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August 9, 2012



Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487



Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707


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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below. 

Navy Week

Date: Now through Mon., August 13

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Milwaukee Navy Week 2012, in conjunction with commemoration of the Bicentennial of the War of 1812, will be packed with events demonstrating the mission of the U.S. Navy and its proud heritage. Events will include ship visits, Navy Band performances, Navy suburban tours, and a Navy simulator. The goal of Navy Week is to give area residents an opportunity to meet some of the Navy's sailors, and learn more about the Navy's critical missions and its broad ranging capabilities. CLICK HERE for more information.


Milwaukee Air and Water Show

Date: Sat., August 11 and Sun., August 12
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Head down to Milwaukee's lakefront for this annual premier recreation show. Enjoy performances by the Navy Leap Frogs Parachute Teams, U.S. Air Force, and much more. General admission is free with reserved seating also available. CLICK HERE or call (414) 962-8809 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Bradford Beach (MAP)
2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Field of Honor

Date: Sat., August 11

Location: Milwaukee

Description: To honor the brave men and women who fought for our country in WWII, Stars and Stripes Honor Flight in partnership with Freethink Media, has produced Honor Flight. This feature- length film captures the stories, spirit, and wisdom of living WWII veterans and will be shown at Miller Park. All proceeds from Field of Honor will ensure that Stars and Stripes Honor Flight can continue to fly veterans to Washington D.C. to see the memorials that stand in their honor. Tickets are $11 per person (plus service fees). Tickets are on sale now through the Brewers' Ticket Office. CLICK HERE or call (262) 238-7741 for more information.


Miller Park (MAP)

1 Brewers Way

Milwaukee, WI 53214


Milwaukee Irish Fest
Date: Thurs., August 16 through Sun., August 19

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Milwaukee is home to the world's largest celebration of Irish music and culture outside Ireland. This year, more than 100 world-class acts will perform on 16 stages, and attendees will enjoy the exhibits, shopping, activities, games, and food. This year's headliners include Gaelic Storm, Slide, Scythian, the Makem Brothers, and many more. Irish Fest runs Thursday from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m., Friday from 4 p.m. to Midnight, Saturday from Noon to Midnight, and Sunday from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Admission is $5 on Thursday. Friday through Sunday adults tickets cost $15, seniors (60 and up) pay $10, and kids 12 and under are free. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378 for more information.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Art to Art
Date: Fri., August 17 through Sun., August 19 
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Since 2005, Art to Art has provided some of the most exciting and experimental new works in Milwaukee dance. Local choreographers will collaborate with film, music, theater, and visual artists to create unique dance works in this concert series. Performances will be at 7:30 p.m. on Friday and Saturday, and at 2 p.m. on Sunday. CLICK HERE or call (414) 277-8480 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Danceworks (MAP)
1661 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Sensational Sidewalk Sale
Date: Sat., August 18 and Sun., August 19 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Stroll the historic streets, shop the neighborhood boutiques, and enjoy the culinary treats. Shop at nearly two dozen neighborhood boutiques and restaurants and in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward and enjoy a slew of summer savings. CLICK HERE for more information, including a list of participating retailers.



Mexican Fiesta
Date: Fri., August 24 through Sun., August 25

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Mexican Fiesta began as a neighborhood South Side street festival in 1974 and has grown to Wisconsin's largest paid entrance Mexican festival. Live music will be offered throughout the festival and will feature Pablo Montero, Tejano Boys, Belanova, and other internationally-known artists. Friday brings the Salarengue contest, while Saturday offers a dance contest. Those interested in the cultural costume contest, followed by the jalapeno eating contest, should stop by the festival on Sunday. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202



Eat Local Resource Fair

Date: Sat., August 25 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Get ready for the two-week Eat Local Challenge that runs during the first two weeks of September by stopping by the Eat Local Resource Fair. Learn some new tips to help you eat locally all year--even during winter months. The Eat Local Resource Fair will also provide you with the opportunity to buy food directly from local food producers, see cooking demos, and pick up menu and recipe ideas. CLICK HERE or call (414) 964-8505 for more information about the Eat Local Resource Fair and the Eat Local Challenge.

