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State Capitol Report

Friends and Neighbors,

Happy Trivia Weekend, and happy (maybe) spring! As the legislative session draws to a close, I’m writing to provide an update from the State Capitol.

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!


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Katrina Shankland, 

State Representative

71st Assembly District

Meeting with UWSP Students at the Capitol

UW-Stevens Point Program Cuts

Our UW System is our state's economic engine. While UWSP has been cut by millions of dollars in the past eight years, I believe we need to invest in our community’s university. As a member of the budget committee, I voted to restore the cuts to our UW System and advocated for fair funding for UWSP.

Last month, in light of a $4.5 million deficit, UW-Stevens Point announced a proposal to add new programs and eliminate 13 majors on campus, including English, history, political science, art, foreign languages, and more. I’ve met with UWSP administration, students, faculty, and staff to discuss this proposal and ask how I can be supportive in ensuring UWSP has a better budget in the future. At a listening session I co-hosted with UWSP’s Student Government Association, I heard concerns and questions from many community members, students, faculty, and staff.

I’m pleased to see that the Academic Affairs Committee is developing an alternative proposal, and the Student Government Association is also forming a task force to offer alternative proposals. The alternatives will likely be released by the end of the academic semester, and I look forward to the forthcoming discussions.

I will continue to support sustainable funding for UWSP. I recently introduced legislation to create a Blue Ribbon Commission to address the challenges facing our UW System and study sustainable funding sources. You can read more about it here and here.


 Students from Washington Elementary at the Capitol 

Special Session on School Safety

The legislature ended session with a special session on school safety. Wisconsin Act 143 creates a new Office of School Safety and a $100 million grant program for school safety costs. It also mandates reporting of threats of school violence and requires schools to conduct on-site safety assessments of pupil-occupied areas. I have spoken with our school districts and asked them to apply for these grant funds as soon as possible.

While I believe the new law is an important first step and voted for it, I believe we can institute even stronger policies to enhance safety in our schools. That’s why I co-sponsored a series of bills to:

  • Provide funding for school mental health services
  • Increase grant funding for community mental health services in schools
  • Increase funding for school staff training on youth mental health intervention and treatment
  • Create new Violence Prevention and Reduction grants
  • Require school boards to establish school safety teams and individualized safety plans
  • Expand the Wisconsin Safe and Healthy (WISH) Schools Training and Technical Assistance Center

Our children must be one of our highest priorities, and they deserve to go to school, learn, and live each day free from fear. I am committed to working together to advance policies that strengthen school safety and our communities.


 Students from Roosevelt Elementary at the Capitol


Access to Clean Drinking Water

After hearing from constituents about the need to enhance our state’s water quality efforts, I introduced clean drinking water legislation. Assembly Bill 686 creates a private well testing grant program, which currently does not exist in Wisconsin. It also eliminates the requirement that a homeowner must own livestock to qualify for grants to replace or remediate their wells contaminated by nitrates. Additionally, it enhances funding for the Well Compensation Grant Program so more people can test and remediate their contaminated wells. 

Incentivizing well testing and enhancing well compensation grants to maximize the number of homeowners who are eligible for the program are significant yet simple steps the legislature can take to recognize the problem we are facing with clean water access in Wisconsin. This legislation will empower homeowners to monitor their private wells, know what’s in their drinking water, and remediate contaminated wells. You can read more about it here. 

I was pleased that this bill had bipartisan support in both the Senate and the Assembly, as well as the unanimous support of the Portage County Board. However, though AB 686 received a public hearing in the Assembly this session, it did not receive a vote in either the Assembly or the Senate. I was disappointed that it was not given a chance to progress further, and I will keep fighting for legislation that helps Wisconsin individuals and families access clean drinking water. This is not a political issue, but rather a human one.

Foxconn Moves Forward

The contract is signed after legislation passed with bipartisan opposition to put Wisconsin taxpayers on the hook for $3 billion in cash payments to Foxconn, a Taiwan-based electronics manufacturer. Since then, the cost to taxpayers has kept climbing. A recent nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau analysis revealed that $90 million will be diverted to road construction for Foxconn, taking money away from our roads locally. In addition, the total cost to taxpayers is now $4.5 billion. The budget bureau also reported that in the best-case scenario, Wisconsin taxpayers won’t break even on Foxconn until at least 2043.

The deal also exempts Foxconn from an environmental impact statement and allows the company to bypass the permitting process for filling and redirecting state waterways and wetlands. Foxconn has since requested to divert 7 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan per day, and the emissions from the manufacturing complex will reportedly rank among the highest in southeastern Wisconsin for pollutants that create smog.

While I support efforts to create good family-supporting jobs, I believe the $4.5 billion cost of Foxconn is too high for Wisconsin taxpayers to take on and that economic development should not come at the cost of our natural resources. As a member of the budget committee, I asked for tough clawback provisions to protect taxpayers should the company not fulfill its end of the bargain, and I’ll continue to monitor this issue closely and hold stakeholders accountable.

If you have questions or would like to speak more about this, I invite you to join me and my legislative colleagues at a Foxconn Town Hall in Wausau on Monday, April 16 from 6-8p.m. 


 Speaking on the Assembly floor

Sexually Violent Person (SVP)  Placement Changes

Over the past year, town of Alban residents have seen some of the state’s most violent sexual offenders – Sexually Violent Persons (SVPs) – released into their community, seemingly at random. This is not only unfair, it is wrong. I’ve been working to stop the practice of shipping SVPs from other counties to Portage County. Taxpayers should not have to shoulder the burden of additional law enforcement monitoring, and that’s why I asked Chippewa County and Milwaukee County judges to stop the placement of SVPs here in Portage County. I also worked on multiple bills to prevent this from happening again.

On March 28, Governor Walker both signed into law and issued a partial veto of Assembly Bill 539, which creates a new process for the placement of SVPs by restoring oversight and decision-making authority to local officials. The bill requires that SVPs be placed in their home counties and restores local control. At a minimum, the new law will end the practice of new out-of-county SVPs being shipped to Portage County.

The new law is almost identical to the proposal I authored with Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), and I was happy to cosponsor this bill. I am pleased that a year of working across the aisle has finally created results. However, I remain concerned that the partial veto keeps the residency restrictions in place that caused many counties to ship their SVPs across the state in the first place. It is unclear how the new law will be enforced without it being challenged in court in urban counties, who will be unable to find placements for SVPs that meet the residency restrictions.

Given the complexities of this issue, I have requested that a Legislative Council Study Committee be created to examine the SVP supervised release program and make recommendations to improve the law over this next year. The legislature must do everything in its power to preserve the integrity of this program – without which, SVPs would be released onto the street sooner without supervision, chaperones, or GPS monitoring. I will continue to work with Sheriff Lukas, District Attorney Molepske, legislators, and local officials to protect Portage County.


Touring the University of Wisconsin- Stevens Point 

I appreciate hearing from employers around the district and invite you to join me at my Business Office HoursFeel free to come for any or all of the discussion. Thank you!

Thank you for following along. I look forward to staying in touch!

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