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April 11, 2013



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


Web Site:


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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. 



Kids Recycled Art Fair
Date: Now through Thurs., April 18

Location: Milwaukee
Calling all Creative Kids. Whole Foods is looking for art for a Kids Recycled Art Fair on Saturday, April 20. Create a piece of art made out of only recycled materials and drop it off to the store by Thursday, April 18 for your chance to enter. The winning artist will receive a Snack Attack Basket valued at $75. All art work will be on display on April 20 with customers voting to decide the winner. The winning artist will be notified via Facebook on Earth Day, which is Monday, April 22. CLICK HERE or call (414) 223-1500 for more information.

Whole Foods Market (MAP)
2305 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53211



Storytime Smiles at the St. Francis Library
Date: Now through Wed., May 1

Location: St. Francis

Description: Start your child on the road to reading. The St. Francis Library is offering free storytimes for children this spring. Families can register now, in the Children's Room or over the phone by calling (414) 481-7323. Your child will enjoy a combination of stories, fingerplays, flannel board stories, puppets, art projects, and more. Each storytime matches your child's developmental level, attention span, and interests, to promote a love of literature. They are also a great time to meet new and old friends, and a special time for all who join in. Pajamarama (for ages 2-6) is scheduled for Monday nights from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Or join Preschool Storytime (for ages 3-6) on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.
Two year-olds are invited to Toddler Time on Wednesdays from 10:15 a.m. to 10:45 a.m., with an optional playtime afterward. All young children can play with their friends at Tot Time, which is held on Fridays from 9 a.m. to 11 a.m. with a brief storytime and playtime. CLICK HERE for more information, including a complete schedule of storytime events.



Art in Bloom: A Tribute to Art and Flowers

Date: Thurs., April 11 through Sun., April 14

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Immerse yourself in fragrant beauty, with numerous opportunities to enhance your floral and gardening know-how. Attend lectures and master classes with renowned floral designers Ron Morgan and Neil Whittaker. Join Jill Bedford, Melinda Myers, and Jim Walczak in presentations designed to provide you with a variety of ideas for use at home this season. CLICK HERE for more information.


Milwaukee Art Museum (MAP)

700 N. Art Museum Drive Milwaukee, WI 53202



35th Latin American Film Series
Date: Fri., April 12 through Fri., April 19
Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Center for Latin American and Caribbean Studies, UWM Union Programming, Union Theatre, and the Department of Film present the 35th annual Latin American Film Series. Thirteen movies will be screened for free over the course of this event. CLICK HERE or call (414) 229-4070 for more information, including a list of participating films.

UW-Milwaukee Union Cinema (MAP)
2200 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211

Free Fishing Clinics for Kids

Date: Sat., April 13 from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Location: Multiple Locations
Description: Learn about techniques, equipment, knots, safety, and fish identification at this event for youth 15 and younger. An adult must accompany children 6 years of age or less. Classes will be offered hourly from 9 a.m. to 3 p.m. with last clinic starting at 2 p.m. Equipment will be available, but participants should bring their own rod and reel, if possible. Groups of 20 or more must pre-register with the Department of Natural Resources at (414) 263-8614. This clinic will be offered at Oak Creek Parkway, Sheridan Park, and Humboldt Park, among others. CLICK HERE for more information and a list of additional locations.


Used Book Sale
Date: Sat., April 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Do you have books you want to get rid of but do not know what to do with them? Consider donating them to the Friends of South Milwaukee Public Library for their used book sale. Proceeds will benefit the library by providing funding for special equipment, programs, publicity, and more. The Saturday book sale will be held at the South Milwaukee Public Library on April 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.

South Milwaukee Public Library (MAP)
1907 10th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53712


NEWaukee Young Professional Week

Date: Sun., April 14 through Sun., April 21

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Young Professional Week is a national discussion of the issues that face today's Millennial Generation. This weeklong program examines a variety of topics that face today's young professional, including sustainability in a modern city, women in leadership, and innovation in Milwaukee. The Bubbler Awards will also be held and a brunch with the CEO of Zappos will be featured. CLICK HERE for more information and a schedule of the week's events.


