May 20, 2016




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.


Bay View Rummage Sale
Date: Saturday, May 21, 2016, from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee,
Description: Join the Bay View Neighborhood Association for the 3rd annual neighborhood rummage sale. This is a great, environmentally friendly way to get rid of things in your house that you no longer have a need for. This year there will be an online map to guide shoppers. CLICK HERE to view the map.


Bike Auction & City Rummage Sale
Date: Saturday, May 21st starting at 9 a.m.
Location: Cudahy
Description: The City of Cudahy and the Cudahy Police Department will be donating bikes, old street signs, and other obsolete items for the auction, with proceeds going to the Historical Society. Bike previewing will start at 9 a.m. followed by the auction and rummage sale at 11 a.m. CLICK HERE for more information.


Cudahy Historical Society


4647 S Kinnickinnic Ave

Cudahy, WI 53110




3rd Annual South Milwaukee Plant Swap
Date: Saturday, May 28, 2016
Location: South Milwaukee 
Description: Come to the South Milwaukee Historical Museum to network with other gardeners at this free event hosted by the South Milwaukee Historical Society. Bring divided or unwanted perennials, shrubs, vines, and more from your yard in pots marked with the type of plant and whether it grows best in sun, partial sun, or shade. Bring seeds, bulbs, or garden tools too! RSVP for this event to either Patti Bergeson at (414)-768-9549 or Vicki Maloney at (414)-530-6020. CLICK HERE for more details about this event.

South Milwaukee Historical Museum


717 Milwaukee Ave
South Milwaukee, WI 53172


Art in the Park
Date: Every 2nd Saturday through September, 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Bay View
Description: Every second Saturday from May through September come enjoy over 50 rotating artists, live music, and art workshops for children. Food and refreshments for visitors will be available as they enjoy the spring weather and fine art. This year BVAP will be held in Humboldt Park and will offer free admission, making it a wonderful local event for the whole family! CLICK HERE for more information.


Humboldt Park


3000 S Howell Ave

Milwaukee, WI 53207


Jazz in the Park
Date: Thursdays, 5 p.m. to 9 p.m. starting June 2nd
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Jazz in the Park is a weekly event featuring a wide array of musicians that takes place in Milwaukee's Cathedral Square Park. Concerts will start at 6 p.m. on Thursdays, but people are encouraged to come socialize and enjoy happy hour beginning at 5 p.m. CLICK HERE for more information.

Cathedral Square Park


520 E Wells St

Milwaukee, WI 53202


Cathedral Square Market
Dates: Saturdays, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. starting June 4th
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Cathedral Square Market exhibits local vendors of items ranging from baked goods to clothing. Held every Saturday morning, the market is opportune to learn about and soak up the local culture. CLICK HERE for more information.


Cathedral Square Park


520 E Wells St

Milwaukee, WI 53202



South Milwaukee Farmers' Market
Dates: Thursdays, 3 to 7 p.m. starting June 2nd
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: The weekly South Milwaukee Farmers' Market will be kicking off again this June! The market will feature local vendors ranging from food to jewelry. The variety of shops as well as live music make it a great experience for the whole family. CLICK HERE for more information.


Corner of 11th Ave and Milwaukee Ave in South Milwaukee



Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

I hope you had a great week and hope that some of my Milwaukee area neighbors were able to enjoy Bay View Art in the Park this past weekend. Check the sidebar for more information about the next Bay View Art in the Park, which features over 50 rotating artists, live music, and more at Humboldt Park.

For those of you in other parts of the state, the Arts and Crafts Fair guide from the Wisconsin Department of Tourism is a great resource for finding similar events in your neighborhood.

Click here to view the guide.

Also, speaking of Humboldt Park Chill on the Hill is fast-approaching and will kick off on June 7th.

Learn more, here.

This week's Larson Report provides an update on the troubling dismantling of our long-term care system. We will also discuss barriers to accessing cannabidiol and legislation that would improve access. Additionally, the newsletter includes an update about the Bucks labor agreement that was the deciding factor on getting many of my Democratic colleagues to vote "yes."


