Larson Report 
NEWSLETTER

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A Capitol Update from State Senator Chris Larson 

Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

I hope you and your family are doing well and staying warm. 

 

While many people know that President Trump gave his State of the Union speech on Tuesday, many may have missed a speech Governor Walker gave to discuss how he views our State of the State. It was a drastic re-writing of history. We’ll give you the breakdown and outline where we should be going as a state.

 

An update for those following the issue: little has been done by legislative Republicans to address the Walker-created youth incarceration crisis or the directive by Governor Walker to act. I will continue to push my Senate colleagues in addressing this pressing concern.

 

There is, however, a Special Session to attack the poor in our state that follows the pattern of “divide and conquer” by Walker and legislative Republicans. This time, they are attempting to alienate our neighbors who are on FoodShare and Medicaid by figuring out ways to kick them off this much-needed help. 

 
As always, we have an update on additional news stories and exciting community activities happening around our neighborhood.
In Service, 

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P.S. Save the dates! The schedule for February's "Conversations with Chris" have been set. 

 

Monday, February 12

5:00pm to 6:30pm

La Finca Coffeehouse

3558 E Sivyer Ave

St. Francis

Friday, February 23

12:00pm to 1:30pm

Avenue Coffeehouse 

911 Milwaukee Ave

South Milwaukee

 

 State of the State

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Rose-Colored Glasses

The legislature gathered on January 24th to hear Governor Walker’s State of the State address. True to form, Governor Walker donned his rose-colored glasses and told the state that our lackluster economy, healthcare crisis, underfunded schools, job creation failures, dismantled environmental safeguards, threats to our drinking water, and struggling middle class are not a problem. Like Trump, he is ignoring the reality our neighbors are facing every day and playing a desperate blame game.

 

Just a few things Governor Walker ran away from in his speech:

  • Healthcare - His rejection of the Medicaid expansion for the people of Wisconsin, costing our taxpayers over $700 million. Walker denied federal Medicaid funding, in turn, thousands of Wisconsinites were denied the health care they need. The governor has kicked the can down the road by neglecting to strengthen BadgerCare, even though this is what must be done in order to properly protect the health of our families, neighbors and friends.
  • Foxconn - Walker ignored troubling new information that has surfaced regarding the biggest tax dollar giveaway to a corporation in our history. A new report has revealed that despite a price tag that has already quietly grown to a stunning cost of $4.5 billion, close to half of that is not even tied to job creation. With the Foxconn gamble, the more you know the worse it looks. The other shocking new information is that Foxconn wants to siphon away 7 million gallons of water from Lake Michigan each day. Worse yet, they don’t plan to return 39% of the water back to the Lake. Walker and Republican legislators rushed to allow Foxconn to ignore environmental protections, despite this foreign corporations terrible environmental and pollution records around the world. It has become increasingly clear that Walker’s Foxconn scheme was to cover the utter lack of an economic plan. It’s a scheme that will harm our land and waters. A scheme that denies us the ability to adequately invest in education, home-grown businesses, healthcare, or other priorities we might have over the next 25 years.
  • Our Conservation Heritage - Walker and his Republican allies have continued to push the dismantling of our conservation heritage, undermining our shared land and water ethic. Turning his back on stewardship, Governor Walker has the worst conservation record in recent history including reducing the number of scientists at the DNR and using his position to fight efforts to reduce greenhouse gasses. His administration has even supported allowing state park land to be gobbled up by a billionaire golf course developer, filling in public wetlands that would, according to the DNR, permanently alter hydrology on those wetlands, degrade habitat and pose a potential disruption to wildlife. Further, Governor Walker has slowed our states effort to move from coal to energy independence and renewable energy. Perhaps, one of the most troubling examples is that he has succeeded in allowing sulfide mining, the most toxic polluting industry in America, to operate in Wisconsin largely without our historic pollution safeguards. These are just a few examples of a dismal record and rejection of our tradition of bipartisan stewardship. Governor Walker has put politics and corporate profits ahead of sustainability. This leaves our neighbors deeply concerned about the health and quality of our rivers, streams, and forests. Our children and grandchildren deserve clean air to breathe and water that is free of pollution.
  • Education - He has devastated the ability of our neighborhood schools to educate our children by making the largest cuts to public education in history, nearly $1 billion. Each and every one of our kids deserve a school that is fully able to meet their needs and that will provide them with a quality education. It is unacceptable that our public schools have faced catastrophic cuts, while taxpayer dollars flow to unaccountable private voucher schools.

