LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

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November 29, 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

 

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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 natureís 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

 

 

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 Downtownís 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.

 

 

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 familyís 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 in the Ward
Date: Fri., November 30 through Sat., December 1

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Be part of an old-fashioned Christmas tree lighting in the heart of the Historic Third Ward on Friday in Catalano Square. Santa and his reindeer will also stop by to welcome the holiday season with fireworks and more. Festivities will be going on Friday, November 30 and Saturday, December 1. Events will be located in the Historic Third Ward on the corner of Broadway and Menomonee. CLICK HERE for more information, including a schedule of planned activities.
 

 

A Christmas Carol on Stage
Date: Mon., December 3 through Monday, December 26

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The ultimate holiday tradition returns again for its 37th year. Dickensí 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

 

 

Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra Presents: Holiday Pops, Too!

Date: Thurs., December 6 at 7:30 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: Make the holidays special with the sparkling sounds of the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra at the South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center. Join Assistant Conductor Francesco Lecce-Chong and the Milwaukee Symphony Orchestra as they perform all your holiday favorites. CLICK HERE or call (414) 766-5049 for more information or to purchase tickets.

 

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (MAP)

901 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

 


Indoor Christmas Market

Date: Sat., December 8 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: Shop more than 40 vendors of arts, crafts, organics, baked goods, and other prepared foods along with live music from local artists. This is also a great opportunity for you to catch up on your holiday shopping. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

South Milwaukee High School (MAP)

801 15th Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

 


Tree Lighting Party

Date: Sun., December 9 from 1 p.m. to 3:30 p.m. Location: St. Francis
Description: Enjoy refreshments, lighting of the tree, and crafts for kids in St. Francis on Sunday, December 9. Santa will also be stopping by for a visit, so be sure to bring your camera. Finally, sit down and enjoy the production "How to Be an Elf" by Kids Play Theater. This event is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

St. Francis Public Library (MAP)
4230 S. Nicholson Avenue St. Francis, WI 53235



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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend,

 

I hope you enjoyed a great Thanksgiving holiday with family and friends. Continue reading for an update on state news, including Wisconsin's decision regarding health care implementation, the cancellation of LogistiCare's contract with the state, and how Wisconsin's hunters fared this season.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

 

Prioritizing Wrong Dairy State

Wisconsin voters spoke loud and clear on November 6. They want Democratic and Republican lawmakers to work together to move the state forward. It is a shame that while my Democratic colleagues and I have been reaching out to set a bipartisan agenda, the governor has seemingly skipped ahead without us by presenting a partisan agenda to wealthy California politicos. I would have hoped that the governor could have at least shared his legislative priorities with Republican  and Democratic legislators and the people of Wisconsin first in order to hear our feedback rather than have us find out about his personal goals for session from another state. More recently, the governor has staged a growing number of secretive, invite-only media events to highlight the ideas he brought back from California.

 

For the sake of Wisconsinís future, I encourage the governor to join us in casting off our partisan labels and setting aside politically divisive pursuits to work together on creating a brighter future for our family, friends, and neighbors. This starts by moving forward with programs and policies that reflect our shared values, including:

  • Creating the family-supporting jobs Wisconsinites have been calling for through responsible economic development

  • Re-investing in our next generation of workers by supporting local public schools

  • Increasing accountability and transparency in state agencies ensuring taxpayer dollars are wisely invested

We cannot keep asking people to climb the ladder to success while eliminating the bottom five rungs. Instead, our state needs to be there for the down-on-their luck Wisconsinites and help them become self-sufficient again. Senate Democrats will continue voicing the concerns of people across Wisconsin, especially if we feel they are not being heard by all elected officials. We hope Republicans, including Governor Walker will choose to join us in this endeavor of placing progress over politics.

 

 

Governor Punts to Feds on Health Care Implementation

The U.S. Supreme Court upheld the health care reform law on June 28, 2012, making meaningful health care reform implementation in Wisconsin imperative. This includes developing a health care exchange, or competitive health care marketplace, which will allow individuals to:

  • Select a health care plan that is easy to understand

  • Choose a health care plan that offers a robust benefits package

  • Check eligibility for other services, such as tax subsidies to help pay for premiums

Originally, states had until Friday, November 16, 2012, to submit a letter of intent to the federal government declaring whether that state would be creating a state-based exchange, implementing the plan created by the federal government, or opting for a partnership exchange, which is a combination of the two. On the deadline date, Governor Walker announced he would be deferring implementation of health care reform to the federal government, despite bipartisan objections.

