Updates from the State Senate - April 1, 2019

The photo above was taken in Shawano County.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


The Milwaukee Brewers just wrapped up Opening Weekend of the 2019 Season. Did you know that Miller Park, home of the Brewers, is the only MLB stadium that sells more brats than hot dogs?


Banner Photos


Iíve enjoyed sharing some pictures from throughout the 2nd Senate District in the banners of e-newsletters over the past couple of years, but I know many of you have sites in the district, in your community, and even in your own backyard that also deserve to be shared.


Thatís why Iíve created a webpage to allow constituents to upload images from the district to potentially be featured in a future e-newsletter banner. Images selected will be presented similar to how banners have in past e-newsletters and you will receive credit for your submission.


If you have a photo you think should be featured, please visit my website.


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,


Weíve seen a lot of progress in the past two weeks on some of the proposals Iíve authored early in this session after a series of recent committee hearings. Along with committee hearings, Iíve also been busy meeting constituents in Madison and throughout the district, including at two listening sessions last week.


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

  1. Progress on a number of proposals

  2. Appearances on the radio, a podcast, and a panel

  3. Bills Iím co-sponsoring

  4. Recent events I've attended around the district

  5. 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


Progress on a Number of Proposals


With a handful of committee hearings over two days last week and a few other hearings recently, itís been busy in the Capitol. A number of bills Iíve introduced early in this legislative session saw forward progress during these hearings. All of these bills Iíve discussed in more detail in previous e-newsletters, so Iíve provided a shorter overview and links to learn more about each of these bills below.


P3: A Pollution Prevention Partnership, which Iíve authored with Representative Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay) and Senator Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), introduces a third-party clearinghouse into our water quality trading system has now been heard and voted unanimously out of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources. In fact, after the public hearing, all the Senate Committee members were authors or sponsors of this bipartisan proposal. Additionally, with a simple amendment to address some of the technical concerns that were raised, we have gained even more support from groups representing agriculture, business, local government, and natural resources. If you want to learn more about this proposal, check out my Twitter page where I shared portions of my testimony and provided a chart explaining the proposed process or read this article from the Peninsula Pulse.




On Tuesday, I testified twice in front of the Assembly Committee on Transportation. The first was for Assembly Bill 3 which Iíve authored with Representative David Steffen (R-Green Bay) to help DOT better address fraudulent auto sales like what happened at Standard Auto. I also testified on Assembly Bill 9 which Iíve authored with other legislators representing the Fox Valley to name the 41-10-441 interchange after our late colleague Mike Ellis. Both of these proposals had already been heard in the Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs earlier this year, and both were unanimously voted out of Committee in a separate hearing last week and are now available for scheduling before the full Senate.


Nursing homes throughout the state are struggling to find enough staff to properly care for patients. One of the barriers faced when addressing staffing shortages is Wisconsinís training standards for CNAs which includes about 60 more hours of training than many states and federal standards. I testified on Assembly Bill 76 which Iíve authored with Representative Warren Petryk (R-Eleva) to align our training requirements with federal standards last week in an Assembly Committee. This bill in no way stops further on-the-job training which most CNA employers already do, but instead it gets these individuals in the workplace cheaper and sooner while still ensuring a credible licensure process. AB 76 will only address part of the problem faced by nursing homes, but it could be a strong first step.



Another bill is now available for scheduling in the Assembly after an executive session last week in the Assembly Committee on Local Government unanimously approved of this bill. Assembly Bill 2, which Iíve introduced with Representative John Spiros (R-Marshfield), cleans up antiquated statutory language to let Wisconsin municipalities utilize new products to better administer their parking enforcement and make it more user-friendly for the habitual parking violator when faced with an immobilization device. The bill was already made available for scheduling in the Senate earlier this session.


Apperances on the Radio, a Podcast, and a Panel


Iíve made three recent appearances on the radio, a podcast, and a panel that I wanted to share with all of you.


First, two Fridays ago, I joined the radio show Fresh Take with Josh Dukelow on WHBY to talk about my water quality efforts, the proposed budget, and more. If you missed the interview, you can check out it out on the Fresh Take website.


Also a couple of weeks ago, I was on the #LocalGovMatters podcast from the Wheeler Report to talk about P3. Check out the podcast on their website and be sure to subscribe on your favorite podcasting app.


Finally, I was part of a panel for a Community Conversation on water quality on World Water Day at the Fox Cities Performing Arts Center. I joined Jessica Schultz of the Fox-Wolf Watershed Alliance, Briana Kupsky of the DNR, Appleton Mayor Tim Hanna, and Julie Robson, the Director and Producer of ďThe Worth of WaterĒ, on the stage for a conversation moderated by WFRVís Paul Evansen on the impact of governmental and non-governmental actions on our regionís water quality. If you want to check out the conversation, visit WFRVís website.


Bills I'm Co-Sponsoring


In the past few e-newsletters, Iíve detailed bills that Iíve authored. I also want to let you know about some of the bills Iím co-sponsoring early in this Legislative Session, all of which are bipartisan efforts. As this is just a sampling of bills Iím co-sponsoring, Iíd encourage you to visit this website to see a complete list of bills Iím authoring and co-sponsoring this session.

  • I donít know about you, but it seems like I canít go a single day without multiple calls from robots or telemarkers that look like their calling from a Wisconsin-based area code, but really are calling from elsewhere. This practice, known as Ďspoofingí, is designed to have the person answering the call drop their guard as it looks like a call from a neighbor or local business. Iíve signed on a bill to try to block more of these Ďspoofingí calls from targeting Wisconsin residents. To learn more, check out this WPR article.

