Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

Hope all is well and that you had a spooky and fun Halloween. 

Halloween may be over but that doesn't mean that things are getting any less scary at the Capitol. Republicans are gearing up to pass the toxic mining bill that would allow dangerous sulfide mining to happen in Wisconsin. I know many of our neighbors probably have questions on where this is at in the process and what they can do to help stop the bill from passing, so we'll dive into some of these questions below.

Another terrifying reality that plagues communities across the state is the prevalence of lead pipes, and the poisonous threat they pose. During the state budget debate in September, Senate Democrats fought for Wisconsin to take swift action by introducing a Lead Abatement Amendment. While the GOP rejected this amendment they could no longer sit on their hands and do nothing, and this week the Senate finally took up a bipartisan bill (Senate Bill 48) that moves our state one small step towards addressing Wisconsin’s lead crisis. More on this later in the newsletter. 

Also, make sure to look in the 'Take Action' section of this week's Larson Report. I'll be hosting listening sessions in a few weeks, and I would love you have you stop by to get your thoughts.

Lastly, open enrollment for health insurance has begun. By law, you must buy health care coverage, so please choose a plan today for 2018 if you aren't otherwise covered. Click here to find coverage.


In Service, 

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Stop the Toxic Mining Bill
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Our economy and future depend on having a clean environment, diverse wildlife, and clean lakes and streams. From hunting and fishing to tourism and recreation, local communities and businesses depend on our state's unique natural areas to attract visitors and infuse economic growth. In order to ensure future prosperity and opportunity in every corner of the state, we must prevent large corporations from polluting our lands and waters.

Unfortunately, the quality and safety of our air and water are critically at stake with the fast-tracking of a bill that would make our shared lands and waters vulnerable to the 'most toxic industry in the country,' sulfide mining. Sulfide mining poisons our natural areas with toxic waste such as arsenic, mercury, and lead. A recent Larson Report newsletter discussed the bill in more detail. Because this bill is moving quickly through the Legislature, we're providing an update to try and prevent it from being jammed through.

Where are these bills in the legislative process? 
On Wednesday, October 4, the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry voted, along party lines, to lift Wisconsin’s moratorium on sulfide mining by passing Senate Bill 395. The Assembly version of the bill, Assembly Bill 499, moved quickly through Assembly this week, passing in GOP-controlled committee on Tuesday. Republicans in the full Assembly are poised to pass the bill today. This means that this dangerous bill is now likely to be taken up by the full Senate as early as next week. 

What do the bills do?
Specifically, these bills get rid of the bipartisan mining moratorium passed in 1998 known as the 'prove-it-first' law. This critical air and water safeguard requires sulfide mining applicants to prove a mine can operate for 10 years and be closed for 10 years without polluting the local water and land before the applicant is allowed to start mining. Because these mining practices are proven to be terribly toxic, no mining companies have been able to find a mine that has fit these two standards since the 'prove-it-first' law has been in place. 

Why is sulfide mining a concern?
We have yet to see a metallic sulfide mine that hasn't left a legacy of pollution; in some cases even turning rivers and lakes into dead zones.

Further, the public health risks related to sulfide mining are dangerous and even deadly. In fact, according to the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, medical professionals in areas where sulfide mining is allowed are specifically trained about the dangers and risks to community members. For instance, arsenic is just one byproduct of the sulfide mining process, which has been linked to cancers of the kidney, liver, lung, and bladder. 

The long-term environmental destruction far outweighs any short-term, private gains from sulfide mining. If we do not keep the moratorium in place, Wisconsin will be vulnerable to excessive pollution that will have harmful environmental and health consequences for generations to come.

Who is opposed to the bills?
First and foremost, our Wisconsin neighbors oppose allowing sulfide mining. In fact, 64% of respondents in a poll conducted by the River Alliance of Wisconsin think that weakening our water safeguards is too risky and did not want families to be exposed to toxic chemical byproducts. 

