LARSON REPORT

NEWSLETTER

 

September 8, 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.


 

Bay View Art in the Park
Date: Saturday, September 10
Location: Bay View
Description: Bay View Art in the Park provides free fine arts events and live music for the whole family. The festival celebrates local artists and helps create connections to their community. BVAP will also have a free art workshop for children. CLICK HERE for more information.

Humboldt Park
(MAP)
3000 S Howell Ave Milwaukee, WI 53207

12th Annual Bay View Bash
Date: Saturday, September 17 from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Bay View
Description: Milwaukee's largest all-volunteer street festival has come to be a fall tradition in Bay View. Enjoy tasty treats, beautiful art, music on several stages, crafts, and community organizations. I will also have a table set up in order to make myself available to neighbors for comments, questions, and conversation. This event will take place on Kinnickinnic Avenue between Potter and Clement. CLICK HERE for more information.


Oktoberfest Milwaukee
Date: Fridays and Saturdays now through October 1
Location: Glendale
Description: The party lasts all month at Old Heidelberg Park. Grab your stein and head over for music, dancing, and great food. There is a big selection of German beers, games for the kids, and parking is free. Do not miss Milwaukee's original and most authentic Oktoberfest. In fact it is one of the best in the country. This event is open on Fridays from 5 p.m. until Midnight and Saturdays from 3 p.m. until Midnight. CLICK HERE for more information.

Heidelberg Park (MAP)
700 W. Lexington Blvd. Glendale, Wisconsin 53217

 

MKE Oktoberfest
Date: Thursday  September 29 through Sunday, October 2
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Marcus Center for the Performing Arts will be hosting a four-day Oktoberfest celebration on Marcus Center grounds and Pere Marquette Park. This event is free and open to the public. It features authentic German beer, food, live music, and the Glockenspiel, a life-size replica of a cuckoo clock. Delectable food and drink will be available for purchase from Saz's Hospitality Group, which will feature a full bar and a concessions menu. CLICK HERE for more information, including location information, and music line-up.

 

Simply Swing: Chris Mariani and the Radio Rosies with Swing Explosion
Date: Friday, September 30 at 7:30 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Chris Mariani's sound stylishly blends early 40's Romance with late 50's Swing, meticulously crafted and enriched with an influence that is exclusively, Chris Mariani. Be drawn back in time as Chris is joined by the pure, sweet harmonies of The Radio Rosies, a three-part harmony vocal trio, and accompanied by Swing Explosion, an 18-piece Midwest big band. CLICK HERE for more information.

South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center
(MAP)
901 15th Ave, South Milwaukee, WI 53172








 

 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

 
I hope you, as well as all of Wisconsin's students, parents, and educators had a successful start to the school year.
 

Like most across Wisconsin, I've had family and friends that served our nation in the armed forces. Part of our debt to these brave men and women is a promise to provide them health care with dignity. Unfortunately, sometimes this sacred promise is not well kept.

In this week's Larson Report, we will be taking a look at the heartbreaking allegations of poor treatment and neglect occurring at Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, a long-term care facility located in King, Wisconsin. Troubling allegations of mismanagement and poor resident care have come to light in recent weeks. There are things we can be doing better and we'll outline those for your consideration.
 

We also have a quick and important update on our water and other critical issues since the last report.

Lastly, Bay View Bash is coming up on Saturday, September 17. We'll have a booth, and it will be great to catch up on things in person. I'll be there before the fest kicks off, and will be around until at least 12:30 p.m. Hope to see you there!
 

In Service,



Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

Neglecting Our Veterans at King

Our veterans have served our country selflessly and deserve the utmost care and respect. It is the courage, dedication, hard work, and patriotism demonstrated by these brave men and women that has made our country the model of freedom. Our veterans have made it possible for generations to realize the American Dream our founding fathers envisioned.
 
These men and women need our understanding when acclimating to civilian life, our support when trying to obtain a job, and our assistance when seeking out information and resources for veterans, including disability, health, and long-term care services.
 