Gallery Night and Day
Date: Fri., April 19 through Sat., April 20

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Gallery Night and Day is the premier art event in Milwaukee for both the experienced art connoisseur and the beginning admirer. Presented by the Historic Third Ward Association, this evening of gallery hopping and art viewing begins Friday, April 19 and continues during the day on Saturday, April 20. The quarterly event will showcase 62 venues throughout the downtown Milwaukee area. Admission to all participating venues is free during event hours. CLICK HERE for more information, including a list of participating locations.



Financial Awareness, Wisconsin Saves

Date: Mon., April 22 at 12:30 p.m.

Location: Cudahy

Description: Learn how to develop positive spending habits through the Wisconsin Savers Program. This event is free and open to the public. Please call (414) 481-9611 to register for this event in advance.

Kelly Senior Center (MAP) 6100 S. Lake Drive

Cudahy, WI 53110





































































































































Dear Friend,


This week we not only take a more in-depth look at the gender wage gap, but we also examine a budget provision that infringes on local control, the importance of libraries in our community, and how to make your voice heard on the budget. Continue reading for more information on these and other important issues.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7




Equal Paychecks Help Our Middle Class

This past Tuesday, we celebrated Equal Pay Day, which strives to bring awareness to the disparity in wages between men and women. Placing the holiday on a Tuesday was chosen intentionally to represent the fact that women must work one week and into Tuesday of the next week to make the equivalent of what men make in just one week of work. While the gender pay gap has narrowed somewhat since the 1970s, progress has recently stalled.


According to the most recently available statistics from the U.S. Department of Labor, the average American woman working full-time, year-round was paid just 77 cents for every dollar earned by their male counterparts. Unfortunately, Wisconsin is not doing much better than the national average. According to the American Association of University Women, men in Wisconsin working a full-time job earned $46,214 on average compared to women doing equal work, who earned just $35,890 on average for an earnings ratio of just 78%.


This means that women in Wisconsin earn, on average, $10,000 less than men each year. If the gender wage gap were eliminated, a working woman receiving equal pay for equal work in Wisconsin would have enough money for one of the following:

  • 86 more weeks of food

  • 7 more months of mortgage and utility payments

  • 14 more months of rent

  • 2,799 additional gallons of gas

The fight for equal paychecks is not just a fight for women, but a fight for the health of Wisconsin's middle-class families. Approximately 229,080 households in Wisconsin are headed by women.  Additionally, the majority of all women are either primary or co-breadwinners in their family. Therefore, the pay gap also has a negative impact to the tune of roughly $10,000 on Wisconsin women, men and children alike, and may even prevent these families from joining or remaining part of our middle class. 


In 2009, Wisconsin led the nation by passing the Equal Pay Enforcement Act, legislation to give gender discrimination victims an avenue on the state level to recoup damages and deter bad actors from such undesirable actions. Before the Act, Wisconsin ranked 36th in the country when it came to closing the gender pay gap. Just a year after the law passed, Wisconsin's ranking improved by 12 spots, moving to 24th in the nation.


Shocking the state, all legislative Republicans rejected Wisconsin's tradition of fairness by voting to roll back equal protection laws for Wisconsin's working women by passing 2011 Wisconsin Act 219 last session. The adoption of this proposal eliminates equal protection laws for Wisconsin's women and limits their ability to seek justice for discrimination. This bill not only halted much needed steps towards equal pay for women, but also erased prior advances that have been made. As a result, Wisconsin's women have been sent backwards.


Earlier this week, my Democratic colleagues, Senator Hansen and Representative Sinicki, officially introduced legislation to correct the mistake Republicans made last session and re-adopt the Equal Pay Enforcement Act. I have signed on as a co-sponsor of this legislation and look forward to supporting this fairness bill should it reach the Senate floor for a vote this session.



Stomping on Local Control in Milwaukee: Who's Next?

In February of this year, legislative Republicans introduced legislation to supersede local control by eliminating Milwaukee's residency requirement for municipal employees, including teachers, police, and fire fighters. This attack on local control was also inserted into Governor Walker's 2013-2015 Biennial Budget.


Nearly 130 cities and towns across the state, including Milwaukee, have some form of residency requirement for various public employees. In Milwaukee, this requirement has been in place since 1938. I too have the requirement of living within the 7th Senate District if I wish to represent the people of that community. The slippery slope created by enacting this proposal could create a plague of infringement on local control regarding this and other issues that will likely spread beyond the borders of Milwaukee.