Also, remember to connect with me on Facebook and follow me on Twitter for real-time updates on important state and community news and events!



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Update on Long-Term Care

Wisconsin's current long-term care system, which includes the Family Care and IRIS (Include, Respect, I Self-Direct) programs, is a nationally recognized model which provides affordable, accessible, and accountable services to nearly 60,000 Wisconsinites. Changes to long-term care in Wisconsin became the focus of the 2015-2017 budget because of an abrupt proposal by Governor Walker to disrupt the system, despite its popularity and effectiveness.

The proposal would replace a community-centered approach with a three region model, likely run by out-of-state corporate insurance companies without competitive bid requirements for contracts. These changes were included in the Republican budget without consulting the organizations and individuals served by the program. Further, they have the potential to negatively impact quality of care and create uncertainty about the future of services.

Details Remain Secret
While the last state budget mandated that the Department of Health Services (DHS) make major changes to our long-term care programs, Family Care and IRIS, the details of the changes are still largely unknown. Currently, DHS is deciding what types of services will be available to individuals in the new system (called Family Care and IRIS 2.0). What we do know is that our long-term care programs will be administered by profit-motivated insurance companies in the form of "Integrated Health Agencies" (IHAs).

One of the positive aspects of our current system is the self-directed IRIS program. IRIS is separate from Family Care and allows our elderly neighbors and neighbors with disabilities manage their own services and hire their own caretakers. Individuals who use the IRIS program are able to hire people they know and trust to help them with daily needs, like bathing and cooking. Under the new system, IRIS will no longer be a separate program and it is unclear how this will impact the daily lives of the 12,000 statewide neighbors who depend on the stability of this program. Neighbors like Jack, whose daughter is not able to communicate verbally when asked basic questions. Because of this communication barrier, it is extremely important to Jack to be able to have a direct say and choose who enters their home to care for his daughter.

Jeopardizing our Family and Loved Ones
Not many answers have been given as to how our family and loved ones will be impacted by these changes since they were first introduced over a year ago. One thing is clear, however, which is that turning over our nationally recognized long-term care programs to big insurance companies is a disservice to those who depend on Family Care and IRIS each and every day.

There are no sufficient examples of programs similar to what the Walker administration is proposing, so we don't even know whether or not this disruption will even save public resources. While the Walker administration has claimed $300 million in savings over the next six years -- the Wisconsin Long-Term Care Coalition recently sent a memo to the Joint Finance Committee detailing why this number actually has nothing to do with disrupting our current system.

Here are a couple key points from the memo:

  • There will be no savings to long-term care as a direct result of altering Family Care and IRIS, instead it will be a continuation of savings resulting from better management of primary and acute health care that has been shaped over the last 15 years by our current system.
  • The concept paper states that the IHAs will be allowed to have profit margins of up to 2.5% -- the current program averages 1.12%. This has the potential to increase costs by $200 million over the next six years.
  • The false savings claims do not take into account the costs associated with starting-up the new system or the transition period where the two systems may be operating simultaneously.

See the full memo, here.

Given the level of uncertainty, the disruption to families, and no concrete evidence of savings, why would the governor and legislative Republicans be so eager to dismantle our current long-term care system?

Culture of Corruption, Cronyism
The culture of corruption that looms over the governor and legislative Republicans is something Wisconsinites have, unfortunately, become all too familiar with. From the scandal-plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to the gutting of our campaign finance laws to exempting corrupt politicians from our John Doe laws, there is no shortage of examples.

Disturbingly, what's happening to long-term care in Wisconsin appears to be following the same trend of cronyism and corruption that is found in so many of Walker's schemes. One of the large insurance companies that has been aggressive in its efforts to take over our long-term care system is UnitedHealthcare. One doesn't have to look too far to notice that Walker has close ties to the company -- his former chief of staff, Eric Schutt, worked for UnitedHealthcare before becoming one of the governor's advisors. This year, Schutt returned to UnitedHealthcare as senior vice president of external affairs.

I know my neighbors in every corner of the state agree that this doesn't pass the smell test. 

