Updates from the State Senate - July 2, 2018


The banner photo above was taken in Shawano County during June Dairy Month.



Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Flag Day, which was celebrated on June 14th, was originally started by a teacher in the Wisconsin community of Fredonia in 1885 when the teacher arranged for the students to celebrate what they called Flag Birthday.


After advocacy efforts for the next few years, the idea of a Flag Birthday caught on in Congress as an annual celebration and took the simpler name of Flag Day.


Helpful Links









Preparing for the Workforce


People with disabilities are often left out of the workforce despite the fact that not only are many able to work, but they have a desire to work. As Wisconsin struggles to find enough employees to fill open positions, itís more important now than itís ever been to find and train new and motivated workers to continue growing Wisconsinís economy and to provide a sense of pride among the new employees.


Passed this session, Assembly Bill 625, which I co-sponsored, encourages state agencies to better coordinate and share resources to bring people with disabilities into competitive integrated employment. Under this model, adults with disabilities would work alongside other employees throughout their community.


This legislation will act to create new efforts, but it will also grow new programs like Project SEARCH. This program, which has been implemented in states throughout the nation, is a business led collaboration that enables young adults with disabilities to gain and maintain employment through training and career exploration. A 9-12 month program, Project SEARCH provides total immersion in a large community business.


Last month, about twenty more young individuals graduated from recent Project SEARCH programs at a ceremony at St. Elizabeth Hospital in Appleton and another ceremony at Bellin Health in Green Bay which I attended. Congratulations to those graduates, and I look forward to hearing about your futures.


Huge Announcement from Green Bay Packaging


I recently attended an announcement on Green Bay Packagingís plans for the largest economic development project in Brown County history. I am very excited about their announcement to reinvest in our region with a new $500 million facility. Along with the hundreds of employees with family-sustaining earnings that will be retained and the 200 additional jobs the company is expected to create, Green Bay Packagingís commitment to improving local air and water quality are proof that the company is not just investing in a new facility, but theyíre investing in our community. They could have built a new facility anywhere, but their commitment to Northeast Wisconsin proves that our stateís business climate is favorable and our workforce is strong.


Learn more about the project on the Green Bay Press-Gazetteís website or read my full statement about this announcement on my website.


Cutting Red-Tape to Raise Shawano Lake Water Levels


As another Wisconsin summer kicked off this year, a decision by government regulators in Washington D.C. to lower water levels on Shawano Lake by approximately 5 inches had the potential to put a damper on summer plans for thousands of people. This decision not only had the potential to ruin summer fun for many residents and visitors, but it could have negatively impacted local businesses and property values, lead to more boats being damaged on the water, and threatened the health and safety of boaters who would be subjected to more dangerous structure just below the lakeís surface.


As legislators representing Shawano Lake, Representative Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel) and I knew action was necessary when some local property owners brought this issue to our attention. After working with the Shawano Area Waterways Management Association and the dam operators to convince the Department of Natural Resources to support the request, we sent a letter to the Federal Energy Regulatory Commission (FERC) requesting that they raise the water level on Shawano Lake back to historic levels.


Immediately after the closure of a short and required public comment period, FERC issued the decision last Thursday to raise the water levels back to historic norms for this boating season. Iím very pleased to announce the decision by FERC to raise the water level on Shawano Lake. From reeling-in that trophy-sized fish to taking-in the Shawano Ski Sharks show to meeting some of your neighbors at a sandbar party, Shawano Lake is synonymous with summer for many. Thanks to hard work and cooperation from local leaders, state officials, and the federal agency, this decision came just in time for the busy Fourth of July weekends, meaning that we can allow residents and visitors to spend their holiday like they always have: safely on the Lake.


While this decision is good for this summerís lake-goers, this decision is only temporary. A permanent order would have taken a longer public comment period and more time to make a decision from FERC, so for this summerís enjoyment, a temporary order was ideal. I hope for continued cooperation and a joint effort to find a long-term solution to keep Shawano Lake a prime recreation hub and a safe place to live and visit.


Learn more by watching a story on lake levels rising on WLUKís website or read more on the Shawano Leaderís website.


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:

  1. Brown County has been a leader in Wisconsin in using their Drug Treatment Courts which are often more effective than punishments for drug use offenses. I have attended a number of their Drug Treatment Court Commencement Ceremonies in the past, and was honored to attend another ceremony last month.

  2. Thousands of Northeast Wisconsin residents graduated from high school in recent weeks, each of which with a different path moving forward in their future. It was my pleasure to attend the graduation ceremonies in Bonduel, Freedom, Green Bay East, Pulaski, Shawano, and Shiocton this year.

  3. Recently, St. Paul Elder Services in Kaukauna received a national award from LeadingAge. I was happy to have the opportunity to see their top of the line facility and meet the people behind their excellent service at a recent open house. To the right, Iím pictured with the President of St. Paul Elder Services Sondra Norder.

  4. The 2nd Senate District is home to one of the most pristine plots of land that the state owns. Not only is the Navarino Wildlife Area pristine, but itís home to many miles of well-maintained and accessible hiking areas and wildlife viewing spots. Recently, I attended the Navarino Nature Centerís Annual Meeting to learn even more about this great asset to the region.