  • Pharmacy Benefit Managers (PBM) offer a unique way to address some of the high cost of prescription drugs for some Wisconsin residents by offering the PBMís services to health insurers to administer and manage prescription drug benefits. Iíve signed on to Senate Bill 100 to promote use of the Pharmacy Benefit Manager model in Wisconsin and put the consumersí interests at the forefront of this industry.

  • While it may seem like an obvious change, we as legislators need to pass a bill to ensure our statutes do not allow tax deductions for businessís moving expenses to leave the state or even the country. Iím supporting Senate Bill 12 to close this statutory loophole and ensure that any tax credits for businesses are not only accountable and transparent, but are for companies committed to doing business in Wisconsin.

  • Faculty in our University of Wisconsin-System are not only are great at educating students, but many of them preform groundbreaking research across a number of fields (ex. UW scientists discover pathway behind common cancer gene). However, because of current statutes, the option to work with non-governmental institutions to better fund and promote their research is often limited. Iím co-sponsoring Senate Bill 42 to create options for more research contracts in the UW-System by allowing the researchers and administrators to take control of this process and produce more research.

  • Many of you have heard about the ĎDark Stores Loopholeí where local governments are forced through court cases to reassess the property values of commercial property at a lower value, causing some of the tax burden to shift to homeowners. While legislation to address this was held up last session, Iím once again a co-sponsor on legislation to address this loophole.

  • Last session, I was a co-sponsor of legislation to enter Wisconsin into the Enhanced Nurse Licensure Compact to allow Wisconsin nurses to practice telemedicine, respond to disasters, and be able to move and continue practicing in other compact states. This session, Iím a co-sponsor on a bill to renew our commitment to the Interstate Medical Licensure Compact to continue allowing doctors to do the same thing. These compacts help to expand workforce opportunities for these medical professionals.


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. I also get to welcome dozens of residents from Northeast Wisconsin into the Capitol each week as they come to my office to talk about the issues important to them in their professional and personal life. Here is just a sampling of some of the events Iíve recently attended around the district and meetings Iíve had in the Capitol:

  • I had the pleasure of being able to attend the ribbon cutting for the expansion of TreeHouse Foods in Allouez. The company has been an employer in the Green Bay area for over a century, and this expansion shows their commitment to staying in our region moving forward.

  • It was great to speak with Save the Bay on some of my efforts on water quality in the State Legislature. Among others, I provided an overview of P3 (which I discussed above) and Senate Bill 31 to divert agricultural permitting fees from the general fund to the DNRís permitting division to address the permitting backlog. Thanks to Congressman Gallagher for the speaking invitation and for continuing the discussion on water quality in Northeast Wisconsin through this group.



  • Last Monday, Representative Tauchen and I held two more listening sessions in the district. Thanks to everyone who attended these sessions at Shawano City Hall and Schultzís Cozy Cafť in Tigerton!

  • Thanks to all the farmers from the 2nd Senate District that came to Madison recently for Ag Day at the Capitol! I enjoyed being able to speak with them on the legislative issues surrounding agriculture and the rural economy in Wisconsin.


  • Community Centers are a great asset to many Wisconsin communities as they provide a gathering place for residents to get together and hold meetings or celebrate events. I was happy to be in attendance for the groundbreaking of a new community center in Pittsfield last week.

  • I met with some constituents from Civil Air Patrol in my office last week to talk more about what theyíre doing in our community. I always enjoy meeting with this group.


  • I welcomed leaders from UW-Milwaukee and UW-Green Bay to my Capitol office last week to talk about their new Fresh Water Science Collaborative. Itís been exciting to hear about the initiatives taking place at UW-M and UWGB to ensure more students enter the workforce prepared to tackle today and tomorrowís water quality challenges.


In Other News...


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

  • WFRV recently did a number of stories on female leaders in Northeast Wisconsin who are leaving their marks in our communities. One of these stories highlighted Beth Lemke, the Executive Director for the Neville Public Museum in Green Bay. I know Beth and am an admirer of the work she does to make the Neville a great place to visit anytime of the year and also a great place to visit again and again. Check out the story on Beth on WFRVís website.

  • Youth Art Month is a great time to be in the Capitol as the building is brightened by dozens of works from young artists of all ages. Along with dozens of other pieces from around the state, Iíve seen artwork from some of our young and talented artists at schools in Ashwaubenon, Kaukauna, and Oneida. To see the photos Iíve shared from Youth Art Month, visit my Facebook page.

  • I had the pleasure of authoring a citation with Representative Steffen for a constituent who was one of four from Special Olympics Wisconsin that recently represented the United States at the Special Olympics World Games in Abu Dhabi. Jonna Stein won gold in unified bowling, bronze in team bowling, and was fifth in singles bowling. Great job Jonna!

  • Clean water is important for drinking, but itís also imperative for many outdoor recreation activities which help to increase our standard of living and drive our strong tourism industry. Clean water is also crucial in many manufacturing processes. Thatís why Iíve made preserving and improving the quality of Wisconsinís surface and ground water a key part of my legislative agenda in past legislative sessions, and I plan on continuing my focus on clean water in the current session. March 22nd was World Water Day, and to commemorate the occasion, I wanted to share the column I wrote last year in the Wisconsin State Journal on some of the recent water-related legislative achievements.

  • Some area high school bands preformed recently in New York Cityís 258th St. Patrickís Day parade. This is an awesome experience for these young musicians from Ashwaubenon and Pulaski to be able to show their skills on such a large stage. Learn more about this trip and the performance on WLUKís website.

  • Spring cleaning is just around the corner, and Focus on Energy is reminding qualifying utility customers that your old, working fridge or freezer can be picked up and responsibly recycled for free. Plus, youíll get $20 for your return and could save up to $150 per year in energy costs. To learn more, visit Focus on Energyís website.




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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