Additionally, Senate Bill 395/Assembly Bill 499 would clear the way for irresponsible mining that would devastate the natural beauty of Wisconsin’s environment and could diminish our state's agricultural livelihood. Therefore, it's no surprise that many advocates have come out in opposition to this bill. Experts from groups, like Sierra Club, the River Alliance of Wisconsin, and the Midwest Environmental Advocates testified at the public hearing on the bill, have written op-eds noting the harm that will follow the passage of this bill, and have launched a video campaign to provide the real facts of this dangerous proposal.  


In addition to advocate and public opposition, more than 200 local elected officials signed a letter opposing Senate Bill 395/Assembly Bill 499 and sent it to state legislators. You can read the letter, here. 

What can concerned citizens do to voice their opposition?
As was previously mentioned, this bill is being fast-tracked through the Legislature. We need concerned citizens, like you, to call your state senator and tell them to vote 'no' on the toxic mining bill. Then, I hope you will forward this message to your friends and family and encourage them to do the same. You can reach your state senator by contacting the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472.

You can also click here to sign the Wisconsin League Conservation Voters petition telling legislators to reject the toxic mining bill. 
 

 

One Step Closer to Tackling Wisconsin’s Lead Crisis

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Each of us deserves to live in a healthy, safe community. Over the past few decades, there has been significant research into how harmful lead exposure is for both children and adults. Lead pipes are a poison quietly devastating Wisconsin neighborhoods. Both lead paint and water pipes lined with lead are sources of poisoning. This is an issue that affects Wisconsin families in both rural and urban parts of the state, as Wisconsin has at least 176,000 lead service lines that carry water to homes and businesses. In fact, the counties that have the highest number of lead service lines range from Milwaukee to Manitowoc to Marathon. 

Wisconsin should prioritize preventing lead poisoning of our children as both a moral and economic imperative. According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), our state would save $7 billion if the threat of lead poisoning was eliminated. This includes savings in medical care, special education, and even crime reduction among adults and youth.

As noted in a shocking report released by the Wisconsin Council on Children and Families, the statistics of lead poisoning among Wisconsin children are heartbreaking and alarming: 4.6% of Wisconsin children (under six) tested were lead poisoned in 2015. Compare this to Flint, Michigan's 4.9% and the perilous reality of our state's lead exposure crisis will leave you angry as to why this crisis is not a national priority. 

This week, the Senate finally took up a bipartisan bill (Senate Bill 48) that moves our state one small step towards addressing Wisconsin’s lead crisis by allowing public water utilities and municipalities to provide grants or loans to property owners in order to replace the lead pipes from the street to their home. The bill still needs to pass the Assembly before it can be signed into law or vetoed by the governor. 

During the state budget debate in September, Senate Democrats pushed to commit the necessary funds to provide adequate relief to communities across the state through a Lead Abatement Amendment, after Senate Bill 48 was stalled in committee for months.

If passed into law, the Lead Abatement Amendment would:

  • Offer Financial Incentives to Fix Lead Pipes 
    Our amendment would create a non-refundable state income tax credit of up to $200 annually for up to 10 years for private homeowner costs related to a municipally mandated replacement of their lead service line.

  • Incentivize Water Utility Revenue to Help Pay for Abatement 
    Under the Democratic amendment, water utility rate revenue would be allowed to pay for the replacement of the privately owned portion of lead service lines, water filters and other public health measures.

  • Give Flexibility to Local Governments 
    The Lead Abatement Amendment would allow a municipality to create a municipal fee for lead abatement and exempt the proceeds of that fee from expenditure restraint and levy limits.

View my Senate floor comments on fixing the lead pipe crisis in Wisconsin, here.

If we look back in history, we know that the usage of lead for water pipes was in some cases strongly endorsed by government entities, and sometimes even put into local plumbing codes. We now know the dangers involved with lead water pipes and it is time for a strong investment to mitigate further damage to our health. Passing Senate Bill 48 is a good first step, and I urge my Republican colleagues to continue the momentum and take immediate action to keep our kids safe from being further poisoned by lead. None of these bills have even received a public hearing. We must do more to protect our children and families from the short and long-term damage lead poisoning can cause.