      
           Photo Credit: Saiyna Bashir

Veterans, Families, and Employees Speak Out About King
Recently, the Cap Times revealed the heartbreaking story of Walter Sunding. As Walter prepared for his long-term care needs, the World War II veteran knew he wanted to live in a nursing home with fellow veterans. He became a resident at Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, a long-term care facility for veterans, veteran's spouses, veteran's widows, and Gold Star Parents. Two years after he moved into the Waupaca County-based facility, Walter died after developing gastrointestinal bleeding from untreated constipation that was followed by two heart attacks. Walter's daughter, Sharon Blando, believes that neglect and poor treatment ultimately expedited her father's death.

According to the Cap Times, which visited the King nursing home facility several times and interviewed 25 current and former employees, Walter's story is sadly not an isolated case, rather, it appears to be one example of a larger pattern occurring at the nursing home.

In fact, the article references other troubling stories from former residents at King who had difficulty obtaining basic health care necessities, such as functional wheelchairs, and often had the indignity of waiting long periods of time for assistance to go to the restroom, resulting in accidents before a nurse aide came. Some veterans and family members have concerns that residents are being over-medicated with pain killers. Other allegations of neglect, prescription medication errors, poor water quality, lack of safeguards for certain infections, and understaffing have been cited as contributing to poor resident care.

Read the Cap Times report, here.

State Raiding Surplus Funds While King Remains Understaffed
What is deeply troubling is that the allegation that veterans with complex health care needs are not receiving adequate care is occurring while Wisconsin rakes in millions of dollars in reimbursement money from the federal government, only to betray our veterans by transferring the funds elsewhere. In other words, instead of investing in the quality of care of our veterans, the state is using the money for less vital administrative expenses. 

 
Photo Credit: Saiyna Bashir

Meanwhile, staff shortages and high turnover are rampant problems plaguing the nursing home. There are as many as 100 job vacancies at the nursing home. Further, according to current and former staff, little is being done to recruit new hires or invest in current employees. This staffing shortage results in bare minimum staff-to-resident ratios and overworked nurse aides.

For instance, current and former King staff indicate that during the daytime there may be four to eight nurse aides for up to 53 patients, with only one registered nurse and one licensed practical nurse per floor, per shift. Further, certified nursing assistants must often work overtime, resulting in more money being spent on overtime pay than by hiring more full-time staff.

Despite the quality of compassionate care for our state's veterans residing at King declining, the state is still raiding our nursing home fund and transferring it to the Veterans Trust Fund. Over $18 million is planned to be transferred over the next two years. This year alone, $12 million has been transferred. Before Walker took office, transferring money away from veterans nursing homes to the Veterans Trust Fund was governed by the Board of Veterans Affairs -- made up of representatives from the veteran community -- within the Department of Veterans Affairs. Walker reduced the board's oversight of the funds and gave the Department unilateral power to transfer money away from the homes, without legislative authority. This means that funneling money away from our veteran nursing homes is permitted without any accountability to Wisconsin taxpayers and allows the Walker administration to treat our veteran nursing homes like cash cows, without concern with maintaining veteran care quality. 

See an NBC26 video of former residents react to the King allegations.

Calls for Action by Concerned Neighbors, Legislative Democrats
Since 2012, my colleague Senator Julie Lassa has received dozens of calls from concerned loved ones about the treatment of our veterans at King nursing home. Sen. Lassa spoke to Governor Walker directly and shared with him heartbreaking stories from our neighbors, and the deep concern about the mismanagement and neglect occurring at the facility. After this discussion went ignored, Sen. Lassa called for an audit of Wisconsin Veterans Home at King be conducted by the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau last year. This call was shamefully rejected by the majority party because it "wasn't a priority at the moment."

During the last state budget, Democrats on the Joint Finance Committee proposed a pro-veteran budget motion that would have addressed the Veterans Trust Fund deficit without raiding the nursing home fund and would have prohibited future raids without legislative action. This motion was rejected by the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee.

