January 12, 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


Web Site:












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. 

Working Legacies: The Death and (After) Life of Post-Industrial Milwaukee
Now through February 6
Stop by this exhibition featuring the photos and histories of David Schalliol and Michael Carriere. This exhibition explores the legacy of work in Milwaukee through documentary photographs and site histories of former and current industrial facilities in the city, keeping an eye on their present use and local context. The result is a document of Milwaukee’s industrial past and present, and the hopeful groundwork for its future. From the manufacturing of wind turbines to tech-savvy urban farms, the demise of a working Milwaukee has been greatly exaggerated. CLICK HERE for more information about this event.

Milwaukee School of Engineering (MAP)
1025 N. Broadway
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(800) 332-6763


Poland Under Glass
January 14 from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Experience the various sights, sounds and flavors of Poland as Poland Under Glass returns to the Domes. This eventful day includes Polish folk art demonstrations, children's crafts, folk dancing, cooking demonstrations, food samples and more. Imported Polish gift items will also be available for purchase. CLICK HERE for additional information about this event.

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (MAP)
524 S. Layton Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53217
(414) 649-9830


Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. Birthday Celebration

January 15 at 1 p.m.
Always taking place in the month of January, this event focuses on keeping the legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. alive. The Dr. Martin Luther King Jr., Birthday Celebration programming highlights the youth in our community who every year interpret Dr. King’s words through an art, speech and writing contest. In addition, various cultural arts organizations take center stage, truly demonstrating the excellence of our arts community. The theme for this year's program is "Maintain Faith in the Future" which was taken from A Testament of Hope, The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. The speech from which this theme was drawn was given in 1961 during Dr. King's fight for racial justice and acceptance. This event is free. CLICK HERE for additional information.


Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)
Uihlein Hall
929 N. Water Street
(414) 273-7206



Voter Information Session

January 19 from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.
Join experts from the Government Accountability Board at this informational session to discuss changes in Wisconsin law that now requires voters to present a photo ID. This event is hosted by the South Milwaukee City Clerk’s Office. CLICK HERE for more information.


South Milwaukee City Hall

2424 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

(414) 762-2222


















































































































































































































































Dear Friend,


Committee meetings have resumed and the Legislative Session is scheduled to begin on January 17. During this time of strong political currents being felt across the state, it is crucial that we all continue constant vigilance by reviewing proposals as they are hurried through the legislative process.


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




Governor Can Make Any Issue Divisive

Governor Walker proved once again this past week that he cannot work together with others on such bipartisan issues as finding savings for Wisconsin taxpayers. The supposedly bipartisan Waste, Fraud and Abuse Commission was scheduled to release a report detailing additional savings at the end of the year. Unfortunately, this Commission became little more than a political propaganda ploy. The Commission rarely met, chose to ignore members of the minority party, avoided important subject matter, and denied members the opportunity to vote on or approve the final report it produced.

Governor Walker derived his Waste, Fraud and Abuse Commission from a campaign pledge in which he promised to find $300 million in waste, fraud and abuse in state government. Walker created the Commission through Executive Order #2 on January 3, 2011. The order required the Commission to “identify waste, fraud and abuse in state government programs and state appropriations and recommend solutions.” The Commission was expected to identify new savings of state tax dollars to uphold Governor Walker’s promise. Unfortunately, the Commission was a failure.

Instead Walker's report takes credit for savings the state has nothing to do with or savings already accounted for from previous actions of state government. In response to the Walker report, we offered an honest, straight-forward alternative that does not take credit for previous state government action, future federal action or budgeting gimmicks. The alternative plan contains potential savings of hundreds of millions of dollars each biennium.


The Commission heard testimony on the significant money government can save when municipalities are allowed to work cooperatively. Unfortunately, the Governor continues to restrict local government from working together on such simple things as filling potholes. The Governor also chose to ignore his own report by refusing to fill staff positions dedicated to catching corporate tax cheats.


Finding savings and efficiencies in government is something that we can all agree is necessary. There is no reason for Governor Walker to turn such important efforts into a political game.


Click here to read a copy of the report released by the Commission.


Click here to view a copy of the alternative report.


Getting Our Veterans Back to Work

I am co-sponsoring legislation that will help get our veterans, who have given so much to our community, state and nation, back to work. 


LRB 3631 is a bipartisan effort to support our disabled veterans in these tough economic times. This legislation will encourage employers to hire disabled veterans through a series of tax credits. The aim of these tax credits is to not only inspire employers to hire disabled veterans, but also incentivize long-term employment.


Unemployment among veterans is above the national average and unemployment among disabled veterans is especially distressing. This legislation will allow employers to put more of our veterans back to work so that they can support themselves and their families.


It is important to remember how much our service men and women have given for us. In exchange for their valiant service, the least we can do is promote employment and prosperity. Therefore, I will be enthusiastically supporting LRB 3631, to get our disabled veterans back into the workforce. 


Click here to read a copy of this bill.




Readying Our Students for Work in the Real World

This past Wednesday, the Senate Committee on Education, of which I am a member, unanimously passed Senate Bill 335, legislation that would allow high school students to take more career and technical education classes in order to graduate with a vocational diploma. Unlike the standard Wisconsin diploma, a vocational diploma enables students to take coursework that prepares them directly for a career.

Vocational diplomas offer a fresh new perspective for our neighborhood schools, and the current economic slump illustrates the need to try every route possible to get Wisconsin's economy and jobs numbers back on track. Many local Wisconsin businesses have expressed that they have family-supporting jobs available, but lack the qualified skilled workers to fill them. This legislation will help in the short-term by providing our upcoming graduates with vital job training to get our neighbors much needed employment and provide our local businesses long-term with the qualified, skilled applicants they need for years to come.