 

After 7 years, it’s clear Walker's agenda is wrong for Wisconsin. There are solid alternatives that must be moved forward to make Wisconsin a state of opportunity again. The system has been rigged against those trying to achieve the American Dream for too long. I will continue to fight for a fair economy that expands opportunities for families and strengthens our community. 

 

Our shared Wisconsin values commit us to:

  • Strengthening our neighborhood schools by restoring the over $1 billion in state aid that was cut by Republicans and ending the unaccountable voucher school scheme that is siphoning millions of dollars away from public education.
  • Making child care more affordable and expanding access to paid leave for parents.
  • Updating our infrastructure to meet the needs of our current generation.
  • Adequately funding lead abatement to stop the poisoning of our children and restore safe drinking water to our communities.
  • Protecting our shared land and water for future generations to enjoy. 
  • Legalizing the recreational and medicinal use of cannabis and harnessing the economic growth that comes with legalization to restore our cities and promote a more promising future in Wisconsin. 
  • Protecting and promoting Wisconsin born and grown businesses by developing a real economic job creation plan that invests in Wisconsin entrepreneurs and workers.

 

Despite the smooth talk offered by the governor, Governor Walker's apparent rush from his record of partisan extremes is a little too late to mediate the damage he has done. Wisconsinites will still be stuck cleaning up Walker’s mess well after he is gone. Our neighbors are calling out for sensible leadership that will serve the people, not just the wealthy and well-connected.

 

I invite you, and all our neighbors, to send me your vision for the future of Wisconsin. Together, we can move our state Forward. 

Punishing the Poor

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Governor Walker’s well-documented record of favoring corporations over the wellbeing of our neighbors was the silent theme of his recent State of the State speech. After seven years under Walker, Wisconsin is reeling from his irresponsible policies that favor the wealthy and well connected. Walker has seen the writing on the wall ahead of the 2018 election and has decided to double down on his divide and conquer strategy of pitting neighbor against neighbor by targeting the most vulnerable amongst us.

 

Instead of taking a hard look at his policies that have left Wisconsin ranked dead last in business startups, 34th in the nation for private sector job growth, and 10th most moved out of state, Governor Walker has decided to blame our state’s most vulnerable citizens.

 

After throwing $4.5 billion in corporate welfare to a foreign corporation, Walker is now taking steps to slash our state’s critical support programs. The governor’s call for a special session of the Wisconsin State Legislature aims to create new laws that will drastically harm our neighbors who are already struggling financially. In addition, these pieces of legislation do nothing to address the underlining factors that contribute to joblessness, hunger, or poverty.

 

As Wisconsinites, we believe that helping our neighbor is key to the success of our entire state. In such, we must acknowledge the reality that the unemployment and underemployment experienced by so many of our neighbors is brought on, in part, by the unwillingness of Republican leadership to invest wisely in proven solutions that help people get back to work at a job that provides a living wage. The inability to access quality education, reliable public transportation, affordable childcare, and medical care have left so many of our neighbors in a system that sets them up for failure. 

 

The neighbors that Governor Walker seeks to turn us against depend on resources like FoodShare, BadgerCare, and housing assistance for basic standards of living. Their temporary need is born out of necessity. Governor Walker’s proposals make it clear that the Republicans in control of our government do not care about addressing the true barriers of quality employment that our neighbors face. The proposals included in Walker’s effort to further dismantle safety net programs could actually lead to increased costs and ignore best practices.

