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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for taking the time to check out the latest edition of my e-update. I hope you find this update from the State Capitol informative.

I was down in Madison for a couple of committee hearings this week on a few bills that are important to rural Wisconsin. You can read about them and more below. In addition, make sure to check out the Around the 87th section for information on some upcoming community events around the 87th Assembly District. Also, daylight saving time ends early Sunday morning, so don't forget to fall back.

As always, please don't hesitate to reach out to me if you have any thoughts on issues before the legislature or if you need assistance with a state agency.


Another Attempt to Help Our Loggers

Earlier this session, I discussed legislation that I helped bring forward to help our state's struggling timber industry. This legislation, Assembly Bill (AB) 367, would have authorized the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to award loans to help reopen the paper mills in Wisconsin Rapids and Park Falls using federal relief funding.

The Wisconsin Rapids mill alone utilized approximately 25% of all the pulpwood harvested in Wisconsin and the loss of this major customer has been extremely hard on the timber industry across northern Wisconsin. Getting this facility along with the smaller paper mill in Park Falls up and running would make a big difference for timber professionals across the Northwoods.

Unfortunately, even though AB 367 was approved in the Assembly with bipartisan support it was vetoed by Governor Evers. Regardless of this setback, my commitment has not wavered to finding a way to help our struggling loggers. That is why I recently joined with several of my Assembly colleagues to bring forward AB 682 which is another attempt at this endeavor. Due to a number of changes over the past few months, there are some differences between AB 367 and this new proposal.

Shortly after the veto of AB 367, a company named Atlas Holdings made an offer to purchase the Verso corporation that owns the Wisconsin Rapids mill. But, like most business negotiations, it is taking some time. Since Verso shut down the Wisconsin Rapids mill in the middle of last year, the machinery has been in what can be described as a "warm shut down" meaning that they are still being maintained. However, if the machines are no longer maintained and go into a "cold shut down" it could increase the cost to reopen the mill by $100 million or more. This potential increased cost is hampering negotiations and is putting the reopening of the mill at risk.

AB 682 seeks to assist in this matter by authorizing WEDC to provide funding to help maintain equipment at the Verso mill in Wisconsin Rapids for this potential sale. In addition, it also includes the provision approved by the legislature in AB 367 to allow WEDC to loan up to $15 million to a new operator to purchase and reopen the smaller mill in Park Falls.

As part of my day in Madison on Tuesday, I participated in a public hearing in the Forestry, Parks, and Outdoor Recreation Committee on AB 682, and I am pleased to share that this important proposal has been scheduled for a committee vote early next week. I look forward to its passage in committee and to seeing it on the Assembly floor soon.

Public Hearing on Election Audit Report

In last week's e-update, I shared that the long-awaited results of the Legislative Audit Bureau's (LAB) audit of the election administration surrounding the 2020 election had been released. In their report, LAB provides 30 recommendations for improvements at the Wisconsin Elections Commission and 18 issues for legislative consideration.

This upcoming Tuesday, November 9th, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee will be holding a public hearing on this report starting at 12:00 PM. Interested members of the public can watch the hearing live on Wisconsin Eye at wiseye.org.
If you would like to read the full LAB audit report you can click here.

Rural Development Committee

On Wednesday, I participated in a public hearing in the Rural Development Committee. We heard testimony on two pieces of legislation that I have signed on as a co-author of, Assembly Bill (AB) 640 and AB 422.

  • AB 640 is a bipartisan bill that is a result of conversations from the Governor's Council on Forestry. This bill would raise the direct sales limit for timber sold from state, county, or community forests. The current limit of $3,000 was set back in 1999. AB 640 would raise the limit to $10,000 or 500 cords equivalents whichever is less.
  • AB 422 would create a rural creative economy grant program. This $500,000 grant program would provide a dollar-for-dollar match to local entities or businesses in rural areas to promote creative businesses, products, or services.

Both of these bills have been scheduled for a vote in the Rural Development Committee next week, and I look forward to voting in favor of them.

Around the 87th

Civil War Veteran Remembrance Ceremony

This past Saturday, I had the opportunity to participate in a ceremony honoring Truman D. Goodrich, the last Civil War veteran buried in Rusk County. This event was a part of the Sons of Union Veterans of the Civil War's Last Soldier Project.

Upcoming Events Around the 87th

One of my favorite parts about serving as your state representative is getting out and interacting with constituents at many of the wonderful community events across the 87th District. Check out some of the upcoming events around the district below. Also, if you know of any other events, please contact my office and let me know, so I can include them in a future e-update and try to attend myself.

Check out some of the events coming up around the district:

Stay Up to Date

One of the best ways to stay up to date with what is going on in Madison is to sign up for the legislature's notification tracking service. This service allows you to follow legislative activity in Madison. Once you create a free account you can sign up to receive notifications about specific bills or committees as well as legislative activity pertaining to a subject area (i.e. agriculture, veterans). You can sign up for this service at notify.legis.wisconsin.gov.