Updates from the State Senate - September 27, 2017



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Banner Photo


The banner photo on the top of this E-Newsletter was taken at the Gresham Depot Museum.


Quick Fact


On September 29, 1957, the Green Bay Packers played their first game in City Stadium (now known as Lambeau Field). In front of a capacity crowd of 32,132 which included Vice President Richard Nixon, the Packers defeated the Chicago Bears by a score of 21-17. Learn more about the birth of Lambeau Field with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.


Helpful Links









Passing the 2017-19 State Budget


On September 15th, the state Senate voted on 2017 Assembly Bill 64, the biennial budget. I cast my vote in-favor of this legislation, and the bill was signed into law last week. This budget prioritizes education and supports training Wisconsinís workers, and overall, this is a good budget for Northeast Wisconsin.


In April, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), the Stateís budget committee, took a bold step in favor of accountable government when they removed all non-fiscal policy items from the budget. While some non-fiscal policy items were put back in, these items are fewer both in numbers and impact than previous budgets. Furthermore, Governor Walker, through his veto power, removed 99 total items from the budget. While some of these 99 items were non-fiscal policy that I was pleased to see removed, others are fiscal items which I felt had improved the budget.


As JFC's work concluded, I was happy to see they prioritized fiscal responsibility by keeping the structural deficit at a reasonable level while ensuring a stable ending balance. As we return our focus to non-budgetary legislative issues, I intend to continue working with my colleagues to ensure that the implementation and execution of this budget is both accountable and transparent.


Uncertainties Remain on Foxconn Deal


On Tuesday, September 12th, I cast a 'no' vote on August Special Session Assembly Bill 1, the Foxconn incentive package during the State Senate's floor period. The decision to vote no on the Foxconn incentive package did not come easy. Weeks of work were committed towards reviewing this package, but questions still remained.


While I support our state promoting economic development, the incentives that Foxconn was presented were too steep, both financially and statutorily. With concerns raised in previous audits about the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the agency responsible for working with Foxconn, and their ability to collect and report job information, my uncertainty on the deal was increased. Ultimately, the bill, as presented on the floor, left uncertainties that I felt were too crucial for me to pledge support for this legislation.


Upcoming Legislative Efforts


With the budget signed, it's time to return focus to individual legislation. I have been working on a few bills that I have introduced or will be introducing soon, and want to share them with you:


Parks Revitalization: Our State Parks are a treasure for residents and visitors alike. Showcasing everything from woodlands and grasslands to waterfalls and rock faces, our pristine environment in the parks are a treasure we should be proud we're protecting. While the natural landscape of the parks is still in prime condition, some of the basic infrastructure, like toilets and water lines, is not. I am introducing a bill to allow the DNR to use unused Stewardship Grant money from prior fiscal years towards making these improvements in some of our most popular parks. If this bill passes, it will improve the experience of hundreds of thousands of parks visitors every year.


Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC): In 2000, Wisconsin joined 24 other states in creating the Nurse Licensure Compact (NLC). This agreement ensured that nursing licenses issued in one state will be recognized in all states in the NLC, so that nurses from other states can practice in Wisconsin, and Wisconsin nurses can practice in other states. This is especially helpful for telemedicine, military families, boarder counties, disaster relief, and even just to ease the burden of moving across state lines. When small flaws with the process on the NLC licensing were found, the eNLC was created. Wisconsin is one of the only states that hasn't transferred from the NLC to eNLC. Recently, I worked with several of my colleagues to introduce a bill to switch Wisconsin to the eNLC and support our nurses.


Some New Ways to Get Involved


There are some new and exciting opportunities for students and community members to become more involved and informed about their state government. Learn more about these opportunities below:


Blue Books: The 2017-18 Wisconsin Blue Books will be released in the coming weeks. For those unfamiliar with Blue Books, they are a biennial publication containing information on the legislature, the organization of state government, and vital statistics on Wisconsin government and elections. They are free, and they are a great way to improve or refresh your knowledge on your state government.


If you would like a Blue Book shipped to you, please use the Write to Rob form on my website, select 'Blue Book or highway map request' from the dropdown menu and fill in the form. You may also call my office at (608) 266-0484 or (800) 334-1465 during normal business hours. Blue Books will only be sent from my office to constituents of the 2nd Senate District. If you are outside of my district or are unsure, this map will help you determine your representation.


K-12 Art and Essay Contest: The State Capitol Commemorative Commission is sponsoring an art and essay contest to help commemorate the 100th anniversary of our beautiful and historic building. Students in grades K-12 are invited to submit either a piece of art or an essay which details or symbolizes the importance of the Capitol building and what it means to Wisconsin.


The Commission will select one art piece and one essay from each grade. Selected art and essay pieces will be displayed in the State Capitol building this fall. All entries will receive a certificate acknowledging the submitted work.


For more information on rules and submission guidelines, visit the State Capitol Commemorative Commission's website at this link.


Senate Scholar Program: The Senate Scholar Program is open to high school juniors and seniors. Senate Scholars attend floor debates, committee hearings, and seminars conducted by lobbyists, reporters, legislative staff, Governor's staff, professors from UW-Madison, and more.


In addition, Senate Scholars will engage in mock legislative activities, such as bill drafting, policy analysis, fiscal analysis, constituent communications, and lobbying. These activities will culminate in a mock legislative hearing.


If you're interested, applications are due on November 22nd. You can learn more about the Senate Scholar Program requirements and apply at this link.


PACE Expands to Brown County


A program which I helped create, the Property Assessed Clean Energy (PACE) Program, recently expanded to Brown County. This business-friendly program lets business owners get long-term loans for projects like high-efficiency lighting, solar panel installation, HVAC, and more.


I applaud Brown County for approving this program, and encourage business owners to explore how this economic development tool may help their business grow. Learn more about this program by clicking the link below to watch a WBAY segment on the program.


Read More →


Some Recent Events I've Attended


As part of the new Titletown District, another event I attended was the grand opening of the Bellin Health Titletown Sports Medicine and Orthopedics Clinic. In the shadows of Lambeau Field, this facility will be home to some of the best sports medicine facilities in the nation. In fact, Sports Illustrated even wrote an article about the facility and how one doctor, Dr. Robert Anderson, will continue catering to some of the world's most elite athletes and our local athletes right from the Ashwaubenon complex.


One of the recent events I've attended was the ribbon cutting and grand opening of the Donald J. Schneider Family Grand Garden at the Green Bay Botanical Garden. This 2.5-acre facility includes 11,500 perennials and about 1,000 trees and shrubs, and will host a lot of great upcoming events. Read more about this new garden on the Green Bay Press-Gazette's webpage.


I enjoy learning more about fields of employment in the district, and recently, I had that opportunity when I toured County Materials in Green Bay with Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary Dave Ross.


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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