Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

I hope you and yours had a fun and safe Thanksgiving. 

In the last Larson Report newsletter, I shared with you some of the feedback I have received while out in the community and during the recent legislative listening session I have held throughout the district. Based on these conversations with you and our neighbors, I have developed a list of legislative priorities that I will be working on during the remainder of the legislative session.

Last week, we covered quality education for our kids as a top priority for the rest of the session. A recent news article showed Wisconsin's fall in conservation leadership under Walker and the GOP majority. We need to talk about clean water and air for our kids as another priority, which is one that I'll be working on over the next several months. Keep reading for more about this critical issue. 

In Service, 

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 A Legislative Vision for our Future - Part 2
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I appreciate the input I have received from neighbors throughout the legislative session. It's clear that our neighbors are looking to improve our state to ensure everyone has the opportunity to reach their full potential. Based on the feedback I have received, I'll be focusing on three issue areas for the remainder of the session. I have introduced, or am working on introducing, legislation that will do the following:

Promote Safe and Healthy Communities
Each and every one of us has a right to live in a safe and secure community. The most basic role of our state government is to keep you and your family safe from crime and other harm. We have both a moral and economic obligation to address issues like lead pipes, opioid and heroin addiction, and firearm violence prevention. 

Provide a Quality Education for all Wisconsin Kids
Every child deserves a quality education and strong neighborhood schools are a benefit to everyone. For every $1 spent on public education the potential rate of return to the taxpayer is $8. Simply put, high-quality programming at K-12 schools, especially in early childhood education, acts as insulation to persistent societal issues, including poverty, crime, and joblessness. Even those who don't have children or whose children are grown enjoy the benefits of higher property values and community prosperity that come with having quality local public schools. Read more about this in the last Larson Report newsletter, here.  

Protect our Shared Water and Land
Our state has a rich history of being a leader in conservation to ensure a healthy environment for our citizens. 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 have safeguards in place and work together to find long-term solutions that will ensure the future health and prosperity of our people and planet.

This week's Larson Report newsletter will provide an update on new revelations on Wisconsin's conservation status and my efforts to promote healthy land, water, and air in our state. 

Protecting our Shared Land, Water, and Air
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Under Walker and the GOP majority, our lands and waters have suffered from intentional neglect, a dangerous partisan rejection of our tradition of bipartisan stewardship, and politics that put corporate profits ahead of sustainability. In fact, a recent Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article provided an in-depth look at the incredibly destructive actions that Walker and legislative Republicans have taken in the past seven years. 

The article discusses the recent exemptions given to the foreign corporate giant Foxconn, which allows the company to destroy wetlands and change the course of local streams. This wasn't the first time Walker and Republicans stripped environmental safeguards to appease out-of-state corporations. A similar scheme transpired shortly after Walker took office when iron mining giant Gogebic Taconite promised jobs and economic growth if the GOP majority rewrote the state's mining laws and stripped away certain wetland protections. In 2014, it was revealed that the company had donated $700,000 behind closed doors to Walker and Republicans facing recall elections. Then, in 2015, Gogebic Taconite canceled the mining project completely. Stating the obvious: the jobs never came. 

GOP Anti-Conservation Agenda 
Even in the last two weeks, Republicans held a public hearing on legislation that would further their anti-conservation agenda. For instance, Assembly Bills 587 and 588 would put our air at risk of greater pollution and contamination as well as hide evidence of air pollution. Specifically, Assembly Bill 587 would strip away over 300 state air quality safeguards. This bill takes Wisconsin in the wrong direction and opens the door to corporations being less accountable for the pollution they generate. Pollutants in our air can have long-lasting, negative impacts on our health and the health of our children. All Wisconsinites deserve to know that the air they breathe is clean. This corporate Republican bill puts that security in jeopardy. 

Additionally, federal environmental protection laws currently require Wisconsin to implement extra plans and take extra precautions when unsafe levels of pollution are found in an area. This includes developing a plan to decrease pollution levels to ensure the safety of nearby residents. In order to skirt around these protections, GOP legislators, through Assembly Bill 588, are attempting to bend the rules by excluding certain areas known to have unhealthy levels of pollution from the data submitted to the federal Environmental Protection Agency. This includes the Kohler-Andrae State Park area in Sheboygan County. Doing so will allow for more unhealthy levels of pollution in the area, while also falsely showing compliance with the federal Clean Air Act. 

