Updates from the State Senate - March 4, 2019

The photo above was taken of Ariens Hill and Titletown Tech in Ashwaubenon's Titletown District.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Happy Casimir Pulaski Day!


Did you know the Village of Pulaski was named after Count Casimir Pulaski, the great freedom fighter of Europe and America? Pulaski fought the Russians in his native Poland from 1770 to 1772. He later fought with General George Washington at Brandywine during the Revolutionary War from 1777-1778. After this battle, Washington made him a Brigadier General for gallantry in commanding cavalry troops.


With congressional consent, Pulaski founded an independent cavalry corps (Pulaski Legion). For this reason, he became known as the Father of the American Cavalry. In October 1779, General Pulaski was mortally wounded while fighting with American and French forces against the British at Savannah, Georgia. He died October 11, 1779.


Be sure to check out some of the events during Casimir Pulaski Days this week in Pulaski.


Opening Prayer


Before every Session of the State Senate, the body starts with a prayer. If you or anyone you know would like to lead the Wisconsin State Senate in prayer, please contact my office and we will coordinate to see if we can make that happen.


Banner Photos


Iíve enjoyed sharing some pictures from throughout the 2nd Senate District in the banners of e-newsletters over the past couple of years, but I know many of you have sites in the district, in your community, and even in your own backyard that also deserve to be shared.


Thatís why Iíve created a webpage to allow constituents to upload images from the district to potentially be featured in a future e-newsletter banner. Images selected will presented similar to how banners have in past e-newsletters and you will receive credit for your submission.


If you have a photo you think should be featured, please visit my website.


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,


After last weekís budget address, the Legislative Session is already hitting one of the busiest points of the year as we start to analyze what the Governorís proposing, how he proposes paying for it (hint: increasing taxes), what non-fiscal policy is inside of the budget (itís a lot), and more. Despite the budgetary period starting, other legislation will still be introduced and move ahead, some of which Iíve discussed below and will detail more in future e-newsletters.


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

  1. Legislation to create a Pollution Prevention Partnership

  2. DOT failing to fully comply with audit recommendations

  3. My response to the budget address

  4. Three recent committee hearings

  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


P3: Creating a Pollution Prevention Partnership


Last week, I announced the circulation for co-sponsorship of P3: A Pollution Prevention Partnership ~ Wisconsinís Trading Marketplace with my co-authors Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon) and Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay). This legislation creates an innovative opportunity to connect more advanced land and water management with some financial incentive for farmers and other nonpoint sources dealing with the uncertainty of todayís markets on top of production challenges. P3 will promote more water quality trades to take place by introducing a third-party clearinghouse to create a marketplace for trades and certify credits for nutrient reduction.



These mutually beneficial water quality trades allow nonpoint-sources, such as family farms, to create a reduction in total pollutants entering a waterbody, quantified as credits, to be purchased through a central clearinghouse and provide relief to a point source, such as a municipal wastewater treatment plant or cheese factory, on their pollution reduction requirements as part of their Wastewater Pollution Discharge Elimination System Permit (WPDES). The pollution reduction is in exchange for a payment to a nonpoint source, which are typically not required to employ nutrient management practices, to produce a greater pollution reduction within a hydrologic area. Water quality trading is not a new idea, but the inflexibility of the current pollutant trading process along with troubles facilitating trades has left Wisconsin with only a couple of handfuls of trades.


Passage of this legislation would be a big step forward in advancing water quality in Wisconsin. Third-party trading could save some communities from passing multi-million dollar wastewater treatment plant upgrade costs onto residents for little water quality improvement, keep small manufacturers and food producers open and operating, and, perhaps best of all, help to financially supplement some of our cherished farms around the state.


This legislation has already garnered a lot of interest and support from groups representing agriculture, business, local government, and natural resources. The State Director for The Nature Conservancy in Wisconsin wrote that this legislation could be ďa win-win for landowners, the agriculture economy and land and water conservation.Ē Learn more about this bill by checking out my press release on my website or reading this AP story.


DOT Failing to Fully Comply with Recommendations


As Co-Chair of the Audit Committee, itís not only my job to pressure administrative agencies to comply with recommendations from program audits and pass legislation to promote compliance, but I must also do long-term follow-up to ensure that recommendations are implemented. I recently did just that with a 2017 Audit of the Department of Transportationís State Highway Program. This letter allowed us to find that DOT has been delaying full compliance with recommendations from the devastating audit despite legislation being passed to force compliance with recommendations and continued pressure from the Audit Committee. Read more about the follow-up on MacIver Instituteís website.