Click here to read an article by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel about this topic.

What Happens Now?
On April 1 the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee received a "concept paper" from DHS summarizing the proposed changes to our long-term care system. DHS would need approval by the Joint Finance Committee in order to move forward with submitting a waiver to the federal government. The federal Health and Human Services agency needs to approve the state's proposed changes before they can be implemented.

The Joint Finance Committee is not allowed to make any changes, per a provision in the last state budget, to the concept paper. Instead the have limited options, including: approve the plan, disapprove the plan but ask for clarification on certain parts of the concept paper and ask for a revised plan to be submitted, or disapprove of the plan and forego asking for clarifying information. The Committee could also delay meeting on the plan and address the issue during the next budget process.   

Families and groups that work closely with individuals using one of our current long-term programs are still being left in the dark on many of the details and have serious concerns about the plan as it currently stands.

For instance, one of the major concerns I've heard is that there is no clear transition plan or plan to notify those currently using Family Care or IRIS about the changes. Additionally, during the budget process families were assured that IRIS was not going away. However, according to stakeholders, the budget-setting method as proposed by DHS does not preserve IRIS and breaks the promise made to these participants and their families.

Details Needed Before Any Further Action is Taken
After hearing from neighbors from across the state, it's clear that real information is needed before the Joint Finance Committee takes any action to dismantle our long-term care system as we know it. Too many critical details are missing to warrant a complete disruption of the lives of the people who depend on these programs. As we move forward, I will continue to work with advocates, families, and members of the Joint Finance Committee to monitor this issue. We must ensure that the services and supports provided to families by Family Care and IRIS are not hurt in this blind attempt to turn our long-term care system into a for-profit system.

Click here to read an editorial by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, which points out the need for more details before this proposal moves forward.

Denying Compassionate Care for Children
Last session, we heard heartfelt stories from parents across Wisconsin who were depending on state leaders to reach across the aisle and work together so their children could access cannabidiol, or CBD oil. Specifically, parents of children with seizure disorders have noted positive results after treating their children with CBD oil. This treatment method is also considered by some physicians to be less dangerous and more effective in treating seizures than other methods.

CBD oil does not have psychoactive or hallucinogenic properties. Scientists believe that CBD quiets the excessive electrical and chemical activity in the brain that causes seizures, which can be fatal.

The Legislature passed Lydia's Law during the 2013-14 Legislative Session, which sought to break down the barriers parents of children with seizure disorders face in attempting to try this treatment option. Oftentimes these parents and children are limited to trying medications that are ineffective and have negative side effects or are forced to consider brain surgeries that may or may not be effective in treating the seizures and can result in children losing their vision or other abilities.

Under Lydia's Law (2013 Wisconsin Act 267), families of children with these seizure disorders could access non-psychoactive CBD oil with a prescription from a Wisconsin provider. Unfortunately, Act 267 was flawed and did not expand treatment options for these families. Essentially, the Legislature passed a bill  that wrote a prescription, but did not provide a way to fill it.  As a result, CBD oil is still unavailable to those who need it most.

Last session, a bill was introduced as Assembly Bill 228, that sought to address some of the barriers Wisconsin families continue to face. Specifically, Assembly Bill 228 would have removed the requirement to have a prescription in order to get CBD oil and would have protected families against prosecution for possessing cannabidiol.

Assembly Bill 228 passed the full Assembly, and was waiting to be scheduled in the full Senate in order to be signed by the governor and become law. To the disappointment of my Democratic colleagues as well as the families depending on the bill passing, Assembly Bill 228 was not scheduled for a vote. In fact, on the last day that the Senate met for the 2015-16 Legislative Session, Republican leadership abruptly adjourned in order to prevent Republican members from being on record opposing Assembly Bill 228 after one Democratic member asked for a procedural vote that would have allowed the bill to be taken up.

Despite this bill being bipartisan, with only a handful of Republican members opposing it, GOP leaders shamefully blocked this bare minimum effort to help families in need of CBD oil from passing.