Two other bills (Senate Bill 506 and Assembly Bill 599), which received hearings this week in the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry and the Assembly Committee on Environment and Foresty, would undermine our Public Trust Doctrine and the navigability of our shared waters. Enshrined in our state Consitution through the Public Trust Doctrine is the core value that our public lands and waters belong to all of us. Senate Bill 506 and Assembly Bill 599 would restrict the Department of Natural Resources's ability to determine the navigability of streams, which could lead to blocking public access.  

Proactive Approach to Safeguarding our Future
Our children and grandchildren deserve clean air to breathe and water that is free of pollution, without political interference or pressure. I will continue to push for strategic, common sense approaches to safeguarding our lands and waters and protecting our health, below are some of the specific efforts I am working on.

Save our Water ActSB 176/AB 256 (awaiting public hearings)
Water is our lifeline, not a pipeline to corporate profit. The recent tragedy in Flint, Michigan and our own water takeover attempt in Wisconsin are stark reminders that local control is essential to safeguarding the water we drink.

The vast majority of Wisconsin drinking water is currently provided by local public water utilities that are directly accountable to their community and state. Fresh water is becoming increasingly valuable and the thirst to profit from it is growing. Clean drinking water is a basic human right, and control of our shared waters by profit seekers is undemocratic and jeopardizes our health, freedom, and prosperity.

That's why Representatives Stuck and Brostoff and I introduced the Save Our Water Act this session. The Save Our Water Act affirms that our community drinking water should not be a profit source for corporations and upholds our shared Wisconsin value of local control. As such, the Save Our Water Act would prohibit the sale of our water services to profit seekers.


Stopping the Wetlands Destruction BillAB 547 (awaiting public hearing)
These proposals would allow our wetlands to be filled in for development, opening the door to increased flooding in our local neighborhoods. This past summer, communities across the state have been devastated by unprecedented flooding.

Particularly harmed were the areas throughout western Wisconsin that were hit with tens of millions of dollars in damages by flash flooding. In the southeastern corner of the state, flooding caused nearly $9 million in damages to local roads and bridges. Wisconsin farmers in Calumet County lost over 30% of their strawberry crop as a result of the heavy rain and flooding. A crop loss that large is a financial catastrophe.

This should come as a clear red flag to the governor and GOP legislators that we must protect our local farmers and our state's economy with wetland preservation policies that will safeguard our agriculture and tourism industries, both of which rely heavily on a pro-conservation agenda. I will be fighting against the passage of these dangerous proposals.

Restoring High Cap Well AccountabilitySB 22/AB 50 (awaiting public hearings)
This session, Democrats in the State Legislature stood up for farmers, small businesses, neighbors, outdoor enthusiasts, and those who depend on clean well water to live. Republicans betrayed the public by siding with special interests bent on profiting from controlling access to Wisconsin waters by passing Senate Bill 76 and creating high-capacity well permits with no consideration of future negative impacts. I am a co-sponsor of legislation to preserve our rich history and shared value that we have a fundamental right to clean water. These bills would ensure we have standards in place to protect our groundwater that businesses, homeowners, and local governments rely on to thrive.

Restore our “Prove-it-First” SafeguardsReverse AB 499 (legislation to be introduced soon)
Making Wisconsin lands, waters, and people vulnerable to toxic sulfide mining is dangerous and irresponsible. This session, Republicans – even some who voted in favor of the bipartisan toxic mining moratorium passed in 1998 – chose to put our neighbors in jeopardy by repealing 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 have proven to be terribly toxic, no mining companies have come forward with an example of a mine that has fit these two standards since the 'prove-it-first' law has been in place. Sulfide mining is the most toxic industry in our country and would threaten our natural areas with toxic waste such as arsenic, mercury, and lead.