Knowing that the neglect, inaction, and blatant disregard for the treatment of our veterans would soon come to light, a Republican senator who represents the area where King nursing home is located belatedly called for an audit of the home -- mere days prior to the release of the Cap Times investigative report. This comes after he admitted he knew of the concerns about staff shortages throughout his 12 years in office.
 
While an audit is necessary to reveal the extent of the problems at King, our veterans simply do not have nine months to wait around for it to be completed. The potential neglect of residents occurring at the nursing home must be addressed immediately and the partisan scheme to raid the nursing home fund must be stopped. My colleagues and I will continue to push Walker and legislative Republicans to act now before more of our loved ones who so selflessly fought for our freedom are seriously injured or worse. Additionally, Senate Democratic leadership has asked that the federal Department of Veterans Affairs investigate the King allegations.

See Senator Julie Lassa's press statement about the call for a federal investigation.

Looking Ahead: Improving the Quality of Life for our Veterans
The current troubles at King nursing home serves as an important reminder that not only must we address quality of care concerns immediately, we must also work to advance legislation that improves the lives of those who served our country.

With a new legislative session approaching, I anticipate that legislative Democrats will again introduce proposals to bring dignity and care to our veterans. Last session, Democrats introduced a number of proposals to support our veterans. Some include:

  • Assembly Bill 925 -- This bill would have restored the ability for service members who have been discriminated against on the basis of past or current military service to take action in circuit court to recover compensatory and punitive damages for wage discrimination or other kinds of employment discrimination.

  • Senate Bill 636/Assembly Bill 851 -- According to recent data, there are 2,168 homeless veterans in Wisconsin. In order to do more to help our veterans to find adequate employment, this bill would have expanded the Transitional Jobs and Transform Milwaukee Jobs programs to veterans.

  • Senate Bill 575/Assembly Bill 707 --
    This bill would have allowed for a design of an official "Wisconsin Veteran-Owned" and "Wisconsin Disabled Veteran-Owned" logotype for use by businesses owned by Wisconsin veterans. Providing certified Wisconsin veteran-owned and Wisconsin disabled veteran-owned businesses with an official logotype will help business owners to further promote themselves throughout Wisconsin and in their respective communities.

  • Senate Bill 350 -- This bill would have granted our veterans a paid leave of absence on Veterans Day.

  • Senate Bill 189/Assembly Bill 185 --
    This bill would have designated the second week of November as "Veteran Education Awareness Week" every year in order to raise public awareness of the educational benefits to which veterans are entitled and resources available to help them maximize their benefits.

  • Senate Bill 186/Assembly Bill 181 --
    This bill would have waived Department of Transportation fees for disabled veterans when they apply for an initial vehicle operator's license or motorcycle license.

  • Senate Bill 187/Assembly Bill 183 --
    This piece of legislation would have created a task force on issues concerning service members returning home from war.

  • Senate Bill 188/Assembly Bill 184 --
    This bill would have allowed all foreign language credits transferred from the Defense Language Institute on behalf of a student who is a veteran who completed a course of study at the Institute to be accepted.

  • Senate Bill 190/Assembly Bill 182 --
    This bill would have allowed University of Wisconsin and Technical College credits based on military training or experience.

State leaders must make it a priority to ensure that our veterans feel honored and supported. When men and women take the oath to serve they should know their community supports them, in both the short and long term. I will continue to work with my colleagues on proposals like the ones listed above, and others, to ensure adequate support and services are provided to our nation's heroes.
 

 

Remembering 9/11 

On Sunday, our nation will be recognizing the 15-year anniversary of the 9/11 terrorist attacks.

