LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER

 

 

June 2, 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

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.

 

Volunteer At Interfaith Older Adult Programs

More than 2,350 volunteers donate their time, energy and resources each year to help adults 50+ in the Milwaukee area stay healthy, active and engaged in their communities.

Starting at age 14 and up, Interfaith offers many volunteer opportunities to match personal interests, talents and schedules. Volunteers help older adults each day by: providing rides to doctor appointments or the pharmacy; helping with grocery shopping; working around the yard on seasonal chores, such as cutting grass, raking leaves and snow shoveling; or simply making friendly home visits. Even more volunteers can be found at Interfaith-run senior centers and senior dining sites, helping with everyday activities and meal service.

Another sector of Interfaith's volunteer opportunities is designed specifically for adults 55+. Through Interfaith's Retired and Senior Volunteer Program (RSVP), older adults have the opportunity to volunteer their time by tutoring Milwaukee Public School students, making daily phone checks to isolated seniors, volunteering for veterans and becoming a senior ambassador. Another volunteer opportunity for adults 55+ is Interfaith's Foster Grandparent Program. Older adults provide one-on-one attention to children with special needs, helping them develop the skills, confidence and strength they need to succeed in life.

Volunteers looking to get involved can log on to interfaithmilw.org and download a volunteer application.

 

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

(MAP)

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

(MAP)

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

(MAP)

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

(MAP)


 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
I hope you had a safe Memorial Day weekend. I had the honor of speaking at the Memorial Day observance in Oak Creek and attending the memorial event in South Milwaukee.

 

This week's Larson Report will give a brief update on the various pending lawsuits on important issues like redistricting, voter access, and more.

 

Additionally, we will be discussing June 2 -- Gun Violence Awareness Day -- and the need to address this public health crisis.
 

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!

 

Sincerely,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Challenging GOP Misplaced Priorities

The Wisconsin I remember growing up in is one that empowers its citizen's to have their voices heard, embraces diversity, and protects its neighbors from dangerous workplace conditions. These shared values are critical to ensuring a robust democracy and a healthy workforce.

Unfortunately, instead of empowering our Wisconsin neighbors by giving them more ways to have their voices heard, Wisconsin Republicans have been bent on grabbing and keeping power. Time and time again, Republicans have betrayed our traditional Wisconsin values and our good-government heritage. Voters should choose their politicians, not the other way around.

Numerous lawsuits challenging some of the poisonous policies Republicans have forced into our state are currently pending as many of our neighbors reject the short-sighted attempts by legislative Republicans to silence our voices.

Gerrymandering our Legislative Boundaries  
One of the first actions Republicans took after gaining control over the Senate, Assembly, and governorship was to ensure that it would remain that way long-term by rigging our elections through the redistricting process.

The Wisconsin State Legislature is required by Article IV, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution to redraw Senate and Assembly districts every 10 years based upon the results of the federal census to ensure districts provide representational equity for all citizens.

Wisconsin currently uses a legislative redistricting process, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature, are voted on by the Senate and Assembly, and are then signed by the governor.

When Republicans were tasked with drawing the new maps over four years ago, it was the first time in 60 years that one political party had complete control over the redistricting process.

Unfortunately, legislative Republicans took this as an opportunity to take the process behind closed doors, crafting the maps in secret months before finally releasing them to the public. What's more, Republicans chose to fast-track their corrupt redistricting scheme by scheduling a vote less than two weeks after the release of the maps. This left little time for public input -- despite the fact that the maps would profoundly impact all of our lives for at least the next 10 years.

Shockingly, during a previous legal proceeding regarding specific district lines, Republicans were caught red-handed destroying evidence instead of lawfully handing it over to the judges. Hundreds of thousands of records were deleted at 'suspicious times.' This lawsuit resulted in two districts being deemed unlawful as they violated the rights of our neighbors on Milwaukee's south side.

Recently, a new federal trial wrapped up and will ultimately determine whether Wisconsin's gerrymandered legislative district maps stand. Twelve voters filed a lawsuit last summer saying the state Assembly district boundaries rushed through in 2012 were unfairly drawn to dilute the power of voters, and were so politically motivated that they trample the rights and freedoms of our citizens just to allow Republicans to grab and hold power. The case is centered on a test referred to as the "efficiency gap." According to the plaintiffs in the case, using this model to determine whether or not the district lines are fair is objective and is the first quantitative model of its kind. The efficiency gap uses historical data sets of voter behavior correlated to the elected seats available.

