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 enjoying the first few days of Spring (despite the cold). Personally, I'm counting down the days to Brewers Opening Day and looking forward to the promise of outdoor cookouts.

Earlier this week, the 2017-2018 legislative session came to a close. I wanted to take this chance to inform you about some of the bills that came up for a vote in the Senate this past Tuesday, as well some important ones that didn't.

Democrats continued to work hard on forward thinking proposals to better our great state. Unfortunately, it has been clear that legislative Republicans, along with Governor Walker, were more interested in doubling down on partisan policies than working on real solutions. The last days of session represented a last ditch attempt by legislative Republicans to push through their destructive agenda before elections happen. We ended this session without paying back the money that was taken from our children's schools; without addressing crushing student loan debt; without safeguarding our shared land and water; without shoring up our crumbling infrastructure; and without passing common sense gun reforms. While indications are that session is done, there's a small chance we come back again for a day or two, so we'll save the full list of bad bills for a future report.

We also have info on other breaking news and exciting community activities happening in our community.

 

In Service, 

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Chris Larson 
State Senator
7th District

 Their Last Ditch Effort


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Legislative Republicans made it clear that they intended to close up shop in Madison quickly and disburse across the state to mislead our neighbors on what they've actually been up to. In the last scheduled day of session for the State Senate, we considered over 100+ pieces of legislation. Information is available on each of the bills here. 

Some Highlights and Lowlights of the Session Day 

  • As a lead author of the proposal to close the troubled Lincoln Hills facility, I am very pleased that a bill aiming to close the Lincoln Hills juvenile facility (AB 953) has passed the State Senate. It was extremely concerning to me that the abuse and neglect at Lincoln Hills had been allowed to continue for years while Republicans knowingly turned a blind eye. Also concerning, was that the majority of the youth at Lincoln Hills – which is isolated in north-central Wisconsin – are actually from over 200 miles away. The core principles of this legislation were based off of the very successful Missouri model for juvenile reform. This model advocates three primary principals: creation of small housing facilities within the community so that parents have ready access to their children, development of  long-term rehabilitation programs that allows for youth offenders to remain in communication with case workers throughout and after incarceration, and increased educational standards which included expanded course credit offerings to ensure that adjudicated youth are able to complete their education while incarcerated. Lincoln Hills will be replaced with Department of Corrections run facilities for the most serious offenders and smaller county-run facilities for the less serious offenders. By utilizing this kind of data-driven best practices, we are offering our youth their best chance at a second chance. You can find information on this legislation here. 
  • Republicans reluctantly retreated from the Foxconn style corporate giveaway to Kimberly-Clark. In a dramatic turn-about, Senate Republicans pulled the bill off of the schedule that would have given away upwards of $100 million to Kimberly-Clark. Given the ever increasing cost of the Foxconn fiasco, Republicans could not muster support for yet another massive corporate giveaway. What we need to secure a strong economic future, has been ignored for the last eight years, a strategic plan for economic development and job creation. What we have gotten from the Republicans, is massive corporate welfare through WEDC and sweetheart tax deals for the largest corporations. Both of which, have proven ineffective at creating jobs: a fact that Governor Walker seems to be ignoring.      
  • Unfortunately, there was plenty of bad news, the Senate  approved AB 941, which exempts certain byproducts of steel production from proper disposal by naming them “items of value.” Environmental groups, including the Sierra Club and Clean Wisconsin, have raised concerns that this bill could allow for potentially harmful materials to enter our air and water supplies. According to the non-partisan Clean Wisconsin, the levels of contamination in these byproducts varies greatly. If implemented, these byproducts not only pose a poisonous risk to children directly, but they also pose the potential to leach into groundwater, causing permanent contamination. Click here

Republicans Failed to do Anything on Gun Violence

During the "school safety" session, last Tuesday,Senate Republicans failed to do anything on the issue of gun violence. Having a session on school safety, without tackling the issue of guns, is like bringing a water balloon to a house fire and expecting to douse the flames: it is dangerously not enough. My Democratic colleagues and I offered common sense amendments to reduce the epidemic of gun violence and to take real steps to prevent gun deaths in Wisconsin. We had heard from students from all over the state and they told us to do something serious to get guns out of the hands of dangerous people. Republican legislators ignored those students by rejecting all of our gun reform efforts.