See a Capitol Times article that discusses in more detail what happened at the end of session with Assembly Bill 228.

Not too long ago my neighbor, Earl, reached out to me and shared his own story and disappointment that his family isn't able to access cannabidiol for his child. He asked that I do something to address this issue.

While I was proud to be a co-sponsor of Assembly Bill 228, unfortunately, as Earl explained, even if the bill would have passed it would not have addressed other obstacles facing Wisconsin families.

For instance, the oil is not able to be produced in Wisconsin. That's why I proposed a bill, Senate Bill 772, that would have addressed these additional barriers by doing the following:

  • Establishing a licensure program, administered by the Department of Safety and Professional Services for individuals to produce and distribute CBD oil
  • Allowing a person who holds a license to manufacture CBD oil to possess tetrahydrocannabinols, so long as it is only going to be used to produce nonpsychoactive CBD oil
  • Clarifying that any individual with the appropriate license may distribute CBD oil and any individual may possess CBD oil

After Senate Bill 772 was referred to the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, I sent a letter to the Committee chair, asking that a public hearing on the bill be scheduled. Not only did the Republicans squash Assembly Bill 228, but they also failed to even give Senate Bill 772 a chance to be discussed publicly.

Click here to read the bill.

Neighbors across Wisconsin strongly support the use of CBD oil for the treatment of seizures, especially in cases when other treatments have failed. I have received numerous phone calls and emails from individuals who have a steadfast belief this medication should be available. In order to do that, we must allow the production of CBD oil in Wisconsin.

I was proud of the bipartisan effort to ensure the passage of Lydia's Law. Compassionate care for Wisconsin children was, and should be, a bipartisan endeavor. As such, I will be ready to reintroduced this legislative idea when session resumes in January 2017.


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: There have been several recent news stories about the negative impacts of the $250 million cut in public investment in our UW System schools. How can I learn more about this and get involved in the discussion?

The immense accomplishments and progress made by UW-Milwaukee, as well as other Wisconsin system schools, continue to be jeopardized by the irresponsible, unnecessary, and senseless $250 million cut to the UW System imposed by Walker and legislative Republicans.


In March, UW-Milwaukee announced that the Center for Urban Initiatives and Research (CUIR) will close its doors on June 30. This closure came just weeks after UWM Chancellor Mark Mone warned that the university would have to slash budgets due to the historic $30 million cut to the university handed down by the most-recent Republican budget. In the Center's 40 year history they have worked to foster growth and progress right here in Milwaukee; with countless partnerships and community-based initiatives, CUIR worked within our city to achieve a community where all residents have access to a high quality of life.

Since Walker's introduction of the 2015-17 state budget, I have heard from concerned parents, students, and UW System professors and staff about the detrimental effects this intentional disinvestment in higher education will have on our historically world-class system. As these budget cuts begin to cripple campus budgets, we will continue to see elimination of programming and loss of our talented UW teaching staff.


It's important now more than ever to hear directly from UW chancellors and faculty about the negative implications of intentionally slashing public investment in the UW System.

I recently sent a letter, along with members of the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus, urging Chancellor Mone to hold a public meeting about how the $250 million disinvestment in the UW System is impacting the UW-Milwaukee campus.

Click here to read the letter.

In response to the letter, Chancellor Mone has indicated UWM will hold a public forum on Tuesday, June 14 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in the Ballroom of the UWM Student Union.

I hope you will join me in engaging in this critical discussion.


Milwaukee Bucks Labor Agreement Update
This week, the Milwaukee Bucks came to a historic agreement with our neighbors in Milwaukee that seeks to protect workers' rights and improve the economic standing of Milwaukee families. Making sure that workers receive fair pay for an honest day's work was a demand that many legislators brought to the table as their bottom line in negotiations on the Bucks arena last year.

While there were other pieces of the Bucks deal that I disagreed with, the promise of bringing good jobs to our neighbors put me in the "yes" column when the final vote was tallied. I'm glad the Bucks made good on their promise, and am hopeful that this is just the beginning of a strong, mutually beneficial relationship between Milwaukee residents and a business that listens to them.