Response to the Budget Address


On the last day of February, Governor Evers delivered his first Budget Address to a Joint Session of the Legislature. The Address left me with a lot of questions. While I could see myself supporting some of the items the Governor laid out tonight including increases in funding for public safety, the judicial system, and corrections, I am extremely concerned about the price tag of this proposed budget.


Moreover, I've always advocated to keep budgets clean of policy. The new governor proposed a whole bunch of policy items that were non-fiscal in nature. If you really believe in democracy and you believe in transparency, these have to be sent to separate committees and fully vetted.


Watch my response to the budget address with this WBAY story or read my full response on my website.


Three Committee Hearings


In the past two weeks, Iíve been at three committee hearings, including the first hearing of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs. The Committee heard two bills, including Senate Bill 1 which Iíve co-authored with other legislators representing the Fox Valley to name the 41-10-441 interchange after our late colleague Mike Ellis and Senate Bill 3 which Iíve reintroduced to help DOT better address fraudulent auto sales like what happened at Standard Auto. As a member of that Committee, I also heard from Secretary-Designees Mary Kolar whoís up for confirmation to the Department of Veterans Affairs and Craig Thompson whoís up for confirmation to the Department of Transportation.



I also was part of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which I Co-Chair, last week. In that hearing, we followed-up on Audit Reports 18-8 on the Forestry Account and 19-2 on the Administration and Oversight of Group Insurance Programs. This follow-up on the audits at a hearing is often only the first in a series of follow-ups performed by myself and my Co-Chair, Representative Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem), to ensure that audit recommendations are complied with. We also approved two audits on Wisconsin Fast Forward, our stateís premier jobs training program which I helped to author, and the School Safety Grants and Plans, a $100 million investment approved last session and implemented by the Department of Justice to keep the stateís youth safe in schools.


I also attended the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection to testify on a bill Iíve introduced to allow communities to use more consumer-friendly parking enforcement options for habitual offenders. This legislation, Senate Bill 4, is a simple yet important reform and is supported by law enforcement and local government.


Listening Session Recap


Two Fridays ago, I wrapped up two more listening sessions in the district. Thanks to everyone who came to these sessions in Ashwaubenon and Kaukauna! I appreciate the opportunity the attendees provided to further engage with them on the issues most important to them in this budget cycle and throughout the Legislative Session. Also, a special thanks to Mayor Tony Penterman and Village President Mary Kardoskee for attending. Check out this story from The Press Times about the listening session in Ashwaubenon.



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 Startup Hub in Green Bay recently cut the ribbon for a reopening ceremony. I was happy to attend this ribbon-cutting for such a great asset to our community. Learn more about this ceremony on WLUKís website.

  • Iíve long been a supporter of the local chapter of Trout Unlimited in Green Bay, and was excited to once again support this organization by attending the 44th Annual Conservation Banquet at Stadium View Hall in Green Bay.

  • Tens of thousands of my constituents are members of local credit unions, so I find it important to stay connected to some of our credit union leaders. I recently attended a Pints and Politics event hosted by the credit unions at Fox Valley Stadium and had a chance to stay up-to-date with what these credit unions are doing in our communities.

  • In Madison, I recently spoke at the Customers First Power Breakfast on the importance of responsible energy policy for Wisconsin residents. I talked about some policies Iíve supported in the past, including Focus on Energy, as well as some things Iím looking into for this Legislation Session. Thanks to Customers First for the opportunity to address the group.


  • I recently attended the State of the College Luncheon at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College. This annual event informs local elected officials and community leaders about whatís happening at NWTC.

  • Back in Madison, I met some of the students from NWTC as well as Fox Valley Technical College at the Wisconsin Technical College Showcase in the Capitol Rotunda where tech students from throughout the state showcased the best themselves and their schools have to offer.


In Other News...


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

  • The University of Wisconsin-Green Bay recently announced that they will be establishing the UW-Systemís first water science major to help ensure the future workforce can properly address our needs of drinkable, fishable, and swimmable waters for all Wisconsin residents. I was pleased to see the University System implementing a practical program like this and even happier to see that it will be stationed at UWGB. Learn more here.

  • Congratulations to Encompass Early Education and Care which recently celebrated 100 years of caring for and educating the greater Green Bay areaís youth. Started by the Catholic Womanís Club after WWI, Encompass has grown through the years to now become a staple for many families in our community. To commemorate this anniversary, I worked with my legislative colleagues from Brown County to provide a citation honoring this occasion.

  • Bernatelloís Pizza, the manufacturer of a number of popular frozen pizza brands, recently announced plans for a $24 million expansion in Kaukauna which will add 48 new jobs over the next three years. This is great news for Kaukauna and pizza lovers throughout Wisconsin!




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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