Updates from the State Senate - January 28, 2019

January 20th was Cheese Lovers Day. In Wisconsin, youíre never too far away from delicious locally made cheese. In the 2nd Senate District, we have a number of artisan cheese stores, including Belle Plaine, Laney (pictured above), and Simonís.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Wisconsin was the very first governmental unit in the world to implement a numbered system for roads in 1917, closely followed by Michigan in 1918.


Share Your Voice


Last week, I met with local advocates on a campaign for a new Wisconsin History Museum. This project has been in the works for over a decade and will update outdated facilities in Madison to serve more visitors and school groups each year in a new state-of-the-art facility.


On Thursday, January 31 starting at 5:30 PM in the Neville Public Museum, there will be an informational session on the plans for a new history museum in Madison and the chance to share your feedback on the project.


Organizers ask that you RSVP before the event if possible. To learn more and to register to attend, visit the Historical Societyís website. Also, if you canít make the event but want to learn more, check out this video.


Community Events



One of my favorite things about being your State Senator is getting to meet constituents out in the community at some of our great local events.


The 2nd Senate District is also home to many great events and attractions. Whether you're a visitor or a life-long resident, you will not run out of things to do and see in Northeast Wisconsin.


To find an event or attraction in your area, visit the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Fox Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Shawano County Chamber of Commerce, or the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce. To find more public events, visit the community calendars on WLUK News and the Appleton Post-Crescent.


Helpful Links










Dear Friends and Neighbors,


The 2019-2020 Legislative Session is quickly getting underway with committee hearings beginning and more proposals being introduced. This upcoming week will continue to see more Legislative movements including the first Audit Committee Hearing of 2019 on Wednesday at 10:00 AM. This Public Hearing will follow-up on Audit Report 18-8 on the DNRís Forestry Account and Audit Report 18-19 on the State of Wisconsin Investment Board, and can be watched live on Wisconsin Eyeís website.


In this e-newsletter, I've included information on:

  1. Introducing my first bills of 2019

  2. The 2019 State of the State Address

  3. Combatting human trafficking

  4. Thanking two retiring sheriffs

  5. Recent events I've attended around the district

  6. And more


As always, 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 for more regular updates from around the 2nd Senate District and in the State Capitol.


Thanks for reading!


Senator Robert Cowles

Proudly Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District


Introducing My First Bills of 2019


Iíve recently introduced three bills as a kick-off to my 2019-2020 legislative agenda. The first bill is a reintroduction of one of the bills I authored that failed to pass last session. 2019 Senate Bill 3 will give the Department of Transportation the tools they need to combat fraudulent automotive sales like what happened at the Kaukauna consignment car dealership Standard Pre-Owned.


From 2014 to 2016, dozens of vehicles on consignment at the Kaukauna car dealership Standard Pre-Owned were sold despite the original vehicle owner not being notified or receiving compensation. While complaints flooded into DOT, more Northeast Wisconsin residents found themselves defrauded by Standard Pre-Owned as the lengthy and tedious process of license revocation failed to protect Wisconsinites in these consignment sales.


By simplifying the process of denial, suspension and revocation of these licenses issued to motor vehicle manufacturers, importers, distributors and dealers, we provide DOT the ability to better protect Wisconsinites. If passed, Senate Bill 3 will allow DOT to adequately address the most severe cases of fraud and minimize the impact from situations like Standard Pre-Owned by keeping them from escalating out of control again.


A second bill thatís recently been introduced is authored by Senator Roger Roth (R-Appleton), four Fox Valley Assembly members, and myself to name the interchange on Interstate 41, U.S. Highway 10, and State Highway 441 in Winnebago County as the ĎMichael G. Ellis Memorial Interchangeí after the late Senate President Mike Ellis. Recognizing Senator Ellis through 2019 Senate Bill 1 by naming one of his major achievements of his legislative career after him is an honor for a truly great and honorable man who dedicated decades of his life towards making the Fox Valley and all of Wisconsin a better place to live, work, and visit.


The third bill that Iíve introduced is a simple update to the statutes on immobilization devices for repeat parking violation offenders. This change would allow new products that can be unlocked remotely through automated or manned telephone payment systems and delivered back to the municipality or law enforcement agency by the violator, saving manpower and promoting safety. 2019 Senate Bill 4, which Iíve authored with Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield), cleans up antiquated statutory language to let Wisconsin municipalities utilize these new products to better administer their parking enforcement and make it more user-friendly for the parking violator.


If you want to learn more about these bills, find other bills Iíve authored in the future of this Legislative Session, check out bills Iím co-sponsoring, or find a list of my votes on the floor, visit the Legislatureís website.


2019 State of the State Address


In Governor Tony Eversí first State of the State Address on Tuesday, January 22nd, he provided an overview of his agenda for the new Administration over the next few months. Many of his agenda items he discussed are possible thanks to the strong economic conditions that Governor Evers inherited with low unemployment and rising wages.


While I may not be able to support all of the Governorís initiatives, I am looking forward to working with the new Administration and my Legislative colleagues on continuing to advance water quality in Wisconsin. After the Governor declared 2019 the Year of Clean Drinking Water, he noted issues ranging from lead water laterals to contaminated wells, both of which I addressed last session by passing bills. To learn more about the focus on water quality over the upcoming Legislative Session, check out this article by the Associated Press.


While we need to stay aware of our stateís ability to pay for new initiatives, I believe we need to work to keep Wisconsinís economy strong, improve the standard of living for Wisconsin residents, and grow Wisconsinís strong tourism industry. As we continue through the 2019-2020 Legislative Session, I will not only continue to ensure we prevent wasteful spending and root out fraud through my work on the Audit Committee, but I will continue championing issues that help residents in Northeast Wisconsin.


