October 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.


ArtWorks for Milwaukee Gallery Night

Date: Friday, October 21 from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Since February, ArtWorks for Milwaukee interns have been working on a 90ft by 10ft mural project called "Culture Work." This mural will depict the 50-year history of United Migrant Opportunity Services (UMOS). The teens interviewed local leaders in their 60s and 70s about their participation in working for human rights for Latinos in Wisconsin and have translated these stories into a visual representation painted on parachute fabric to be adhered to an exterior wall of the Butters-Fetting buiding on 1st and Mitchell in 2017. Join these teens on Friday as they paint a portion of this mural on Gallery Night. CLICK HERE for more information.

ArtWorks for Milwaukee


207 E Buffalo St. #600

Milwaukee, WI 53202



DIY: Crafting at Oak Creek Library

Date: Daily from 10 a.m. to 7:30 p.m. (unless another program is scheduled), October 17 through October 22.

Location: Oak Creek

Description: Drop in and create a craft!Cultivate creativity and learning through art.
Geared toward children ages 5-11, but all are welcome!
Children under 10, must be accompanied by an adult. Registration is not required.

Drexel Town Square

8040 S. 6th Street
Oak Creek, WI 53154


Pumpkin Pavilion
Date: Friday, October 21 and Saturday October 22, from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m.
Location: Bay View
Description: The Grand Lighting of the pumpkins will be Friday, October 21 at Humboldt Park at 7 p.m. where games, hay rides, face painting, and costumed attendees all get together to celebrate. CLICK HERE for more information.

Humboldt Park Pavilion
3000 S. Howell Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207


4th Annual Haunted House for Human Concerns

Date: October 21 and 22, October 28 and 29, and October 31 from 7 p.m. to 10:30 p.m.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: Come take a walk through an abandoned toxic barrel factory while helping raise money or nonperishable items for the South Milwaukee Human Concern's. "Scare" and "No Scare" options available. CLICK here for more information.


South Milwaukee Human Concerns


821 Marion Ave.

South Milwaukee, WI 53172


Halloween Pajama Jamboree

Date: Wednesday, October 26 at 7 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Festival City Symphony (FCS) will begin its "Pajama Jamboree" in the Bradley Pavilion of the Marcus Center for the Performing Arts.
Dressed in costume, the orchestra will celebrate Halloween with a performance of musical "treats" related to the season. This year, the concert also will feature talented young local actor Chris Orth, appearing as the prolific Wolfgang Amadeus Mozart. A graduate of Concordia University Wisconsin, Mr. Orth's studies included performing in the musicals "Little Women," "The Will Rogers' Follies," "Something's Afoot," and "Curtains." Attendees are encouraged to wear costumes. Admission for this event is free. CLICK HERE for more information.


Festival City Symphony

3480 West Bradley Road
Milwaukee, WI 53209


Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

Fall is here! I hope you have a chance to enjoy the colorful changes to our state and don't have too much raking to do.

Fall festivities are gearing up across the state. For my Milwaukee area neighbors, I encourage you to check out the Pumpkin Pavilion this weekend in Bay View -- it's one of my family's favorites. See the sidebar for more details.


In the last Larson Report, we explored the status of health care in Wisconsin. With the recent anniversary of Planned Parenthood's community presence nationally and in Wisconsin, we are reminded about how far we have come in ensuring reproductive freedom but, sadly, also about the challenges that remain.

Although we hear the headlines and experience the real world changes to ideological changes to access to health care, seldom do we remember the strange history that got us here.

Let's change that.

This past summer, a major legal victory in reproductive freedom occurred with the U.S. Supreme Court decision in Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt, which struck down an unnecessary and burdensome law that restricted access to women's reproductive health care. This is just one of several major reproductive health care advancements made over the last century. We'll dive into the history of reproductive health care in this edition of the newsletter.

In Service,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Celebrating 80 Years of Reproductive Health Care in Wisconsin 
For 100 years nationally, and 80 years in Wisconsin, Planned Parenthood has been providing our neighbors with comprehensive, preventive health care and education. Our own Milwaukee community has a rich history with the movement to support a woman's ability to make important health care decisions for herself and her family. In fact, the successful opening of Wisconsin's first Planned Parenthood clinic in 1935, was in Milwaukee, known at the time as the Maternal Health Center. Dedicated staff, advocates, and volunteers ensured its success and important health contributions to generations of Wisconsin women.

