LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER


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April 21, 2016

     

 

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

 

Website:

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. 



St. Ann Center Indoor Market
Date: Saturdays in April from 9 a.m. to  p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Support the St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care by enjoying fresh produce, crafts, and more. The market will have live music and free coffee. Purchases made at the event will benefit local vendors and the children and adults cared for at St. Ann.
CLICK HERE for more information.
 

St. Ann Center for Intergenerational Care

(MAP)
2801 E Morgan Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207


íSe fue la luz! A Night Under the Caribbean Sky at the UWM Planetarium
Date: Fridays now through May 6, 2016, from 7 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Bring your kids to hear youth drummers from Proyecto Bembe, a local nonprofit music education group, as they transform the UWM Planetarium into a Caribbean Island. The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies invites you to enjoy indoor star gazing and live music. Tickets are $3 and are available 30 minutes before the shows start. For more information, CLICK HERE.

UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium

(MAP)
1900 E Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211
 

 

Wisconsin's John Muir: An Exhibit Celebrating the Centennial of the National Park Service
Date: Exhibit displayed from April 12 to April 25. Discussion on Saturday, April 23
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Stop by the Oak Creek Public Library to see an exhibit honoring John Muir in celebration of the centennial of the National Park Service. The free exhibit will be on display Tuesday, April 12 through Monday, April 25. On Saturday April 23, 2016, there will be a talk and book discussion on the life of John Muir. The first 28 people to register for the event will receive a free copy of a book on John Muir, or the environmental history of Wisconsin. To register, call (414) 766-7900.CLICK HERE for more information.
 

Oak Creek Public Library

(MAP)
8040 S. 6th St.
Oak Creek, WI 53154
 

 

Animal Feeding at the Urban Ecology Center
Date: Saturday, April 23, 2016 1 p.m. to1:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Bring your kids down to the Urban Ecology Center in the Menomonee Valley to help feed the Center's turtles, snakes, fish, and more! Click here for more information
 

Urban Ecology Center-Menomonee Valley

(MAP)
3700 W. Pierce St.
Milwaukee, WI 53215

 

 

Take Root Milwaukee

Date: Thursday, April 28 from 1 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Homeowners who are underwater and looking to refinance, behind on their mortgage or property taxes or have other concerns can meet one-on-one with nonprofit organization homeownership counselors, lenders, the City Treasurer's office and/or Milwaukee Foreclosure Mediation program to figure out their options. In particular, meeting with one of the counselors often helps people sort through various options (including ones they may not be aware of). CLICK HERE fore more information.

 

Hillside Terrace Resource Center

(MAP)

1452 N. 7th Street

Milwaukee, WI 53205

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
I hope you had a chance to get out and enjoy some spring weather. Summer is just around the corner and families across the state are getting ready for cookouts, bike rides, swimming, and many other summer activities.

 

Wisconsinites are also getting ready to celebrate Earth Day this week. In honor of Earth Day and the long-awaited end of winter, this Larson Report will focus on the health of our environment.

 

If you are interested in joining the community's progressive efforts towards a greener planet, you can check out some of the Earth Day events across the state and in our neighborhood, which are included below.

 

Sincerely,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Flint Water Bill
In the last Larson Report, we talked a little about the water privatization bill, known as the Flint Water Bill, that was being pushed through the Legislature this past session. This week, we will focus on this dangerous bill in more detail, and also discuss proactive legislation to protect our public waters from being sold off to corporations.

A Quiet Start to A Dangerous Bill
On December 1, 2015, Assembly Bill (AB) 554 was introduced to the Legislature and referred to the Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities. A public hearing was held on December 9, and the bill was voted out of committee less than a week later.  In January, the bill was scheduled for a vote in the full Assembly, where it passed.

Specifically, this bill would have:

  • Forced people to gather signatures to reject public water and sewer takeovers.
  • Set thresholds for the number of signatures needed to reject a takeover, and limit the time allowed to gather them.
  • Made the public determine whether or not they would collect signatures for a referendum before the Public Service Commission (PSC) released the full details of the takeover.
  • Broadened the types of companies that can gobble up Wisconsin public water utilities to include private out-of-state and foreign corporations.

Senate Activity on the Flint Water Bill
After the Assembly passed Assembly Bill 554, it came to the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Public Works, and Military Affairs. After hearing from several concerned neighbors and taking a hard look at the details of the bill, it became crystal clear that Assembly Bill 554 would restrict and undermine public involvement in how our water utilities are operated, and pave the way for out-of-state water barons to take control of our water systems.

