Updates from the State Senate - January 2, 2018


The banner photo above was taken of a "barn quilt" in Shawano County. There are over 300 of these barn quilts on farms throughout the county, and it serves as a unique tourism draw for the Shawano County Chamber of Commerce. 



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Did you know December 30th was National Bacon Day? Some of the best bacon in the U.S. comes right from the 2nd Senate District. Nueskeís Applewood Smoked Meats in Wittenberg has been in operation since 1933, and the original smokehouse is still standing in front of their store. In addition to Nueskeís, many other great artisan meat shops exist in Northeastern Wisconsin, including Maplewood Meats in Howard which was established in 1983.


Helpful Links









Looking Back at 2017 and Welcoming 2018


Happy New Year! To start the first Updates from the State Senate E-Newsletter of 2018, weíre going to look back on some of the highlights from 2017 by the numbers.


  • 6 Bills Iíve Authored Were Signed into Law, including my efforts to combat credit card skimmers in Wisconsin, assist homeowners in replacing contaminated wells and failing septic tanks, reforming regulations for redeveloping blighted lands, and replacing failing water infrastructure in State Parks.

  • 21 Bills Iíve Authored Were Introduced, including my efforts to remove lead drinking water pipes from our communities, put more accountability on the Department of Transportation, combat child neglect and the exposure of children to drug endangered environments, transition veterans from military service into the civilian workforce, and save our pets in emergency situations.

  • 22 Audits Were Released, including evaluations by the Audit Bureau of the State Highway Program, Veterans Home at King, and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. These audits serve as key tools towards ensuring accountability. As Co-Chair of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee which oversees the Audit Bureau and orders evaluations, I believe that requesting, understanding and following-up on these audits are one of my most important roles as a legislator.

  • Hundreds of Community Events Attended and Meetings Held both in the district and in Madison. These events and meetings help my staff and I keep a barometer on the latest developments in the district and the issues important to constituents and residents of Northeast Wisconsin.


Progress on Bills I'm Co-Sponsoring


Several bills Iím co-sponsoring have seen progress in recent weeks. Learn more about these bills below:


  • Assembly Bill 205, now Act 132, was signed into law in December. This legislation enacts fiscal prudence on state leases by requiring the Department of Administration to conduct a cost-benefit analysis comparing the proposed lease to the purchase of a suitable space. It also requires that it must evaluate comparable lease options to ensure that the proposed lease rates do not exceed rates on comparable properties. This accountability measure ensures that these lease deals, which often cost tens or even hundreds of millions of dollars, do not waste the taxpayerís money.

  • Senate Bill 417, now Act 135, was also signed into law in December. This legislation enters Wisconsin into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact (eNLC). Our entrance into the eNLC ensures that our nurses can continuing practicing across state lines in the 20+ states participating in the eNLC. This bill will also help expand the career options for Wisconsinís nurses. Learn more about this bill on the LaCrosse Tribuneís website at this link.

  • Assembly Bill 565, which removes a section from state statute allowing a fee of up to $10 for requesting a credit freeze, had a public hearing in December with no one speaking against the bill. This legislation is in response to the Equifax breach when many Wisconsin consumers learned that Equifax and other credit reporting companies could charge a fee to stop collecting your financial data. This bill by Senator Testin and Representative Ott removes a barrier on consumer protection.

  • Iíve also signed on to two notable bills recently, including Assembly Bill 758 which is a bipartisan proposal to make it easier for the UW to contract with businesses and nonprofits for research contracts, and LRB 5027 which encourages people with disabilities to receive the training they need to enter the workforce. Both of these proposals are early in the legislative process, and have not seen any progress yet.


Winter Free Fishing Weekend


Twice a year, the Department of Natural Resources sets a weekend where anyone can go fishing and no permit is required. This yearís Winter Free Fishing Weekend is coming up on January 20th to 21st. This is a perfect opportunity for a seasoned ice fisherman or woman to introduce friends and family to the basics of ice fishing. Several community groups are also hosting events based on teaching the basics of ice fishing and introducing people to the sport. These events are posted on the DNRís website at the link below.


If you get out during the Free Fishing Weekend and enjoy the sport or if you missed your chance to hit the ice but are interested in trying on a different weekend, buyers of fishing licenses who havenít purchased a license in at least ten years can get their annual license at a reduced rate of only $5! Licenses last from April 1st to March 31st of the following year. So, if youíve ever had the urge to get out ice fishing but havenít, nowís a better time than any.



UW Team Uncovers Remains of WWII Pilot


Recently, a team from the University of Wisconsin at Madison uncovered the remains of a missing pilot from WWII in northern France. The effort to bring the lost soldier home after over 70 years took an international effort and two years of work by some very dedicated and qualified UW faculty. While the pilots sacrifice is a tragedy, the story of the work from UW-Madisonís Missing in Action Recovery and Identification Project is heartwarming as 1st Lt. Frank Fazekas will finally get the proper burial at Arlington that he deserves. This story is also informative of a larger problem as many souls from WWII and other conflicts are still lost on the battlefield. Read more about this story on the State Journalís website at the link below:



Award from the Auto Collision Technicians Association


In November, I received an award for Legislator of the Year from Larry Terrrien, a businessman in Green Bay and the President of the Wisconsin Auto Collision Technicians Association. This award was largely due to my work as the Senate author of 2017 Senate Bill 90, now Act 55, which allows auto body repair shops efficiently deal with VIN decals in door jams. Before this bill was passed, repair-men or women would have to work around the decals, which could severely slow vehicle repairs, making it more difficult for the auto technician and making it costlier to the consumer. Act 55 will benefit both the technicians and the customers.



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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