Urban Ecology Center(MAP)
1500 E. Park Place
Milwaukee, WI 53211



Milwaukee Masterpiece
Date: Sat., August 25 and Sun., August 26

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Milwaukee Masterpiece car show will return to the lakefront at Veterans Park, bringing with it a display of hundreds of rare and classic vehicles. Tickets are $15 per day and $20 for a two-day pass during the presale period. Day-of ticket prices are $20 for one day and $25 for a two-day pass. All proceeds from the two-day event and will benefit Jewish Family Services, a 145-year-old organization that provides meals, counseling, development, and support to those in need. CLICK HERE for more information

Veterans Park (MAP)
1010 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202

















































































































































































































































































































Dear Friend,


This week, we take time to remember our neighbors that were injured or killed in the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shooting in Oak Creek, and their families. While this terrible tragedy has shocked us all, it has also shown how strong the threads are that hold our community together.


As usual, please feel free to contact me with any questions, concerns, or opinions you may have about our community or our state.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7




Remembering and Mourning Our Lost Neighbors

Our communityís sense of safety was shattered by violence this past Sunday when a lone gunman entered the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin in Oak Creek and opened fire. My thoughts and prayers go out to the family, friends, and neighbors of those wounded or killed in the shooting.


Click here to read descriptions of the victims as told by their friends and family.

At a time when such unabashed hatred tries to tear our community apart, it is comforting to hear statements from Sikh neighbors continuing to espouse their tradition of love. The response of the Sikh community and neighbors across Wisconsin prove that we, as a society, are better than this senseless killing.

It has been inspiring to see our community pull together during this time of tragedy. Whether it was the local bowling alley that opened their doors to victims and police during the chaos, community churches holding candlelight vigils to mourn and pray, or people in Oak Creek reaching out to fellow neighbors in the Sikh community offering to help through donations or volunteering.

The public is invited to the wake and visitation being held in memory of the Sikh Temple of Wisconsin shooting victims. The funeral wake and visitation will take place Friday, August 10 from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. at the Oak Creek High School Gymnasium on E. Puetz Road. In lieu of flowers, please make donations to the memorial fund which will be distributed to the victims' families.


Click here to make a donation online.


You can also send checks by mail. They should be payable to:

Sikh Temple of Wisconsin
Tri City National Bank
3378 S. 27th Street

Milwaukee, WI 53215

If you are interested in additional news and information as it unfolds, I encourage you to visit the Oak Creek Patch's Web site.

Click here to view information and comments from neighbors at

I will also be posting updates on my Facebook and Twitter pages to provide neighbors with timely information. Visit these pages by clicking the links located in the sidebar of this newsletter.




Greater Accountability and Transparency needed for WEDC Funds

Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee, including myself, recently sent a letter to Paul Jadin, the CEO and Secretary of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) requesting that the agency increase its accountability and transparency measures. This call for action was sent following the emergence of news reports examining whether improper tax breaks were offered by WEDC to a Stevens Point information systems company.


WEDC has also recently submitted a plan for the allocation of $25 million in economic development credits they are slated to receive. However, even members of the WEDC Board have expressed concerns that WEDC's plan does little more than provide an end goal with little being said about how the corporation intends on reaching their mandate of creating immediate jobs across the state to get Wisconsinites back to work. Without being given a detailed implementation plan by WEDC on how it will use the $25 million, the Legislature will be unable to protect the interests of taxpayers by ensuring the efficient and effective use of tax dollars.


Click here to view a letter sent to the Joint Finance Committee by WEDC Board Member Senator Julie Lassa expressing her concerns about WEDC's recent plan.


Before allocating the $25 million grant to WEDC and to get more information about the intended use of the grant, the Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee are requiring that Secretary Jadin appear before the Committee to answer questions and expand upon WEDC's written plan. We hope that Secretary Jadin is committed to working together with the Legislature to ensure that businesses, displaced workers, and Wisconsin's taxpayers will all be winners as a result of the prospective $25 million grant.


