Updates from the State Senate - February 20, 2017



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Fun Fact


Minnesotaís state motto may be the ďLand of 10,000 LakesĒ, but Wisconsin is home to over 15,000 lakes!




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Leading on Lead Garners Strong Bipartisan Support


In the last E-Newsletter, I discussed the Leading on Lead Act. The bill, which would remove a barrier and provide flexibility to local governments to address lead in drinking water, has garnered strong bipartisan support. Over the course of nine days, 48 Legislators, contacted me to show their support for the Leading on Lead Act by signing-up as a co-sponsor.

Currently, municipalities have very few options to assist customers to remove lead service lines. The Leading on Lead Act can help to most cost effectively complete the lead removal process in communities all across the state. Financial support may be provided to residents who are affected by lead in their water if the municipality passes an ordinance to allow financial assistance. Utilizing the knowledge of our local governments and water utility professionals will lend a great deal of expertise in eradicating the lead in our drinking water.

To learn more about the bill, read this article from the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Recap of District Listening Sessions

Over the past two weeks, I have held three listening sessions in the district. These sessions were a chance for residents of Wisconsinís 2nd Senate District to come and discuss state Legislative issues that matter most to them. During the three sessions, I heard from over 100 constituents on a wide array of topics and opinions. I want to thank those who attended. If you were unable to attend, you can contact me with your thoughts or concerns through my website.


I would also like to extend a special thank you to Shawano Mayor Jeanne Cronce, Ashwaubenon Village President Michael Aubinger, and Kaukauna Mayor Gene Rosin for graciously hosting the Representatives and myself, and for their attendance and remarks at the listening sessions.

Listening session in Shawano on Friday, February 10th with Representative Gary Tauchen.


Listening session in Ashwaubenon on Friday, February 17th with Representative David Steffen.


Listening session in Ashwaubenon on Friday, February 17th with Representative David Steffen.


Listening session in Kaukauna on Saturday, February 18th with Representative Jim Steineke.

Supporting K-9 Officers

Currently, state law mandates a K-9 officer be taken out of duty for a week each time the dog bites an offender. This has proved to be a huge impediment to a police departmentís ability to use one of the best crime fighting tools they have available to them. I am authoring legislation to remove this burden and let handlers determine the best care for their K-9 partner.


This legislation also understands that many departments have a limited number of K-9 officers available, and removing them from the line of duty only inhibits the departmentís ability to do their job. I am proud to have the support of many police chiefs throughout the state, and hope to have this legislation passed soon.


 To learn more, watch this segment on the bill from WKOW.


Plan to Lower Phosphorus Levels Passes EPA Hurdle


Wisconsin waterways are significant economic drivers and support our nearly $20 billion tourism industry. Unfortunately, high phosphorus levels that lead to algae blooms can have a negative impact on tourism and our water ecology. Facing impending deadlines that will force municipal water utilities and Wisconsin job creators to spend billions of dollars on costly filtration upgrades that will only reduce small amounts of phosphorus, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) and I lauded the EPA approval of Wisconsinís Phosphorus Multi-Discharger Variance (MDV).


In 2014, Rep. Loudenbeck and I passed legislation to authorize this innovative approach with the help of the League of Wisconsin Municipalities, Wisconsin Rural Water Association, Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin Land and Water Conservation Association, and Wisconsin Cheese Makers Association. This Wisconsin provision will offer a new fee-based compliance option in order for water utilities and manufacturers to meet the strict phosphorus discharge standards. Leaving existing phosphorus standards intact, the MDV utilizes the flexibility provided to increase funding for nonpoint source pollution. The result will be a more direct approach to tackle phosphorus pollution and increase the protection of our lakes and rivers while also protecting jobs.


Nonpoint source pollutants such as golf courses, agricultural producers, and residential activities are having a larger cumulative impact on waterways. This MDV will directly address those nonpoint source pollutants, and search for ways to reduce their impact on waterways. Iím incredibly pleased that we were able to clear the final hurdle this much-needed legislation, however, I am still disappointed by the amount of time it took the EPA to review and approve our creative approach. Once enacted, the MDV can help to ensure that we move Wisconsinís economy and environment forward.


To see the press release from Representative Loudenbeck and myself on the MDVís approval, visit my website.

Thanks For Reading!


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

and be sure to 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: (800) 334-1465 | District: (920) 448-5092 | Sen.Cowles@legis.wisconsin.gov