Fresh water advocates signed petitions and emailed and called the committee members to tell them to halt the Flint Water bill. In fact, in just three days over 800 Wisconsinites signed an online petition affirming their opposition to the dangerous and undemocratic Assembly Bill 554.

Here are what some Wisconsinites had to say about the bill:

"In a state whose economy is built upon quality fresh water, this bill is wrong-headed. In light of what's happened in Flint, MI, it puts my health and that of my friends, family, and neighbors at risk unnecessarily." - Melanie from Spencer, WI

"On this and much other legislation I ask myself 'how do the people of Wisconsin benefit from this?' The answer is ... They don't, only profiteers benefit from yet another private appropriation of public resources." - Alan from Sturgeon Bay, WI

"Water is a responsibility, not a for-profit enterprise. It belongs to all of us, let us keep it that way. Many communities have suffered from the privatization of their water, let us do better." - Joe from Milwaukee, WI

Attempt to Maintain Basic Level of Transparency
Before being voted on, Senator Julie Lassa and I offered a number of amendments in the Senate committee in an effort to maintain a basic level of transparency when it comes to our water services.

These amendments aimed to:

  • Keep water costs reasonable by prohibiting any sale of public water systems to private corporations or investors
  • Protect our security by prohibiting foreign investors from buying our water drinking water systems
  • Protect our health by prohibiting out-of-state companies from buying our waters
  • Require disclosure of political donations from water-seeking companies to local elected officials
  • Require transparency and reporting of citizen complaints about privately owned water services
  • Keep the current law, which requires a referendum, once the PSC releases facts and determination of sale
  • Protect public involvement by allowing the referendum to be held after the PSC releases facts and determination of sale

All of these amendments were rejected in the Republican-led committee, along party lines.

Public Outrage Builds
The Senate committee moved forward with voting the bill out of committee, which allowed it to be scheduled for a vote in the full Senate. 

Late on a Monday afternoon in February, when the full Senate was scheduled to meet the next morning, Republicans quietly added the Flint Water Bill to the list of bills up for a vote on the Senate floor. This attempt to ignore the outrage coming from all over the state did not go unnoticed as Wisconsinites tirelessly and passionately pushed back once again, leading Republicans to take the unusual course of pulling the bill from the Senate calendar.

Thanks to the steadfast advocacy from people across the state, Republicans permanently retreated from this bill and it did not pass before session concluded for the year.

Save Our Water Act
Water is our lifeline, not a pipeline to corporate profit. The recent tragedy in Flint, Michigan and our own water takeover attempt in Wisconsin are stark reminders that local control is essential to safeguarding the water we drink. The vast majority of Wisconsin drinking water is currently provided by local water utilities that are directly accountable to their community and state.

Wisconsin's drinking water is essential to our shared health and security, it belongs to all of us. Fresh water is becoming increasingly valuable and the thirst to profit from it is growing. Clean drinking water is a basic human right, and control of our shared waters by profit seekers is undemocratic and jeopardizes our health, freedom, and prosperity.

That's why Representative Stuck and I introduced the Save Our Water Act this past session. The Save Our Water Act affirms that our community drinking water should not be a profit source for corporations and upholds our shared Wisconsin value of local control. As such, the Save Our Water Act would have prohibited the sale of our water services to profit seekers.

My Democratic colleagues and I have not heard one person say they can't wait to pay a corporation like Monsanto more for their tap water. In passing the Save Our Water Act would Wisconsin would take a step towards ensuring our water remains clean, safe, and affordable. Despite numerous calls on Republicans to pass the Save Our Water Act, session concluded before the bill was even given a public hearing. Safeguarding our public water is an issue that is not going away anytime soon, and should have bipartisan support therefore, I intend to reintroduce this bill when session resumes in January 2017.

Click here to view the bill.
 

 

Fighting for Clean Water Worldwide

As stated, we celebrated a huge victory against the legislative attempt to allow the corporate takeover of our water systems. While we won this water privatization battle locally, much more needs to be done to ensure our neighbors worldwide have access to safe, clean water.

Recently, Wisconsin U.S. Representative Gwen Moore took a bold step to protect access to clean water by issuing a strong letter calling on the World Bank to stop funding and pushing water privatization. The World Bank profits from water privatization around the world, resulting in inequitable access to drinkable water and skyrocketing water costs.