 

Other benefits the health care reform law brings to Wisconsin families are:

  • Providing no-cost preventive care services, like mammograms and colonoscopies

  • Allowing young adult children to stay on their parentís health insurance plan until age 26

  • Protecting our children from being denied coverage due to a pre-existing condition, like asthma

Half a million Wisconsinites are currently without health insurance. With the federal health care reform law being ruled constitutional by the U.S. Supreme Court and elections concluding, it is time to work together on ensuring all Wisconsinites have access to quality, affordable health care coverage.

 

Many Wisconsinites, including myself, are disappointed that the governor opted to punt this problem to someone else to solve as this is not the Wisconsin way. Wisconsin is unique with its own health care needs, which is why legislators on both sides of the aisle and people across Wisconsin urged Governor Walker to create an individualized plan for implementing the federal health care law in our state. Wisconsin's neighboring states have already acknowledge the importance of participating in the implementation process. Minnesota and Iowa have opted to create their own state-based exchange, while Michigan and Illinois intend on collaborating with the federal government to create a partnership exchange.
 

Click here for more information about how other states chose to implement the federal care law.


My colleagues and I encourage the governor to reconsider passing up this valuable opportunity. We stand ready to work with Governor Walker and our legislative colleagues on creating a state-based health insurance exchange that will expand affordable health care access to the thousands of Wisconsinites. A state-based plan is also crucial to preserving our stateís strong regional health system. We are fortunate to have a strong health care system in Wisconsin with high-quality providers and one of the most competitive health insurance markets in the country and Wisconsinites would like to keep it this way.

 

Senate Democrats remain committed to working in a bipartisan manner to protect the strengths of our health care system, while also allowing more children, families, and seniors to access quality, affordable health care across Wisconsin.
 

Health care is a major economic issue as it affects all Wisconsinites and businesses statewide. A healthy workforce means less sick days, catching health issues before they become chronic conditions, and increased productivity. I believe a working Wisconsin needs to be a healthy Wisconsin. As we approach the upcoming legislative session, economic issues, including health care, will be a top priority of mine.

 


 

LogistiCare Ends Contract with State

On November 21, 2012, the Department of Health Services (DHS) alerted the Legislature that LogistiCare would be ending its contract with the state. LogistiCare, a company based out of Atlanta, Georgia, contracted with the state to manage and provide non-emergency medical transportation services for neighbors that rely on our health safety net programs, such as Medicaid and BadgerCare Plus. According to the letter submitted by LogistiCare to DHS, the company will no longer be responsible for providing these vital transportation services as of February 18, 2013. DHS is currently in the process of issuing a new Request for Proposal, which enables them to hear bids and select a new business with which to contract.

 

While the termination of this contract was not necessarily foreseen, it is not surprising given the problems that have plagued LogistiCare, which replaced the county-based system used in the past. One of the most common complaints neighbors raise about LogistiCare is the wait-time to schedule a ride for upcoming doctor and hospital visits. LogistiCare's contract states that the average daily hold times cannot be longer than two minutes on both the scheduling line and the "Where's My Ride" line combined.  According to recent Journal Sentinel analysis, LogistiCare has met that standard only 32% of the time since September 1, and on only three weekdays. Additionally, many patients have reported waiting over an hour to schedule a future ride, return ride, or complain about a ride not showing up. Some have also questioned whether the long hold times may have contributed to LogistiCare now receiving 40% fewer calls than it did in early September.

Wisconsinites that rely on LogistiCare, medical professionals, and advocates have also raised concerns about LogistiCare's unreliability with getting passengers to their appointments. Some patients have notified DHS that despite arranging rides to appointments through LogistiCare well in advance, the company failed to pick them up and take them to their appointment. As a result, the health and safety of patients using this safety net have been jeopardized.

 

Things had gotten so bad that despite contracting with the state for less than two years, Wisconsin legislators, including myself, were already calling for the Legislative Audit Committee to approve a nonpartisan audit of LogistiCare to determine if it was ever fulfilling its contract goals and how services could be improved for Wisconsinites that rely on LogistiCare for medical transport.

 

While this contract change will likely be a welcome one for those familiar with LogistiCare, I hope DHS takes seriously the need to select a new provider that will not only be able to provide a service at a rate Wisconsin can afford, but also to improve the quality of services our family, friends, and neighbors need.

