisconsin Wildlife Federation stand with me as we discussed the importance of action on CWD.


I worked in collaboration with the DNR for months to determine what the legislature could do immediately to support their ongoing efforts related to CWD. We heard from the Wisconsin Conservation Congress and Natural Resources Board about the importance of testing deer carcasses, proper carcass disposal, and educating hunters about the threat of CWD, and this legislation responds to their requests, continues the dialogue, and helps support the important work that the DNR is doing under the leadership of Secretary-designee Cole and the Evers Administration.

You can access information on the DNR's efforts on CWD sampling and testing at their website here. As we get further into hunting season, it is imperative that hunters know about this pervasive disease and are ensuring that they test their deer. You can find out more about CWD in general at this DNR website.


Bipartisan Bill (AB 310) to Support Local Government Receives Public Hearing

This month, I testified in front of the Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight with Rep. Todd Novak (R- Dodgeville) on Assembly Bill 310, our bipartisan bill to streamline the process for local government to hold a referendum.


Photo (above): Rep. Shankland testifies on AB 310 before the Assembly Committee on Government Accountability and Oversight 

The bill accomplishes this by providing local governments the latitude to use estimates instead of net new construction numbers, which eases the restrictions on their timeline for general elections, allowing local governments to pose referendum questions during regularly scheduled elections rather than holding special elections. AB 310 has now received public hearings in Wisconsin State Assembly and State Senate committees.

Last year, when Portage County was exploring a referendum for the Portage County Health Care Center, I worked closely with the Department of Revenue and folks across the county who had an interest in sustainably funding our health care center to ensure they could go to referendum.

Over the past year, I've spearheaded the effort to change our referendum law to 1) save taxpayer money by incentivizing the use of general elections instead of special elections, 2) streamline the process to make government more efficient, and 3) empower our counties and municipalities to use the law as it was intended. Working with the Counties Association, the League of Municipalities, the Towns Association, and county clerks across the state, I drafted legislation to address this issue and introduced the bill with bipartisan support in both houses. I am pleased that this bill has received a public hearing and will continue to work across the aisle to advocate for respect and support for our local governments across Wisconsin. 


Fourth Consecutive Session of Trying to Legalize Medical Cannabis

In late September, I joined a bipartisan group of legislators in co-authoring legislation (AB 570/SB 507) to legalize medical cannabis prescribed by a doctor for qualifying patients in the state of Wisconsin. This is the fourth legislative session in a row that I have coauthored legislation to legalize medical cannabis, and I'm proud to be a lead coauthor of this legislation.


For years, I've heard from veterans, people with chronic pain, and terminal cancer patients about how they would benefit from legalizing medical marijuana. This commonsense bill will make a real difference in the lives of people who are suffering, and if passed, it will improve their quality of life significantly. A strong majority of Portage County residents, and Wisconsinites in general, agree that it’s time for us to legalize medical cannabis in Wisconsin. It’s past time that we listen to the people and provide this option to critically ill patients in our state. I’m proud to coauthor legislation that supports folks who need access to the benefits of medical cannabis in a comprehensive and thoughtful manner.


First Responder of the Year for Assembly District 71

As part of the Wisconsin State Assembly's Hometown Hero award program, I was delighted to recognize recently retired Stockton Fire Chief Christopher Kluck as “First Responder of the Year” for the 71st Assembly District during the legislative session on Thursday, October 10th at the State Capitol.

Over his 37 years in the fire service, Chris left an indelible mark on all three Portage County fire departments he worked with, serving each with incomparable dedication, selflessness, appreciation, and leadership. He embodies servant leadership, and is a genuine and appreciative person who never misses an opportunity to show he is thankful for others. This award is a chance to return some of the gratitude and recognition to him from the community to whom he has given so much.

Chief Kluck was nominated for this award by Stockton Fire Captain Jeremy Spencer, in conjunction with the Town of Stockton Board. He retired from his position as Stockton Fire Chief effective September 30, 2019.

Congratulations, Chief Kluck! We are thankful for your tremendous service!

Photo (below): Rep. Shankland gives Chief Kluck the First Responder of the Year Award for the 71st Assembly District.

(Left to Right: Rep. Shankland, Barbara Kluck, Chief Chris Kluck, Captain Jeremy Spencer, and Brittany Spencer)

Thank you for following along. I hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving with family and friends, and I look forward to staying in touch!

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