As the ranking member of the U.S. House subcommittee with jurisdiction over World Bank affairs, Congresswoman Moore is working to push the federal government to take a stand by demanding more water safeguards when the U.S. negotiates with other nations on World Bank affairs.

By calling on the World Bank to stop their policies that lead to water privatization, Rep. Moore is championing efforts to keep public waters public.

Last week, I signed a letter thanking Rep. Moore for her leadership, and I know that many of you would like to do the same.

Sign the letter, here.


 

Healthy, Clean Energy 

As a member of the National Conference Environmental Legislators, I place great value on sustainability and responsible conservation. The importance of attaining energy independence should not be taken lightly, and it is necessary to make the state's economic progress sustainable and beneficial for all, now and in the future.

Making Wisconsin a leader in renewable energy and spurring investment in efficiency and clean energy technology can improve our energy security and independence, reduce our costs, increase jobs, and mitigate climate change. Wisconsin has the resources, fuels, creative spirit, and public desire to set a high standard which can transform our state's economy to make it stronger and more prosperous.

Many companies in our state benefit from the fast-growing wind turbine industry.  Despite wind energy being an excellent, clean energy source, Governor Walker has taken several dangerous steps backward in an attempt to shutter state investment in wind energy and other renewable energy sources.

Since taking office, here are just some of the ways Walker and the GOP have blocked the wind industry from progressing in our state:

  • Eliminated the Green-to-Gold program, which helped manufacturers to offset the costs of retrofitting plants to reduce energy costs
  • Got rid of the Renewable Energy Grants and Loans program that helped in-state companies grow our domestic renewable energy industry
  • Created some of the most burdensome restrictions in the country for setting up new wind turbines -- this is estimated to have cost our state up to $1.2 billion in renewable energy investments and more than 1,000 jobs due to companies leaving the state
  • Changed the rules so that renewable energy growth that could have occurred in the state would instead be diverted to large, international corporations

A new industry report by the American Wind Energy Association says wind generation is at an all-time high and is driving new employment nationwide. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is losing out on these opportunities by failing to invest fully in renewable energy. There has been false information and misguided efforts to squash wind energy investment, based on erroneous health claims by anti-renewable special interests.

However, a new report supports that these health claims are unfounded. The Public Service Commission compiled the findings, which showed no conclusive adverse effects on residents who live near wind turbines.

Read the report, here.

Reinvesting in renewable energy, like wind and solar would help stimulate Wisconsin's economy and reduce carbon emissions. Wisconsinites are being left behind as jobs in the renewable energy sector are going to other states due to Walker and the GOP imposing senseless barriers. It's past time to renew our commitment to renewable energy.
 


 

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 need legal advice. Where I can go?

A:
Legislative offices are able to help members of their community who have questions about what the law is on a particular topic. Similarly, when a person is having an issue with a state agency or with entities the state has authority over, legislators and their staff are able to help individuals sort out the information. For example, I recently heard from a neighbor who needed help getting a specific accommodation for their son who has a disability. My office was able to assist him in getting this needed accommodation approved through the Department of Health Service.

 

While legislative offices can help find a certain amount of information regarding the law and help with navigating state agencies, we cannot give legal advice. However, if money to hire an attorney is a concern, we can refer you to free or low-fee services in the community.

 

For instance, each year the Milwaukee Bar Association has free walk-in legal clinics in honor of Law Day. The next free clinics will be held on Saturday, April 30 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

At four locations throughout Milwaukee there will be volunteer attorneys available to speak to people one-on-one, for free. Below is the information for the clinic locations:

Forest Home Library

(MAP)

MJC Mobile Legal Clinic

1432 W. Forest Home Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53204

 

Central Library

(MAP)

814 W. Wisconsin Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53233

 

Center Street Library

(MAP)

2727 W. Fond du Lac Ave.

Milwaukee, WI 53210

 

Brown Deer Library

(MAP)

5600 W. Bradley Rd.

Brown Deer, WI 53223


 

Earth Day

This Friday, April 22 is Earth Day. As we take time to celebrate Earth Day, we also should remember to reflect on those who have played an important role in moving our state and nation forward on crucial environmental issues.

The first Earth Day was observed nationwide on April 22, 1970, and served as a day to increase environmental awareness. The holiday was founded by Gaylord Nelson, a former Wisconsin Governor and U.S. Senator dedicated to cleaning up polluted waterways, protecting our shared lands, creating sustainable green jobs, and bolstering the state's recreation infrastructure.

