LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

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December 13, 2012

     

CONTACT ME


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

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

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

 

Web Site:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

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. 


 

Northern Lights
Date:
Fridays Now through December 14 at 7 p.m.
Location:
Milwaukee

Description: The northern lights are nature’s own light show. As we approach the solar maximum, when the sun is most active, more dramatic northern lights are expected. Visitors will learn what causes the northern lights to appear and whether they are visible at a given location.

CLICK HERE for more information about this event.

 

UW-Milwaukee Manfred Olson Planetarium (MAP)

1900 E. Kenwood Boulevard
Milwaukee, WI 53211

 

 

A Christmas Carol on Stage
Date: Now through Wed., December 26

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The ultimate holiday tradition returns again for its 37th year. Dickens’ classic masterpiece will delight and brighten your holiday season with beautiful carols and a timeless message of hope, peace, love, and the true meaning of the holiday season. Bring the whole family and join in a tradition that has been delighting audiences for generations. CLICK HERE for more information or to buy tickets.

 

The Pabst Theater (MAP)
144 E. Wells Street Milwaukee, WI 53202

 


The Nutcracker
Date: Now through Wed., December 26

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Join Clara, Fritz, and Marie on a journey where toys, flowers, and snowflakes come to life. Are they enchanted somehow? Perhaps. Are you? Most definitely. With the Milwaukee Ballet Orchestra performing Tchaikovsky’s unforgettable score alongside the Milwaukee Children’s Choir, you will be absolutely charmed by this feast for the senses. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-7206 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)
929 N. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Date: Now through Mon., December 31

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This six-week festival will spread holiday spirit with animated light displays in Cathedral Square Park, Pere Marquette Park, and Zeidler Union Square, as well as decorated streetscapes and hundreds of events. Marvel at the spectacular sights aboard the convenient Jingle Bus, a Coach USA bus that takes visitors on a 40-minute tour. For $1 per person, visitors can relish in the holiday spirit while admiring a festive panorama. The tour is narrated by Milwaukee Downtown’s Public Service Ambassadors who will acquaint riders with key attractions and landmarks.

CLICK HERE for more information about the Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival, and other holiday events going on in the Milwaukee area.

 


A Kodachrome Christmas

Date: Now through Mon., Dec. 31

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Enter the colorful world of cable access TV hostess Earlene Hoople as she tapes her last Christmas special. The self-proclaimed “Queen of Rural Media” entertains with participatory bell-ringing, cookie baking, a family slide show, some outrageous advice for surviving the holidays with relatives, and a whole lot more. CLICK HERE or call (414) 278-0765 for more information or to purchase tickets.


Next Act Theatre (MAP)
255 S. Water Street
Milwaukee, WI 53204
 

 

The Sound of Music
Date:
Now through Mon., December 31
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Come enjoy The Sound of Music this holiday season in Milwaukee. This timeless classic makes for a perfect evening for the entire family. When Maria, a nun-in-training, proves to be too high-spirited for religious life, she is sent to serve as governess for the seven children of a widowed naval captain. Her amazing rapport with the children combined with her generosity and kindness gradually captures the heart of the austere Captain von Trapp. Shortly after marrying, the whole family is forced to flee invading Nazis by escaping over the mountains of Switzerland. The family’s narrow escape on the eve of World War II is one of the most thrilling and inspirational finales ever presented in musical theatre. CLICK HERE or call (414) 291-7811 for more information or to purchase tickets.

Skylight Music Theatre (MAP)
158 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Christmas at the Depot Date: Sat., December 15 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Cudahy

Description: On Saturday, December 15, the Depot in Cudahy will be offering pictures with Santa. There will also be bakery items, hot lunch, poinsettias, and candy available for purchase. This event is sponsored by the Cudahy Historical Society. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

The Depot (MAP)

4647 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue

Cudahy, WI 53110

 

 

Family Free Day at Zoo
Date: Tues., December 25 from 9:30 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: All Milwaukee County residents with a valid ID will receive free admission to the Milwaukee County Zoo on this day, although the parking fee remains in effect. CLICK HERE or call (414) 256-5466 for additional information on this event and the Milwaukee County Zoo.