Among the available bills are:

  • Senate Bill 41, which would protect renters from lead poisoning by ensuring water is tested for lead levels and that a prospective tenant receive notification if lead is found in the water, along with information that describes the risks of lead. Senate Bill 41 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Insurance, Housing, and Trade, which is chaired by Senator Lasee. To ask that he schedule a public hearing on Senate Bill 41, call him at 608-266-3512. 

  • Senate Bill 141, which would give schools more flexibility to invest in lead abatement costs through a revenue limit adjustment. Senate Bill 141 has been referred to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology, and Consumer Protection, which is chaired by Senator Stroebel. You can reach Senator Stroebel at 608-266-7513 to ask that a public hearing is scheduled on Senate Bill 141. 

  • Senate Joint Resolution 67, which would increase public awareness of the dangers of lead exposure and lead poisoning by declaring a Lead Poison Prevention Week in Wisconsin during the last week of October. Senate Joint Resolution 67 is in the committee on Senate Organization and can be taken up by the full Senate for a vote. You can call Senator Fitzgerald to ask that he schedule Senate Joint Resolution 67 for a vote on November 7. 

 

Take Action! 
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Hearing your thoughts and concerns is important to me. While serving you in the State Legislature, I have held town hall meetings, listening sessions, coffee and conversations, business tours, and in-district meetings. I advertise these by posting on my website, Facebook, and Twitter, via neighborhood groups, with media alerts, and through direct emails.

Below are a few of the upcoming events that I invite you to attend if you are interested in talking to me about issues facing our community or state, or if you want to listen to the concerns and thoughts of our fellow neighbors.

Tuesday, November 14, 2017 -- St. Francis
St. Francis City Hall
3400 E Howard Ave
St Francis, WI 53235

5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
See event details on Facebook, here!

Wednesday, November 15, 2017 -- South Milwaukee
South Milwaukee City Administration Building

2424 15th Ave
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
5:30 p.m. to 7 p.m.
See event details on Facebook, here!

Friday, November 17, 2017 -- Milwaukee, East Side 
Milwaukee Public Library East Branch
2320 N Cramer St
Milwaukee, WI 53211
1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m.
See event details on Facebook, here!


Please do not hesitate to contact my office for additional information. Hope to see you there!

I am proud to be your state senator and will continue fighting to make Wisconsin a better place to live, work, and raise a family. I am grateful for the opportunity to serve our community and to stand up for our shared Wisconsin values:

Quality Education for All

Every child deserves a quality education. After the largest cuts in state history, we must prioritize proven policies that fully and fairly invest in our neighborhood schools. To accomplish this, I recently introduced:

  • Startup Grants for Community Schools (SB 282)
  • Increased Funding for Special Education (SB 211)
  • Schools of Character Training (SB 329)

A Healthy Environment for our Future

Our state has a rich history of being a leader in conservation to ensure a healthy environment for our citizens. We must work together to find long-term solutions that will ensure the future health and prosperity of our people and planet. To support this, I have authored:

  • Municipal Water Safeguards (SB 176)
  • Removing Lead Water Pipes (SB 141)

Affordable, High-quality Health Care for All
You and your family deserve to be able to see a doctor when you get sick as well as get regular check-ups to prevent chronic illnesses. A healthy economy is dependent on a healthy workforce. Wisconsin needs fair health care options to best promote a good quality of life for us all. In order to support our neighbors, I have supported:

  • BadgerCare for All (LRB 3785)
  • CBD Oil Legalization (SB 10, SB 104)

Fair Workplaces and Wages
No Wisconsinite should work full-time and still live in poverty nor should they be forced to choose between their paycheck and caring for a sick loved one. Workers are the true economic engine of Wisconsin, and as such, I have supported the following measures:

  • Protections Against Wage Theft (SB 371)
  • Paid Sick Leave (SB 215)

 

In Case You Missed It

Each week, the Larson Report strives to provide up-to-date, in-depth information to you. Between editions, a lot happens in Madison and 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.

