LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER

 

June 30, 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.

 

 

Summerfest

Dates: From Noon to Midnight Wednesday, June 29 through Sunday, July 3 and Tuesday, July 5 through Sunday, July 10
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The famous Marcus Amphitheater, along with 11 other stages, will present live music day and night to music lovers of all genres with over 800 bands performing. This annual event is being held at Henry Maier Festival Park, a location boasting 75 acres along Lake Michigan in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. Along with over a week of music, festival-goers can enjoy a diverse selection of food and beverages, marketplaces, interactive exhibits, and family-focused entertainment and activities. CLICK HERE for a this year's lineup.
 

Henry W. Maier Festival Park

(MAP)

200 N Harbor Dr, Milwaukee, WI 53202
 

 

History of Milwaukee by Canoe
Date: Sunday, July 17, 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Look at the city's history from a different perspective as you explore the ecological issues facing the river. Registration is required at least 24 hours before the program start time. CLICK HERE for more information.

Milwaukee Rowing Club Boathouse
(MAP)
1990 N Commerce St

Milwaukee WI 53212
 

 

Dog Day at Drexel
Date: Saturday, July 16, 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.
Location: Oak Creek
Description: Dog Day at Drexel features pier pups, a unique dock diving venue that caters to dogs, dog-related vendors ,and businesses, door prizes and more. CLICK HERE for more information.

Drexel Town Square
(MAP)
West Town Square Way, Oak Creek WI 53154

 


Film on the Hill -- Ferris Bueller's Day Off (PG-13)
Date: Saturday, July 30 (film will begin shortly after sunset).
Location: Bay View
Description: Enjoy a family–friendly movie in Humboldt Park. Ferris Bueller's Day Off will be the first of three movies played at Humboldt Park this summer followed by Star Wars: The Force Awakens and Grease. This event is sponsored by the Bay View Neighborhood Association. The film will be played at the bandshell at Humboldt Park.
For more information, CLICK HERE.


Humboldt Park

(MAP)

3000 S Howell Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207

The Garden District Farmers' Market
Date: Saturdays through October 15
from 1 p.m. to 5 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee
Description: Located directly across from the beautiful Art Deco Town of Lake Water Tower at 6th and Howard, the Garden District Farmers' Market is an all-volunteer organized and run farmers' market on Milwaukee's south side. The market aims to bring our community closer to the farmers of Wisconsin who produce a wonderful variety of high-quality food during the summer. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

6th & Howard Streets

Milwaukee, WI 53207
(MAP)


 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
This Monday, July 4th marks the 240th anniversary of our nation's Declaration of Independence.

It is a day that many of us spend enjoying parades, ceremonies, and fireworks with our family, friends, and neighbors. But most importantly, Independence Day is a time to remember not just those who fought to create this bold country we call home, but also to recognize those who have served since then to protect our freedom, those who have made advances in equal opportunity for all, and those who chip in everyday to make our country what it is today.

As we celebrate our evolving democracy and the hard work that has made our country a safe and welcoming place for all, we, as a nation of immigrants, should commit to our continued effort for a more equal, just society that allows all of our neighbors an opportunity to achieve the American Dream.

In commemoration of Independence Day, this week's report will include information about several events in Milwaukee and around our state.

This weekend is also a great time to enjoy our lakes and spend time outdoors. In this edition of the Larson Report we'll provide an update on our shared lakes and streams and our fight to keep them pristine for the next generation.

If you are out and about this weekend, I ask that you take note of the condition of our public lakes and waterways. If you notice any major changes, please send pictures to us at Sen.Larson@Legis.WI.Gov  
 

In Service,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

The State of Our Waters

To beat the summer heat, people from all around Wisconsin plan to enjoy the cool beauty of our shared waters. Wisconsin lakes, streams, rivers, and groundwater are an integral part of our culture, heritage, commerce, and recreation.

It is hard to imagine that anything could destroy, diminish, or threaten such an abundant and important shared resource. Unfortunately, the health of our waters is in danger, a peril unlike any we have seen in our lifetimes.

