Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District
Wisconsin's rivers and streams, if laid end-to-end,
would stretch for 26,767 miles. That is almost 2,000
miles more than the circumference of the earth.
Paving the Way to Highway Project Accountability
Last month, I wrote a column discussing bipartisan
legislation to address a devastating audit of the
Department of Transportationís State Highway Program.
The column was published in some of the newspapers in
the 2nd Senate District, including the Clintonville
Tribune-Gazette, Green Bay Press Gazette, New London
Press Star, and The Press (Covering Ashwaubenon, Hobart,
Howard and Suamico). Iíve included a portion of the
Every day, our state government spends hundreds of
millions of dollars to provide the services
Wisconsinites have come to expect. While providing these
services, itís crucial that we ensure accountability and
oversight for each dollar spent. The Joint Legislative
Audit Committee and the nonpartisan Legislative Audit
Bureau have been the Legislatureís way to ensure
accountability in Wisconsin state government for over 50
A recent audit (Report 17-2) made headlines when some
concerning results were released on the Department of
Transportationís (DOT) State Highway Program. The
primary finding showed costs for major highway projects
exceeded original estimates by more than 110%, totaling
over $3.8 billion!
Overall, the audit showed that the DOT systematically
failed to properly budget for their fiscal needs,
leaving DOT overworked and underfunded which lead to
drastic project delays and wildly inflated costs. The
Committee agreed that this audit should serve as a
resource to tighten up DOT practices to ensure that
project estimates correctly reflect true costs. Working
with the experts at the Audit Bureau, the Committee
introduced 2017 Senate Bill 85.
Senate Bill 85 turns this audit into action by laying
out several requirements of DOT for current and future
major highway projects that will increase accountability
and ensure that taxpayers are receiving the best highway
transportation services at the best costs.
This legislation passed the Senate in May of last year
and the Assembly in February of this year, and saw
strong, bipartisan support in both houses of the
Legislature. Last week, Senate Bill 85 was signed into
law by the Governor as 2017 Wisconsin Act 247. Now that
Senate Bill 85 is enacted, DOT has a statutory process
to ensure that transportation resources are put to best
use. Simply put, Act 247 will help to guarantee that our
state receives the quality highways we desire through
bolstering the accountability Wisconsinites demand.
Read the full column by clicking the link below.
Signings in Northeast Wisconsin
Governor Walker recently signed a few bills into
law in Northeast Wisconsin at the end of the Legislative
2017 Assembly Bill 745.
This new law, which was signed at a construction site
off Highway 172 in Ashwaubenon, opens the door for
graduating high school seniors to gain valuable
professional experiences and get a head start towards
obtaining the critical skills they need for gainful
employment through registered apprenticeship programs.
Learn more about this legislation on
I also joined some of my legislative colleagues last
month at Bellin Health in Green Bay as Governor Walker
signed two bills into law to combat opioid addictions.
Thanks to the work of Representative John Nygren and
others, Wisconsin has now passed 30 bills to make
progress in the fight against the opioid epidemic.
Finally, the Governor was also in Wausau last month to
sign part of the welfare reform package into law. These
laws provide new accountability measures in our welfare
programs while ensuring that we can transition certain
recipients from welfare to work whenever possible. Learn
more about these new laws on the
Milwaukee Journal-Sentinelís website.
to Combat CWD and Easement Efforts Announced
Earlier this month, new steps were announced by the
Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer
Protection (DATCP), the Department of Natural Resources
(DNR), and Governor Walker to combat the spread of
chronic wasting disease (CWD) in white-tailed deer.
These steps require deer farms to install enhanced
fencing, ban the movement of live deer from deer farms
in CWD-affected counties, and allow whole carcass
movement out of CWD-affected counties only if the deer
is headed to a taxidermist or meat processor.
For years, Wisconsinís deer hunting tradition has been
put at risk by the spread of CWD. As weíve learned more
about this disease through academic and field research
done in Wisconsin and throughout the nation, the
severity of this ecological epidemic has become more
evident and recent calls for action by sportsmen and
women throughout the state have been strong. The
announcement to combat the further spread of CWD is a
welcome step towards ensuring that the future of
Wisconsinís deer population is healthy and our deer
hunting tradition is strong.
Not only were the plans to combat the spread of CWD
detailed at the Conservation Congress Convention in
Green Bay last week, but Governor Walker also announced
plans for a nearly 21,000 acre easement that increases
public recreational access in Northwest Wisconsin. I was
very pleased to hear this announcement when I attended
the convention, and Iím especially happy that this
easement will help to protect two pristine Class I trout
streams which are virtually impossible to replicate.