In addition to solving this short-term concern, there are also changes that can be made to increase the long-term accountability and transparency of WEDC to ensure the agency runs smoothly and the public is knowledgeable about the funds being spent, including:

  • Making all information about grants, gifts, and tax credits publicly accessible on their Web site

  • Having businesses that receive money from WEDC report on the number of jobs verifiably created

  • Requiring businesses that fail to create the number of jobs promised in a certain time frame to return the taxpayer monies they received so they can be reallocated appropriately



UW Taskforce Releases Report

The Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities, of which I am a member, recently released a report recommending actions for strengthening the UW system and providing increased access and savings for students. The Task Force was created by the Legislature in 2011 by Act 32, the biennial budget. Statutes required the Task Force to examine and address the following issues:

  • If there is a need to restructure the UW System and, if so, make recommendations on a new governance structure

  • Whether tuition flexibility can be extended to the UW System while ensuring access and affordability and what role the Legislature should have in establishing tuition rates

  • How UW System employees would transition from the current state personnel system to a new personnel systems, if the UW System chooses to make such a switch

  • How compensation plans for UW System employees should be determined in the future 

  • Are there additional operational flexibilities that could be provided to UW System institutions

  • How articulation and the transfer of credits between UW institutions could be improved and streamlined

After holding public hearings, the committee devised the following recommendations, which would be a positive step forward for Wisconsin's public universities:

  • Keep the UW System intact rather than allowing individual institutions, including UW-Madison, to spin-off.

  • Leave development of the UW System's personnel system with the Board of Regents, instead of having control being placed with the Legislature.

  • Have no additional/new tuition increases for the 2012-2013 academic year.

  • Grant the Board of Regents the authority to provide merit-based salary increases to UW employees using base budget resources. This will enable the UW System to remain competitive with other schools when recruiting staff and professors.

  • Have the UW System and Board of Regents, rather than the Department of Administration, take charge of capital and building planning. This will help decrease the costs of projects overall and ensure each campus is able to design projects that fit their individual needs.

  • Require the Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct a study of state building processes that includes information on cost-per-foot and time-to-completion for state projects as well as interstate comparisons.

  • Encourage flexibilities proposed by the UW System in the area of procurement to allow campuses to purchase the materials, supplies, and equipment they need while saving as much money as possible. This will also allow campuses to buy locally to keep their local economies moving forward.

  • Redesign the user-interface of the web-based transfer information system to ensure compatibility with mobile devices.

  • Expand the transfer information system so all Wisconsin schools, including public, private, and technical schools, can provide students with degree audits showing if and how courses will transfer between institutions.

  • Enhance the UW Higher Education Location Program so its a better resource for non-traditional or out-of-state residents seeking information about coming or returning to Wisconsin as transfer students.

  • Increase the number of institutional transfer advisors.

Making such changes will allow the UW System to continue operating as a cohesive unit, while increasing each individual school's operational flexibilities. This will enable schools to decrease their budgetary costs and prevent shifting cost increases onto students. 


Click here to view a copy of the full report drafted by the Special Task Force on UW Restructuring and Operational Flexibilities.



Ask Chris

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.


Q: I've heard that the Affordable Care Act contains revolutionary provisions to improve preventative care and access to contraception for women. What are these provisions and when do they go into effect?


A: The Affordable Care Act was signed into law by President Obama on June 25, 2010, and featured many positive changes to the insurance model. Some of these changes have already been implemented such as:

  • Providing affordable coverage for adult children under age 26

  • Limiting annual coverage caps placed on consumers

  • Preventing children and teenagers with a pre-existing condition from being denied health care coverage

  • Ensuring direct access to OB/GYN providers without a referral

  • Allowing women to receive mammograms and pap tests without any out-of-pocket costs

Other changes will be implemented gradually, such as the revolutionary improvements to greatly improve access to quality, life-saving women's health services that went into effect earlier this month. As of August 1, 2012, preventative health benefits for women across Wisconsin and across the country have been expanded to ensure women can receive the following without being charged a co-pay:

  • Well-woman check-ups

  • Birth control and contraceptive counseling

  • Pre-natal screenings

  • Breast-feeding support, supplies, and counseling

  • Testing and counseling for sexually transmitted infections

  • Screening and counseling for interpersonal and domestic violence

Wisconsin's mothers, wives, sisters, and daughters will see their preventative services expand even further starting January 1, 2014, when:

  • Women will no longer be denied insurance coverage for pre-existing conditions such as breast cancer running in their families, having a C-section, or being the victim of domestic violence

  • Insurers will be prohibited from charging women more for health insurance coverage than they charge men

  • All new insurance companies will offer maternity coverage

  • 4 million women will benefit from tax credits to make health coverage more affordable

  • New insurance plans will have to include a standard minimum package of benefits known as Essential Health Benefits

Overall, this legislation is a revolutionary step not only for womenís healthcare, but healthcare in general in the United States. Allowing for fair and affordable coverage across the board regardless of age, race or gender will provide peace of mind to Americans as they are reassured that a current or future health concern will not result in financial ruin.