In recent years, our waters have suffered from intentional neglect, a partisan rejection of our tradition of stewardship, and politics that put corporate profits ahead of sustainability. The cumulative impact is degrading our water quality. If you add the ecological stress that climate change brings to our current destructive policies and practices, the effects are even more devastating. These negative effects are seen in all aspects of our water, from groundwater to our lakes, in the following ways:

  • Groundwater -- Overuse and pollution threatens this sustainable resource. In some areas, water is being pulled so quickly from the ground that surrounding public waters, like lakes and streams, are drying up. Unfortunately, current indications are that nearly half of the private wells in Wisconsin are tainted. Without a policy reversal this number will continue to climb and more people will be at risk, especially our youth and seniors. In particular, nitrates and radium are increasingly a drinking water health concern. Another threat to our public drinking water is the efforts to privatize our public water systems. We learned from the poisoned water tragedy of Flint, MI that cutting corners to save some money can have devastating lifelong health effects. We will likely see this threat renewed next legislative session.

Click here for more information about access to safe drinking water.

  • Rivers and Streams -- The most immediate danger to our rivers and streams is runoff pollution, something we could largely control if we had the political will to do so. A big pollution spill from a giant corporate farm can choke a stream and leave a lasting environmental scar. It is estimated that 3,300 miles of Wisconsin streams and rivers are unable to support recreation and wildlife as a result of polluted runoff. As mentioned above, another threat to streams is over pumping of groundwater, which can lead to streams drying up and no longer being able to support species like trout.

For more on polluted runoff, click here.

  • Lakes -- Runoff pollution is also poisoning our lakes. Pollution like manure and phosphorus feed harmful bacteria and algae making our lakes a toxic soup, unsafe to even swim in. During recent years, a trip to the beach is no longer a safe and easy venture as we now have to check to see if our shared public waters are safe for our children to play in. As our lakes are stressed, invasive species compound the problem by destroying sensitive ecological relationships. Already, over 380,000 acres of our lakes and reservoirs have been significantly harmed by polluted runoff.

Click here to learn more about the risks facing our lakes.

High Capacity Wells a Threat to our Health
Wisconsin has over 13,000 high capacity wells, over half of which are used in commercial farming operations. Negative effects from these wells have been seen throughout our state, but the Central Sands region has especially begun to show what the future holds if we continue allowing businesses to use our water largely unregulated.
 

Photo credit: Kate Golden
Wisconsin Center for
Investigative Journalism

High capacity wells, which each suck out more than 100,000 gallons of water per day, have had a significant negative impact on bodies of water throughout the Central Sands region. Long Lake is a stark example. Once a trophy largemouth bass fishing lake, Wisconsin's Long Lake has gone from having cool water depths of 20 feet to now being barely more than a chain of puddles. The good fishing is no more and property values have plummeted. The Little Plover River Study, commissioned to study the impacts of high capacity wells found shocking results. Since the proliferation of these wells began, the Little Plover River and surrounding waters have dropped anywhere from two to six feet and 80% of the water that flows through them is now used for irrigation.

Click here to read a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about the Little Plover River Study.

Despite clear indications that high capacity wells should be monitored carefully, Wisconsin's Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel recently "clarified" laws regarding the Department of Natural Resources' (DNR) oversight ability and approval process for high capacity wells. This declaration created an enforcement loophole, allowing the Walker administration to direct the DNR to completely ignore the cumulative negative impacts of these wells when considering an application. This dangerous decision will allow the rich and corporations to profit by devastating and drying up our shared public streams, lakes, and groundwater. According to the nonprofit organization Clean Wisconsin, this decision leaves as much as 90% of our lakes, rivers, streams, and wetlands unprotected from the proven negative impacts of overpumping from high capacity wells.

DNR Not Enforcing Safeguards Under Walker Administration
In addition to undermining the DNR's obligation to evaluate the overall impact of high capacity wells when approving permits and cutting DNR resources, Wisconsin's public water systems have been compromised in recent years. This is due to toxic discharges in surface waters and a lack of enforcement of environmental laws and safeguards under the rule of Walker and the Republican-controlled Legislature.

An audit released this month by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau confirmed that the Wisconsin DNR has not been consistently following its own policies, due in part to chronic understaffing. In fact, the audit uncovered that out of almost 560 instances when policy said they should send violation notices, the DNR failed to send them 94% of the time. As alarming as that is, the report also uncovered that DNR permits are routinely extended for years without review and that environmentally volatile concentrated animal feeding operations, or CAFOs, operate without thorough DNR monitoring.

Despite his agency knowing the environmental danger of intentional understaffing, Governor Walker refuses to make changes in the staffing and financing of the DNR before next year. It is clear that Republican lawmakers have consistently made poor decisions that have had negative repercussions on our water. In fact, Wisconsin was once seen as a leader in safeguarding its lakes, streams, and drinking water. That sparkling reputation has been sadly muddied by Governor Walker's administration.

