Updates from the State Senate - November 14, 2017

 

The banner photo above was taken along the Fox River State Trail in Allouez.

 

 

Robert Cowles

 

Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District

 

 

   

 

 

 

Quick Fact

 

Brett Hundley is only the third Green Bay Packers quarterback to start a game against the Chicago Bears since 1992. The other two QBs: Aaron Rodgers and Brett Favre.

 

Helpful Links

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Veterans Day

 

Thank you to everyone in the 2nd Senate District and throughout Wisconsin who has served our nation in the military. We owe you a debt that cannot be repaid.

 

I was honored to spend Veterans Day with hundreds of Northeast Wisconsin veterans and community members at a few events including the Howard VFW Breakfast, the Veterans Day Commemoration at the Green Bay Yacht Club, and a Suicide Awareness March organized by H.O.O.A.H. Wisconsin. This event encouraged participants to walk either 20 or 2.0 miles in honor of the 20 veterans that commit suicide every day. This statistic is incredibly concerning.

 

The work that organizations like H.O.O.A.H. are performing is critical in lowering the number of suicides by veterans, but more needs to be done. I was pleased to learn that Congressman Gallagher is currently working on a bi-partisan bill to address the issue of veteranís suicide by allowing veterans to receive mental health services on a same day basis at a community or non-profit mental health facility without a referral. This would be a big step forward, as on average 14 of the 20 veterans who commit suicide daily did not receive care from the VA system.

 

On the state level, we are also trying to make life easier for veterans by helping them make the transition from military service to civilian life. Below are two proposals, one Iíve authored and another that I co-sponsored, that saw action in the past two weeks.

 

AB 422 was passed by the Assembly and is now available for a vote on the Senate floor. For many veterans, one of the hardest parts of transitioning from military service to civilian life is finding gainful employment. The current transitional jobs program for veterans has gaps that disqualify many veterans from participating. This bill creates the Hire Heroes program to make all veterans eligible for transitional jobs assistance with preference given to those who need it most. This bill was co-authored by Representatives Horlacher (R-Mukwonago) and Riemer (D-Milwaukee).

 

SB 224 was passed by both the Senate and Assembly, and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill creates a program that will integrate veterans into agriculture and support veterans currently working in agriculture. The bill also supports the immediate family members of a veteran who died in service, who are missing in action, or who died as a result of a service-connected disability. Additionally, the bill creates a logo to identify agricultural products produced by farmers in this veteranís program.

 

Bills to Address Lead, Brownfields and More Move Forward

 

Over the past two weeks, both the Senate and the Assembly have been in-session multiple times. Eight bills Iíve authored have seen action during these sessions. Below, Iíve briefly explained these bills and the recent action taken on them. For some bills, Iíve also included a link to a recent press release or news story on the bill. Additionally, some of these bills will be covered in more depth in subsequent e-newsletters.

 

SB 48, named the Leading on Lead Act, was passed by the Senate and Assembly, but due to conflicting amendments, this bill returns to the Senate for another vote. The Leading on Lead Act addresses the public health concerns that thousands of Wisconsin citizens, especially children are faced with every day from lead laden drinking water. This bill provides a funding mechanism for communities to address lead contamination in drinking water by replacing lead laterals. You can also read my press release on the Senate passage at this link. SB 48 was co-authored by Representative Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac).

 

SB 173 was passed by the Senate and Assembly and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. Brownfields are unused industrial properties where redevelopment is hindered by contamination. This bill reforms brownfields regulations to ensure that more of these sites are redeveloped. Watch a recent story on this bill from WFRV Channel 5 by clicking on the image to the right. You can also read my press release on this billís Senate passage at this link. SB 173 was co-authored by Representative Jacque (R-DePere).

 

SB 421, named the Parks Revitalization Act, was passed by the Senate and Assembly and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill uses up to $4.5 million in unspent Stewardship funds from a prior fiscal year to complete critical water infrastructure projects in some of the most frequented state parks. These upgrades will protect the health and safety of millions of visitors each year. Read a recent article from the Brillion News on the Parks Revitalization Act at this link. You can also read my press release on this billís Senate passage at this link. SB 421 was co-authored by Representative Tusler (R- Harrison).

 

AB 226, named the Clean Water Access Bill, was passed by the Senate and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill raises the grant amount to help residents remediate or replace failing wells and gives local governments authority to help replace failing septic tanks. This bill does not add new money or create a new state program, but instead encourages the use of an already existent program. Read a recent article from the Peninsula Pulse on the Clean Water Access Bill at this link. You can also read my press release on this billís Senate passage at this link. AB 226 was co-authored by Representative Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay).

 

AB 422 was passed by the Assembly and is now available for a vote on the Senate floor. This bill will close gaps in the current transitional jobs program for veterans by creating the Hire Heroes program. This bill was discussed in more depth in the section above.

 

AB 381 was passed by the Assembly and will now be heard by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs. This bill will allow the Law Enforcement Memorial Fund to collect annual voluntary payments on their specialized license plates. AB 381 was co-authored by Representative Steffen (R-Green Bay).

