Updates from the State Senate - February 19, 2019

The photo above was taken in Franklin Park in Shawano.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


The Village of Hortonville had one of the first match light factories in the world in the late 19th Century.


Opening Prayer


Before every Session of the State Senate, the body starts with a prayer. If you or anyone you know would like to lead the Wisconsin State Senate in prayer, please contact my office and we will coordinate to see if we can make that happen.


Community Events



One of my favorite things about being your State Senator is getting to meet constituents out in the community at some of our great local events.


The 2nd Senate District is also home to many great events and attractions. Whether you're a visitor or a life-long resident, you will not run out of things to do and see in Northeast Wisconsin.


To find an event or attraction in your area, visit the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Fox Valley Convention and Visitors Bureau, the Shawano County Chamber of Commerce, or the Clintonville Area Chamber of Commerce. To find more public events, visit the community calendars on WLUK News and the Appleton Post-Crescent.


Helpful Links










Dear Friends and Neighbors,


It’s been a busy few weeks around the Capitol. Among dozens of meetings with community groups, including leaders of different co-ops from Northeast Wisconsin and a couple of librarians from Seymour. These next couple of weeks will also be packed, including a Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs, which I am a member of, which will include discussions on the confirmation of two Secretaries and hearing two bills: 2019 Senate Bill 3 which I authored and Senate Bill 1 which I co-authored.


Other committees will also be busy as many of the Secretary-Designees will be heard for confirmation and some of the first pieces of legislation in the 2019-2020 Legislative Session will be moving ahead. Additionally, on February 28th, Governor Evers will also deliver his Budget Address to a Joint Session of the Legislature.


In this e-newsletter, I've included information on:

  1. My appointment to the Water Quality Task Force

  2. Two ‘Hometown Heroes’ from Shawano

  3. Recap of two listening sessions and announcing two more

  4. The Group Insurance Board audit release

  5. Recent events I've attended around the district

  6. And more


As always, 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 for more regular updates from around the 2nd Senate District and in the State Capitol.


Thanks for reading!


Senator Robert Cowles

Proudly Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District


Memeber of the Water Quality Task Force


Last week it was announced that I will serve on the bipartisan, bicameral Speaker’s Water Quality Task Force. Clean water is fundamental for human health and crucial for maintaining the high standard of living Wisconsinites enjoy. But each watershed is different and the issues each face are unique.



The Task Force plans on several stops throughout the state over the course of 2019 to hear from residents in those areas who are struggling with the search for clean water. Once announced, hearings will be posted on the Task Force’s website. If you would like to submit a comment regarding water quality to the members, that may also be done on the Water Quality Task Force website.


I’m excited to listen to the people of Wisconsin on the water issues they see in their own backyard, and I hope there will be a focus on implementing immediate solutions and accomplishing long-term goals. I look forward to seeing what this group can do to address today’s problems and anticipate challenges ahead in providing drinkable, fishable, and swimmable water for all Wisconsin residents.


Hometown Heroes from Shawano


Congratulations to Chad and Cheyna Kary from Shawano who will be named ‘Hometown Heroes’ last week in the Assembly. The Karys, who were nominated by Representative Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel) for this award, took the devastating loss of their newborn baby and created Georgia’s House to offer a free place to stay in Green Bay for parents of premature newborn babies while their child is in the hospital. They’re doing amazing work, and I’m glad to see they’re being recognized for their commitment. Learn more about Georgia’s House and the Hometown Hero award at this link.



Recap of Two Listening Sessions and Announcing Two More


On Friday, I held two listening sessions in the district to hear from people on the issues most important to them in this budget cycle and throughout the Legislative Session. Representative Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel) joined me in Clintonville for the first stop of the day followed by a trip to Shawano.



Among the issues that I heard about were water quality, road maintenance, worker shortages, and more. I appreciated the opportunity to get to hear from these constituents and explain some recent actions I’ve taken to address those issues, and I want to thank everyone who showed up to these sessions.