Local Groups Take Action to Preserve our Freedom to Clean, Drinkable Water
The recent attacks on our values, like land and water conservation, have been answered by community groups that are strong advocates for local and state action. A great example is the Milwaukee Riverkeeper, they are passionate, organized, and fight to preserve and enhance our shared waters. Other groups that have been on the forefront of protecting our waters include Sierra Club, Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, Clean Wisconsin, and Corporate Accountability International.

Another great example is the work of the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) who filed a petition against the DNR asking that the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) take control of safeguarding Wisconsin's shared waters. The MEA filed the petition because the DNR has not been complying with the requirements stated in the Clean Water Act. MEA acknowledges that the DNR has suffered severe budget cuts and legislative limitations regarding what they can do to fight water pollution, so the petition for the EPA to regulate and control Wisconsin's public waters is not a complete rejection of the DNR, but is a significant statement on Walker's administration. Through the work of the MEA, Wisconsinites are getting a chance to have their concerns and personal stories heard. For example, Jim from Menomonie, bought a house on Wisconsin's Lake Tainter in the winter, but soon found it undesirable in the summer months. He was excited to live next to a lake where he could canoe and fish with his family, but the fumes coming from the green, grimy lake were unbearable. He said he had to travel to another lake so he could enjoy being outside, away from the polluted lake in his backyard. Eventually, he and his family were forced to move away from the lake because the stench coming from it was so overpowering during the summer.

Click here for more information about the MEA request.

Other local efforts to preserve and protect our waters include a new collaborative effort called the Red Cedar River Water Quality Partnership led by UW-Stout, the state Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and the U.S. Army Corps of Engineers. This project looks to identify and implement solutions to reduce toxic blue-green algae blooms in the watershed across 10 west-central Wisconsin counties.

When we are unable to restore and maintain the quality of our water, we are risking our safety, industry, and economy. We have a culture and tradition of clean water, and it is our responsibility to protect it.

The Future of Our Water
Wisconsin is still being dragged the wrong way, further endangering our shared waters.

We must hold Governor Walker's administration responsible for enforcing pollution standards. The freedom to enjoy clean and safe drinking water is part of our heritage, but it can only be accomplished through public accountability.

Our culture and economy are intertwined with our water, making preservation and protection efforts incredibly important. The quality of our waters directly affects recreation, tourism, public health, and property value.

As a state that thrives on recreation and tourism, a decline in the quality of our waters means a fewer visitors, not to mention limiting our freedom to be healthy and have a good quality of life. With over 100 million people visiting our state annually, protecting our shared resources and growing our tourist industry is much more important than catering to the will of giant corporations, that take profits out of our state economy.

Our waters were preserved by the generations before us, and need to be used sustainably and responsibly in order to ensure that Wisconsin's long tradition of environmental stewardship remains strong. This is the Wisconsin Way, and a shared value that my neighbors and I want to preserve. As a state senator, I see protecting our shared waters as one of my top priorities and hope you will join me in advocating for them.

 

 

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 read in an article that there was a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court pertaining to reproductive freedom. What was the ruling and how does it impact Wisconsin women and families?

A: 
On Monday, June 27, the U.S. Supreme Court overturned a set of restrictions Texas imposed on women's health care clinics throughout the state. In Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, the Supreme Court found that it was unconstitutional to impose strict regulations on abortion clinics in a landmark 5-3 decision. The verdict stated that Texas was putting an undue burden on women seeking abortions or other reproductive health care. The strict regulations they had enacted forced many clinics to shut down because they were not capable of complying with such unrealistic and targeting standards.

 

Specifically, the 2013 Texas (House Bill 2) law stated that abortion clinics must meet surgical center requirements as well as have admitting privileges at a hospitals within 30 miles. The Supreme Court held that this was counter to women's health and reproductive rights. In recent years, we've seen a wave of similar, medically unnecessary laws, known as TRAP laws, across the country that seek to close clinics that provide abortion care.

 

Wisconsin is all too familiar with similar efforts to restrict reproductive freedom. In fact, just two weeks after the U.S. Supreme Court decided to take the Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt case, a federal court overruled the burdensome admitting privileges portion of a law Wisconsin Republicans pushed through in 2013. While Wisconsin Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel filed a request to have the Supreme Court review the case, America's highest Court denied this request on Tuesday.