Milwaukee County Zoo (MAP)
10001 W. Blue Mound Road
Milwaukee, WI 53226

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend,

 

As we approach the holidays, the next budget process is already underway, which is discussed in this week's report. Additionally, we examine proposed changes to Wisconsin's registration and voting laws. Continue reading for more information about these and other current state and community issues.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

 

2013-2015 Budget Process Underway

Wisconsin has a two-year budget cycle, which typically runs from July of an odd-numbered year through June of the next odd-numbered year. For example, Wisconsin’s next budget, the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget, is expected to take effect on July 1, 2013, and end on June 30, 2015.

The budget is the longest, most complex bill of any legislative session. Therefore, it requires multiple steps and takes about a year to complete. Additionally, while the budget is intended to be a purely fiscal document, in recent years, we have seen a significant number of non-fiscal items attached to this bill, complicating the process even further.

 

The process began this fall when state agencies submitted their funding requests to the governor and the Department of Administration (DOA). The governor is currently working with his appointees in DOA to craft a budget proposal that reflects his priorities. While Governor Walker has started holding "listening sessions" on the budget, none of these events have been open to the public. Instead, attendance is by special invitation only. A number of groups have expressed concern that this process prohibits a real public dialogue.

 

Once the governor's budget proposal is complete, it will be presented to the Legislature in late January or early February and sent to the Joint Committee on Finance. Legislators here have the opportunity to ensure that the public is able to voice their thoughts and concerns about the budget. After reviewing the proposal and getting feedback from neighbors via public hearings, the Joint Committee on Finance may amend the governor’s proposal and submit it to the Legislature for approval. Both houses must pass an identical budget proposal before it can be sent back to the governor for partial vetoes and his signature.

 

As we proceed with this long and complicated process, it is crucial that we hear from people across Wisconsin to make sure we are representing the values and priorities shared by our family, friends, and neighbors. There are several ways to stay informed and make your voice heard throughout this process, including:

Legislative Notifications--Offers a free email notification system that alerts subscribers of legislative activities relating to issues that they have identified as important. This is an excellent way to keep informed about the issues that are important to you.

 

Click here to sign-up for this free service.
 

Committee Calendars--Tracks all upcoming committee meetings and public hearings.

 

Click here to view a copy of the calendar.

WisconsinEye--Provides the public with unfettered access to committee meetings, public hearings, session days, and other government activities, which allows the public to view legislative debate and policy-making without editing, commentary, or analysis.

 

Click here to watch videos made available by WisconsinEye.

Eye on Lobbying--Keeps track of which organizations are opposing or supporting proposed legislation.

 

Click here to visit this Web site offered by the Government Accountability Board.


Contact Me Directly--If my office can be of any assistance to you regarding any state or community matters, please do not hesitate to contact me. Also, if you would like updates on community and state news, please visit www.SenatorChrisLarson.com and subscribe to my free weekly newsletter, the Larson Report. For more information about me and to get real-time updates on issues affecting our community, follow me on Twitter, @SenChrisLarson and connect with me on Facebook, www.facebook.com/SenatorChrisLarson.
 

 

 

Preserving Same Day Registration is Common Sense

While Republicans have said little about jobs initiatives they may introduce to help Wisconsin catch up and experience the economic recovery other states have enjoyed, they have been vocal on plans to introduce legislation to eliminate same day registration. Such a proposal was even touted by Governor Walker while laying out his legislative agenda at a dinner for donors in California.

Wisconsin has historically been one of the top states for voter participation. Much of this stems from our adoption of same day registration laws, which make it easier for eligible voters to participate in Wisconsin's elections by allowing them to register at the polls on Election Day prior to voting.

A study done by George Mason University examining voter turnout for the 2010 general elections ranked Wisconsin among the top five states with the highest voter turnout. This trend continued in the general election this year, as well. According to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin saw a turnout rate of 70.1% in the most recent elections. Additionally, 3,071,434 votes were cast for president in the November 2012 elections. This was the highest number of votes cast for a single office in a statewide election in Wisconsin history. These are numbers of which to be proud.

