Updates from the State Senate - August 14, 2019

The photo above was taken at Heritage Hill State Park in Allouez.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Apollo 11ís landing on the moon just a few weeks over fifty years ago was an achievement that has been and should continue to be celebrated as an amazing feat not only as Americans, but as humans. Did you know there are some Wisconsin connections to the Apollo 11 mission? Take a couple of minutes and learn more about our stateís ties to the moon landing here.


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,


Summer seems to be flying by. Around the 2nd Senate District, the summer months offer more community events than I can possibly attend. I enjoy attending these events when my legislative schedule allows and seeing so many residents out enjoying some nice weather at these events before winter comes around again.


Unfortunately, too many Northeast Wisconsinites havenít had an ideal summer as of late with severe weather causing downed trees and debris, some property damage, high water levels, and long-term power outages. While the result of these storms is terrible, these challenges provided another opportunity to show why our communities are so great. Neighbors helping neighbors by sharing generators, helping to cut downed trees and pick up debris, and even just checking in on your neighborsí well-being is what hard times in Wisconsin are all about.


Before we dive into the latest edition of the Updates from the State Senate e-newsletter, I want to make sure everyone is aware that in coming weeks the Speakerís Task Force on Water Quality, of which Iím a member, will be in Green Bay for one of its road hearings. Exact date and time are still to be determined, but keep an eye on my social media accounts for this opportunity to provide input on water quality topics to a bipartisan, bicameral group of State Legislators.


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

  1. The unveil of the SCHOOL Acts to protect childrenís health

  2. Six month checkup on the Audit Hotline

  3. Celebrating the Packersí 100th anniversary

  4. Efforts to stop the robocalls

  5. Lower insurance rates on the marketplace

  6. Recent events I've attended around the district

  7. 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


SCHOOL Acts Unveiled to Protect Children's Health


Last week, I announced the circulation for co-sponsorship of a major initiative to protect childrenís health in Wisconsin. These two bills, collectively known as the Supporting Childrenís Health by Ousting Outdated Lead Acts, SCHOOL Acts for short, are a bipartisan initiative to protect childrenís health in Wisconsin.


Building on last sessionís unanimously-supported effort to provide a tool for local governments to address lead laden residential drinking water known as the Leading on Lead Act, weíre pleased to continue the bipartisan spirit around drinking water quality. With eight authors, four Republicans and four Democrats, weíre introducing the SCHOOL Acts to help protect children from lead poisoning when they leave their home. By working together, we believe that we will be able to best advance bipartisan solutions to nonpartisan problems.



The first bill, LRB 19-3539, addresses lead in school drinking water by requiring testing and, if necessary, requiring that contaminated water sources be taken offline and replaced with clean water sources while incentivizing long-term remediation by buying down the interest rate of Board of Commissioners of Public Lands loans. The second bill, LRB 19-3566, tackles lead in the drinking water of daycares, group homes, and summer camps by requiring testing as a component of licensure and, if necessary, ensuring that contaminated water sources be taken offline and replaced with clean water sources. A more detailed overview of both bills can be found here.


Lead exposure is bad for all ages, but children are particularly susceptible to negative consequences including changes in their physical development resulting in numerous health impacts and stunting of their mental growth causing behavioral issues throughout their childhood, teenage-years, and beyond. With the SCHOOL Acts, weíre looking to give our youth a brighter future by reducing lead exposure and giving parents and guardians the peace-of-mind that their kids will drink clean, safe water when they leave the house in the morning.


Iím circulating these bills for co-sponsorship with my co-authors Senators LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee), Jerry Petrowski (R-Marathon), and Mark Miller (D-Monona) and Representatives Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Joel Kitchens (R-Sturgeon Bay), and Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha) until Tuesday, August 20th.


Audit Hotline Six Month Check-Up


The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has released a report highlighting the activities of LABís Fraud, Waste, and Mismanagement Hotline. At the request of the co-chairpersons of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee, LAB will be reporting on hotline activity semi-annually. LAB received 35 hotline reports in the first half of 2019, 26 of which were specific to state agencies or programs.



As a Co-Chair of the Audit Committee, getting the information from the Fraud, Waste, and Mismanagement Hotline on a more frequent basis will allow the Audit Committee to more rapidly consider issues of waste, fraud, and abuse in state government. I want to thank the LAB for their flexibility to fulfill our request to report on the hotline activity every six months and for their diligent work following up on the reports submitted to the hotline.


Check out the joint release from Co-Chair Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem) and I on my website, or read Report 19-12 on the Audit Bureauís website.


Celebrating the Packers' 100th Anniversary


Can you imagine Green Bay without the Packers? I canít! The regionís culture, economy, and identity have been shaped around this storied franchise for exactly 100 years last Sunday. I donít know about you, but that sounds like a cause for celebration!