  • 2018 Health Insurance Open Enrollment! 
    Are you, or someone you know, uninsured or looking for a more affordable health insurance plan? Open enrollment for 2018 Marketplace plans is going on now.

    By going to healthcare.gov you can compare health insurance plans and find out if you will get financial help to pay for the cost of your insurance or health care. You can also find local resources to get in-person assistance to enroll in a plan.

    Open enrollment ends on December 15, so don’t wait to sign up for a 2018 health insurance plan.

    Get covered, by visiting healthcare.gov today!

  • Foxconn Scheme Needs Transparency 
    Wisconsin families deserve to know that our shared public resources are being invested in making our communities stronger and allowing for each of us to be financially prosperous.

    Recently, the legislative audit committee discussed an audit of Walker’s failed WEDC agency, which shows that he and his administration are out-of-touch and continue to be unable to manage our hard-earned tax dollars, verify job claims of corporations that receive taxpayer money, or recover public money from companies who violated their contract terms.
    What’s even more concerning is that the potentially uncollectible balance of loans with repayments more than 90 days past due increased nearly tenfold between 2015-2017 from $1.3 million to $11 million.

    If you are wondering how the $3 billion corporate giveaway to the Walker/Trump/Foxconn scheme is going to play out, you need not look any further than the audit recently discussed.
    The audit confirms that the WEDC is disastrously unequipped to oversee the $3 billion cash handouts to Foxconn. Walker’s failed jobs agency has betrayed the public’s trust again and again. We deserve better.

    For more information, click here.


  • A Loss of a Bay View Area Tradition
    I was very sad to hear the news of the South Shore Frolics being canceled for 2018. Like most of the neighbors living in Bay View, I have great memories of the Frolics. In high school, I remember walking over to stake out the best spot on the hill to watch the fireworks. As a member of the Lions, I enjoyed volunteering at the opening fish fry and catching up on what folks were up to in mid-summer. I commend the Lions Club for their service to our community.

    This tradition will be badly missed in 2018 and I hope we can bring it back in 2019 so the next generation can experience it, too.


    See the Bay View Lions Club statement, here.

  • Important Wage Theft Bill Gets Public Hearing
    I’m proud to be a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 371, a bill that would benefit families in Wisconsin by doing more to prevent wage theft. This bill received a public hearing recently in the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform.

    Wage theft covers a variety of employer infractions from nonpayment of overtime pay to forcing an employee to work off the clock. Senate Bill 371 would put in place several employee safeguards to help prevent wage theft, such as requiring employers to provide written disclosure of pay and other working conditions at the time of hire and annually thereafter.

    As the primary author of the bill, Senator Bob Wirch, said in a statement about the hearing “With so many Wisconsin families living paycheck to paycheck, it is time we address this issue, the theft of hard-earned wages from our hard-working friends and neighbors. It’s a crime that affects all of us, as workers, as consumers, and as taxpayers, and this legislation is an important step forward
    .”

    Read Senator Wirch's full statement, here

  • Disappointed with Trump Half-Measure on Opioid Addiction
    In what has become routine thus far throughout his presidency, Trump has broken yet another promise to the American people. Despite all of his bluster, he has again proven that he is not up to the task of effectively confronting a major national crisis.

    Time and time again, Trump has loudly asserted that his administration will quit ignoring the heartbreaking opioid addiction crisis devastating our neighbors in communities across the nation. More specifically, in August, he promised that he would declare the opioid epidemic a national emergency in order to provide states access to funding from the federal Disaster Relief Fund, just as they would following a natural disaster.

    For two months, families in need of critical resources to help their loved ones waited for him to deliver on this promise. After immense public pressure, Trump reluctantly moved forward with a half-measure. Instead of declaring a national emergency - or providing the resources such a designation would bring to bear - he declared a public health emergency. The negative effect of this distinction is huge, as it dramatically reduces the available resources and focus. In fact, a declaration of a public health emergency on its own does not release ANY funds to directly combat this crisis.