Same day registration has proven to be a popular option for voters, and is also widely supported by the nonpartisan officials that administer our elections. According to the Government Accountability Board, during major statewide elections, 10-15% of Wisconsin voters opt to register to vote or update their registration information on Election Day. This rate is even higher in our area. The Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil Albrecht reported that in the most recent election 19% of those who voted in Milwaukee registered that day.

Eliminating this widely used registration option would be a tremendous inconvenience for many voters and create countless problems. If same day registration were to be eliminated, Wisconsin would immediately become subject to federal voter protection laws, including the National Voter Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002. Wisconsin was previously exempt from these laws because it offered same day registration. These laws require that voter registration take place at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as well as at agencies that provide federal or state public assistance or administer programs that primarily assist neighbors with disabilities. Many DMV locations in Wisconsin, especially in rural areas, are open during limited hours. Additionally, some Wisconsinites have to drive nearly an hour to reach the nearest DMV center. These complications, among others, will make it increasingly difficult for the people with full-time jobs, the elderly, students, individuals with disabilities, and Wisconsinites in rural areas to register in a timely manner prior to elections.

Furthermore, eliminating same day registration will also prove costly to taxpayers. The Government Accountability Board, which would be tasked with implementing any changes to our registration and voting laws, has estimated that implementing this change will initially cost approximately $5.2 million during the first two years of the switch. Continuing not to offer same day registration and having to instead comply with federal laws will then cost the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board at least $2 million every two years from here on out. No word yet on what the costs would be for other agencies, such as the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.

Fortunately, it appears that common sense may have prevailed in this battle over whether or not to continue with same day registration. This past Wednesday, Governor Walker flipped his position on this issue by stating that he would not sign legislation to eliminate same day registration, citing cost concerns that were brought to his attention by neighbors, advocacy groups, state agencies, and legislators. I hope that he is committed to upholding this promise to voters and taxpayers, which will preserve the ability of Wisconsinites to register to vote on Election Day.
 

 

 

Polarizing and Politicizing the Nonpartisan G.A.B.

In addition to trying to change laws regulating voter registration in Wisconsin, Republican legislators have also set their sights on converting the Government Accountability Board from a nonpartisan agency to being run by partisan appointees.

The Government Accountability Board (G.A.B.) was created in response to the caucus scandal in Wisconsin, where legislators and their staff were found guilty of campaigning on state time and with state resources. The G.A.B. is composed of six former judges who are nominated by a panel of four Wisconsin Appeals Court judges, appointed by the governor, and confirmed by the Senate. Both the Board and its staff must be deemed nonpartisan. The mission of the G.A.B. is to ensure accountability and transparency in government by enforcing ethics and lobbying laws, and enhancing representative democracy by safeguarding the integrity of the electoral process on behalf of the people. The G.A.B. is also tasked with administering Wisconsin’s election through a fair and impartial process that guarantees that the vote of each individual counts so the will of the electorate prevails.

Republican legislators, including their leadership, claim that the G.A.B. leans Democratic and thus a change is needed. However, professional and political experiences of the Board’s six current members paints a very different picture than the one Republican leadership is suggesting.

According to research done by the Cap Times this week, the current make-up of the G.A.B. is as follows:

  • 2 members formerly served in the Wisconsin State Assembly as Republicans

  • 1 member served as a Democratic district attorney

  • 1 member served as a Republican district attorney

  • 2 members have never held partisan office

  • 50% of members were either reappointed or given their initial appointment to the Board by Republican Governor Scott Walker

The facts contradict the partisan claim that the G.A.B. is a left-leaning agency and needs to be “fixed.” In the past two years, the G.A.B. has been forced to rule on a number of controversial issues. Both Democrats and Republicans took issue with some of their decisions related to the recent recall elections. However, I do believe that the G.A.B. acted in each of those situations according to what they thought was in the best interest of the people rather than politicians, parties, or special interests.