  5. The Greater Green Bay Chamber of Commerceís Young Professionals group does a lot of great things for the community, but perhaps their best program is the Support of Urban Projects or SOUP. Last month I attended the ceremony where they awarded this yearís SOUP winner for mindful programming at Washington Middle School.

  6. Connecting with our local schools is very important in my role as a legislator. The Howard-Suamico School District held a great Community Conversation with Legislators event recently to help my colleagues and I connect with the district leaders. We also heard from the high schoolís valedictorians Alexis Abel and Nate Schleuter.

  7. Meth use in Wisconsin has increased by 462% in the past eight years. Last month, I joined Attorney General Brad Schimel and some of my legislative colleagues for the introduction of a new program to raise awareness of the growing methamphetamine addiction problem in our state. To learn more about the program, visit www.knowmethwi.org

  8. In May, I attended the Fox Cities Chamber Annual Business Awards at the Paper Valley Hotel in Appleton. Itís always great to learn more about the businesses excelling in the Fox Cities area.


Weekly Radio Address on Transportation Accountability


Every week, a Republican and a Democratic legislator records a brief radio address to be aired on dozens of stations throughout Wisconsin. The last week of May, I offered the weekly Republican radio address where I discussed accountability in transportation projects. Listen to the address or read the transcript on my website at this link.



In Other News...


Here are some other stories I wanted to share with you:

  • The state Department of Health Services announced recently that Brown County was awarded a grant to promote long-term recovery from opioid use. Brown County has excelled in their use of drug treatment courts and this grant will only further advance their opioid treatment efforts.

  • Last, I had the honor of once again being named a Friend of Housing from the Wisconsin Builders Association for my efforts to make the cost of homeownership as low as reasonably possible for Wisconsin families. (picture to the right)

  • Children who are forced into foster care are in an unimaginably difficult situation, but some dedicated individuals are working to help these kids. In May, Josh and Jamie Blau of Seymour were recognized for their inspiring efforts as a foster family and Packers RB Ty Montgomery and his mother Lisa received a Champion of Change Award for their dedication to raising awareness of the ongoing need for more foster families. Thank you to all those involved in helping foster children. Learn more on WLUKís website.

  • As we kick off summer, the Department of Natural Resourcesí Drain Campaign is reminding boaters to drain live wells, bait buckets and bilges before leaving the boat launch. Draining this water is one of the easiest and most effective ways to stop the transport of invasive species between different lakes and rivers.

  • Congratulations to United States Senator Ron Johnson on getting Right-to-Try legislation through Congress and signed into law. For those suffering from a terminal illness, this bill provides those patients with much needed hope instead of more red tape.

  • One of the most expensive transportation projects for local communities is to rehabilitate or replace a bridge. The state Department of Transportation has a program that helps local governments rehabilitate and replace the most deficient local bridges. Iím glad to see that a number of projects in the district and throughout Northeast Wisconsin were included in this funding cycleís grant awards.

  • A new study once again confirms that Wisconsinís pension plan is funded higher than any other state in the nation! Wisconsinís strong fiscal management of our pension system has led to the program being nearly fully funded which ensures that taxpayers are not left on the hook for unfunded commitments.


Congratulations State Championship Qualifiers


As the school year comes to a close, not only do we get to celebrate the thousands of new high school graduates in Northeast Wisconsin, but we can congratulate the athletic success of those who excelled in the spring sports season. While everyone who takes time out of their day to join a sports team or other extra-curricular activity should be proud of their dedication and achievements, I wanted to take the time to congratulate and recognize those from the 2nd Senate District who qualified for the Wisconsin Interscholastic Athletic Association State Championships in their respective sports.


Ashwaubenon School District

  • Girls Track and Field Individual Qualifiers: Mara Schroeder, Sage Wagner, 4x800m Relay


Clintonville School District

  • Girls Track and Field Team


Freedom Area School District

  • Boys Track and Field Team

  • Girls Track and Field Team


Green Bay Area School District

  • Southwest High School Boys Tennis Team

  • Boys Track and Field Individual Qualifier: Jason Wright (West High School)

  • Girls Track and Field Individual Qualifiers: Madeleine Steber (West High School) and Clare Welhouse (Southwest High School)


Kaukauna School District

  • Boys Golf Team

  • Boys Golf Individual Qualifiers: Tyler Cleaves, Brock Hillnak, Zachary Klingseisen, Reis Schweiner and Jonas Weber

  • Girls Track and Field Team

  • Girls Track and Field Individual Qualifiers: Nicole Buchinger, Anna Fauske, Maggie Tienor and 4x400m Relay


Little Chute School District

  • Girls Track and Field Team


New London School District

  • Boys Track and Field Team


Pulaski Community School District

  • Girls Track and Field Individual Qualifiers: 4x200m Relay


Seymour Community School District

  • Girls Track and Field Team


Shawano School District

  • Boys Track and Field Team

  • Boys Track and Field Individual Qualifiers: Payden Buck, Parker Pues and Atty Wagner


Wittenberg-Birnamwood School District

  • Boys Track and Field Team

  • Girls Track and Field Team


Wrightstown Community School District

  • Girls Track and Field Team


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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