 

One example of his punitive proposals is the requirement of photo identification cards for FoodShare recipients. Many in Wisconsin might not realize the FoodShare program is designed to make sure households get enough to eat and that the benefit can be utilized by the entire household, not just the individual listed on the card. Struggling families all pitch in to make it work and FoodShare recognizes this. The new restriction would prohibit household members from going to the store for the family.

 

To put this in real life terms, think of how many of us need our spouses and children to run to the grocery store while we are at work or taking care of minor children. The move to require FoodShare cards to have a photo ID is unnecessary as Wisconsin already has strong safeguards against fraud and the move would require grocery stores to act as enforcers of the new layer of bureaucracy. Furthermore, since Foodshare is a federally funded program, this action would require a federal waiver from the United States Department of Agriculture, which has given no indication of approving such a request.

 

In addition to changes proposed to the FoodShare program, legislative Republicans are pushing mandated health savings accounts for Medicaid recipients. Though saving for medical expenses seems like a good idea, the fact is that because our neighbors are in financial distress, mandating yet another monthly expense to their already tight budgets could leave families at risk of not having the funds to pay for food and shelter. Additionally, because Walker and Republicans continue to make healthcare more expensive than in neighboring states, the creation of a health savings account is likely to lead to Walker pushing them further to fend for themselves against growing health care costs.

 

Furthermore, Governor Walker and legislative Republicans have decided to stigmatize our neighbors who are going through tough times by forcing them to be drug tested before receiving FoodShare. Walker is trying to sell this as a way to help people; however, the reality is that he is attempting to discourage people with a serious health issue from seeking Foodshare in the first place. On top of violating federal law, this unnecessary and demeaning practice will cost our state, like it has other states, hundreds of thousands of dollars and result in large legal battles in which the taxpayer will be left holding the bill.

 

The reasons why people may be temporarily unemployed or underemployed vary, but they need assistance to make ends meet and by taking those minimal supports away Wisconsin will continue to fail in getting families back on their feet. The moral of the story is that Walker should not waste time blaming those most hurt by his anemic economy or deny basic necessities to the most vulnerable children, families, and people with disabilities in our state. Instead, we should be expanding economic opportunities that grow our middle class and lift families out of the cycle of poverty and address root issues to complex situations.

 

Take Action

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Stealing a page from President Trump's playbook, Governor Walker and legislative Republicans are attempting to stoke fear and division in Wisconsin by proposing unnecessary and burdensome requirements for public assistance programs. We should be seeking proven, effective paths to lift our neighbors out of poverty, not taking away their access to food, health care, and transportation. 

 

Call Governor Walker and tell him that rather than creating barriers for low-income families to access quality child care, health services and food assistance, we should expand economic opportunities, improve financial security and work to strengthen our communities.

 

Phone: (608) 266-1212

Email: govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

 

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.

 

  • MADD and other advocates joined together to support changing the culture of drinking and driving in Wisconsin. On January 23, 2018 I was joined by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, AAA, and families who have lost loved ones to drunk driving in pushing for SB 688, the "Drunk Driving Prevention Act." In their testimony, we heard from families that are still reeling from the pain of losing their loved ones in preventable travesties. Shockingly, in a 2009 study, 26% of Wisconsin adults admitted to operating a vehicle while intoxicated. Each and every one of us has a right to live in a safe and secure community. If you would like to advocate for the legislation, call Senator Wanggaard at (608) 266-1832 and ask him to schedule a public hearing for SB 688. View the stories of our neighbors affected by drunk driving here.

  • January 22, 2018 marked the 45th Anniversary of Roe v. Wade. For 45 years the law of the land has guaranteed a woman’s right to make her own health care decisions without the interference of politicians who think they know better. Stories of what life was like before the Roe v. Wade decision recall a dark and dangerous time in history that is better left not being repeated. Given the dangerous and extreme political theater in the Walker and Trump administrations, it is important that we strongly affirm this crucial right and avoid turning the clock back 45 years. Check out my full press release here.

