Updates from the State Senate - November 4, 2019

The photo above was taken on the Wiouwash State Trail in Hortonville.


Robert Cowles


Serving Wisconsin's 2nd Senate District







Quick Fact


Over 9,400 Wisconsin manufacturers employ 475,000 workers. These nearly half-million employees account for 16% of the stateís workforce and make over $50,000 a year on average. Wisconsin Manufacturing Month (October) has ended, but weíre lucky that we get to feel the important impact of manufacturing in Wisconsin year-round!


Community Events



One of my favorite parts of 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,


The colors are turning, the days are getting shorter, and, perhaps most of all, the temperatures are getting colder. Although in the State Capitol, itís been heating up as the fall portion of the 2019-2020 Session is in full swing. Coming off a floor period last month and looking ahead to a floor period tomorrow, the Legislature has been making positive steps in addressing issues impacting Northeast Wisconsin residents.


Recapping the past few weeks of action in the State Capitol and around the district, in this e-newsletter, youíll find information on:

  1. Six key efforts passing the Senate

  2. Testifying on two bills to support childrenís health

  3. Joining national leaders to encourage the ousting of lead-laden water

  4. UW-System President Ray Cross retires

  5. Tower approved for Door County State Park

  6. Water quality bills recommended by Assembly Committees

  7. Wisconsin turning the page on energy

  8. Recent events I've attended around the district

  9. 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


Six Key Efforts Pass the Senate


Iím pleased to report that six efforts Iíve been leading were passed by the Senate during a floor period last month.

  • Senate Bill 200, which Iíve authored with Rep Steffen and a team of bipartisan legislators, establishes timelines and protocols to prevent a future backlog of sexual assault kits and, most importantly, provides certainty and options to sexual assault survivors seeking justice.

  • Senate Bills 296, 297, 298 and 300, which Iíve authored with Rep Mursau, Rep Milroy and Sen Miller, ĎBites Backí against Lyme disease in Wisconsin by raising our stateís awareness and prevention efforts and fostering continued discussions on Lyme disease.

  • Senate Joint Resolution 27, which I authored with Rep Felzkowski, declares November 1st of each year as Electa Quinney Day in Wisconsin. Electa Quinney, a member of Stockbridge-Munsee Band of Mohican Indians, was the first female teacher and taught in the first free school in what would become Wisconsin. This resolution was also passed by the Assembly later that week, making it official that last Friday, November 1st, was the first Electa Quinney Day in Wisconsin. Learn more about Electa Quinney here.



The Senate also considered few dozen other bills, a handful of joint resolutions, and over 60 appointments that I supported either as a co-sponsor or with my vote on the floor.

  • Senate Bill 139, authored by Sen Jacque and Rep Wichgers, closes a loophole in current laws to ensure that all acts of bestiality are treated as felonies. Iíve heard from many constituents, some of whom own horses, about the importance of getting this bill signed into law.

  • Senate Bill 142, authored by Sen Kooyenga and Rep James, prohibits the UW-System and technical schools from penalizing veteran students with late fees if their federal tuition benefits arenít paid in time. After hearing from some UW-Green Bay students, I was proud to co-sponsor this bill.

  • Assembly Bill 22, authored by Rep Thiesfeldt and Sen Johnson and supported by Schneider National, will ensure truck drivers can spot the warning signs of human trafficking when they stop at truck stops in Wisconsin and beyond. This bill now heads to the Governorís desk.

  • Assembly Bill 195, authored by Rep Tranel and Sen Marklein, makes it easier for qualified educators to take advantage of teaching license reciprocity in Wisconsin and may encourage more educators to move and call Wisconsin home. I co-sponsored this effort.


Learn more about some of these pieces of legislation and others passed by the Senate on October 8th by reading this article on WBAYís website.


Testifying on Two Bills to Support Children's Health


The consequences of childhood lead poisoning have been well researched, with future health problems, behavioral issues, and development and learning impairments being significant drivers behind actions to address lead contamination. In the 2017-2018 Legislative Session, I authored the Leading on Lead Act with bipartisan support to give localities the tools to address lead-laden water in the home. Earlier this year, I voted for the 2019-2021 budget which provided over $10 million to abate lead paint in the homes of low income individuals.


But the work doesnít stop there. Iíve also authored the Supporting Childrenís Health by Ousting Outdated Lead Acts, SCHOOL Acts for short, with Rep Thiesfeldt and a bipartisan team of co-authors and sponsors. This effort will allow us to know what comes out of the faucet in schools, daycares, and other places children frequent and reduce lead contamination among Wisconsinís youth.


Actions to address lead contamination among youth is not only the right thing to do, but will also save the state a lot of money down the road by lessening negative health outcomes and reducing impairments to learning and development in the classroom and in the home.



In October, the SCHOOL Acts were heard by a Senate Committee. To learn more about these two bills, watch my SCHOOL Actsí testimony on Facebook.