 

I hope that Republicans will reconsider this unfounded attack and realize that it is inappropriate for us as legislators to simply change the referees when we disagree with their decisions. It is time that we put the interest of the people first by choosing not to go back to the days of a political board making partisan decisions. To better restore Wisconsin's election integrity, we must protect the tenants employed by the Government Accountability Board, which includes remaining nonpartisan.

 

 

 

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'm a student who has been studying politics and government in school. Is there a way I can get a more hands-on experience in the Capitol?

 

A: The Wisconsin Capitol is a great place to gain real world experience about our state's legislative process and the day-to-day operations of the Wisconsin State Legislature. Whether you are a high school student or attending a technical college or university there are a number of ways you can get involved, including participating in the Senate Scholars program or interning in a legislative office.

 

Participate in Senate Scholars

The Senate Scholars Program is an intensive week-long education program offered by the Wisconsin State Senate. This is a wonderful opportunity for Wisconsin youth to view the role of the Legislature in democracy first-hand and gain experience in the areas of policy development, constituent relations, and processing legislation. Senate Scholars will also have the chance to work closely with senators, legislative staff, and University of Wisconsin faculty. Admission to the program is highly competitive and limited to 33 academically exceptional high school juniors and seniors from across the state. Applications are due on March 1, 2013.

2013 Senate Scholar Sessions:

  • April 14 through April 19

  • April 21through April 26

  • April 28 through May 3

If you have additional questions about the program or the application process, I encourage you to call the Legislative Training Officer in charge of the program, Jacob Clark, at (608) 266-2610.

 

Click here to visit the Senate Scholar Program's Web site for more information.
 

Intern at the Capitol
I currently have openings for legislative interns in my Madison office. A legislative internship is a great opportunity for students and recent graduates to learn more about the legislative process while gaining practical work experience.

Intern responsibilities vary, but include policy research, summarizing proposed legislation, and responding to constituent inquires. All interns also assist with general office operations, including answering the phone. Applicants must be able to work during normal business hours, and dedicate a minimum of 10 hours each week to the internship. All intern positions are unpaid.

To apply for an internship, please submit the internship application, a cover letter, and a resume electronically to Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov or mail them to Wisconsin State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707. Please contact my office if you have any questions about this internship opportunity.

 

Click here for more information about this internship opportunity and to download the internship application.
 

Intern in Milwaukee

I will be opening up a district office in Milwaukee after the New Year. While most intern responsibilities and expectations will mirror those of interns in Madison, Milwaukee interns will likely have an experience more tailored to assisting with constituent casework and services. There will also be opportunities for interns to attend meetings in the community with neighbors, advocacy groups, elected officials, and local businesses. Internships at the Milwaukee office are anticipated to begin in February 2013. As with those applying to work in Madison, please submit a cover letter, resume, and intern application electronically or by mail. Make sure you specify in which city you are interested in interning. Please contact my office if you have any questions about this internship opportunity.
 

Click here to download the internship application.

 

 

 

Did You Know...?

Despite the fact that snow has been scarce the past couple of years, most of us have been able to thoroughly enjoy and experience Wisconsin's snowy winters. But did you know that Wisconsin's average annual amount of snowfall ranges from 35 to 40 inches near the Illinois border to 135 to 165 inches in the Iron County snow-belt from Gurney to Hurley?

 

Click here to sign-up to receive weekly snow reports for your community from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism.


 

 

Giving Back This Holiday Season

The holiday season also provides many opportunities to give back to our community. This winter, try volunteering in one of our local food pantries. Hunger Task Force Inc. and Feeding America Eastern Wisconsin, both based out of the Milwaukee area, provide excellent volunteering opportunities. More information can be found on their Web sites:

 

www.hungertaskforce.org

www.feedingamericawi.org

Want to help out, but have a full schedule this holiday season, make a donation to those in need. One place accepting donations for the holidays is Toys for Tots. The CityCenter is the official downtown drop site for the Marines Toys for Tots toy drive. Bring new, unwrapped toys appropriate for children ages 15 and under Monday through Friday from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m.

This event is going on now through December 19.

CityCenter at 735 (MAP)

735 N. Water Street

Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

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