Learn more about this proposed easement and see my
Wisconsin Public Radioís website.
Here are some other stories I wanted to share with you:
This week is National Police Week, a
federally recognized annual celebration of the brave
and dedicated law enforcement officers who protect
and serve us in Wisconsin and throughout the United
States. The end of National Police Week also
coincides with Armed Forces Day where we thank all
those serving to protect our freedom both at home
and overseas. If you see a police officer or member
of our armed services this week, please take a
moment to thank them.
At the Wisconsin Internet Crimes Against Children (ICAC)
Conference in Green Bay, law enforcement from
Northeast Wisconsin and throughout the state
gathered to learn about the latest tactics to
improve their abilities in the fight against the
online exploitation of children. One of the focuses
of the Conference was a law Wisconsin passed in 2016
called Aliciaís Law which is named after the victim
of an internet crime that led to a brutal assault
who now advocates for these policies. Learn more
about Aliciaís story and Wisconsinís efforts to
fight internet crimes against children on
Every 40 seconds, someone in the United States has a
stroke. A stroke can happen to anyone at any time,
so make sure you know how to improve your health to
prevent a stroke and how to spot the warning signs
of a stroke by visiting the
American Stroke Associationís website.
Itís great to see that Wisconsin received an ĎAí
grade and ranks among the top four states in
government spending transparency according to a
recent national study. Government transparency,
especially with taxpayer dollars, has always been a
top priority of mine. Learn more about the study on
Wisconsin Watchdogís website.
Recently, Ashwaubenon High School received a $25,000
grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development
Corporation for a fabrication lab. This Ďfab labí
will help to enable students to learn the skills
necessary for the 21st century workforce. Iím happy
to see Ashwaubenon taking advantage of this
important grant program.
Recent Events Attended
I have the opportunity to attend a number of 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 a chance to
meet 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:
Several teachers from the 2nd Senate District in
Green Bay, Pulaski and Seymour were recognized last
month at the 25th Annual Golden Apple Awards hosted
by the Greater Green Bay Chamberís Partners in
Education. Congratulations to the teachers honored
at this event and thank you to all of Northeast
Wisconsinís fine educators.
For the seventh straight year, Wisconsinís tourism
industry continues to grow. In 2017, tourism
spending topped $20.6 billion from 110 million
visits! In the four counties I represent (Brown,
Outagamie, Shawano and Waupaca), tourism
for over $1.9 billion in sales. Tourism holds a key
role in our economy, and I was happy to talk more
about tourism at the Greater Green Bay Convention
and Visitors Bureau Annual Meeting last week. At the
meeting, I sat with Representative Eric Genrich
(D-Green Bay) showing that tourism is truly a
bipartisan topic. (picture to the right from Jeff Bollier of the Press-Gazette)
Congratulations to the 935 newest alum of UW-Green
Bay who walked across the stage at graduation this
past weekend and congratulations to all of the other
Northeast Wisconsin residents who celebrated their
college graduation this past weekend.
Ending Multiple Sclerosis (MS) for good is a tall
order, but that wonít stop the people at Walk MS
from shooting for that goal. I was happy to join the
event organizers and hundreds of members of the
community in De Pere last month as we walked with
the shared goal to create a world free of MS.
For the 30th time, Wisconsin Public Service held
their annual Volunteer Awards ceremony to recognize
those individuals who have dedicated their time to
giving back to the community. This year there where
over 1,700 nominees!
If you live in the Green Bay area, thereís a good
chance that youíve spent time on the Baird Creek
Trail. The trail and preserve would not have been
possible without the work of the Baird Creek
Preservation Foundation. I was happy to support this
organization at the 21st Annual Banquet last month.
Our first responders are a critical component of our
community, and their jobs would not be possible
without the dedicated work of the communications
experts at emergency operations centers. Last month,
I attended the Brown County Public Safety
Communications Awards Ceremony which recognized the
work of some of these dedicated individuals who help
to keep us safe.
Last month, I attended the 20th Annual Green Bay
Port Symposium to learn more about the future of the
greater Green Bay areaís transportation industry and
the importance of the Port to the region. One of the
highlights of the event was the plan to bring cruise
ships to Green Bay in the near future. Learn more on
The government closest to the people often makes the
largest impact on your daily life which is why I
like to stay in-touch with local government
officials in the 2nd Senate District. Last month, I
attended a HALOS (Howard, Hobart, Ashwaubenon,
Lawrence, Oneida, and Suamico) meeting to explain
some of my efforts to assist local governments in
helping Wisconsin residents.
Thanks for Reading!
Feel free to contact my office with any questions or
concerns you may have, and be sure to
my website and connect with me on
Senator Robert Cowles