Click here to watch a video from Wisconsin Public Television that explains the lawsuit in further detail.  

Looking ahead to when a decision is made in this case, which will likely be later this year, I know many of my Wisconsin neighbors are hoping that this time the abuse of power is recognized as going too far in shutting out our neighbors' voice in elections.

Lawsuit Challenging Voter Restrictions Wisconsin's voter laws are once again gaining widespread attention as a new federal lawsuit challenging the laws kicked off last week with testimony from a former senior Republican legislative staffer. The staffer named several members of the 2011 GOP caucus and described them as being "giddy" and "politically frothing at the mouth" over what a law requiring photo identification (ID) for voting could mean for Republican re-election bids.

Additionally, the lawsuit challenges several other voter restriction laws implemented since Republicans gained control of the Legislature, such as restrictions on early voting and the elimination of straight-ticket voting -- which voter access advocates argue disproportionately burden African-Americans, Latinos, and young voters.

During the trial, examples of those who encountered difficulties in obtaining proper identification were given. Among those is a woman who had lost the use of her hands and could not sign the application for an ID. Although her daughter had power of attorney, allowing her to sign on behalf of her mother, a DMV field agent would not allow this and the woman was not able to receive her ID without additional time, effort, and costs.

With arguments ending last week, Judge James Peterson stated that his decision will likely come in late-July, and will not have an impact on the August elections

While Republicans in the Legislature continue to shred the fabric of our democracy and tear apart our tradition of good-government, Democrats remain committed to protecting our individual freedoms and constitutional rights. Upholding our tradition of fair and free elections is the Wisconsin way, and I will continue to fight for our shared values.

Click here to read an article regarding this lawsuit in the Capitol Times.

Additionally, click here to view a Chippewa Herald article regarding this lawsuit as key in a national battle over such laws.

Additionally, speaking of voter access, the City of Milwaukee Election Commission -- like many communities across Wisconsin -- is looking for hardworking citizens that have a dedication to democracy and protecting voter rights to work at the polls. Election inspectors play a vital role at voting sites.

Click here to find out more!

Stripping Worker Freedoms
In April, a Dane County judge struck down the deceptively titled "Right-to-Work" (RTW) law. This ruling restored some of Wisconsin's tradition of protecting worker freedom.

Just over a year ago, at the committee hearing on the RTW bill, Republicans abruptly shut down debate, silenced the voices of those who waited for hours to be heard, and forced a vote on a bill that diminishes worker health and safety and increases poverty. The bill subsequently passed the Republican-controlled Legislature and was signed by the governor into law.

After being ruled unconstitutional, RTW was put on hold. However, just last week yet another chapter unfolded in the legal battle over this law, when the state District 3 Court of Appeals reinstated RTW while state Republicans scramble to fight the decision through the appeals process.

This latest news is disappointing and is a stark reminder that worker freedoms continue to be undermined in Wisconsin. It is my hope that these freedoms will be reinstated after the law works its way through the courts.

Click here to read a Wisconsin State Journal article regarding this lawsuit.

Lawsuit Regarding John Doe Probes 
The term "John Doe" has been used a lot in Wisconsin over the past couple of years. You may remember just a few months ago Republicans changed our John Doe laws to exempt corrupt politicians from these proceedings. These changes were a response to a John Doe probe into some of the suspicious actions of Governor Walker's campaign.

Last summer -- just days before Governor Walker announced his candidacy for president -- the conservative-controlled Wisconsin Supreme Court halted an investigation into whether or not the governor broke the law by secretly working with conservative groups that spent millions to support Walker and legislative Republicans in the recall elections.

Read more about the halting of this investigation, here.

Now, prosecutors are asking the U.S. Supreme Court to allow them to continue the probe. Last week, the high court indicated it would allow for arguments to be done -- partly in secret -- to determine whether or not the Court should hear arguments to determine if the John Doe investigation was justified.