Passing this legislation will codify our commitment to creating a skilled workforce, while also upholding Wisconsin's manufacturing legacy. In order to keep these important jobs here, we need to look to the next generation of students - those currently in middle school and high school - as the key. If we want to create jobs and improve the economy, we need to provide our children, the next generation of the workers, with the skills they need to succeed for any path they choose to take.


Click here to view a copy of Senate Bill 335.



Protecting Our Homes From Flooding

As a member of the Senate Committee on Natural Resources and Environment, I participated in a public hearing on Thursday to listen to testimony on Senate Bill 368, legislation that significantly diminishes environmental protections that keeps our water safe for drinking and recreation and protects our valuable wetland resources. Concerns were raised during the hearing about how passage of this legislation as is will likely contribute to increased flooding.


Wetlands are critical in protecting the health of our community. They purify runoff from cities, farms and construction sites, reducing our water treatment costs and ensuring we have cleaner ground, lake and river water. Furthermore, wetlands are able to store large quantities of water to help prevent devastating shore erosion and flooding in our neighborhoods. This protection provided by wetlands is crucial in the Milwaukee area, which was devastated by flooding in June 2008 and 2009, and July 2010.


Wetlands also play a prominent role in Wisconsin's environment and tourism industry. According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources, nearly 40% of Wisconsin's 370 species of birds live in or use our wetlands as well as many mammals, fish, amphibians and reptiles, such as white-tailed deer, waterfowl and walleye. Additionally, Wisconsin's wetlands are home to one-third of the plants and animals on our state's endangered and threatened species list. The nature and wildlife featured in Wisconsin's wetlands provides the perfect setting for recreational wildlife watchers, anglers, hunters and boaters.

The following are some of the more problematic provisions that remain in this legislation:

  • Eliminates protections for areas designated as having significant ecological, educational or recreational value

  • Rolls back the "avoid and minimize" rule that ensures developers consider alternative non-wetland sites to avoid unnecessary destruction of our valuable natural resources

  • Allows for automatic approval of some permits after only 30 days, leaving our communities at risk if the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources is hampered in their review process by such things as poor weather conditions

  • Changes mitigation rules to allow high quality natural wetlands to be replaced with lower quality artificially created wetlands anywhere in Wisconsin.

I have strongly encouraged the author of Senate Bill 368 to make specific changes to better safeguard our communities, health and environment. There is an undeniable link between a healthy environment and sustainable economic growth. Therefore, we should not allow polluters to bully us into making a false choice between conservation and economic growth.




Making Our Roads Safer with Ignition Interlock Devices

Like many in Wisconsin, I understand the tragic cost of the drunk driving epidemic that has touched all corners of our state. Too often drunk drivers cause accidents that kill or injure our family, friends and neighbors, shattering lives and tearing the fabric of our communities.


We must do more to end these preventable tragedies and safeguard our loved ones. Our family, friends and neighbors cannot afford to wait any longer for stronger drunk driving laws. Wisconsin’s drivers and passengers deserve greater peace-of-mind while on the road.

In the past, the solution has simply been to take away the driver’s licenses of convicted drunk drivers. However, we know this does not do enough to prevent them from driving. DOT estimates for 2010 show that over 32,000 people were convicted of driving drunk in Wisconsin and nearly 32% of these were repeat offenders.

It is time that begin to change Wisconsin's culture of drinking and driving, which is why Rep. Tony Staskunas and I have introduced bipartisan legislation to strengthen our state’s drunk driving laws through increased use of ignition interlock devices.


Click here to view a copy of this legislation.


This legislation strengthens our lax drunk driving laws by stipulating that all first-time convicted drunk drivers have an ignition interlock device placed in their vehicle. Currently, ignition interlock device are only installed in vehicles of first-time offenders with blood alcohol content of .15 or higher and repeat offenders. This life-saving technology has been proven to reduce drunk driving recidivism by 67 percent, according to the Center for Disease Control and Prevention.


This legislation is a step in the right direction. I continue to work with advocates and law enforcement as we strive to overhaul Wisconsin's arcane drunk driving laws.


Click here to view a letter from Mothers Against Drunk Driving discussing the importance of ignition interlock devices in reducing drunk driving to save lives.



Session to Resume this Month

The 2011-2012 Legislative Session is scheduled to resume on January 17. If you are looking to stay up-to-date on the issues that are important to you, I encourage you to take advantage of the following free legislative resources:

Wisconsin Legislative Notification System--An email notification system offered by the Legislature that alerts subscribers of legislative activities relating to issues that they have identified as important. Click here for more information.

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.


BadgerStat--Offers credible, nonpartisan information about how Wisconsin is performing compared to other states and serves as a watchdog on state government. Click here to visit BadgerStat's Web site.



Intern at the Capitol

I currently have an opening for a legislative intern 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 a cover letter and resume electronically to or mail them to Wisconsin State Capitol, P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707.




See You in the Neighborhood

I created a survey that I am distributing to neighbors asking about various issues that are important to them, our community and our state. I have been distributing the survey door-to-door throughout our community and will continue doing so going into the new year. To return the survey, simply fold it, tape it, and affix a stamp.

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

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.


I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues. Hope to see you in the neighborhood soon!




Know Your Voting Rights

Scott Walker and Republican legislators recently enacted some of the most restrictive ID requirements for voters in the country. While they have been working to silence Wisconsin's voters, I have been working hard to keep Wisconsin's voters informed of their rights. I have created a simple handout answering some of the most frequently asked questions surrounding Wisconsin's new voter restrictions.


Click here to view this handout or visit my Web site,


Click here to view the same PDF in Spanish.




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