Village of Greendale President John Hermes voiced a similar perspective. According to recent news articles, at a public hearing before the Joint Finance Committee on the budget this past Monday, Hermes urged legislators to cut the budget provision prohibiting local governments and schools from having their employees follow residency guidelines.
He was quoted saying: "The requirement is especially critical to us. It has long been and should remain a home rule right." There is also growing bipartisan opposition within the Legislature, with Sen. Grothman and Rep. Kapenga openly opposing the proposal.


I agree that repealing residency requirements is a decision that should be left for local communities and governments to make. Local elected officials have the best understanding of the needs within their community. Should their constituents believe the current residency requirements are too restrictive, they are in the best position to act on those concerns. Residency requirements for city employees help to strengthen workers' bonds to the communities they serve, and maintain the integrity of the city's neighborhoods, economy, and services.

Specifically in Milwaukee, city employees help sustain stable, middle-class neighborhoods. Neither the Milwaukee Public School system, nor the Police and Fire Commission have had issues hiring and retaining quality employees from within the community. The long-term effect of large numbers of professional employees departing from the city would hurt the property values of homeowners in the surrounding neighborhoods, hindering the city's ability to provide services due to decreased property tax revenue.

Governor Walker's proposal has also elicited a great deal of opposition, including that by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities' board of directors, the Milwaukee Brotherhood of Firefighters, the ACLU of Wisconsin, and the Intergovernmental Cooperation Council, which consists of the chief elected officials in Milwaukee County municipalities. These groups share my belief that residency is a matter of local control and does not belong in the state budget.



Ask Chris

I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.


Q: I was unable to attend the public hearings on the budget. What can I do to advocate against the budget provision that expands unaccountable voucher schools across Wisconsin?


A: I am sorry to hear that you were unable to make it to the public hearings on the budget. Fortunately, there are a number of other avenues available to you to ensure your voice is heard regarding voucher expansion.


First, I encourage you to contact your local elected officials including your Assembly representative, state senator, and the governor via email, phone, or letter, whether they agree or disagree with your perspective. Doing so officially guarantees your contact and position are recorded and that these officials have a more accurate idea of how their constituency feels on a particular issue, such as the expansion of the voucher program in Wisconsin.


Second, you can also sign or circulate a petition that reaffirms your views. One such petition is currently being circulated on The petition states the following:


In 2011, Governor Walker and the Republican Legislature passed a budget that contained the largest cuts to public education in Wisconsin history--$1.6 billion gone from our kids' schools. Class sizes went up drastically. Quality after-school programs were eliminated. Good teachers were laid off.

This year, the governor's proposed budget freezes public school spending, while increasing funding for unaccountable and unproven private voucher schools. Tell Governor Walker and the state Republicans to stand up for our kids and not special interests that want to profit on the backs of our future generations.

Petition signatures will then be shared with your state representative, state senator, and the governor. Additionally, once a neighbor has signed on to the petition, they will then have the option to send information about the petition to others by sharing it on Facebook, tweeting about it on Twitter, or emailing it to friends and family.


Click here to sign the petition.


Finally, while the Joint Finance Committee is concluding their public hearings on the budget, my Democratic colleagues and I will be hosting additional hearings to ensure that neighbors have ample opportunity to have their voices heard on the most important bill of the session. Information on these additional hearings is provided in an article further down in this issue of the Larson Report.




Did You Know...?

You may know that Wisconsin recognized Equal Pay Day this week. But did you know that over that course of her career, a typical woman working full-time in the U.S. will lose out $431,000 because of the existing pay gap?



With this money, she could buy a house in the U.S., put two kids through college at a public school, buy 21,900 gallons of gas, and feed a family of four for 6.4 years. 



Public Participation Encouraged in Budget Public Hearings

The Joint Finance Committee is wrapping up its official hearings on the budget. The hearings held this session and last session mark the lowest number of hearings held by the Joint Finance Committee in 25 years. Senate and Assembly Democrats understand that it will be impossible for many to get off work and participate in these limited events. Therefore, we are holding additional budget hearings across the state to make sure that our neighbors have an opportunity to voice their priorities and values to members of the Joint Finance Committee, as well as legislative leaders.


The budget is a document that sets our priorities and defines our state, so it is crucial that Wisconsinites have a genuine opportunity to have their voice heard on important budgetary issues, such as the expansion of unaccountable voucher schools, rejection of federal funds to expand health care access, doing away with the popular Buy Local, Buy Wisconsin program, and much more. While one such hearing has already occurred in La Crosse, continue reading for more information on upcoming listening sessions.

