April 25, 2013
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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.
Catch Me If You Can
Catch Me if You Can is the high-flying, splashy new Broadway musical
that tells the story of Frank W. Abagnale, Jr., a teenager who runs away
from home in search of the glamorous life. With nothing more than his
boyish charm, a big imagination and millions of dollars in forged
checks, Frank successfully poses as a pilot, a doctor and a
lawyer--living the high life and winning the girl of his dreams.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-7206 for more information or to
Storytime Smiles at
the St. Francis Library
Location: St. Francis
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
Milwaukee's most exuberant and anticipated exhibition of emerging talent
returns in all MIAD galleries. Meet the artists and designers who
innovate for the economy and community, and discuss their capstone
projects from all of MIAD's 11 majors and 16 minors.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 291-8070 for more information.
Cudahy Earth Day/Arbor Day
Date: Sat., April 27 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Description: A citywide cleanup will take place in the morning with an Arbor Day tree planting ceremony to follow at noon at Cudahy City Hall. Refreshments will be served and tree seedlings will be distributed to volunteers and attendees. Please contact Joel Puczylowski at (414) 627-8117 to volunteer.
Cudahy City Hall (MAP)
5050 S. Lake Drive
Cudahy, WI 53110
Date: Sat., April 27 from 9 a.m. to Noon
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Join in a neighborhood clean up with lunch afterwards at the South Milwaukee Senior Center. Contact Alderman David Bartoshevich at (414) 764-2836 for more details.
Weed-out at Grant Park
Date: Sat., April 27 at 9 a.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Pull invasive garlic mustard to protect plant diversity in Grant Park. Meet at the tennis courts parking lot (Area 1) in Grant Park. Put in an hour of pulling or stay until the traditional finish time of noon. CLICK HERE or call (414) 764-061 for more information.
Grant Park (MAP)
100 E. Hawthorne
Location: Bay View
This year's event will feature the popular re-enactment of the Tragedy
performed by the Milwaukee Public Theatre with the Milwaukee Puppet and
Mask Theatre. The traditional program will also feature main speaker
Michael Gordon, professor emeritus of history from UWM. The program is
free and open to the public and located at the Historical Marker Site at
the intersection of South Superior Street and East Russell Avenue in Bay
CLICK HERE for more information about this event.
In honor of Earth Day, this week's newsletter will focus on budget provisions and legislative proposals related to Wisconsin's environment and tradition of stewardship. Continue reading for more information about this and other issues.
Stewardship Fund Reaches Chopping Block
The Wisconsin Legislature created the
Warren Knowles-Gaylord Nelson Stewardship Fund to preserve and maintain
Wisconsin's valuable natural resources and environment, as well as
expand outdoor recreational activities. The Department of Natural
Resources (DNR), through this stewardship program, helps Wisconsin
retain its identity as one of the best states for conservation and
provides thousands of acres for outdoor recreation for current and
More Environmental Rollbacks
In addition to cutting Stewardship funds, the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget also includes a number of other environmental rollbacks and ignores growing conservation problems. This is especially true with regards to cutting county conservation staff and ignoring community concerns regarding frac sand mining sites. Continue reading for more information on these budgetary issues.
Cuts Conservation Officers
County conservation staff are crucial in Wisconsin's environmental efforts. Their goal is to provide conservation planning assistance and technical services in the area of soil and water conservation to landowners, land users, and county decision-makers. Unfortunately, the governor's proposed budget cuts
$1.8 million from county conservation staff funding.
The proposal also retains a $1.3 million cut that went in to effect in the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget for county land conservation departments. Additionally, Governor Walker is cutting the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection's budget for soil and water resource management by 50%, from $10 million to $5 million.
The impact of these cuts are great. Not only will they result in fewer county-level conservation agents and a decrease in state funding to voluntary conservation programs for farmers, but they could also affect the overall environmental health of our state as there will be fewer staff to implement existing environmental rules. Wisconsin cannot afford this policy shift as our economy heavily relies on tourism, agriculture, and recreational activities. Cutting funding for jobs at a time when Wisconsin is 44th in the nation for job creation is simply irresponsible and should be reconsidered.
Frac Sand Mining Under-regulated
The sand used in the natural gas and oil extraction process of "fracking" is abundant in western Wisconsin.
In fact, this industry is growing so quickly that property owners are often unaware of mine prospecting near their property, sometimes learning of a planned mine by talking with neighbors or reading news stories after the mine application is approved.
The rapid, exponential growth in this industry has also not allowed state oversight time to catch up to ensure the health and safety of neighbors and their property is adequately protected. There are 135 current and proposed frac sand mining sites in Wisconsin. Frac sand mining can potentially, if not done correctly, negatively impact our water quality, lung health, home prices, and local roads. While these sand mines are regulated by local ordinances, depending on the county or township where the facility is located, these jurisdictions have limited authority and have proven ineffective at preventing unregulated mining.