Gaylord Nelson's efforts helped grow Wisconsin's proud, progressive history of stewardship.



Unfortunately, much of this progress has been scaled back by Governor Walker and legislative Republicans. We have seen numerous efforts to side with corporate polluters over investing in a healthy environment. We saw proof of that this past session with the Flint Water bill, which attempted to make privatization of our water systems easier.

With summer just around the corner, people from all over our state will be heading to our parks and beaches for picnics and family outings. Senate Democrats believe all of our citizens, young and old, should have the opportunity to enjoy access to our pristine public lands and waters, free from pollution, not just on Earth day, but every day.

However, over the last several years we've seen Wisconsin's rich history of stewardship and conservation constantly threatened. In the last Republican budget, GOP members showed their contempt for our shared resources when they eliminated public funding for our state park system and got rid of science and educator positions within the Department of Natural Resources.

Looking ahead, Senate Democrats remain committed to stopping the degradation of our environment and pursue policies that build a better future. We have a responsibility to protect the quality of life in our communities, for ourselves and our future generations. 

If you are looking for a way to celebrate Earth Day, there are numerous groups in our community and around the state organizing ways to get involved. For our neighbors who live outside of the Milwaukee area, Friends of Wisconsin State Parks is sponsoring Work*Play*Earth Day events around the state from now until May 7.

Find an event near you, here.  

Below are just some of the things going on in the Milwaukee area for Earth Day. You may just see my family at one of these important events.

Milwaukee's 5th Annual Earth Day Celebration
Date: Friday, April 22, from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Description: Join the city of Milwaukee, Rock the Green, Mayor Tom Barrett, and others in the 5th annual Earth day Celebration. This event boasts a bicycle-powered stage and a live concert by Evan Christian. Visit eco-educational booths featuring environmental groups from around the state and enjoy food from local vendors.

The CityCenter
735 North Water Street, Suite M180
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Earth Day of Service
Date: Saturday, April 23 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Description: Come celebrate the Earth by giving back. Bring your friends and spend a morning of volunteer activities in Riverside Park followed by a community lunch. Meet new people and have fun helping the Earth! Family hikes and "mini" service projects also available at 9:30 and 11a.m.

Riverside Park
1500 E. Park Pl.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

South Milwaukee Earth Day Celebration
Date: Saturday, April 30, 2016 from 9:00 a.m. to 12:00 p.m., followed by a hotdog luncheon
Description: Celebrate Earth Day through a community wide clean-up. Paper shredding will be in the City Hall parking lot for a fee of $1 per bag/box. Electronics recycling will also take place in the City Hall parking lot. The clean-up will be followed by a hotdog luncheon for volunteers at the Grobschmidt Senior Center.
For more information, click here.
 

South Milwaukee City Hall
2424 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
 

Click here fore more events in the area.


 

Celebrating Young Professionals
April 23 to April 30, 2016, is young professionals week! Young Professionals Week (YPWeek) brings together young professionals and key community leaders to stir meaningful discovery, adventure, and conversation on issues that matter to young professionals.

Millennials face a unique set of circumstances as they begin to navigate education, the workforce, and social environment. YPWeek chooses purposeful locations to integrate and connect young professionals and employers. Door County, Fond du Lac, Fox Cities, Green Bay, Kenosha, La Crosse, Madison, Marshfield, Milwaukee, Oshkosh, Racine, Sheboygan, Stevens Point, Wausau, and Wisconsin Rapids all have events dedicated to YPWeek.

One much anticipated event is the Bubbler Awards, which kicks off the week. Every year, NEWaukee shines a light on the companies who make great strides to accommodate the interests and needs of a shifting workforce. NEWaukee is a structural architecture firm that focuses on retaining Wisconsin's young, bright professionals in the state. NEWaukee has been a pivotal advisor and ally to YPWeek. Some of the 2016 Bubbler Award recipients for Best Places to Work for Young Professionals in Wisconsin include Milwaukee-based Penrod, along with companies in other parts of the state, such as LinkEHR and Greenheck.

Milwaukee is home to six Fortune 500 companies, including Harley Davidson, Rockwell Automation, and ManpowerGroup. Our community has tons to offer young professionals and visitors. Activities for YPWeek within the metro Milwaukee area span from yoga, urban hiking, social events, and seminars. I look forward to seeing community members out engaging with other like-minded young professionals.
 

To get involved and find events in your area, CLICK HERE.
 

 

 

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