 

AB 442 was passed by the Assembly and will now be heard by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs. This bill creates uniformity in the placement of signs designating ATV routes that are posted within a municipality. AB 442 was co-authored by Representative Jacque (R-DePere).

 

AB 538 was passed by the Assembly and will now be heard by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services. This bill will align Wisconsinís emergency detention law with federal requirements for patients with a mental health crisis. AB 538 was co-authored by Representative Jagler (R-Watertown).

 

Other Legislation

 

Apart from the bills that Iíve authored, dozens of other important pieces of legislation that I co-sponsored or supported with my vote were passed during the Senate and Assembly floor sessions over the past two weeks. Below, Iíve briefly explained some of these key pieces of legislation.  

 

SB 301 was passed by the Senate and is now available for a vote on the Assembly floor. This bill expands the types of online summer classes that qualify for state aid. Priory, the course offerings were restricted, but this bill opens it up to any online class that a school board determines will meet a graduation requirement. This bill will help students be ready to graduate in four years.

 

SB 417 was passed by both the Senate and the Assembly, and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill will enter Wisconsin into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). Our entrance into the eNLC will ensure that our nurses can continuing practicing across state lines in the 20+ states participating in the eNLC. This bill will help to expand the career options for Wisconsinís nurses.

 

AB 205 was passed the Senate and now heads to the Governor to be signed into law. This bill requires the Department of Administration to conduct a cost-benefit analysis comparing a proposed lease to rates on comparable properties or the purchase of a suitable space. Additionally, if a proposed lease costs more than $500,000, DOA must get approval from the Legislature. This bill will strengthen fiscal responsibility in our bureaucracy.

 

AB 335 was passed by the Senate and was signed into law by the Governor as Act 60. This bill ensures that law enforcement and prosecutors have the ability to tackle the rapidly expanding issue of fentanyl analogs in our communities by providing proper penalties for the illegal possession, manufacture and distribution of these deadly fentanyl analogs.

 

SJR 53, named Marsy's Law, was passed by both the Senate and Assembly, and now must be reintroduced and passed next session as part of the process to amend our State Constitution. This resolution provides rights to crime victims, including the right to attend and be heard in all proceedings, to full restitution, and to refuse an interview or discovery request. Under Marsyís law, a defendantís constitutional rights will continue to be protected.

 

Protecting Consumers and Punishing Identity Thieves

 

On Sunday, November 5th, the Green Bay Press-Gazette published a column I wrote discussing the threat that credit card skimmers pose to consumers and legislation Iíve authored and passed to reduce that threat. Iíve included a portion of the column below, and encourage you to read the full column on the Press-Gazetteís website by clicking on the link below.

 

When out-of-state thieves hit Shawano with credit card skimmers in 2016, I knew action was necessary. I had heard of other states being affected by skimmers, but wasnít aware of how large this problem truly is. Thatís why I authored and passed a bill to combat the use of credit card skimmers in our communities.

 

Credit card skimmers are devices that may be quickly and discreetly installed in or over credit card readers on gas pumps and ATMs. When a customer swipes a credit or debit card, their financial information is stored and can be retrieved in-person or remotely. This often occurs without you even realizing until fraudulent charges have occurred on your account.

 

Wisconsin has been a frequent target of criminals using credit card skimmers. Since the first skimmer was discovered in Wisconsin, countless residents in over 25 communities across the state have felt the impact of having their personal information in the hands of crooks. Despite the large scope of this problem, prior to this summer, Wisconsin was among a minority of states that hadnít enacted criminal penalties specific to skimmers.

 

We changed that. Working with my co-author Rep. Rob Summerfield (R-Bloomer), Senate Bill 133 recently became law. This legislation, which earned strong, bipartisan support, ensures that law enforcement and prosecutors have the legal authority they need to stop criminals before they place credit card skimmers and to properly punish thieves for stealing personal information.

 

Finish reading the rest of the column by clicking on the ĎRead Moreí button below.

 

Read More →

 

Help Us Decorate the Capitol Christmas Tree

 

Youth across Wisconsin are being asked to help decorate the 2017 Wisconsin State Capitol Christmas Tree. Each year, hundreds of students send in handmade ornaments which are displayed throughout the holiday season on the Christmas tree inside of the Capitol rotunda. This year, the theme is the Capitolís 100th Birthday. Teachers and parents are also asked to share the ornament making experience with pictures and stories through Facebook and Twitter using #WICapitolTree.

 

Learn more about the recommended ornament size and material and where to mail ornaments, visit this link. To be considered, ornaments must be submitted by November 22nd and should be based on the Capitolís 100th Birthday theme.

 

Thanks for Reading!

 

Feel free to contact my office with any questions or concerns you may have, and be sure to

visit my website and connect with me on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram.

 

Senator Robert Cowles

   

 

 

Mailing Address: P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707-7882 | Office: 118 South, State Capitol

 
Office: (
608) 266-0484 | District: (920) 448-5092 | Sen.Cowles@legis.wisconsin.gov

 

     

 

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