Updates from the State Senate - August 7, 2017



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Banner Photo


The banner photo on the top of this E-Newsletter was taken at Pamperin Park in Brown County.


Quick Fact


In 1885, a young man from Hortonville by the name of Charlie unveiled his new invention, the hamburger, at the fair in Seymour. Learn more about Hamburger Charlieís invention here, and donít forget to check out Hamburger Days in the Home of the Hamburger: Seymour, Wisconsin.


Helpful Links









Act 54 Helps Wisconsin Catch Criminals at the Pump


With the constant advance of technology, law enforcement and prosecutors sometimes lack the legal tools to stop modern crimes. Credit card skimmers are one of the latest major threats to consumer protection, as the skimmers are easy to obtain, easy to use, hard to identify, and hard to track. Dozens of communities have already felt the impact of these identity thieves, but Wisconsinís criminal statutes have been lagging behind.

Last week, 2017 Senate Bill 133, which I authored, was signed into law. This finished the legislative process for a bill that saw strong, bipartisan support when it passed through the legislature in June. Act 54, the new number for SB 133, will ensure that law enforcement has the proper tools at their disposal to deter and prosecute criminals, and helps to ensure that consumers can be safer when they pay at the pump.


With the help of Attorney General Brad Schimel and a host of other stakeholders including law enforcement, prosecutors and gas station owners, we were able to identify the weaknesses in the current laws. Prosecutors and law enforcement were primarily restricted from prosecution unless the criminals retrieved personal or financial data from consumers.


Now, law enforcement has the ability to address criminal activity for attempted use, possession with criminal intent, or trafficking of a skimmer. This bill would not have been possible without the help of my Co-Author Representative Rob Summerfield, a host of stakeholders, and my legislative colleagues who identified the ability of this legislation to address this threat.


Read More →


Helping to Get Veterans to Work

July 25th was National Hire a Veteran Day, and in recognition of this occasion, I wanted to highlight a bill I am working on. Veterans often have a hard time finding employment when they transition from the military to civilian life. While their sacrifice is often revered by employers, their formal work experience may be lacking, and the skills service members gained during deployment may not be easily converted to an employers need.


Recently, Representative Cody Horlacher and I introduced Senate Bill 338 to help make the path to employment simpler for veterans. This program assists in providing transitional jobs to veterans, which will not only provide work experience and skills learning, but it will give veterans a chance to get their foot in the door with a potential employer. I hope to see progress on this bill in fall so we can get our veterans to work.


Rooting Out FoodShare Fraud


FoodShare replaced the Food Stamp Program in Wisconsin in 2004 with the goal of helping to stop hunger and improve nutrition and health among low income residents. Participants receive monthly electronic benefits to purchase food from local stores. People of all ages who have a job but have low incomes, are living on small or fixed income, have lost their job, or are retired or disabled and not able to work take part in this program. Over one million Wisconsinites benefit from FoodShare, but unfortunately some try to defraud the system.


The Office of the Inspector General in the Department of Health Services recently released a report on their increased efforts to root out intentional and illegal FoodShare fraud. While the OIG has done a good job of rooting out some of this fraud, more can be done. I am proud to have authored Senate Bill 174 that will further assist in halting FoodShare trafficking by giving local law enforcement the tools they need. A public hearing has been held, and I hope to see more progress on this bill in fall.




SB 90 among Other Bills Signed into Law


During the Governorís Bill Signing that was held last Wednesday, two bills I authored were among 18 others that were signed into law. Along with my bill to combat credit card skimmers, Senate Bill 90 was also signed into law to create Act 55:


>> 2017 Act 55 allows auto repair shop staff to remove and replace Vehicle Identification Number (VIN) stickers on doors and door jams. Priory, removing a VIN sticker was a crime. Having to work around the stickers severely slow vehicle repairs, making it more difficult for repair-men or women and making it more costly to the consumer. Act 55 will speed-up repairs and potentially assist in lowering the cost of labor to a consumer. The idea for this bill was brought to me by local body shop owners, including Mark Williams from Williams Auto Body [in the picture on the right between Nicole (left) from Representative Steffen's office and Heather (right) from my office] who was present at the signing.


Other bills I supported as a co-sponsor that were signed into law on August 2nd include:


>> 2017 Act 42 allows a pharmacy student to administer a vaccine to a person who is at least six years old under the direct supervision of a pharmacist. This will give these students the practice they need to get ready for a seamless transition into the workforce as the pharmaceutical industry continues to grow. The bills main authors were Senator Testin and Representative Rohrkaste.


>> 2017 Act 53 allows waste heat recovery to be added to the list of renewable resources manufacturers can use to satisfy the stateís Renewable Portfolio Standard (RPS). Under state standards, major electrical utilities are required to get 10% of their energy from renewable sources to meet their RPS. Waste heat recovery captures heat leaving manufacturing facilities and reuses the heat. That will significantly reduce the energy use of the facility while reducing their carbon footprint. This law change will help Wisconsin to adapt to evolving and growing list of renewable energy. The bills main authors were Senator Roth and Representative R. Brooks.


To see a full list of bills the Governor has signed into law this year, visit the Legislatureís website at this link.


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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