Joining National Leaders to Encourage the Ousting of Lead-Laden Water


On Childrenís Environmental Health Day (October 10th), I joined federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) officials including Administrator Andrew Wheeler and Region 5 Administrator Cathy Stepp, local officials including Green Bay Mayor Eric Genrich and Green Bay Water Utility General Manager Nancy Quirk, and other local and national leaders on the Green Bay CityDeck to unveil new revisions to the federal Lead and Copper Rule (LCR). This rule, first created in 1991, is the nationís primary regulatory foundation for limiting the concentration of lead and copper in public drinking water systems.


After the announcement, I joined national leaders who are working to combat the problem of lead-laden water in applauding the EPA for their attention to this issue by providing a comment in an EPA press release. See the full release and additional comments from Housing and Urban Development Secretary Ben Carson, federal legislators, heads of national trade organizations, and others on EPAís website.


 Discussing the steps Wisconsin has taken to address lead-laden water

with Environmental Protection Agency Administrator Andrew Wheeler.


While places like Flint and Newark have received national attention, Wisconsin hasnít despite having some of the nationís highest rates of lead poisoning among our stateís youth. We need, on a household, local, state and federal level, to give this public health crisis the attention it requires.


During the press conference, Green Bay indicated their intent to submit a docket to the state Public Service Commission to become the fifth community to use the Leading on Lead Act (2017 Wisconsin Act 137), one of the first laws of its kind in the nation to give local governments the tools they need to address lead water laterals leading into the home. Still, over 130 cities, villages, and towns have lead laterals delivering contaminated water to Wisconsin residents, including tens of thousands of youth which are more vulnerable to the long-term health and behavioral effects of lead poisoning. Iím calling on more communities to look to utilize this innovative tool now that a roadmap has been provided by communities of different sizes and facing varying scopes of this problem in their area.


I was happy to be invited to the unveiling of this crucial rule revision and to be listed among those actively involved in the national discussion to address lead in this EPA release. In Wisconsin, we have a chance to be a leader. Between the Leading on Lead Act, now law, and the Supporting Childrenís Health by Ousting Outdated Lead (SCHOOL) Acts (2019 Senate Bills 423 and 424) which will be voted on by a Senate committee soon, Iíve been working to author bipartisan solutions to these nonpartisan problems.


But, whether itís the federal LCR revisions or state efforts like those Iíve authored, these are just a few of the stepping stones in a line of more comprehensive actions necessary to rid our communities of lead and solve this public health crisis. I look forward to a day where we can all reflect on the challenge of lead poisoning as a concern of the past and we can be proud of the proactive steps we took to rid our communities of lead exposure.


UW-System President Ray Cross Retires


Ray Cross, the President of the UW-System since 2014, announced his retirement on October 25th. Ray has been a great leader for higher education in Wisconsin. During Rayís time as President, his commitment to our state has been undeniable and heíll leave the UW-System in a better position than when he first took over. Rayís retirement will be felt on campuses throughout the state and right here in the State Capitol, but his retirement is well deserved and I wish him all the best.




Tower Approved for Door County State Park


When Eagle Tower in Peninsula State Park was closed for structural concerns, it marked the end of an era in one of our stateís busiest Parks. After a successful local fundraising campaign, the State Building Commission recently approved state funding for a new tower. This marks the beginning of an icon for the regionís outdoor recreation industry and will drive more visitors to this destination to the benefit of the entire State Park System.




Water Quality Bills Recommended by Assembly Committees


Along with the SCHOOL Acts and some other recent legislative hearings, two bills Iíve authored have now been unanimously recommended for passage by Assembly Committees.


First, early last month, the Assembly Forestry, Parks and Outdoor Recreation Committee unanimously recommended Assembly Bill 134 for passage. Known as the Parks Revitalization Act 2.0, this legislation expands upon an effort from last session by providing up to $5.2 million in authorized but unobligated Stewardship funding to address the backlog in water infrastructure projects in our State Parks. Iím proud to be working with Rep Summerfield and Rep Kitchens on this important effort to help protect human health and improve visitor experiences.


A couple of weeks later, a unanimous vote by the Assembly Local Government Committee recommending P3: Wisconsinís Trading Marketplace helps to set Wisconsin on a course to create the first statewide water quality pollutant trading clearinghouse. While the goal is to create a reduction in nutrients entering waterways to help clean up our waters, these Pollution Prevention Partnerships would have numerous ecological, financial, and recreational benefits. If passed, municipal wastewater utilities, cheese factories, and other facilities could save tens of millions in otherwise necessary infrastructure upgrades while achieving a bigger water quality benefit. Learn more about this legislation and see my full quote in this joint press release with my co-author, Rep Kitchens, on my website.


Wisconsin Turning the Page on Energy 


Last week, Alliant Energy announced their ĎPowering Whatís Nextí plan which includes 1 gigawatt of planned solar generation in Wisconsin. Alliant Energy has long been ahead of the curve among Midwestern utilities in renewable energy generation with their vast arrays of wind turbines in Iowa, but with yesterdayís announcement, Wisconsin will be making strides ahead in solar power. This commitment is about ten-times our stateís current solar generation capacity and will compliment planned solar projects by WEC and others.