The prosecutors involved in this case believe that two of the state Supreme Court justices -- that were part of the 4-2 ruling that halted the investigation -- should not have been allowed to hear the case because their campaigns benefited from the groups being investigated.

Democrats remain steadfast in their believe that Wisconsinites deserve a transparent, fair government with strong checks and balances. I will be sure to keep you updated as this case continues through the process.

Have questions about this case? Find your answers in this Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Q&A article, here.

 

 

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 saw on Facebook that people were wearing orange on June 2 to bring awareness around gun violence in our communities. What started this awareness campaign and how can I get involved?

A: 
On January 29, 2013, Hadiya Pendleton was hanging out with her friends in a Chicago park. Just a week before, she had performed with her high school band at President Obama's second inauguration. Out of nowhere, a gunman approached the group, fired six shots and jumped into a car that sped away. Hadiya stumbled and said to her friends, "I think I've been shot."

She died shortly after reaching the hospital.

Out of this unspeakable tragedy, Hadiya's friends started the Wear Orange campaign. They honor Hadiya each year on June 2 by wearing orange -- the color hunters wear to protect themselves and others.


Over the past two years, many states have recognized June 2 as National Gun Violence Awareness Day. Wisconsin suffers nearly 500 gun deaths a year, which makes joining the efforts to raise awareness and end gun violence a top priority. 

What the Wear Orange movement stands for is common sense solutions that will save lives. The laws we seek are ones many citizens may think are already in place but aren't, such as background checks on all guns that will provide people the freedom of knowing that guns aren't being sold to those with previous violent records, instituting waiting periods for handgun purchases to reduce crimes of passion, and putting restrictions on assault rifles that serve no civilian purpose. These are policies that reflect the values of mainstream America.

I recently traveled to Washington D.C. for a convention on gun violence and was able to see how effective these programs have been in addition to the many problems that need to be fixed.

There has been tremendous support for this movement throughout the country, and a an state senator I intend to work hard to bring gun violence in Wisconsin to an end.

If you would like to learn more about what is being done to raise awareness about this issue in Wisconsin, CLICK HERE.

If you are interested in the national movement, CLICK HERE.
 

 

Free Fishing Weekend

Wisconsin has a strong angling tradition. Not only is Wisconsin home to miles of streams and rivers that are more than long enough to circle the globe at the equator, but we also border two of the Great Lakes, host countless fishing tournaments, and even boast a weekly fish fry each Friday in communities across the state. As a result of our culture and traditions, angling is an activity highly valued by Wisconsinites.

In honor of National Fishing Week, which falls in the first week of June, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) will be offering a great opportunity for Wisconsinites to fish anywhere in the state for free this weekend.

Fish anywhere in Wisconsin without a license or trout stamp on Free Fishing Weekend, which falls on June 4 and 5. This includes all inland waters and Wisconsin's side of the Great Lakes and Mississippi River. Other fishing rules apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and any seasons when you must release certain fish species. So, pack up the family or call your friends and head to the water for fishing fun.

No fishing pole or other fishing equipment? No problem. Contact a tackle loaner site at one of several state parks and DNR regional offices to borrow one.

Click here for more information about borrowing equipment.

 

 

Chill on the Hill

Bay View is home to the beautiful Humboldt Park -- a great place for neighbors and families to hang out and enjoy our wonderful Wisconsin summers. 

 

Each Tuesday evening from June through August, Bay View neighbors gather on the vast hillside above the band shell to enjoy music performed by local musicians. This summer marks the 12th season of this annual music series, known as Chill on the Hill! My fellow Bay View area neighbors work hard and volunteer their time to put together this family-friendly event. Jessica and I enjoy catching up with our friends and neighbors at Chill on the Hill each year.

 

The event runs from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. each week starting June 7 until August 30.

Visitors can bring their own food and drinks, or patronize one of the many excellent food vendors that set up at Chill each week. The 2016 Food Vendors include Hue Vietnamese, Babe's Ice Cream, Streetza Pizza, Guanajuato Mexican, Gouda Girls, Tenuta's Italian, with a few special guests throughout the season.

View this year's music schedule, here.

 

Looking for a similar event in your area? Check out Travel Wisconsin's event searching tool, here!

 

 

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