Combatting Human Trafficking


Earlier this month, I attended an event called A Light in Darkness at St. Matthewís Church in Green Bay to support The Rose Home, which is a residential program serving survivors of sex trafficking, and to raise awareness on the scope of human trafficking in our communities. This is just one of several human trafficking events Iíve recently attended. Itís hard to truly comprehend how these heinous crimes are happening in Northeast Wisconsin, but this is a serious issue for both local law enforcement and the state to address.


In the previous Legislative Session, I co-sponsored 2017 Act 173 to give the Wisconsin Department of Justice investigators administrative subpoena powers. This bill was simply a technical way of saying that a court can order an internet service provider or hotel to release a name and address of a person investigators have received a tip on or have under investigation for human trafficking. To learn more about this law, check out this story from last year on WBAYís website.


Additionally, early in this Legislative Session, Iíve co-sponsored a bill which has not yet been introduced from Senator LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) and Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) to require the education of new semi-truck drivers on how to spot the warning signs that someone is involved in human trafficking. This is important as truck drivers often spend time in waysides and truck stops where they are more likely to encounter human traffickers and their victims than the average population, meaning that this legislation has the potential to make an impact in combatting human tracking.


While these piece of legislation are just two of several efforts and are only a start, with the work of our dedicated law enforcement and new legislative tools like the ones listed, we can make a dent in human tracking in Wisconsin.


Thanking Two Retiring Sheriffs


I want to take a moment to thank two outgoing sheriffs in Northeast Wisconsin who have dedicated their lives to protecting and serving the community while helping to find innovative solutions to tackle some of the worst epidemics in our community, including drug abuse and sex trafficking.


Brad Gehring from Outagamie County had a 35-year career in law enforcement before his recent retirement, and John Gossage wore a Brown County Sheriffís Department badge for 31 years before retiring as Sheriff. Both of these Sheriffs deserve our respect and admiration for working to make our communities safer and better places to live.


Read more about Sheriff Gehringís retirement on the Appleton Post-Crescentís website and more about the transition from Sheriff Gossage to Sheriff Delain on WBAYís website.


Recent Events Attended


I have the opportunity to attend a number of community events each week. These events are central in my role as an elected official, as they allow me to stay up-to-date on the latest news from businesses, non-profits, and local governments. These events also give me a chance to meet great people and recognize the contributions that so many people make to our communities. Here is just a sampling of some of the events Iíve recently attended:

  • The Drug Court in Brown County is one of the best methods for helping to combat the heroin and opiate epidemic. This court is an alternative to prison in favor of a strict treatment regiment for non-violent offenders, helping the offender by actually curing the addiction and helping to save the taxpayers money by cutting down on corrections costs. I recently attended another Drug Court Graduation and was reminded of the success of programs like this.

  • On Saturday, January 19th, I attended the annual Brown County MLK Celebration at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College to celebrate the life and achievements of one of this nationís greatest civil rights leaders: Martin Luther King Jr.

  • This month, I attended the ASPIRO Legislative Breakfast (pictured below) and learned more about the great work being done by ASPIRO in our community and how the Legislature can help to advance their mission.


  • In Madison, I joined Leadership Waupaca County during the programís annual trip to the State Capitol and had the opportunity to meet a number of community leaders. This UW-Extension program is dedicated towards developing civic-minded community leaders and public officials who are working for a better future for communities in Waupaca County.

  • Last week, I joined some of my Legislative Colleagues from Northeast Wisconsin for a Legislative Roundtable hosted by the Outagamie County Board of Supervisors. Itís important to me to hear from local elected officials on the issues important to them.

  • Earlier this month, I met dozens of community members and enjoyed a delicious breakfast at the De Pere Lions Clubís Pancake, Porky, and Egg Breakfast.

  • In the State Capitol last week, I met with over a dozen members and employees of credit unions from Northeast Wisconsin for their Credit Union Day in Madison. It was great to learn more about the roles that Credit Unions have in serving residents from the 2nd Senate District.


In Other News...


 Here are some other stories I wanted to share with you:

  • Thanks to years of work by dedicated researchers at the Milwaukee Veterans Affairs (VA) Hospital and of VA researchers throughout the nation, a paralyzed Air Force veteran took his first steps in 27 years. Dean Juntunen stood up and took these first steps with the help of a robotic exoskeleton designed by the VA at Lambeau Field earlier this month. To learn more and read this heartwarming story, check out this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

  • Businesses throughout Northeast Wisconsin have been recently recognized, including some in the 2nd Senate District. Congratulations to the three Manufacturer of the Year Award Nominees from the 2nd Senate District! J&R Machine Inc. from Shawano, MCL Industries Inc. from Pulaski, and Pioneer Metal Finishing LLC from Green Bay are among 28 Wisconsin manufacturers nominated for this Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce award. See all the award nominees on WMCís website.

  • Itís exciting to see that the Randerson sisters, who were born and raised in Freedom and still live in Wisconsin, will be on Family Feud next month. I look forward to watching! Learn more about their appearance on TMJ4ís website.

  • Congratulations to the Green Bay Public School District which was once again named to the Annual Advanced Placement (AP) District Honor Roll for their AP programs. Green Bay is just one of 22 school districts in Wisconsin to earn this distinction. See the complete list and learn more on the Department of Public Instructionís website.

  • Some students in Shawano County are looking to make a difference for area wildlife outside of the classroom. The Navarino Nature Center is a treasure in our community. Itís great to see some local students giving back to the community by spending some time volunteering in the Wildlife Area and learning more about our regionís natural resources. Learn more about their volunteering and how you can get involved on WLUKís website.




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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