 

  • St. Francis Barrel Company to Install Anti-Pollution Equipment. Mid-America Drum in St. Francis has informed the public that it intends to install equipment to reduce pollution and alleviate strong odors that arise from the refurbishment process. Residents living in the areas near the plant have complained about the odor for years, and the installation of this anti-pollution equipment is a direct result of their activism. After the initial alarm was raised in an investigative report by the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, neighbors have worked hard to educate the public about the harmful nature of the chemicals and odors coming from this facility. As even EPA inspectors reported, the fumes coming from the plant can result in burning eyes, sore throats, and lasting headaches. In fact, in November, the EPA issued 20 violations against Mid-America Plants, a subsidiary of Container Life Cycle Management, the company that operates the plants. Check out the full article 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. 

 

“Going for Gold” Jessie Garcia Book Talk and Signing

February 1st

5:00 p.m. to 7:00 p.m.

Milwaukee County Historical Society 910 N Old World 3rd St., Milwaukee, WI

Author and Sportscaster Jessie Garcia is coming to the Milwaukee County Historical Society to talk about her book “Going for Wisconsin Gold: Stories of Our State Olympians.” This event is perfect for getting the community excited about the upcoming winter Olympics. Doors will open at 5 p.m. and the actual talk will start at 6 p.m. Admission is free.

 

 

Wisconsin Vietnam Veterans Faces Project

February 2nd

12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

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

The War Memorial Center is putting on an exhibit to honor the 1,161 Wisconsin soldiers killed in Vietnam. There will be a talk as well as a 450 photo display to give these soldiers the recognition that they deserve. Admission to the event will be free of charge.

 


South Milwaukee Winter Market

1101 Milwaukee Ave, South Milwaukee 

Sunday, February 4th

10 a.m. to 2 p.m.

South Milwaukee is kicking off their TENTH year with a new Sunday indoor winter market.

This will be a smaller market that copies our outdoor market and to test if our community would support this event over the winter months.

 

 

Performance of George Orwell’s “Animal Farm”

January 30th-February 4th

Milwaukee Repertory Theater   108 E. Wells St., Milwaukee, Wisconsin 53202

A performance of one of the most celebrated political novels of all time. This enactment gives a new take on a renowned classic. Ticket prices start at $30, students and seniors receive a discount for their tickets.

 

 

Addiction Policy Forum - Community Training & Planning Session

February 10th 

1:30 p.m. to 6 p.m.

This event is appropriate for anyone in the state that has an interest in working towards solutions to the drug epidemic. Individuals, organizations, groups, policymakers, legislators and affected families are encouraged to attend and bring others to this free, informative event. See more details here.

 

 

MIAD Creativity Series-Jaime Hayon

February 13th at 6 p.m.

Milwaukee Institute of Art & Design 273 E. Erie Street, Milwaukee, WI 53202

MIAD creativity series showcases famed international designer Jaime Hayon who will give his presentation titled “Form Follows Function”. Mr. Hayon is widely considered a revolutionary in new age contemporary design and has worked for brands like Swarovski and Fritz Hansen. Admission to the event will be free of charge.

 

 

Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market
Now through April 14
Market Hours: 9:00am to 1:00pm

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory
524 S. Layton Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53215

The Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market is operated by the Fondy Food Center. The mission of the Fondy Food Center is to connect neighborhoods to fresh, local food - from farm to market to table. We do our work by operating 3 farmers markets, a farm, and coordinating a local farmers market coalition.

The Milwaukee Winter Farmers Market (MWFM) brings together about 50 weekly vendors in the Greenhouse Annex at the Mitchell Park Domes. There, agricultural vendors offer high quality fruit, vegetables, meat, eggs, poultry and dairy products. Local food vendors also bring a wide variety of freshly baked goods, jams, cider, honey, maple syrup, sorghum, sauces and soups, as well as delicious global cuisine.