Did You Know...?

As you may know, the dairy industry plays a vital role in Wisconsin's economy. Our state is referred to as "America's Dairyland" and Wisconsinites are even nicknamed "cheeseheads." But did you know that when Wisconsin was founded, its main agricultural money maker was actually wheat?


During the mid 19th century, Wisconsin produced about 1/6 of the wheat grown in the United States. However, wheat rapidly depleted nutrients in the soil, especially nitrogen, and was vulnerable to insects, bad weather, and wheat leaf rust. As the soil lost its quality and prices dropped, the practice of wheat farming moved west into Iowa and Minnesota. As wheat fell out of favor, many Wisconsin farmers started raising dairy cattle and growing feed crops, which were better suited to Wisconsin's climate and soil.



Remember to Vote Tuesday, August 14

Wisconsin's primary elections are fast-approaching. Remember the polls are open on Tuesday, August 14 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m., and Wisconsin residents may register on Election Day at their polling location. You will not need to present a valid photo ID since that requirement has been ruled unconstitutional by the Courts. This ruling is subject to appeal, but is not expected to change before the upcoming primary election, if at all.


Click here for the Government Accountability Board's list of "Top 10 Things Wisconsin Voters Should Know for Primary Election Day."

Click here for additional information on registration and voting procedures in Wisconsin.

A study done by George Mason University examining voter turnout, ranked Wisconsin among the top five states with the highest voter turnout. It is important that we continue this proud tradition and participate in the electoral process.




Saving Water, Saving Money

Fresh water is a crucial natural resource for sustaining life. With fresh and unpolluted water accounting for only 0.003% of total water available globally, it is important for neighbors and local businesses to increase their water efficiency. Toilets currently use more water in the home than any other appliance or fixture, using about 30% of residential indoor water consumption. By switching to a high-efficiency, 1.28-gallon toilet, it will not only save 16,500 gallons of precious water each year, but also keep money in your pocket by lowering your water and energy costs.


To increase water efficiency in across our community starting with the most wasteful appliance, the Milwaukee Metropolitan Sewerage District (MMSD) has started a toilet rebate program. Echoing the motto of "Every Drop Counts," all residents in MMSDís service area can save money, and energy while helping protect Lake Michigan by participating in this Toilet Instant Rebate Program

where select 1.28-gallon toilets will be offered with a $50 or $75 rebate while supplies last.


Click here for more information about this rebate program.




Update on the London Olympics

The starlit London Olympics Opening Ceremony stunned the world on July 27, giving us a spectacular peek at Great Britainís past, present, and future. Directed by Danny Boyles with performances by British celebrities and dignitaries, including David Beckham, James Bond, and Her Majesty the Queen, the London Opening Ceremony was one of the most watched Olympic Opening Ceremonies in history with 900 million viewers worldwide. As past medalists passed on the Olympic Torch to young athletes of the future, London also aimed to pass on the message of a green and regenerative Olympic Games as a catalyst to encourage more sustainable living the across the globe.

Into the second week of the Games, athletes across the world strived to compete according to the Olympic motto of "Citius, Altius, Fortius," meaning "Faster, Higher, Stronger." The United States sent 529 athletes to this yearís Summer Olympics, and they have done a tremendous job of living up to the motto. With a stronghold in the pool and on the gymnastics floor, the United States Olympic Team ranks first in the overall medal count with 34 Gold, 23 Silver, and 25 Bronze medals. China is trailing at a close second with four fewer medals after dominating in diving and table tennis. As there are still several days of competition left, these numbers for both the U.S. and its biggest competitor, China, are expected to increase further.


Some of Wisconsin's own athletes even competed making our state and nation proud, including Matt Tegenkamp in track & field, Grant and Ross James in men's rowing, Kristin Hedstorm in in women's rowing, Gwen Jorgensen in the triathlon, and Staff Sergeant Michael McPhail in shooting


Be sure to continue following and supporting our athletes in the traditional strong U.S. events of track & field, wrestling, and basketball this week. The 2012 Olympic Games will have its Closing Ceremony on Sunday, August 12.


Click here for more information about the 2012 Summer Olympics, including schedule and event information.