Committing Wisconsin to the Paris AccordLRB 3971 (to be formally introduced to the Legislature soon)
Our state has a rich history of being a leader in conservation and innovative programs to ensure a healthy environment not only for our citizens today, but also for our children and grandchildren in the future. With over 97% of climate scientists agreeing that humans are causing climate change, we need serious, common sense strategies now. A Wisconsin state-based plan to fight climate change that includes a stronger commitment to developing and implementing renewable energy would be an economic infusion in our state. This would signal to the world that we are ready to take on the economic opportunities of being a leading player in the effort to mitigate climate change. While our state is barren of fossil fuels, we have rich, untapped renewable energy resources. A plan that invests in our energy independence would end the out-of-state fossil fuel purchases of coal, oil, and natural gas that siphon money from our economy.

It is time for Wisconsin to join a growing coalition of states and territories that are committed to honoring the Paris Accord. This growing coalition already represents 32% of the U.S. population. As elected representatives of the people of Wisconsin, we hold a sacred commitment to our communities to find long-term solutions that will ensure the future health and prosperity of our people and planet.

Stay Tuned for More! 
In the next Larson Report newsletter, I'll be giving an update on efforts to ensure safe and healthy communities all across Wisconsin. Stay tuned! 

 

 

Take Action

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I am counting on you to help me let our neighbors know what is going on in the State Legislature and in our community. Help me get the word out about some of the priority issues discussed in this edition of the Larson Report as well as the ones that will be included in future reports. 

Not sure where to begin? I will be including 'Conversation Starter' ideas for each topic area.

Public Land, Water, and Air Conversation Starter:
“Our economy and future depend on having a clean environment, diverse wildlife, and clean lakes and streams. In order to ensure future prosperity and opportunity in every corner of the state, we must safeguard our shared lands and waters. Contact your state senator and state representative and tell them to oppose legislation that will undermine our natural environment and economic vitality.”  Note: you can add your own personal story and mention any of the bills listed above when talking with family and friends about this topic. 

 

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!

  • Walker Signs Convention of States Bill
    Walker chose to stand with ALEC, the Koch brothers, and other billionaire buddies bent on breaking our country by signing into law legislation calling for a Convention of States.

    A Constitutional Amendment that eliminates federal budget flexibility would put unnecessary and unwarranted restrictions on our ability to spend money, which will jeopardize how we can respond to times of emergency and invest in our future.

    With Republicans controlling all levels of our national government, the legislation signed by Walker today is a false choice as congressional GOP members could eliminate budget flexibility and go to ‘pay-as-you-go.’ Federal borrowing in times of need is crucial to our national strength. The majority of our neighbors are not rich; they must borrow money to access the American Dream – to purchase a home, pay for tuition, or buy a car. In order to ensure the safety and prosperity of all American families, our federal government needs the same flexibility. See an article about this issue, here. 

  • Bridge to be Named After Richard Grobschmidt 
    Senate Bill 99 -- legislation to officially name the bridge along the Hank Aaron State Trail after an incredible public servant and lifelong South Milwaukee resident, Richard Grobschmidt -- was officially signed into law by the governor this week. 

    Throughout his long and memorable career, Senator Grobschmidt earned a reputation in our community and across the state as a passionate advocate for educational opportunities for young Wisconsinites. He worked as a teacher, championed a school-to-work apprenticeship program in his role as a state legislator, and served as the Assistant State Superintendent of Schools. In addition, Senator Grobschmidt was a driving force behind the creation of the Lakeshore State Park, where the bridge that will bear his name is located.

    Our community and Wisconsin as a whole will enjoy the benefits of Senator Grobschmidt’s achievements for years to come. It was an honor to share this bipartisan endeavor with not only my fellow Democrats but also with my colleagues, Senator Alberta Darling and State Representative Jessie Rodriguez, to ensure that proper recognition was given to former Senator Grobschmidt. Read a Milwaukee Journal Sentinel article about this issue, here.

  • Federal Government Eyes Repeal of Net Neutrality 
    Net Neutrality ensures that consumers see the content and services of their choice, without internet service providers controlling or blocking content. This unrestricted information availability is critical to our democracy and intellectual freedom. We cannot allow providers to pick and choose what they want their users to see, which opens the door to deep-pocket favoritism.

    Repealing net neutrality will be a huge loss for our neighbors and nation. It's possible with this repeal that we would end up paying more to see less. I for one reject the notion that corporations should control what I can find and see online. Read more about this topic, here.