Celebrating the anniversary of  Planned Parenthood reminds us that, over the last century, we've seen our country take strides forward in ensuring reproductive freedom for women -- from the Food and Drug Administration's approval of the birth control pill in 1960, to Congress approving Title X funding in 1970, making birth control available to women regardless of their income. The ability for women to plan and space pregnancies offered numerous positive social changes, from women having greater access to achieve a higher education and build their careers to having an overall positive effect on their quality of life. 

Learn more about Planned Parenthood's anniversary, here.

Unfortunately, with each step forward, women's reproductive freedom has encountered numerous barriers that undermine the significant progress we've made in safeguarding women's health care and economic security. Not all of the barriers are distant history. In fact, since 2010, more than 300 laws have been passed around the country that put a woman's health and safety at risk.

With the upcoming legislative session just around the corner, it's important that we remember the history of reproductive freedom so we can continue to build a healthier future for Wisconsin families.

For a comprehensive timeline of Planned Parenthood's history as well as important dates that impacted reproductive freedom, click here.

A Look Back at Reproductive Freedom
Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood v. Casey, and Whole Woman's Health v. Hellerstedt are the most monumental Supreme Court decisions regarding reproductive privacy from the past 50 years. While the first two decisions came during 1900s, Whole Woman's Health is the first breakthrough in reproductive security in the 21st Century. In 1973, the monumental Roe v. Wade decision guaranteed women autonomy over their own bodies and protection from unintended pregnancies.

The importance of Roe v. Wade cannot be overstated. Without access to safe, legal abortion protections, women die. In fact, maternal mortality decreased significantly after the Roe v. Wade court decision. While abortion has remained a complex issue since Roe v. Wade, this landmark decision affirmed a woman's freedom to consult with her family and doctor about what is in her best interest without dangerous interference from politicians.

Even so, opponents of Roe v. Wade adopted a strategy known as "incrementalism." Essentially, the idea was to chip away at the Roe v. Wade decision until there was as little left of these protections as possible. By the 1980s, states across the nation had enacted dozens of restrictions to abortion access. One such law, passed in Pennsylvania, created numerous abortion barriers, such as a 24-hour waiting period and a requirement that married women notify their husbands before having an abortion. When this law was challenged, the U.S. Supreme Court had to answer a fundamental question: can a state comply with the safeguards of Roe v. Wade while also requiring women to jump through hoops to access abortion care?

In Planned Parenthood v. Casey -- decided in 1992 -- an unclear answer was given by the highest court and their ruling significantly changed the standards Roe v. Wade previously set. For instance, the ruling gave individual states a greater ability to regulate abortion procedures so long as it does not place an "undue burden" on a woman in need of these services. The "undue burden" language is ambiguous and abstract and was only vaguely defined as any law that had "the purpose or effect of placing a substantial obstacle in the path of a woman seeking an abortion."

Notably, while the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision changed the way abortion can be regulated by states, the  5-4 vote also reaffirmed Roe's core concept that the right to abortion was protected by the Constitution.

Another major U.S. Supreme Court decision came in 2007, known as Gonzales v. Carhart. In this decision, Supreme Court Justice Kennedy introduced the language "medical uncertainty." After states were given broader authority to regulate abortion access as a result of the Planned Parenthood v. Casey decision, Justice Kennedy wrote in his opinion in Gonzales v. Carhart that courts should defer to the legislature's judgment in cases of "medical uncertainty" In other words, in cases where it is unclear whether or not the law advances patient health, the court is advised to side with the legislature.

Read more about the significance of the language included in these Supreme Court decisions, here.

TRAP Laws and the Whole Women's Health Decision
The "undue burden" language and "medical uncertainty" language became a toxic recipe for ultra-conservative, tea party legislators -- a wave of which were elected in 2010 -- to enact laws under the false premise of protecting the health and safety of women. These laws are often referred to as Target Regulation of Abortion Providers (TRAP) laws.

Since 2011, states have passed more than 300 abortion restrictions, such as admitting privilege requirements and longer, forced waiting periods.

In Texas, legislators passed a restrictive TRAP law in 2013, and were able to temporarily get away with enacting it. Specifically, the law stated that abortion clinics must meet surgical center requirements as well as have admitting privileges at a hospitals within 30 miles. Ambulatory surgery centers cost millions of dollars -- sometimes exceeding $20 million. Many abortion clinics are locally owned and operated, and do not have the ability to fund these types of surgery centers. Furthermore, abortions are one of the safest medical procedures, making these extreme barriers medically unnecessary. In fact, abortions are safer than most medical procedures, even colonoscopies. The second provision, requiring doctors to have admission privileges to hospitals, is also absurd considering the safety of abortions.