In response to concerns by our Wisconsin neighbors related to frac sand mining, my colleague, Senator Kathleen Vinehout, has introduced a number of proposals, which I have co-sponsored. This package of bills aim to increase the rights of property owners to know about sand mines in their neighborhood. These measures are an important first step to protecting the voice of local citizens in the frac sand mining process.
Another proposal, Senate Bill 140, will help residents and local governments be better prepared by making frac sand mine prospecting public. The bill would authorize counties to issue licenses for frac sand exploration, which consists of drilling holes in search of frac sand or establishing the nature and extent of a frac sand deposit. A person or company applying for a frac sand exploration license would submit a bond to ensure that drill holes are properly filled and have proof of liability insurance covering personal injury and property damage. The licensee must also notify the county before drilling begins and before filling a drill hole. This process is similar to existing metallic mining laws.
|UW System Funding Disclosed|
Earlier this week, University of Wisconsin System President Kevin Reilly appeared before the Joint Committee on Employment Relations to discuss the recent disclosure of cash reserves within the system. Reserve funds were required as a part of the additional flexibilities granted to the UW System by Republicans in the last biennial budget. However, it was discovered that the amount currently maintained by the universities were higher than the required amount by statute. These fund are not all in one account, but rather spread among thousands of accounts that are largely controlled by chancellors at campuses.
At a time when Wisconsin's working
families are still fighting for middle-class security, ensuring more
students can afford higher education at our best universities must be a
priority. Over the past 10 years, the only predictable fact is that
state funding will cover a smaller and smaller portion of the university
system budget. In fact, funding for the UW System has decreased from 32%
financial obligation to 18% during this time. For that reason, rather
than waging a press release war, jumping to conclusions, or prematurely
pointing fingers, we should sit down and have genuine conversations
about the entire UW budget and the appropriate level of reserves to be
maintained by the university system.
I was encouraged by the calls from Republican legislators to increase accountability and transparency at the UW System to ensure the state can more easily track these funds. I would hope that such measures would also be considered for other state agencies receiving tax dollars, including the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. This hastily-created public-private agency has had persistent problems since its inception in 2011. These include circumventing Wisconsin's fair and competitive bidding process and ignoring federal and state laws when giving out grants. The final straw was losing track of over $50 million in loans, including about $12 million that were overdue.
Hearing in Milwaukee on Local Control Infringement
Local residents are invited to share
their opinions on the state-imposed changes to the Milwaukee County
Board at a public hearing this Tuesday in Milwaukee. The hearing starts
at 5 p.m. and will be held at the Washington Park Senior Center.
The following legislators will be joining me at this local event: Sen. Tim Carpenter, Sen. Nikiya Harris, Sen. Lena C. Taylor, Rep. Josh Zepnick, Rep. Sandy Pasch, Rep. Mandela Barnes, Rep. Evan Goyke, Rep. Jon Richards, Rep. Christine Sinicki, Rep. Daniel Riemer, Rep. LaTonya Johnson, Rep. Leon Young, Rep. Fred Kessler, and Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa.
Event details are listed below.
Milwaukee County Hearing
Tuesday, April 30 at 5 p.m.
Washington Park Senior Center (MAP)
4420 W. Vliet Street
Milwaukee, WI 53208
Do not hesitate to contact my office
with any questions you might have about the upcoming hearing.
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 am in need of a lawyer, but find it difficult to afford one as I only make minimum wage. Are there any alternatives for people like me to obtain legal services at a price I can afford?
A: Legal services are often needed by neighbors, like you, for a variety of reasons, including divorce proceedings, child custody and placement, lawsuits, and criminal matters. There are a large number of law firms in our community with widely varying rates based off of the type of case, the number of hours involved, and the experience level of the attorney. Such differences may make it difficult to find an attorney in your price range. Therefore, there are a number of referral services available to help point you in the right direction of an attorney specialized in the field of law needed as well as at an affordable price for you.
Once such option in the Milwaukee Bar
Association's Law Day. On Saturday, May 4 from 1-4, the Milwaukee Bar
Association will provide free, one-on-one meetings for anyone, including
Spanish speakers, needing legal assistance. The addresses for this year's
Bay View Library (MAP)
Do not worry if you are unable to attend this event, as there are other legal referral services that may be of use to you year-round. More information about these services is provided below.
The State Bar of Wisconsin offers referral services that can put you in contact with attorneys specializing in the type of law applicable to your situation. Further, the State Bar of Wisconsin has a program, called the Modest Means Program, which assists people whose income is too high to qualify for free legal services, such as those offered through Legal Action of Wisconsin, but too low to pay a lawyer's standard rate.
Click here or call (608) 257-3838 or (800) 362-9082 for more information
or referral services.