This means that Wisconsin's restrictive law will continue to be blocked from implementation, which is great news for women and families across the state.

As we've seen in the last five years, it's not uncommon for Republican lawmakers to intentionally contradict and undermine our constitutional freedoms as a way to push for their own interests and beliefs. The ruling this week, however, protects our cornerstone American principle of individual freedom and reaffirms that politicians have no business in private decisions women make about their health care. Accordingly, this ruling reaffirms that political intrusion in such personal decisions is un-American and will not stand.

 

This is also an important reminder that we must continue to stand together with our families, our friends, and our neighbors to ensure our rights remain intact.


 

Celebrating Independence Day

Saturday, July 4 marks the 240th anniversary of our nation's Declaration of Independence. It is a day of celebration with family, friends, and neighbors. We must also remember the sacrifices of those who came before us, in securing our nation's freedoms, as well as the service of our military men and women in uniform who cannot spend this holiday enjoying barbeques or fireworks with their families. We owe them for everything they do to keep us safe.

Some neighbors enjoy displaying a flag during the 4th of July holiday season to show their respect. If you do not currently have a U.S. or Wisconsin flag and would like to purchase one, please contact my office to order one today. Both flags are made of durable nylon and are 3 feet by 5 feet in size. The U.S. flag costs $13 while the Wisconsin flag costs $16.

If you would like the flag flown over the Capitol in honor of someone, please specify the name of the person, the occasion, and the date you would like the flag flown. A certificate of commemoration will be mailed back to you with the flag.

Flags must be purchased with checks made out to the State of Wisconsin. Mail your flag request form and check to:

Sen. Chris Larson
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882
 

Click here to download a flag request form.

Additionally, around the state, local communities will be hosting parades, ceremonies, and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. Continue reading to see what events will be going on in the Milwaukee area.

If you are looking for fireworks in communities outside of the Milwaukee area, click here.

Milwaukee
Spend July 3rd at the Lakefront for the Fireworks Kite Festival beginning at 11 a.m., the United States Navy Band (5:30 p.m. to 6:30 p.m.), and for fireworks at dusk (about 9:25 p.m.) "Watch the skies light over the lakefront in Milwaukee for 60 minutes of 'oohs and aahs'." Plan to arrive early.

Click here to learn more about this event.

Since 1911, the city of Milwaukee has hosted safe and friendly celebrations for families and friends to enjoy. In parks across the city, neighbors and visitors come together for picnics, games, parades, and more. These celebrations will take place on Monday, July 4, and are capped off by fireworks bursting all over town.

Click here to visit the Fourth of July Commission website to find a celebration in a park near you.

South Milwaukee
South Milwaukee will be hosting the Mayor's Picnic (free hotdog lunch for all attendees), and there will be a Fourth of July Celebration at Grant Park at the Brown Pavilion, areas 5 & 6 that will end with a Fireworks display at 9.30 p.m.

Click here to visit the city of South Milwaukee's website for more information.

Cudahy
The city of Cudahy will be celebrating the Fourth of July at the revitalized Packard Avenue. Starting at Grange and Packard at noon, the celebration will include an opening ceremony and performances by high school groups such as the Cudahy Bull Dog Cheer Team, Cudahy High School Pon Poms, and CHS Varsity Cheer Team.

Click here to visit the city of Cudahy's website for more information.

Oak Creek
Oak Creek will be celebrating the Fourth of July this year beginning with a parade at 8 a.m. at E. Groveland Drive and S. Verdev Drive. The events of the day include free ice cream and games for kids, a "Pay It Forward To Our Veterans" performance by 484th Army Band, Karaoke, Music by Larry Lynne Band, and Fireworks at dusk.

Click here for a flyer and schedule of events.

St. Francis
This year the St. Francis Fourth of July celebration will include a parade, judging of bikes/trikes/wagons, a horseshoe tournament, a dance off at the band shell, live music, and fireworks at 9:15 p.m.

Click here for more information on the St. Francis Fourth of July Celebration.

Franklin
Plan to attend Franklin's Four-Day Civic Celebration in Lions Legend Park. The celebration begins on Friday, July 1st at 5 p.m. and ends on the Fourth of July with fireworks at 9:30 p.m. Food, carnival rides, kids' activities, and entertainment will be provided. In honor of the City of Franklin's 60th Anniversary, there will also be a special fireworks display on Saturday, July 2 starting at 9:30 p.m.

Click here for more information on the 2016 Franklin Civic Celebration.
 

 

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