Notably, doctors are usually only given admission privileges when they can provide the hospital with a certain number of patients each year; this is nearly impossible for those who perform abortion services, considering the procedures are safe and have incredibly low risk of complications.

After the Texas law went into effect, many reproductive health care centers had no way of complying with these outrageous and burdensome laws, forcing them to shut down. The number of clinics able to provide abortion services in Texas dropped from 40 to seven in a matter of months. Women who lived hundreds of miles away from the nearest abortion clinics were denied health care access and options.

The central question raised by laws like the one passed in Texas goes directly to the 24-year-old ruling in Casey: How unnecessary and burdensome must a restriction become before it renders the right to abortion meaningless?

On Monday, June 27, 2016, the U.S. Supreme Court provided their insight into this question and overturned the restrictions Texas imposed on women's health care clinics. 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.

What Does This Mean for Wisconsin?
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.

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.

Read more about the Supreme Court decision's impact on Wisconsin's law, here.

As we've seen over the last several 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. The Whole Women's Health ruling, 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.

While Wisconsin's law is blocked due to the Supreme Court ruling, it remains written in Wisconsin statute. Like many out-of-touch, overly partisan laws that have proven to be unwarranted, Wisconsin's admitting privileges law should be repealed first thing when the Legislature resumes session in January.

As a state legislator, I stand on the side of best practices that promote healthy communities. Investing in the health and wellbeing of our neighbors helps people individually, but more importantly benefits our community as a whole. The out-of-touch, reckless legislation that we've seen in Wisconsin and across the nation serve only for political gain of a few irresponsible politicians at a steep cost to our neighbors.

As affirmed by the aforementioned court cases, these laws do not protect or advance the freedom or health care of women or their families. One other important historical moment I am reminded of is that of George Michaels of New York, an assemblyman who took a stand in 1970 in order to do what he knew was right: vote for legislation that will advance health care freedom for all, rather than to advance his political career at the expense of his neighbors' livelihood.

On April 9, 1970, the New York Assembly took up a bill to allow a woman access to abortion if she and her doctor deemed it necessary. After voting "no" for the bill, the tally ended up as a 74-74 vote tie. George Michaels knew he could not, morally, be the reason women are denied this critical health care service.

A trembling, tearful Michaels rose to take the microphone to ask that his vote be changed from "no" to "yes," declaring, "I realize, Mr. Speaker, that I am terminating my political career, but I cannot in good conscience sit here and allow my vote to be the one that defeats this bill." "What's the use of getting elected or reelected if you don't stand for something?" "I cannot go back to my family and say George Michaels killed this bill."

Michaels did not serve another legislative term and maintained that he knew he made the right decision. While Michaels passed away in 1992, his political courage at that crucial moment defined his legacy and gave hope and health care to countless women. His stand is an important reminder that we all must stand up and do what is just and fair.

I hope my colleagues in the Wisconsin Legislature will remember this story and join me in supporting life-saving comprehensive, crucial reproductive health care in our state, including birth control access and abortion services.


Protecting Women's Health, Autonomy, Security, and Safety

October is Domestic Violence Awareness Month in Wisconsin and all over the country. This important month serves as a reminder that Wisconsin leaders should prioritize creating and maintaining safe and healthy communities.

Both sexual assault and domestic abuse are issues that affect every community, and should not be tolerated. Last session, there were strong bipartisan efforts to enhance victim protections to ensure domestic and sexual violence survivors have access to the services and support they need. 

Read more about these bill in a past Larson Report newsletter, here.

While many of the bills passed last session were supported by members from both sides of the aisle, Wisconsin has a long way to go in order to fully safeguard the health, autonomy, security, and safety of women in our state. This includes measures to prevent sexual assault and domestic violence crimes from happening, and making sure survivors have access to resources and justice.

Providing women in Wisconsin an opportunity to seek preventive care, regardless of race, ethnicity, or economic status must be a priority for our state. As Planned Parenthood celebrates its anniversary of providing such services to women across the country, it is important for Wisconsin state legislators to recognize the importance of these critical community health centers.

In fact, Planned Parenthood is the largest nonprofit reproductive health care provider of its kind in Wisconsin. Each year, they serve more than 60,000 women and men. Many of the patients served by Planned Parenthood consider them to be their primary care provider. In many counties, they are often the only option for women. Despite the lifesaving service, including blood pressure evaluations and breast exams, that Planned Parenthood provides women in our state, Walker and legislative Republicans have time and time again passed legislation that seeks to hobble and undermine their ability to provide even basic health care to our neighbors. 