Earlier this year, I authored a joint resolution with my Legislative colleagues from Brown County that made August 11th Green Bay Packers Day in Wisconsin! Iíll share a slightly shorter version of the text from Senate Joint Resolution 8 below highlighting some of the key moments in Packersí history.


Whereas, a football team was formed in the 2nd floor editorial rooms of the Green Bay Press-Gazette building on August 11, 1919, and after an under-the-radar public reveal 2 days later, it was announced that they would be named the Green Bay Packers after the teamís sponsor, the Indian Packing Co.; and


Whereas, in their first season, the Packers went 10-1 under Calhoun and Lambeau with a team mostly filled by former standouts at Green Bay East and West High Schools and that played home games at Hagemeister Park where they ďpassed a hatĒ for voluntary contributions; and


Whereas, after two successful seasons as an independent professional football team, the Green Bay Packers joined the American Professional Football Association, soon to become the National Football League, in 1921 as the smallest city in the young league; and


Whereas, the Packers survived against the odds in the early years after financial struggles and restructuring by the NFL to remove franchises from smaller cities, and now thrive in the smallest market and as the only community-owned team in major professional sports; and


Whereas, the Packers won their first World Championship in 1929, less than a decade after joining the NFL, and won the first Super Bowl in 1966 among their 11 other World Championships in 1930, 1931, 1936, 1939, 1944, 1961, 1962, 1965, 1967, 1996, and 2010; and


Whereas, the thirteen World Championships won by the Packers are more than any other NFL franchise, and the Packers are the only team to win three straight World Championships, having accomplished the feat twice; and


Whereas, 1,701 people have played in at least one game for the #Packers, with 162 players, coaches, and executives being enshrined in the Packersí Hall of Fame, and 25 Packers having their busts displayed in the Pro Football Hall of Fame, more than any other team but one; and


Whereas, some notable Green Bay Packers include game-changing talents such as Herb Adderley, Tony Canadeo, Willie Davis, Brett Favre, Forrest Gregg, Paul Hornung, Don Hutson, Jerry Kramer, James Lofton, John ďBloodĒ McNally, Ray Nitschke, Aaron Rodgers, Sterling Sharpe, Bart Starr, Jim Taylor, Reggie White, Willie Wood, and Charles Woodson, and legendary coaches including Earl ďCurlyĒ Lambeau and Vince Lombardi; and


Whereas, with a 777-593-38 all-time record, including a 34-22 record in 32 postseason appearances, the Packers have recently concluded their 100th season as the third-oldest NFL franchise and will celebrate their 100th anniversary in 2019 as one of the most-storied franchises in sports history and as an integral part of Wisconsin history; now, therefore, be it


Resolved by the senate, the assembly concurring, That the Wisconsin Legislature honors and congratulates the Green Bay Packers on the occasion of their 100th anniversary, wishes them continued success for many years to come, and declares August 11, 2019, Green Bay Packers Day.


When this resolution passed the Senate in June, I jotted down a few comments to deliver on the floor about what comes to mind when I think of Packers football. Check out this clip of the floor speech on WisconsinEyeís website (only about a minute long).


Stop the Robocalls


It seems like I canít go a single day without multiple annoying robocalls. A robocall, for those of you who may not have heard this term before, is a phone call that uses a computerized autodialer to deliver a pre-recorded message, as if from a robot. Robocalls are often joined with spoofing, a practice where caller ID identifies the number as a nearby area code so the person answering thinks the call might be from a neighbor or local business, even though the calls originate elsewhere. Iíve heard from a few of you in the past few months about what we can do to address robocalls and spoofing, so I wanted to take a few moments to discuss this issue.


Earlier this session, I co-sponsored a bill from Senator Dale Kooyenga and Representative Joe Sanfelippo that would provide a penalty for those who are caught spoofing caller ID numbers with a fraudulent purpose. 2019 Senate Bill 132 and Assembly Bill 147 have broad, bipartisan support, and have received a public hearing in the Assembly. I hope to see this legislation advance this session.


While I do hope to see this legislation passed, the ultimate enforcement of these robocall operations is on the federal level given that these are usually interstate, if not international fraudulent operations. The Federal Communications Commission, FCC for short, recently provided more authority to phone companies to block connections and stop these fraudulent calls. It appears that this action could be a big step towards addressing this problem.


Congress is also taking action on robocalls after passing legislation through the House recently on a nearly unanimous vote. H.R. 3375, the Stopping Bad Robocalls Act, will give individuals the choice to opt-out of receiving robocalls, require callers keep detailed records of who has or has not opted out of robocalls and prevent the callers from evading the new rules.


Check out the this Wisconsin Public Radio article to learn more about the state legislation to address spoofing, read this National Public Radio article to learn more about FCC actions to address robocalls, or visit the Washington Postís website to learn more about H.R. 3375.