They rejected an amendment I offered which would have prevented individuals recently convicted of domestic violence from purchasing and possessing firearms. We know that violence tends to escalate and when domestic abusers are allowed to buy and possess firearms there can be tragic results. According to the National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, the presence of a gun in a domestic violence situation, increases the chance of homicide by 500%. What this amendment sought to do was prevent those gun purchases the moment violence is exhibited and the person is convicted. The fact is, that with this vote, Republican legislators support allowing a dangerously violent person to purchase and own deadly firearms.

Senate Republicans even rejected an amendment that would require universal background checks for all gun purchases. Most of our neighbors are shocked to find out this isn’t already law. Background checks keep guns out of the hands of those who legally can't own them. By voting against this amendment, Republican voted to keep the "gun show loophole" open. This loophole allows a person who would never pass a background check at a licensed gun dealer to purchase a gun from a "private seller," like at a gun show. This would be like allowing a person under the age of 21, to buy hard alcohol at a garage sale or through Craigslist. It makes no sense and defies logic.     

Republicans also rejected reinstating the 48 hour waiting period for handgun purchases. This cooling off period would reduce both homicides and suicides. Republicans eliminated the waiting period just two years ago as they chose to curry favor with gun manufacturers and the NRA rather than protect our neighbors. 

Gun violence has touched all Americans. We need to acknowledge that this epidemic is uniquely an American problem of our own creation. There are real policies that will help. On the last day of session, Democrats stood ready to  address this issue and we gave legislative Republicans ample opportunity to take real action to prevent firearm tragedies, to help stem the tide of violence, and to give our neighbors and students what they asked us for: real solutions. In the end, those in power chose to ignore them and are counting on them just going away.

They won’t.

 

 

 

Take Action

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Senate Democrats are continuing our fight for common sense gun reforms as well as ensuring the safety of our children at school while legislative Republicans are playing cynical power games with public safety. Governor Walker and those in power need to know that you support real reform on this issue.

I urge you to attend the March for Our Lives this Saturday, March 24, at the County Courthouse at 10 AM. The Milwaukee County Courthouse is located at 901 N. 9th Street and the plan is to march to City Hall. Direct action is one of the best ways to remain civically engaged and to demonstrate grassroots support for this crucial issue. Click Here

Also, call Governor Walker and demand action on the issue of gun violence. So far, we have seen no action on the epidemic of gun violence from either Governor Walker or Legislative Republicans.

Phone: (608) 266-1212
Email: govgeneral@wisconsin.gov

In Case You Missed It

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. Below are some of the top stories from the past couple of weeks.
      
 

  • The Marquette Law School published its most recent poll, with some telling conclusions. The two main conclusions from the poll: voters are unhappy with Governor Walker, and are deeply skeptical of the Foxconn deal. 


    The survey found the massive tax giveaway to Taiwanese manufacturer Foxconn is very unpopular statewide. The poll found that a mere 25% of voters statewide believe Foxconn will benefit businesses where they live, while 66% said it won’t.

    The price tag of this corporate giveaway continues to rise as we learn more details such as Foxconn’s exemptions from environmental safeguards, thirst for millions of gallons of Lake Michigan water, and its growing demand for infrastructure funding.  To read the full poll, click here.

  • Education Secretary Betsy DeVos struggled to answer simple questions about schools in her home state of Michigan in a shocking interview with CBS's 60 Minutes.


    For years, DeVos has promoted unaccountable, for-profit charter schools and voucher programs at the expense of public schools. However, she was befuddled in her 60 Minutes interview when she was questioned about her nonsensical, but long-held claim that taking funds away from public schools will help them improve. When asked if public schools in Michigan have improved since being hit with punitive funding reductions, DeVos, the top education official in the nation, astonishingly confessed that she does not know. Furthermore, she stated that she has “not intentionally visited schools that are under-performing.”