Looking ahead to January when the next legislative session is set to begin, I will continue working with advocates, neighbors, medical experts, and other legislators in supporting policies that will create a Wisconsin in which all women have the opportunity to be healthy, economically secure, and safe. This includes a Wisconsin where women are free of making important decisions about their health without political intrusion.


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:
  • Safe and secure communities is a right that we all deserve. Unfortunately, spreading fear, hate, and promoting divisiveness has become all-too-common. It is especially concerning when we have public leaders, in positions of power, that are spreading this toxic rhetoric. I was shocked and disappointed when I read Sheriff Clarke's remarks over the weekend where he attempted to incite violence against the very institutions he has sworn to protect. Click here to read and share my Facebook post about this topic.

    Additionally, click here to sign a WAVE petition questioning Sheriff Clarke's activities as an elected official.
  • Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Instruction (DPI) indicated that the Milwaukee Public School District (MPS) will not face the threat of an undemocratic takeover of their schools this academic year. I am glad that the gains made by MPS have prevented this harmful law from taking effect in our community. This success became possible through the positive educational growth by our students, the dedication of our great teachers, and the tireless efforts of many leaders, in particular Dr. Darienne Driver, her staff, Director Sain, and the Milwaukee School Board. I applaud them for the improvement and their continued leadership. Click here to read my full statement regarding this victory.
  • An Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) review of Wisconsin pollution policies is moving quickly through the process. Everyone knows that clean water is essential to our health, recreation, and industry. We also know that we used to be able to trust our Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to safeguard our water from water polluters and poisoners. It comes as no surprise that over recent years the water safeguards and vigilance we depend on have broken down. This betrayal has not gone unnoticed, and led the Midwest Environmental Advocates (MEA) to file a petition against Walker's DNR asking the Environmental Protection Agency to take control of safeguarding Wisconsin's shared waters. The MEA filed the petition because of growing concerns that 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 legislatively imposed limitations crippling their ability to fight water pollution, so the petition for the EPA to regulate and safeguard Wisconsin's public waters is not a complete rejection of the DNR, but is a harsh illumination of the betrayal and failure of Gov. Walker and his administration. Click here to read more about this topic in a La Crosse Tribune article.


Know Who You're Voting For? Vote Early!

Voting is our cornerstone American freedom. If you haven't done so already, participate in our democracy by voting early.

If you reside in the city of Milwaukee:

Click here to view locations and hours for early voting.

For neighbors in Cudahy, Oak Creek, Franklin, South Milwaukee, St. Francis or elsewhere in Milwaukee County:

Click here for early voting information.

Other Wisconsin neighbors are able to vote early by the close of business of the Friday before Election Day at your city clerks office:

Click here to find your city clerk.

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 for information on becoming a poll worker.

If you reside outside of the city of Milwaukee and are looking for opportunities to volunteer on Election Day or information on early voting in your jurisdiction, contact your municipal clerk.

To find out who your municipal clerk is and how to contact them, click here.

Neighborhood Trick-or-Treating!

Get your costumes ready because Halloween is creeping up on us. Trick-or-treating has been a popular Halloween tradition in the United States and other countries for around 100 years. This community-based ritual is one of the most highly anticipated holidays as it is an evening of fun, costumes, and candy that all ages can enjoy.

Below are some tips to ensure a fun and safe trick-or- treating experience for you and your family:

  • Never allow children to eat candy before it is inspected for signs of tampering. If the wrapper is torn or looks suspicious caution on the side of safety and dispose of it.
  • Children of any age should be accompanied by a parent if possible. If not, be sure to set firm rules and require a child to carry a cell phone that can be used in the event of an emergency.
  • Plan out a route ahead of time to avoid obstacles and stay within familiar areas.
  • Be sure children stay on the sidewalks and cross the street at corners, using traffic signals and crosswalks. Parents should remind children to watch for cars that are turning or backing up.
  • If trick-or-treating after dark, bring lights for safety.

Trick-or-Treating in Our Community
Many communities host their very own trick-or-treat event open to children and families. Continue reading for more information about such events in our community:

Bay View:
Saturday, October 29
5 p.m. to 8 p.m.

Saturday, October 29
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

Sunday, October 30
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.


Sunday, October 30
1 p.m. to 4 p.m.

Oak Creek:

Monday, October 31
5 p.m. to 7 p.m.

South Milwaukee:

Monday, October 31
5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

St. Francis:

Monday, October 31
4 p.m. to 7 p.m.

For additional ideas for Halloween fun, click here.


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