Lower Insurance Rates on the Marketplace


Last session, the State Legislature tackled increasing rates and the exit of some providers from the health insurance marketplace. That led to the introduction and passage of the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan, one of the few of its kind in the nation, which provided a mix of state and federal funding to reinsure higher risk patients which would help to bring down the cost for everyone on the marketplace and keep providers active in Wisconsin.


Just about a year after the Wisconsin Healthcare Stability Plan was approved by a federal waiver and implemented by the state Office of the Commissioner of Insurance, weíre already seeing positive returns. Before the passage of the bill, premiums were expected to increase 9% in 2020. New numbers released with the bill in place instead show a 3.2% drop in insurance rates! Additionally, weíre seeing the return of some providers to the marketplace and even more are showing interest in participating. This added competition will further help to reduce rates and provide options to residents.


Iím proud to have supported this plan, and am very pleased to see those in the marketplace and all Wisconsinites are already reaping the benefits.


Recent Events Attended


II 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:

  • Recently, I joined top officials from the EPA to celebrate Green Bay Water, including their removal of most of the lead laterals in their community. A law I passed last session, discussed in the article, helps communities to replace lead laterals in a locally-driven effort. Green Bay Waterís creativity has allowed them to make progress this far without using this new law, but for Green Bay and any other community in Wisconsin, the Leading on Lead Act is ready to help them address Wisconsinís cases of lead laden water. Read the WBAY story here.

  • As an advocate for the Brown County expo center, it was an exciting time in Ashwaubenon as ground was recently broken on the project. Once complete, this welcome development will have the space necessary for Ashwaubenon and our entire region to continue being a year-round events destination. Serving as a regional asset for decades to come, the expo center will provide even more opportunities to showcase all of what Northeast Wisconsin has to offer. See my full statement on this groundbreaking, including some efforts I helped to advance regarding the expo center which made this possible, on my website.


  • Being from Northeast Wisconsin, I donít have to tell you how important the paper industry is to our state. A new report from the Wisconsin Institute for Sustainable Technology shows that the pulp, paper and converting industries contributed over $18 billion in economic output while employing more than 30,000 employees in 2018! I was happy to attend events highlighting and celebrating this report at Ahlstrom-MunksjŲ in Kaukauna and Green Bay Packaging last week. Check out the report for yourself on WEDCís website.

  • Northeast Wisconsin is quickly emerging as a destination for innovation. With the opening of the Urban Hub last week in Green Bay, our area will continue to provide opportunities for those looking to develop the next big idea. I was happy to be in attendance to mark this occasion. Learn more on NBC26ís website.

  • It was a pleasure to join Focus on Energy late last month to honor the Oneida Nationís commitment to energy efficiency at Turtle School. After several recent projects in the school, students will enjoy more climate comfort and the school will save more than $55,000 a year in avoided energy costs. Later that day, we also honored Eland Electricís work with solar energy generation in our region.



  • As always, itís great to have opportunities to connect with local officials. I enjoyed attending a recent Outagamie County Towns Association meeting.


In Other News...


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

  • GPS can be great, but if you get lost, sometimes nothing works quite as well as a paper map. If youíre a constituent of the 2nd Senate District and are interested in receiving a free 2019 State Highway Map to stow in your glovebox or seatback pocket, just enter in your mailing address on my website.

  • Wisconsin was recently part of a settlement with Equifax stemming from a 2017 data breach in which an estimated half the American public was impacted. If you believe you may be impacted, check out the link below as you may be eligible for benefits from this settlement that include up to 10 years of free credit monitoring or a $125 payment for credit monitoring. Learn more on the FTCís website.

  • Three area businesses recently received Fast Forward grants from the state Department of Workforce Development. As a champion of Fast Forward, Iím ecstatic to see even more Northeast Wisconsinites getting ahead in their field thanks to this workforce training program. Congratulations to Nueskes Meats, Green Bay Packaging, and ThedaCare on receiving these grants.

  • It was nice to have Jordy Nelson come back this week to retire as a Packer. Jordyís time in Green Bay not only lead to wins on the field, but made a positive impact off the field through his involvement in the community.

  • Iím proud to have recently received a Conservative Excellence Award for my 100% voting record to uphold civil liberties and conservative principles in 2018 from the American Conservative Union. Some of the votes they considered reformed civil asset forfeiture laws, reaffirmed property rights, and reduced barriers to entering skilled trades.

  • The Asian Carp are one of the greatest risks faced by the fisheries and water quality in the Great Lakes and throughout our state. Currently, thereís a great bipartisan effort in Washington D.C. by Congressmen Glenn Grothman and Mark Pocan to ensure the dangers posed by invasive species like the Asian Carp are considered before federal mandates are issued for fish passageways in local dams. Learn more about this effort on Rep. Grothmanís Twitter page.




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




If you would like to unsubscribe from Senator Cowles' E-Newsletter, please Click Here