    This declaration falls dangerously short of the solution our communities desperately need, as our neighbors continue to be seriously harmed, or worse, at the hand of opioid and heroin addiction -- including the 142 people who die every day as a result of opioids. The tragedy and heartbreak caused by this crisis are felt in every neighborhood and community in our state, as well as nationwide.

    We have a moral obligation to do more to fight this crisis. If the president will not take a bold stance on this issue, it is up to states to continue to move solutions forward.

    Click here to learn more about this issue.

     

Events in the Community
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.

Fall Craft Fair All Saint Lutheran Church
Saturday, November 4 from 8 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Come join All Saint Lutheran Church and members of the community for their annual craft fair. There will be 32 crafters featured at the event with wonderful and unique handmade items. In addition, there will be a bake sale, an outstanding luncheon, and a fun raffle. The event is free admission so come join the crafting fun!

 

Edgewood Elementary School Holiday Craft Fair
Saturday, November 11 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Edgewood Elementary School is hosting its annual holiday craft and vendor fair. Around 45 businesses and sellers will be selling their baked goodies, food, and other handmade crafts. In addition, there will also be a raffle with great prizes! It’s free admission, free parking, and family friendly.

Southside SOUP
Sunday, November 12 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m.
Southside SOUP is hosting a dinner at Bounce Milwaukee filled with wonderful food, presentations, and fun. There are four presentations throughout the night that will feature ideas about art, urban agriculture, education, and more. For a donation of $10 for adults (children 12 and under are free) participants will receive soup, salad, bread, and one vote. Attendees will be able to cast their vote for the presentation that would be best for the community, and at the end of the night, the ballots are counted and the winner will collect all of the money raised and use it to carry out their project. Winners will come back to a future SOUP dinner to report their project’s progress, so make sure to make your voice heard through this community event!

19th Annual Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival Kick-Off Extravaganza 
Kickoff: Thursday, November 16 at 6:30 p.m. 
Holiday Lights Festival runs through Monday, January 1, 2018

Watch local acts before the downtown’s light and firework show illuminates the night. Following the kickoff, free Jingle Buses will take guests around downtown to see all of the newly lit scenes. Can’t make it to the kickoff? Don’t worry, the festivals run through January 1, 2018!

Pere Marquette Park

900 N Plankinton Ave. 
Milwaukee, WI 53203

Hunger Task Force Thanksgiving Meal Bin
Friday, November 17 from 8 a.m. to Noon
The Hunger Task Force is looking for volunteers for their annual Thanksgiving Meal Bin food sort! They will be packing around 800 meal bins with Thanksgiving food that is donated from Outpost and other organizations. It’s a rewarding experience that will make the holidays especially meaningful this year. They need a minimum of 30 people so make sure to sign up today!


Holiday Folk Fair
Friday, November 17 from 2 p.m. to 10 p.m., Saturday, November 18 from 10 a.m. to 10 p.m., and Sunday, November 19 from 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.
Celebrate the cultural heritage and explore the food, music, dance, and arts of different cultures of people living in Southeastern Wisconsin. This year’s theme, “Celebrating the Culture of Welcome,” guests can learn how food, art, music, and dance contribute to welcoming new neighbors and visitors. Tickets are $10 in advance and $12 at the door, children aged 6-12 and seniors over 62 are $10.

State Fair Park Exposition Center

8200 West Greenfield Avenue
West Allis, Wisconsin 53214


Milwaukee Holiday Parade

Saturday, November 18 at 9:30 a.m.
Enjoy watching marching bands, floats, giant helium balloons, local celebrities, costumed characters, live animals, specialty vehicles, and Santa Claus at this Milwaukee holiday tradition! The parade weaves through the heart of downtown Milwaukee. Following the parade, Santa will be available for pictures from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Boston Store on Wisconsin Ave.