Updates from the State Senate - October 30, 2017



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Banner Photo


The banner photo on the top of this E-Newsletter was taken of the mural on Catherine Street near the Veteranís Memorial in Kaukauna, a city that I represent.


Quick Fact


Between the cities of Menasha and Green Bay, the Fox River drops 168 feet. Thatís roughly the same height as Niagara Falls!


Helpful Links









Plenty of Committee Hearings


Over the past few weeks, Iíve had over a dozen committee hearings where bills Iíve authored or co-authored were either discussed or were voted on. Below is just a sampling of some of those committee hearings:

  1. The Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Energy, which I chair, recently held two hearings to discuss a number of proposals. One of those bills is Senate Bill 421, the Parks Revitalization Act. This bill, which Iíve authored, would help to replace degrading water infrastructure in State Parks. Another bill, Senate Bill 320, would expedite the permitting process for artificial wetlands. SB 421 was voted out of Committee 5-0, and SB 320, with an amendment Iíve authored to protect natural wetlands while removing roadblocks on artificial wetlands, was voted out of Committee 5-0.

  2. Senate Bill 338, named the Hire Heroes bill, was recently heard by the Senate Committee on Transportation and Veterans Affairs. This legislation would close gaps in the current system to allow all veterans on a need basis to receive transitional jobs. Integration into the civilian workforce is a major challenge for veterans, and this bill is one way we can best serve those who served our nation.

  3. Last week, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, which I Co-Chair, held a public hearing to discuss Audit 17-9 on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation and approve a proposed audit on the DNRís Forestry Account.

  4. Senate Bill 173, which Iíve authored to rethink the way we deal with contaminated lands, was heard two weeks ago by the Senate Committee on Government Operations. This bill allows local governments and companies looking to repurpose some of the most blighted parts of our communities into new developments to do so in a more expedient and convenient process while still ensuring public and environmental health.


Upcoming Senate Sessions


The State Senate is in-session tomorrow, October 31st to take up a number of bills, resolutions, and appointments. The Senate will also be in-session on Tuesday, November 7th to discuss and vote on more proposals.


You can watch these sessions live at Wisconsin Eye. My social media accounts will also have updates throughout the day, so be sure to like my Facebook page and follow me on Twitter and Instagram. My next e-newsletter will discuss the proposals of mine and other key proposals that were voted on during both session days.


Brown County Proposed Innovative OWI Court


Recently, Brown County Executive Troy Streckenbach and Brown County Circuit Court Judge Donald Zuidmulder outlined their plans to create a treatment county for fourth-time OWI offenders. Time after time, treatment has been proven to be more effective than punishment when dealing with offenders that have substance addictions. If an offender receives a fourth OWI, clearly punishment has failed to change their behavior. This program shows great promise in addressing the root of the problem by solving the addiction instead of focusing solely on the offense. I want to express my appreciation to Troy and Judge Zuidmulder for their leadership with this proposal.


Learn more about the proposal with this article from the Green Bay Press-Gazette.


Recent Events in the District


As a state Senator, I have the opportunity to attend a number of great 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 the opportunity to meet some 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 in the district:

  • The 13th Annual Power of the Purse Luncheon hosted by the Womenís Fund showcased a national activist, Elizabeth Smart, who first gained national attention at age 14 when she was abducted from her Salt Lake City home and rescued nine months later. This event highlighted the need for more focus on the issue of human trafficking.

  • The Annual Save the Bay event was put on by the Clean Bay Backers. This year, the event was focused on revitalization activities along our shorelines. After the event, I joined Representative Macco to deliver the important takeaways from the event to our constituents. If you havenít seen the video, check it out by clicking on this link.

  • The Brown County Crime Prevention Foundation hosts a luncheon each year to recognize the recipients of their Crime Prevention Grants. This year, 14 grants were distributed to some deserving local organizations. See the recipients and learn more about these grants at this link.

  • The Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerce has a group for young professionals named Current. I recently dropped in on one of their events, and was delighted to see some of the great young people making an impact in both the professional world and the broader community. Learn more about Current on the Greater Green Bay Chamberís website.

  • Two recent events at Northeast Wisconsin Technical College will help to expand opportunities for young people in our area. First, I attended the dedication ceremony of the College of Business. This state of the art facility will serve over 6,000 people each year. I also attended the dedication of the burn tower (pictured to the right). This burn tower will help to ensure that our current and future firefighters have a training facility to prepare for real-life fires.


Two Bills Recently Highlighted in the WHA Newsletter


Two bills with bipartisan support Iíve either authored or co-authored were highlighted by the most recent edition of the Wisconsin Hospital Associationís newsletter. One of the bills would align Wisconsinís emergency detention law for patients with a mental health crisis with federal requirements. The other bill would enter Wisconsin into the enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact to allow our nurses to practice across many state lines. Thanks to the Hospital Association for your support on these efforts!


Read the newsletter from the WHA at this link.


Final Reminder on Blue Books


In the last e-newsletter, I told subscribers about the anticipated release of the 2017-18 Wisconsin Blue Books, a biennial publication containing information on state government. I had a great response, with dozens of people interested in receiving one when they come out. If youíve already signed-up, youíll be on the top of the list to get yours shipped first. While these books are available year-round, I wanted to send one more reminder for those who may have missed this section before. And as always, Blue Books are FREE!


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.


Some Other Odds and Ends


  • Getting exited for deer hunting season? Check out the DNRís new podcast and web series titled Wild Wisconsin. Topics range from public land hunting strategies to hunting rules and regulations. Learn more and start watching at this link.

  • The state Department of Transportation recently announced a $2 million grant for RGL Holding in Green Bay. This grant will help to reactivate a shipping facility that hasnít been used in almost 30 years and will help to create 22 new jobs. Read more about this grant on Wisconsin Public Radioís website.

  • Earlier this month, the 7th Annual Heat UP Wisconsin program began. This program provides 85 free furnaces for Wisconsinites in-need. One of the furnaces was given to a Green Bay man. Learn more about this story with WBAY and learn more about the program at this link.

  • The UW System is home to some of the best researchers in the country, and some recent news out of UW-Milwaukee proved that. Scientists at the University have played a role in groundbreaking research on gravitational waves. This research recently earned the Nobel Prize in Physics. Learn more about this research with Fox11 News.

  • The Titletown District in Ashwaubenon has been booming lately, but perhaps the most exiting announcement came two weeks ago when the Packers and Microsoft announced a new development called TitletownTech. This partnership includes an incubator, venture fund, and tech lab. This is huge news for Northeast Wisconsin and the entire state, as the economic activity and innovation that could be created here may make a lasting impact in our region. Learn more about the announcement on the Milwaukee Business Journal's website.

  • If youíve been watching the World Series, not only have you been treated to some outstanding baseball, but you will have seen a moment in Game 4 when the entire stadium in Houston unified to Stand Up to Cancer. Nearly everyone has been impacted by cancer at some point in their life, and each of the signs held up during this touching moment proves how widespread cancerís impact is. If you missed this, I highly recommend you take a couple of minutes and watch it by clicking on the image on the right:


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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