For nearly 150 years, the Milwaukee Bar Association has helped people navigate through the legal process to ensure that all in the community have access to justice. Their most successful community program is the Lawyer Referral Service, which is a free, over-the-phone referral service for anyone that has a legal question or is seeking to obtain legal counsel.
Click here or all (414) 274-6760 for more information or referral
Legal Action of Wisconsin provides telephone and walk-in services to low-income neighbors. Contact them directly to see if you qualify for such legal services.
Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee Inc.
The Legal Aid Society of Milwaukee was founded in 1916 "to do all things necessary for the prevention of injustice." They are one of the nation's oldest, continuously operating, public interest law firms. Each year, the Society provides free legal services to 8,000 of Milwaukee's most vulnerable residents, including: abused and neglected children, developmentally disabled adults, persons living with HIV/AIDS, battered women, immigrants, elderly, prisoners, mentally ill, physically impaired, unemployed, and homeless.
Did You Know...?
You may know that our Great Lakes play a vital role to our recreation and tourism industry. But did you know that these massive bodies of water are also vital to the economic health of other industries that rely on them for transporting their products?
According to the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory, more than 200 million tons of cargo--mainly raw materials like iron ore, coal, and grain--are shipped every year through the 1,270-mile Great Lakes route.
Great Lakes Caucus Meets, Talks Water
Just last week, the Wisconsin Great
Lakes Caucus met to discuss important issues relating to our state,
including the health of Lake Michigan and Lake Superior. The discussion
was led by experts from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), and
was largely focused on low water levels and invasive species.
The Great Lakes are essential to maintaining a healthy, growing economy in Wisconsin and other states surrounding these magnificent bodies of water. In fact, the Great Lakes Environmental Research Laboratory estimates that about 65 million pounds of fish per year are harvested from the Great Lakes, contributing more than $1 billion to the local economy. Additionally, the Great Lakes support a $4 billion sports fishery industry. It is clear that we must commit to protecting the overall health of our Great Lakes, rather than continuing down a path that simply ignores their growing problems. Wisconsinites deserve better.
Conservation Congress Results Available
Every spring, each person in Wisconsin
has the opportunity to help direct how the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) manages our natural resources. The DNR holds a
conservation hearing with survey questions and resolutions that are
voted on by all who attend. This year, the meeting was held in each
county on April 8, 2013.
The results of this meeting are of
great interest to me and fellow legislators, as some of the proposed
questions require legislative approval in order to be implemented. For
instance, question 80 asked "Increase non-resident deer license fees
(from resolution 110112)" and the statewide results were overwhelmingly
in favor (3,792 yes, 1,085 no). Another highly polarized question was number 79, which
reads "Dog training in Bear Zone C" (3,255 yes, 831 no).
Questions 88 and 89, on the other hand, pertained to youth hunts. Question 88 inquired if Wisconsin should "Allow 14 & 15 year olds to participate in youth hunts unaccompanied by a mentor (from res. 620112)," while question 89 asked if we should "Allow 16 & 17 year olds to participate in all youth hunts (except waterfowl) (from resolution 520112)." These proposals were opposed by a majority with votes of 1,922 yes to 2,853 no and 2,181 yes to 2,493 no respectively.
Wisconsin has a rich conservation
culture that has been preserved and strengthened by generations of
anglers, hunters, environmentalists, and outdoor enthusiasts. I have made safeguarding
Wisconsin's environment and protecting our outdoor heritage one of my
priorities during my time in the Senate. As legislation regarding the
environment continues to arise during this session, I will keep the
results of the hearings in mind to ensure Wisconsin is moving in the
right direction on conservation.
April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month
April is Sexual Assault Awareness
Month, a time to work together as a community to stand up against
violence. This month provides a special opportunity to promote awareness
of such crimes by educating Wisconsinites on the devastating impact of
sexual assault, as well as the preventative measures we can implement to
prevent future assaults from occurring. The theme this year is "It's
Time...To Talk About it!" Neighbors were encouraged to wear denim on
April 24 in a show of solidarity and a display of decorated denim was
set up in the Capitol Rotunda, as well. By participating in Sexual Assault Awareness
Month events and starting a network of conversations that span across
the state, we can bring greater attention to this important issue.
Sign the Petition Today!
Did you know that the Republican
budget allows for no new spending--$0 dollars--for our traditional public
schools but increases spending for voucher schools by up to $1,414 per
pupil? Let the governor and Republican Legislature know that you oppose their misplaced education priorities. Tell them to support
public education and stop spending public dollars on unaccountable
private voucher schools by signing this new petition being circulated on SignOn.org. The petition states the following:
Public Participation Encouraged in Budget Public Hearings
The Joint Finance Committee 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 some of the hearings have already commenced, below is a list of
the remaining hearing times and locations
Barron County Courthouse, 1420
Wisconsin 25, Barron
Chippewa Valley Technical College, 620 West Clairemont Avenue, Eau Claire
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
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