Two more listening sessions will be coming up this Friday, February 22nd in Kaukauna and Ashwaubenon. Details are as follows:


Kaukauna City Hall

144 W 2nd Street, Kaukauna

2:00 PM to 3:30 PM


Ashwaubenon Village Hall

2155 Holmgren Way, Ashwaubenon

4:30 PM to 6:00 PM


Group Insurance Board Audit


Last week, the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released its evaluation of the Group Insurance Board (GIB). Programs run by GIB for Employee Trust Funds (ETF), which are available to state employees and certain local government employees, had expenditures that totaled $1.7 billion in 2017.


LAB found Group Health Insurance program, part of GIB, reserves increased from $90.6 million in December 2015 to $225.5 million in December 2017, or by $134.9 million. LAB also found that ETF did not require the program actuary to consider future investment income earned on program reserves when recommending the amount of reserves to spend.


Employee Trust Funds needs to put Group Insurance Board in a much stronger position to make decisions regarding its spending of program reserves. The amount of reserves spent affects the amount of premiums paid by participating government employers who fund these costs with taxpayer money.


Check out the full statement on this audit release from my Co-Chair Representative Kerkman and I on my website or read the full audit on the Audit Bureau’s 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 I’ve recently attended:

  • A couple of weeks ago, I attended the 2019 Syble Hopp Winter Blast at The Marq in De Pere. Syble Hopp was a pioneer in special education as the first teacher in Brown County to teach children with cognitive disabilities. I’m pleased to have been able to attend this event and support this greater Green Bay area school named in Mrs. Hopp’s honor.

  • Last Friday, after hosting the listening sessions, I attended an event to support the Rural Health Initiative in Cecil. The Rural Health Initiative practices kitchen table medicine by meeting farmers and rural residents in their homes for a basic health check-up which may often be the only medical checkup those residents receive that year. This is a great program, and I was more than happy to attend another event in support of their mission.

  • The new Capital Credit Union Park in Ashwaubenon will not only be home to Northwoods League baseball this summer, but a pre-professional league soccer team will play there too. I recently attended the name announcement of the new Green Bay Voyageurs Soccer Club and got to learn more about the new team coming to our area.

  • Perhaps nothing brings the community together for an event better than good food. I’ve recently attended a chili cook-off in the Green Bay area and a pancake breakfast at Redeemer Lutheran School Gym.

  • I’ve discussed human trafficking in a number of recent e-newsletters and the attention the Legislature has given to the issue. Some community members have also been working hard on bringing more attention to human trafficking. I recently attended another awareness event named the You Are Loved benefit concert at Green Bay West High School.


In Other News...


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

  • The Little Chute Area School District recently received a payment of over $90,000 from the Focus on Energy program for energy efficient upgrades made throughout their school district. Congratulations to the Little Chute Area School District on the payment, and thank you for your commitment to energy efficiency.

  • Four citizens were recently recognized with the Citizen Lifesaver Award from Ashwaubenon Public Safety for saving a three year old child during a summer pool party. Tyler Mankovecky, Michelle Malek, Nicole Malek, and Elizabeth Kvoriak performed CPR on the child until first responders arrived, and that quick action helped to save the child’s life. Learn more about this story on WLUK’s website.

  • I recently met with the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection Secretary-Designee Brad Pfaff to discuss a number of topics surrounding agriculture and Wisconsin’s rural economy. One of the things that came up was his recent letter to the U.S. Food and Drug Administration encouraging them to not allow the labeling of plant-based products as dairy. His advocacy accompanies efforts by some of our federal legislators, including Representative Sean Duffy (WI-8), to promote the proper labeling of these products. I support these efforts, and hope the FDA makes the right choice to enforce standards that separate dairy products from plant-based alternates.

  • Congratulations to Olga Brener Intermediate School, part of the Shawano School District, on winning the Wisconsin School Counselor Association’s Program of Promise award. Thank you for your commitment to advancing, creating, and maintaining a strong and comprehensive school counseling program.

  • In just 14 months, nearly 100 incidents of child sex trafficking cases have been confirmed in Wisconsin. DCF officials believe the number may be far higher. As I highlighted in my last e-newsletter, human trafficking is a statewide issue and too few people understand the true scope of this problem. I’m glad I have the opportunity to support the work of some of my colleagues in previous legislative sessions and in this session to help raise awareness about human trafficking and give law enforcement the tools they need to combat this heinous crime.




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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