 

 

 

Joint Finance Appointments Announced

I am pleased to announce the appointment of Senator Bob Wirch and Senator Jennifer Shilling to serve on the Joint Committee on Finance for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session.

Sen. Wirch and Sen. Shilling have demonstrated that they are committed to working with fellow Democrats, Republican legislators, and the governor to move  Wisconsin forward for all. Not only do my esteemed colleagues Sen. Wirch and Sen. Shilling have significant experience in the Legislature--they were first elected in 1993 and 2000 respectively--but they have also previously served on Joint Finance. Additionally, these proven champions of working families, economic development, and Wisconsinís shared values help create a well-rounded leadership team that ensures all the corners of Wisconsin are represented.

 

I look forward to working with Sen. Wirch and Sen. Shilling to create family supporting jobs for people across Wisconsin, increase economic development throughout the state, invest in our next generation of workers by protecting our K-12 schools, technical colleges, and universities, and improve accountability and transparency measures in state agencies.
 

 

 

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: Last hunting season Wisconsin's deer seemed scarce. Do you know if hunters had better luck this year?

 

A: A significant portion of Wisconsin's success at conservation and our strong ethic of environmental protection comes directly from our hunters and anglers. This passion for the outdoors has been a driving social and political force in safeguarding a wild Wisconsin for future generations. 

 

A number of local hunters and neighbors expressed concerns over the limited number of deer they saw during last year's hunting season. Fortunately, during the deer hunting season this year, Wisconsinites across the state saw a dramatic increase.

 

This hunting season marked the 161st annual nine-day deer hunt in the state's history. According to statistics from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the perspective of Wisconsin hunters, it was nothing short of spectacular. This year 633,460 people registered to deer hunt with the DNR. Additionally, this year's preliminary tally indicates that 243,739 deer were registered by gun deer hunters between November 17 and November 26. This number is expected to increase when all registration tags are officially counted. This yearís preliminary harvest totals represent a 7.7 percent increase from 2011. The preliminary tally also shows that hunters harvested 114, 822 bucks and 128,917 antlerless deer. This compared to 2011 preliminary harvest figures of 102,837 bucks and 123,423 antlerless, for a 12 percent and 4 percent increase respectively.

 

Click here to view a breakdown of the harvest by DNR region and county.

 

Click here to share your deer hunting experience with the DNR through a brief survey.
 

While the number of hunting-related injuries and fatalities decreased from last year, Wisconsin still saw seven shooting-related incidents reported, including one fatality. Therefore, I encourage all of our hunters, especially those that are new to the sport, to brush up on hunter's safety to prevent such accidents from happening in the future. The DNR recommends taking to heart four basic firearm safety tips, which include:

  • Treat every firearm as if it is loaded

  • Always point the muzzle in a safe direction

  • Be certain of your target and what is beyond it

  • Keep your finger outside the trigger guard until ready to shoot

Click here for more information about safe hunting techniques.
 

For those interested in pursuing additional deer hunting opportunities, I encourage you to find out more about Wisconsin's late deer hunting seasons, which are now open. This includes the muzzleloader season, which is currently open through December 5. The late archery season is also underway and continues until January 6. Additionally, there is a statewide antlerless hunt from December 6 through December 9, and a holiday hunt in the Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) zones of south central Wisconsin beginning December 24 and running until January.

 

Click here for more information from the DNR's Web site about dates and regulations for these deer hunting seasons.


 

 

Did You Know...?

You may be aware that deer hunting recently concluded in Wisconsin this past weekend. But did you know that the white-tailed deer is Wisconsin's state wildlife animal?

The white-tailed deer is the smallest members of the North American deer family. They are found from southern Canada to South America, including in Wisconsin. These herbivores typically live six to 14 years, stand six to 7.75 feet tall, and weigh between 110 and 300 pounds. The white-tailed deer gets its name from the underside of its tail, which it displays and wags when it senses danger.

 

 

 

Remembering Pearl Harbor

On December 7 of each year, Americans commemorate Pearl Harbor Day to honor and remember the thousands who were killed or injured when the Japanese attacked our naval base in Hawaii on December 7, 1941. December 7, 2012, will mark the 71st anniversary of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor.

 

The attack on Pearl Harbor left 2,388 Americans dead and another 1,178 Americans wounded. Additionally, 21 American ships and 323 American aircrafts were sunk or damaged on that day.
 

The day following the attack on Pearl Harbor, U.S. President Franklin D. Roosevelt declared December 7, 1941, as a "a date that will live in infamy.