Permanent, living wage jobs to our neighbors who need them the most and the ability to unionize freely without interference or intimidation were paramount in getting support for the Bucks arena deal. The agreement announced today is a "first of its kind" in Milwaukee that will protect employees and ensure a brighter future for our neighbors by guaranteeing they have the jobs they need to get ahead. These priorities represent the shared values of our community and should be made whenever our public resources are given to a private project.

With the signing of this agreement, the Bucks and the community have issued a simple challenge to other major developers hoping to come to Milwaukee: respect and contribute.

Read more about the agreement, here.



Honoring Those Who Sacrificed for our Country
Memorial Day is fast-approaching. Join in honoring the brave men and women that fought for our country and died to preserve our nation's freedom. There will be Memorial Day events going on all throughout Wisconsin this weekend. Below are just some of the events that will be occurring in the Milwaukee area:

St. Francis
Monday, May 30 at 8:30 a.m.
Wake-up early to stop by the St. Francis Veteran's Plaza located at 4120 S. Nicholson Avenue for the city's annual memorial day event.

South Milwaukee
Monday, May 30 at 9:30 a.m.
Join our neighbors in South Milwaukee at this annual event. A parade will begin at South Milwaukee Post 27 and conclude with a ceremony at the South Milwaukee War Memorial located on Chicago Avenue north of Rawson Avenue.

Monday, May 30 at 10 a.m.
There will be a service held at St. Martin of Tours Church Cemetery located at 7963 S. 116th Street. Immediately following the service, there will be a short walk and parade to Market Square Park for a Flag Retirement Ceremony sponsored by VFW Post 10394 and the 4th Degree Knights of Columbus Sacred Heart Monastery. Anyone may bring old flags that are in need of retirement to the ceremony.

Monday, May 30 at 10:30 a.m.
Cudahy will hold its annual Memorial Day ceremony at the War Memorial located at E. Layton Avenue and S. Lake Drive. This year's event will feature various speakers and a performance by the Cudahy High School Band. Stop by to take part in remembering those who fought for us.

Monday, May 30 at 2 p.m.
Attend Milwaukee's annual Memorial Day Parade. The parade will feature a large number of groups including color guards, bands, marching units, vehicles, and VIP dignitaries. It will start at 4th Street and Wisconsin Avenue proceeding towards the War Memorial Center and ends with a ceremony at the Fitch Plaza Reflecting Pool.

May is Mental Health Awareness Month

May is Mental Health Awareness Month. Approximately one in five Americans are affected by a mental health condition in their lifetime. These conditions transcend socioeconomic status and impact nearly all Americans either directly or through loved ones. Taking action against stigma to provide support, education, and advocacy for equal care is an urgent need.

Alarmingly, research shows identical rates (one in five) for children experiencing mental health conditions.
Every day children in classrooms, on playgrounds, and in communities across Wisconsin experience mental health issues. Mental illness affects overall well-being, health, cognitive, and social development. Unfortunately, many Wisconsin youth have very limited resources for treatment and access to care, leaving problems undiagnosed and untreated.

Leaving youth unsupported all too often leads to irreparable harm to them and their families. In recent years Wisconsin's youth suicide rate for children ages five to17 has exceeded the nation's average by up to 40%.

These alarming rates have mobilized individuals across the state to build strong community partnerships and create awareness, understanding, and much needed support.

Recently, a team of 25 journalists at USA TODAY NETWORK-Wisconsin came to Madison after having spent months working collectively on a series of stories examining youth mental health issues in Wisconsin. This Wisconsin Kids in Crisis series was held at ten town halls across the state to discuss solutions to this complex and multi-faceted issue.

Parents, school counselors, and mental health professionals shared powerful stories and insights at the Overture Center for the Arts in Madison -- the last town hall in the series.

Click here to watch a video from the Kids in Crisis Series.

I'm devoted to working to improve outcomes and creating pathways to success for those experiencing mental health conditions. I'm calling on elected officials and community members to work on reducing the disparity and create hope that moves Wisconsin forward.




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