    We must fully fund our traditional public schools and end this decades-long failed experiment in order to ensure a positive and successful life for all our nation’s children.The fact is, in study after study,voucher schools preform no better than public schools.

    Unfortunately, those pushing to privatize and profit from our schools, like DeVos, do not understand the risk to our youth and future when using taxpayer money to fund unaccountable, privately run voucher operators. Check out the story here.

  • 37 Zones nominated as Economic Opportunity Zones in Milwaukee County.

    These zones are part of a federal community development tax incentive program. The goal is to provide an incentive for private investment into areas with a great economic need. It is the hope that the 37 Milwaukee area zones nominated, will be federally approved, and can begin attracting private investment to help jump start local economic growth & vitality. We need more creative tools like this to renew our communities.   

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. 


Teen Job Fairs and Resume Workshops Around Milwaukee

There are some great opportunities coming up for teens to meet hiring managers and apply for jobs. These events are put on by the Milwaukee Public Libraries and occur all over the city. They are free and are just for teens ages 16-19. Teens are encouraged to come prepared with resumes and business-appropriate attire. Resume help will be available at the job fair and you can visit their website for all the details and locations. Click here 

 

Spring Fling Egg Hunt
Date: Saturday, March 24
Time: 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. (opens at 9 a.m. for members!)
Location: Discovery World - 500 N Harbor Drive, Milwaukee

Come hunt for Easter eggs throughout Discovery World. If you find an egg of each color, you will be entered into a drawing to win a Family Membership at the museum. Racine Danish Kringles will also be in attendance with free samples while supplies last!

Humboldt Park and Friends Egg Hunt

Date: Saturday, March 24

Time: 10 a.m to 12 p.m

Location: Humboldt Park Pavilion - 3000 S. Howell Avenue, Milwaukee

Reminder, Humboldt Park has added a food drive to benefit the food pantry at the Bay View Community Center. Please bring a non-perishable food item to the egg hunt. Humboldt Park will also provide the free stroller check-in for the convenience of parents and safety of the kids.

Milwaukee County Zoo Egg Day

Date: Saturday, March 31st

Time: 9 a.m to 3 p.m 

Location: Milwaukee County Zoo, 10001 W. Bluemound Road

The zoo celebrates the season with an annual day devoted to eggs. In addition to the egg hunt at the Lake Evinrude deck, kids will be able to meet the Easter Bunny, get their faces painted like a bunny and enjoy a parade which starts at 2 p.m. at the Northwestern Mutual Family Farm. Oh, and the egg-stravaganza isn't limited to humans either. Keep a lookout for animals enjoying their own brightly decorated Easter eggs.

Oak Creek Community Egg Hunt

Date:Saturday, March 31st 

Time: 10 a.m to 2 p.m

Location: Oak Creek Civic Center, 8040 S 6th Street, Oak Creek

The Oak Creek Civic Center hosts an Egg Hunt on the Saturday before Easter Sunday. Kids 12 and under have the chance to hunt for eggs. Bring your camera for photos with the Easter Bunny!

Click Here for more hunts!

Art in Bloom
Date: April 12 - 15
Time: Check MAM website for hours
Location: Milwaukee Art Museum – 700 N Art Museum Drive, Milwaukee

View art inspired floral arrangements throughout the Milwaukee Art Museum and shop at the market for all things gardening, art, fashion, and floral. There are a variety of events to experience from family-friendly activities to a fashion show. Admission is $17 in advance or $20 at the door, seniors and students are $18, members are $5, and children under 12 are free!


23rd Annual Milwaukee Riverkeeper Spring Cleanup

Date: April 21, 2018
Time: 9:00 am - NOON

Come have fun at the 23rd Annual Milwaukee Riverkeeper Spring Cleanup! Registration opens today. Choose from over 60 locations across the Milwaukee River Basin, and be one of our nearly 4,000 volunteers to help us achieve swimmable, fishable rivers. They provide the bags and gloves, and you provide the hands and energy to pick up trash, litter, and the interesting or bizarre pieces of garbage that find their way into our beautiful river system. Join them afterwards at Estabrook Park for their FREE celebration with Rock the Green.