As a result of the unprovoked attack on our nation's soil, the United States declared war on Japan on December 8, 1941, entering World War II.

 

Remember to take time on Friday, December 7 to reflect on the ultimate sacrifices made my those that came before us who played a crucial role in standing up for our nation, its people, and our shared freedoms and beliefs.

 

 

 

World AIDS Day Approaching

Saturday, December 1 marks World AIDS Day. The World Health Organization established World AIDS Day in 1988 to raise awareness about HIV/AIDS, which had only been recognized by the Center for Disease Control seven years earlier. The World Health Organization hoped this day of recognition would encourage proactive efforts to stop the spread of HIV/AIDS, as well as support treatment development endeavors. The theme for this year's World AIDS Day is "This is Getting to Zero," meaning the World Health Organization would like to see zero new HIV infections, zero discrimination, and zero AIDS-related deaths for 2012.

The Human Immunodeficiency Virus (HIV) is a disease that destroys certain blood cells in-turn weakening a personís immune system. Acquired Immunodeficiency Syndrome (AIDS) is the late stage of HIV infection, when a personís immune system is severely damaged and has difficulty fighting diseases and certain cancers. Before the development of certain medications, people with HIV could progress to AIDS in just a few years. Currently, people can live much longer--even decades--with HIV before they develop AIDS.

 

According to the World Health Organization, there have been more than 25 million HIV-related deaths worldwide in the last 30 years. Additionally, in 2011 it was estimated that 34.2 million people around the globe were living with HIV/AIDS. While it may seem that HIV/AIDS is a problem for people in other countries, it has also made its presence known in Wisconsin. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, half of Wisconsin's 72 counties reported at least one new case of HIV in 2011, and approximately 53% of these cases were reported in our very own Milwaukee County. Further, as of the end of 2011, 6,550 individuals reported with HIV or AIDS were presumed to be alive and living in Wisconsin.

 

The key to reducing transmission of HIV and AIDS is educating yourself and others. HIV cannot be transmitted through day-to-day contact such as kissing, shaking hands, or sharing food or drinks. It can only be transmitted through contact with blood, seminal fluid, vaginal secretions, spinal fluid, or breast milk. The most common ways to put yourself at risk of contracting or spreading HIV/AIDS is:

  • Having unprotected sex

  • Using or sharing contaminated needles

  • Becoming pregnant or breastfeeding while HIV/AIDS positive

  • Coming into contact with contaminated blood

Different stages of infection are accompanied by different symptoms. Many people have no symptoms in the first few months of infection, while others may experience flu-like symptoms or a rash. As the infection progresses, other symptoms, such as swollen lymph nodes, weight loss, and upset stomach, may develop. HIV tests are often unreliable within the first 3-12 weeks after transmission because the antibodies, which first signal contraction of the disease, are still being produced. Therefore, it is important to be retested after three months after exposure. HIV testing and results are always confidential. Also remember that those infected with HIV can still spread it to others even if the initial test comes back negative and they have not yet had any symptoms. There is still no cure for HIV/AIDS.

 

Click here to learn more about HIV/AIDS from the World Health Organization.

 

Click here to learn more about HIV/AIDS in Wisconsin from the Department of Health Services.

 

 

 

No-Call List Deadline Tomorrow

The deadline for the Wisconsin No Call List is fast approaching, so be sure to register or re-register your phone number before the November 30. The list is updated four times per calendar year (January 1, April 1, July 1, and October 1). The registration process is continuous, but those who sign up after the upcoming November 30 deadline will not be added to the list until April 1.


This free no-call service, offered through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), covers both residential land and cell phone lines. Wisconsin residents who have add their numbers to the list by November 30 will receive protection from unsolicited telemarketing phone calls and text messages starting on January 1. Political calls, calls from non-profit organizations, and calls made in response to your written or verbal request or permission are not covered by the no-call law. Consumers must register or re-register every two years to ensure their phone number remains protected.


You can add your phone number to the list by dialing 1-866-9NO-CALL (1-866-966-2255) or by filling out your information online.

 

Click here to visit the No-Call Web site to sign up today.

 

The Web site and toll-free number are available all day, every day.

 

Click here to visit DATCP's Web site for more information about this program.
 


 

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. This is the last week this survey will be featured in the Larson Report. It will also be taken off my legislative Web site on Thursday, December 6. Please be sure to submit your survey online or by mail by that date.

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. I will also be sure to share the results of the survey with you in the near future.

 

 

 

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