April 15 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Racine

Gateway Technical College, Great Lakes Room, 1001 Main Street, Racine

April 20 from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Milwaukee

MPS Administration Building, 5225 West Vliet Street, Milwaukee

April 22 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Wausau

UW Marathon County, 518 South 7th Avenue, Wausau

April 22 from 5 p.m. to 6:30 p.m. in Viroqua

Viroqua Middle/High School Band Room, 100 Blackhawk Drive, Viroqua

April 23 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Madison

Black Hawk Middle School, 1402 Wyoming Way, Madison

April 24 from 5 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Wisconsin Rapids Wisconsin Rapids City Council Chambers, 444 West Grand Avenue, Wisconsin Rapids

April 25 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Appleton

Fox Valley Technical College, D.J. Bordini Business & Industry Center Room 103, 5 Systems Drive, Appleton

April 27 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. in Barron

Barron County Courthouse, 1420 Wisconsin 25, Barron

April 29 from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. in Eau Claire

Chippewa Valley Technical College, 620 West Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire



Wisconsin's Tribes Address the State

This week, the chairman of the Lac Courte Orilles tribes, Gordon Thayer, delivered the annual State of the Tribes Address before the Wisconsin Legislature. Some of the issues address by the tribes included hunting and fishing, mining legislation, education, and health care, among others. The address also encouraged greater governmental consultation with Wisconsin tribes on issues that affect them. Although it was acknowledged that the tribes and the Legislature may not always agree on the best course for policy, Thayer urged the Legislature to sit down at the table to discuss important issues as they arise.


Click here to see the State of the Tribes address in its entirety.




National Library Week Almost Here

Created in 1958, National Library Week is a national observance sponsored by the American Library Association and libraries across the country the second full week of each April. This year, Library Week will be celebrated from April 14 through April 20.


Our neighborhood and school libraries have come to play and integral role in our communities. Today's libraries can help Wisconsin's families discover a new and exciting world through collections, digital resources, and more. They also help children develop a love of reading to ensure that they have the necessary skills to be successful in school and their future jobs. Additionally, whether you come for homework or job searches, help with citizenship issues or finances, adult education classes or to find the best books for young readers, libraries are a great place to spend quality time.

It would be impossible to continue these community-improving pursuits without our valued local librarians. These individuals work with elected officials, small business owners, students, and the public at large to discover what their communities needs are and meet them.


Want to celebrate National Library Week in your community? Contact your neighborhood library to see if they have any activities to recognize this national observance.



Solar Riverwest: Milwaukee's first Neighborhood Group Buy Program

Home and business owners in the Riverwest neighborhood have an opportunity to take advantage of record low solar pricing through a limited-time solar group purchase program. The Solar Riverwest program is a new solar group buy program that can help residents invest in lower cost solar installations through the power of volume-purchasing.

Solar Riverwest is being led by Riverwest Cooperative Alliance with support from the city of Milwaukee's solar program, Milwaukee Shines, and the Midwest Renewable Energy Association. While designed for the Riverwest neighborhood, the solar group buy program is available for any resident in the city of Milwaukee. Neighbors will have the opportunity to enroll in this ground-breaking community program now through July 2013.


Information sessions on this program will be offered in April and May. Date and locations for these meetings are listed below.

Thursday, April 18 at 4 p.m.
People's Books
804 E. Center (& Fratney)

Sunday, April 21 at 6 p.m.
Riverwest Public House
815 E. Locust (& Fratney)

Thursday, May 9 at 6 p.m.
Pink House Studio

601 E. Wright (& Booth)



Take My Survey Online

I recently mailed out a newsletter district wide. This newsletter not only provided an update on a variety of important legislative issues, but it also featured a survey. The short survey provides me with a way to learn more about you and gives you the opportunity to share your thoughts on how to move Wisconsin forward together.

This survey was distributed by mail in my district wide newsletter titled Neighborhood News and has also been made available online.

Click here to save a stamp and take the Neighborhood News Survey online.

I look forward to tackling difficult but important issues with the governor and Republican legislators. However, such efforts will only succeed if as fellow badgers we dig deep and work together to create a brighter future for our family, friends, and neighbors. I look forward to hearing your feedback so I can represent you and our community as we endeavor to renew the Wisconsin spirit.




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