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.

 

Christmas on KK
Friday, December 1st from 5 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Businesses along KK in Bay View are teaming up once again to host a holiday event filled with fun and merriment for all! Evening activities include pictures and story time with Santa, ornament decorating, write letters to Santa, carolers, Krampus, various holiday pop-ups and other shopping opportunities, and more! Several bars will also feature their own signature holiday drink.


The Maker Market - Christmas in the Ward
Saturday, December 2 from10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Join for the first ever Holiday Maker Market during the Christmas in the Ward event in Milwaukee's Historic Third Ward. Meet local makers, shop their pop-ups, and check off everyone on your holiday shopping list. Give the gift of handmade, locally made, and American made goods. Support your community. Shop local. Shop small. Buy handmade.

Festivus on Brady
Saturday, December 2 from 7 p.m. to 1:30 a.m.

Brady Street celebrates the return of Festivus this Holiday Season! Join them for their 2nd Annual Festivus One Mile Run- 5,280 "Feets" of Strength at 7 p.m. All runners receive a winter scarf, a beer at the half-mile turn-around (located at Casablanca), a finisher Festivus pole medal, and a free beer at a participating bar! Registration is required and limited so CLICK HERE before space runs out.

 

St. Francis Christmas Parade
Saturday, December 2
Featuring a non-perishable food collection for Project Concern that will be collected as the parade passes, join the rest of our community in celebrating the holidays. The parade route starts at Vretenar Park at 4230 S. Kirkwood Ave. and proceeds West on Lunham, North on Barland, East on Thompson, North on Caulfield to Howard Ave. Afterwards, there will be homemade cookies, hot chocolate, and snacks for everyone to enjoy. After the parade, I'll be at the St. Francis Civic Center. Please feel free to stop by to share your thoughts, views, and concerns. 


South Milwaukee Christmas Market
Saturday, December 2 from 9 a.m. to 2 p.m.
This year, over 100-holiday gift and food vendors will fill up South Milwaukee High School to share with the whole community. Photo ops with Santa, lunch, and entertainment will be available as well. They are also offering a shuttle bus from the YIM South Shore on 15th and College Ave to avoid the parking hassles!

 

Hover Craft MKE  
Sunday, December 3 from Noon to 6 p.m.
Hover Craft is an annual holiday shopping extravaganza. This year they will host over 100 artists, crafters, makers and creatives of all sorts selling original creations they have designed and made with their own hands. Come and support our creative community while you buy unique gifts for everyone on your list.


Bay View Tree Lighting
Monday, December 4, 2017
Holiday music by the St. Thomas More High School Choir begins at 6:30 p.m. Dec. 4, followed by a singalong for children and families, and the arrival of Mr. and Mrs. Claus at 7 p.m. to light the tree. Gather in the west parking lot of Church of the Immaculate Conception, S. Kinnickinnic Ave. and E. Herman St. 

 

Annual Christmas Tree Lighting Ceremony
Wednesday, December 6, 2017, at 5:30 p.m.
Oak Creek’s annual Christmas tree lighting takes place at Drexel Town Square. The evening also includes photos with Santa, gift bags, and milk & cookies. Please bring a non-perishable food item to help those in need during the holidays.


Pop Up Sale at Milwaukee City Hall 
Thursday, December 7, from 8 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Historic Milwaukee Inc. is taking its store down the road to City Hall for a one day sale. Neighborhood magnets, notecards, and local Milwaukee-themed gift items. John Gurda will be on hand to sign books from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Cash and credit cards are accepted at this sale.


South Milwaukee Festival of Trees
On display starting December 8 through December 25
Come out and display your decorating skills for the rest of the community! South Milwaukee’s Ace Hardware has donated 40 trees this year either in the Caterpillar depot parking lot or at the farmers market at 11th and Milwaukee. Businesses, organizations, and local youth and schools groups can feel free to decorate the trees until December 8 by signing up and emailing Karin Wierman at wierman_karin_a@cat.com.


South Milwaukee Holiday Events 
There are tons of family-friendly and fun things to do in South Milwaukee during the Holiday Season. See the event flyer below. To see an enlarged flyer, click on the photo or the hyperlink above.

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