Powering Whatís Next will also continue our transition towards an energy sector that has a cleaner environment and more robust economy. Solar power benefits our economy by increasing the family supporting jobs in energy manufacturing, installation and maintenance and by saving ratepayers money as renewables have begun outcompeting coal in an open market. Solar power also benefits our environment as reductions in pollution runoff and infiltration are realized by the planting of pollinator species and reductions in emissions harmful to human health are achieved.


Setting Wisconsin on a path towards stronger energy diversity and security with a cleaner and more robust energy portfolio requires a lot of commitments, but this announcement is a significant building block in Wisconsinís energy future.




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 attended a graduation on Friday for the Brown County drug courts which are a treatment and diversion model for area nonviolent drug offenders. By using rehabilitation over punishment, weíre reducing recidivism and improving our communities while saving taxpayer funds in the long-run.

  • I was pleased to welcome several Fire Chiefs, including three from Northeast Wisconsin, to my office last month. These Chiefs have a big responsibility to keep their communities safe, but they have an even bigger commitment to those they serve. I was happy to learn more about how I can support their efforts.

  • Rep Joel Kitchens and I had a good conversation with members of Dairy Business Association as we discussed our Pollution Prevention Partnerships bill and provided updates on the Speakerís Task Force on Water Quality.



  • Getting young people excited about a career in agriculture isnít just important for our economy and global food supply, but helps to maintain way of life in Wisconsin. On October 13th, I attended a Bonduel 4H event to honor leaders and meet some of our areaís youth who are interested in farming.

  • Young professionals (YP) are the lifeblood of continued economic development in our region. The Current YP group in Green Bay helps to keep young professionals in our region by providing them with engagement and networking opportunities as well as chances to give back to community. I attended the 13th Annual Leaders Luncheon to support Current YP.

  • I recently attended the annual meeting of the Shawano County Farm Bureau. Farmers work every day to keep us fed and to keep our rural economy pumping. It was good to have a chance to chat with these producers about the successes theyíve had and the challenges they face.


In Other News...


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

  • On October 12th, we celebrated National Farmerís Day. Northeast Wisconsinís farmers are the backbone of our food supply and a significant economic driver for our state. Theyíre fathers and mothers, community leaders, and entrepreneurs. While Farmerís Day has passed, when you sit down for dinner tonight, take a moment to think about the hard-working producers who made your meal possible. Thank you, farmers!

  • In Wisconsin, over 13,700 law enforcement officers, 9,400 career firefighters, 9,900 career EMS personnel, and 23,000 volunteer firefighters and EMTs devote their time and risk their wellbeing on a daily basis to keep us safe. Theyíre owed our gratitude every day, but especially on October 28th, First Responders Appreciation Day, I extended a special thanks to our friends and neighbors who put on a uniform or turnout gear when weíre in need of help.

  • As mentioned in the last e-newsletter, the 2019 Senate Scholar Program is accepting applications until November 8th. This program provides students with an advanced week-long crash course in the legislative process. Open to high school juniors and seniors, the student chosen will represent the 2nd Senate District during this unique educational experience.

  • Forbes recently named Green Bay Packaging as America's 27th Best Midsized Employer for 2019. Congratulations to Green Bay Packagingís leadership and employees! This is a well-deserved recognition!

  • Attention local officials: The DNR is now accepting Municipal Flood Control (MFC) grant applications for its 2020 grant cycle. This funding is crucial, especially with increased occurrences of heavy rain activity in recent years, but that also makes this funding competitive. Funding can be used for the acquisition of property, vacant land, structure removal, floodproofing and administrative support, among other things, and applications are due on March 16, 2020. If youíre a local official whoís interested in learning more, check out the DNRís website. Iíve also sent a letter on this program to all local communities in the 2nd Senate District this week.

  • Manufacturing is a good choice for many area students looking for a career with stable employment and good pay. Thanks to a new program at Kaukauna High School, students will be better prepared to enter into the manufacturing workforce or seek a trade degree when they get their diploma. Learn more on WFRVís website.

  • Bees, along with other native pollinators, are a crucial part of our ecosystem, but they also play a huge role in Wisconsin crops including apples, cherries, green beans, cucumbers, and cranberries which account for over $55 million in annual production. While weíve passed the seasons of fresh blooms (and for those with seasonal allergies, there are no complaints), the focus on promoting native pollinators continues. I recently learned of a half-million dollar anonymous donation to the Natural Resources Foundation of Wisconsin to create an endowment to promote natural pollinators. This very generous gift will go a long way in keeping our natural resources and agricultural economy thriving!

  • The Green Bay area is rooted in a storied history, and the Packers are a huge part of Titletownís past, present, and future. Iím pleased to be co-authoring a bipartisan effort to help expand our recognition of this history by naming the Walnut Street bridge after Bart Starr.

  • October was National Cyber Security Awareness Month. This serves as an annual reminder for consumers to remain alert for fraudulent digital behavior and to secure and protect your data online. Learn how you can be cyber smart at this link.

  • The phoenix community got to celebrate an exciting day earlier this month as the STEM Innovation Center at UW-Green Bay officially opened! This new facility, which I voted to support in a previous state budget, will enable more research and better prepare students for the workforce. Learn more on the Press Timesí 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




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