It's hard to believe this act of destruction and cowardice happened 15 years ago and a generation of young people are entering the work place and higher education without this tragic event indelibly worked in their memory. For me, it seems like it was yesterday that I was a student at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee and heard the news from a friend when I arrived to campus that morning. We were trying to make sense of the chaos while we watched on TV in horror as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. All other news and everything else scheduled fell off the calendar as we waited for answers that took years to come.

September 11, 2001, changed all of us. The shared grief of 9/11 brought us closer together as a nation and in each of our communities.

As in past years, I will be joining Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett and other elected officials for a memorial ceremony at the Milwaukee County War Memorial. I am always inspired by the number of neighbors that come together to recognize 9/11. I hope you will join us, in body or in spirit, to take a moment to remember the lives lost and the families who lost loved ones. The event will be held at 7:30 a.m. and go until 8:15 a.m.

The War Memorial Center
750 N Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202

 

 

In Case You Missed It
Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to its readers. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and in our Wisconsin communities. I want to make sure you know the most pressing issues facing our neighborhoods across the state. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks:
  • Water quality in Wisconsin, like many other places across the United States is a growing concern, especially as we learn that our aging infrastructure could lead to dangerous health concerns. Our shared waters need to be safeguarded and our communities need to invest in a future of clean, drinkable water. As the nation tragically learned from Flint, Michigan, we cannot cut corners when it comes to providing clean, safe drinking water. I anticipate fighting for funding and stronger safeguards. Click here for more information.
  • U.S. Geological Survey scientists found an alarming number of fish in Wisconsin with skin tumors. In the three Milwaukee rivers tested, 48% of white suckers tested had skin tumors and 15% had liver tumors. As pointed out by the article below, this comes at a time when we've seen Walker and legislative Republicans rollback clean water safeguards and when Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel ruled that Wisconsin should to no longer evaluate large well applications to determine the cumulative negative impacts they will have on our waters. Clean, drinkable water is a necessity, a freedom, and a right that we all deserve. We must protect our water from pollution before it's too late Click here, to read more.
  • The pharmaceutical company Mylan faced widespread backlash due to the price of their EpiPen being raised to an average of $600 per pack, an increase of 500% since 2007. No one should have to choose between getting the critical, lifesaving medicine they need and paying for their rent or groceries. My colleague, Rep. Debra Kolste, and I are continuing our efforts to increase the transparency of health care rates. See this Facebook post for more.
  • Another example of an educational profiteering scheme came to light, as ten former employees of Ceria M. Travis Academy have filed a lawsuit, claiming that the school and its director, Dorothy Travis-Moore owe them over $45,000 in back pay and refused to pay them for work done in May 2015 and June 2016. Our children deserve better than to be used as a get rich quick scheme; we must reinvest in our neighborhood schools and stop the expansion of for-profit voucher schools. Read this Facebook post to learn more.
  • While the scandal-plagued Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) claimed 483 jobs were created in Milwaukee's Sherman Park neighborhood, a closer study has shown that these companies actually do not actually exist in the community. In reality, the Walker administration has done little to develop one of the most economically distressed areas in the state, focusing efforts on investing in wealthier suburbs instead. Learn more about this topic, here, and remember to share and "like" the post on Facebook. 
     

 

Neighborhood Survey

I want to hear from you! Therefore, I created a 2016-2017 Neighborhood Survey asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. Your input is greatly appreciated and will help me prepare for session to resume in the coming months.

My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door-to-door as possible during the next couple months. Additionally, I have also made this survey available online.

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 take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues! As always, please do not hesitate to contact me about any state or community matters important to you


 

Seeking Legislative Interns!
I currently have openings for  legislative intern positions in my Madison office. A legislative internship is a great opportunity for students and recent graduates to learn more about the legislative process while gaining practical work experience.

Intern responsibilities vary, but include policy research, summarizing proposed legislation, and responding to constituent inquires. All interns also assist with general office operations, including answering the phone.

Applicants must be able to work during normal business hours, and dedicate a minimum of 10 hours each week to the internship. All intern positions are unpaid.

Click here to learn how to apply!

 

 

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