Updates from the State Senate - May 1, 2017



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Banner Photo


The banner photo on the top of the E-Newsletter was taken at Sturgeon Park in Shawano. The Sturgeon run, which takes place every spring, brings these fish which can live to be over 100 years old up the Wolf River. Some of the best viewing spots in the World for these historic creatures are in Shiocton and Shawano. Above is a Sturgeon using the rocky shoreline near the dam.


Quick Fact


Wisconsin is home to over 160 different species of fish, and state records are kept for nearly 70 different  species of fish.


Helpful Links









Supporting Local Shared Services


On April 24th, Governor Walker signed 2017 Act 6, which was a result of Senate Bill 12 that passed the Legislature in early April. Current law requires multi-jurisdictional health departments to prepare separate budgets. Health departments throughout the state, whether in rural or urban areas, may find economic or administrative benefits in merging, a process that was made legal in a previous session. However, these shared services still found themselves stuck in red tape due to the requirement that they must prepare separate budgets.


Under 2017 Act 6, multi-jurisdictional health departments are able to truly operate as one governing body. With this legislative change, the administrative burden placed on shared service health departments will be reduced. Their options for funding mechanisms while balancing and limiting the burden on the taxpayers has also become more feasible. I am happy to have been a co-author supporting this common-sense legislation.

Transportation Audit Reform Bill Moving Forward

Last week, the Assembly Transportation Committee passed a bill to implement the legislative reforms recommended by the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau after the critical audit was released earlier this year. I have been working on moving this legislation forward, including providing testimony at two hearings on this bill. It’s great to see these common-sense reforms for the DOT’s State Highway Program moving forward. This legislation, authored by the committee I co-chair, will help to provide accurate and complete cost estimates which are crucial for transparency and accountability to Wisconsin’s taxpayers. I look forward to movement on this bill in the Senate.


To learn more about this bill, read this article from the Wisconsin State Journal.


Recent Public Listening Sessions

On Thursday, April 20th, I attended a listening session hosted by Representative Jim Steineke at Seymour City Hall. We fielded a variety of questions on legislative topics and budget issues. This listening session is the 4th hearing I have held in the District, after holding three in February.




Additionally, on Monday, April 3rd, Friday, April 7th, and Friday, April 21st, I attended the Joint Finance Committee’s public budget hearings in Platteville, Berlin, and Marinette, respectively. While I do not sit on the Joint Finance Committee, hearing the attendees address the Joint Finance Committee and express their opinions is important. Thank you to everyone who attended any of these meetings.

Working to Reform Child Neglect


Study after study has concluded that children exposed to abuse or neglect are at a greatly increased risk for future emotional or behavioral problems. In 2013, the Department of Children and Families confirmed over 1,300 cases of neglect to children under the age of 3. Abuse and neglect of children not only harms that child and their family, but it can have lasting impacts on the community as a whole.

I am happy to work with Representative Cody Horlacher (R-Mukwonago) to introduce legislation which better defines child neglect and create a crime for repeated acts of child neglect. We must do what we can to stop these terrible acts. The legislation is available for co-sponsorship, and we hope to introduce it soon.


JFC Executive Sessions are Starting

The Joint Finance Committee have concluded their trips around the state to hold public hearings, and today they are starting their Executive Sessions where they vote on budget provisions. To view the notices for any upcoming hearings or to follow the hearings, visit the Committee’s website or watch the hearings on WisconsinEye.


Thanks for Having Me


Apart from the listening sessions, I have been busy over the past two weeks attending events throughout the District. Below is a snapshot of some of the recent events I have attended, including:


  • Professional Football Stadium District meeting in Green Bay on Wednesday, April 26th

  • WPS Volunteer Awards Breakfast at the KI Convention Center in Green Bay on Thursday, April 27th

  • Perennial Performance construction update from the Green Bay Botanical Garden on Thursday, April 27th

  • 2016 Annual Report by the YMCA of the Fox Cities on Thursday, April 27th

  • March for Babies held by the March of Dimes at Ashwaubomay Park in Ashwaubenon on Saturday, April 29th

  • Multiple Sclerosis Walk at West De Pere High School on Sunday, April 30th

  • Lecture by Dan Egan on his recent book about the Great Lakes in Green Bay on Sunday, April 30th

  • Brown County Fairest of the Fair Gala at The Marq in De Pere on Sunday, April 30th


I am very impressed with the leaders that we have in our community, and look forward to continued meetings and working with these community leaders to help move Northeast Wisconsin forward. Thank you to all the great organizations and community leaders who have hosted me at these recent events and others.

Thanks For Reading!


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

and be sure to visit my website 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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