Packers Prepare for 92nd Season

On July 26, the Green Bay Packers began training camp at St. Norbertís College in De Pere for the 55th consecutive summer. This 2012 season marks the Packers 92nd season in the NFL and seventh under head coach Mike McCarthy. As always, fans are welcome to watch their beloved Packers, and admission is free. Tuesday, August 28 will be the last day for fans to attend these practices.

The Packers are coming off a remarkable 2011 season. Throughout the regular season, the Packers' offense, led by Aaron Rodgers, broke all-time franchise marks including wins, points per game, and total passing touchdowns. The quarterback played the best season of his career throwing for 4,643 yards, 45 touchdowns, and only six interceptions. These stats earned him a passer rating of 122.5, which is now the best single season passer rating in NFL history. Rodgers also got the Packers started off with a 13-0 winning streak, which lasted until December. The Packers finished the regular season with a 15-1 record.

The Packers had another great draft this year. While in 2011 they focused mainly on offense, this year the Packers used all but two of their draft picks on defensive players in hopes of fixing one of last seasonís biggest weaknesses. The Packersí pass rush will once again be dominant with the addition of Nick Perry and Jerel Worthy. In the 2012-13 season, the Packersí front seven will be significantly better, and the team will be able to play aggressively on both sides of the ball. The 2012 Packers have all the necessary components to win the franchiseís fifth Super Bowl and 14th Championship.




Summer Activities in Our Community

Our community offers a wide variety of summer activities for families, children, and adults alike. Below are just a few activities that you can take part in this summer.


Our Gardens Inside and Out
Now through Sun., October 7
Our Gardens Inside and Out is a group show by artists who interpret flowers and gardens from different perspectives using varied art forms including painting, prints, and sculpture. The event is guest curated by Jane Brite, the founding Director of Walkerís Point Center for the Arts.

Charles Allis Art Museum (MAP)
1801 N. Propsect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Click here or call (414) 278-8295 for more information.

Coral Reef Adventure

Now through Thurs., October 4
Come take a fantastic voyage to the South Pacificís reefs, revealing both their remarkable contribution to life on earth and the imminent dangers they face. In vivid detail, this giant screen adventure reveals the vast array of unusual creatures that inhabit the reefs, introduces everyday heroes hoping to help save the reefs, and teams up with scientists exploring the reefs for clues about their health and for never-before-seen species. Using innovative and groundbreaking techniques, the filmmakers also plunge to daring, record-breaking depths by taking the notoriously cumbersome IMAX camera deeper in the open ocean than any diver has ever taken it before.

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Click here ore call (414) 278-2702 for more information or to purchase tickets.


Story Time in the Park

Saturdays, August 11 and August 25 at 10 a.m.

Families are invited to neighborhood parks across Milwaukee County for a unique series of safe, fun, and interactive "story times" performed by skilled professionals. On Saturday, August 11, Pink Banana presents an interactive storytelling experience accompanied by a family scavenger hunt around Jacobus park. Busy that day? Then stop by Lafollette Park in West Allis instead on Saturday, August 25. First Stage's Education Department will read a beloved story and then get up to act out the movements and engage in theater games. Story Time in the park is best suited for families with children ages 4-10.

Jacobus Park Boat House (MAP)

6501 Hillside Lane

Wauwatosa, WI 53213


Lafollette Park Pavilion (MAP)

9418 W. Washington Street

West Allis, WI 53214

Click here for more information.



Update on IDs for Voters

In March 2012, 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 was ruled unconstitutional and two separate Circuit Court judges ordered government officials to halt requiring voters to present a valid photo ID when casting their vote. It was stated in the ruling that 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 carried a severe risk of disenfranchising voters and was suspended based on the vital public interest at stake in allowing full participation in elections.

This controversial legislation also contains several provisions not related to presenting valid photo identification while voting, including changes to Wisconsinís laws regarding residency and absentee voting. These provisions are still in effect. While the merits of this law are being examined, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation will continue to provide free state ID cards to Wisconsinites.

This court ruling remains in the appeals process, meaning that current procedures may change based upon whether the courts irrefutably determine 2011 Wisconsin Act 23 to be constitutional or unconstitutional. I will keep you updated on any changes regarding implementation of 2011 Wisconsin Act 23.


Click here for more information from the Government Accountability Board's Web site.



Neighborhood Survey Available

I created a survey asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.


Click here to save a stamp and take the survey online.


I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!




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