February 13, 2014





























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


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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. 



UW-Milwaukee's 17th Annual Festival of Films in French

Date: Now through Sun., February 16

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Fourteen films will be screened over the 10-day festival, bringing a rich array of French-language cinema to Milwaukee. This year's selection highlights four women filmmakers and marks the centenary of World War I with Jean Renoir's highly acclaimed "La Grande Illusion" and two other anti-war films, the dadaist short "Entr'acte" and Abel Gance's silent classic "J'accuse," which will be screened with live musical accompaniment, a Festival tradition. These 14 films will not only take you back in time but also across the globe from Canada to Senegal and Israel to Malaysia. All films are free, open to the public, and subtitled in English. CLICK HERE or call (414)229-4070 for more information.

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



It's a Major Deal!
Now through Sat., March 1

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Exciting and refreshing juried works from sophomore and junior students representing all majors from MIAD's dynamic curriculum. This event is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for more information.

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


Colorful Nebula
Fridays Now through March 7 at 7 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Colorful Nebula showcases the beauty of space by highlighting a few celestial clouds such as the Eagle, Horsehead, and Cat's Eye. Audiences will not only be able to marvel at space's hidden beauty, but also learn how nebulae are connected to stars. Nebulae form stars, are produced by middle-aged stars and can be the final outcome of massive explosions from dying stars. CLICK HERE for more information.

UWM Manfred Olson Planetarium (MAP)
Physics Building
1900 E. Kenwood Blvd.
Milwaukee, WI 53211



Andy Warhol: 10 Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century
Date: Now through Sun., March 30
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Experience these brightly-colored creations, featuring historical figures and renowned luminaries of Jewish culture from various disciplines. This exhibit is open to the public Monday through Thursday from 10 a.m. to 4 p.m., Friday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Sunday from noon to 4 p.m. Warhol's large-scale portraits allude to the grandiosity associated with fame while establishing an intimacy between subject and viewer. Bring family and friends to experience the color and 'pop' of this unique suite of works. Guided tours are available throughout the afternoon along with coloring and scavenger activities for families. CLICK HERE or call (414) 390-5730 for more information.


Jewish Museum Milwaukee (MAP)
1360 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202



Uncommon Folk: Traditions in American Art

Date: Now through Sun., May 4

Location: This exhibition features an unprecedented selection of American paintings, drawings, sculptures, photographs, textiles, furniture, and decorative arts from the Milwaukee Art Museum's world-class collection of folk and self-taught art. In the late 19th and early 20th centuries, as American art struggled to find its own voice separate from the classical European style that dominated the art world, an authentically American artistic expression was identified in the work of folk and self-taught artists. CLICK HERE or call (414) 224-3200 for more information.

Milwaukee Art Museum (MAP)
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202



Body Worlds & The Cycle of Life
Date: Now through Sun., June 15

Location: Milwaukee

Description: BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life is the latest exhibition from physician and pioneering anatomist Dr. Gunther von Hagens. At BODY WORLDS & The Cycle of Life, you will see the body throughout the human life cycle and across the arc of aging. More than 200 real human specimens preserved through Dr. von Hagens' invention reveal the human body in all its stages, across youth, growth, maturity, and advanced age, and in all its conditions, from health to distress to disease. CLICK HERE or call (414) 278-2702 for more information.

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Snowshoe Run in Sheridan Park 5K/3K

Date: Sat., February 22

Location: Cudahy

Description: This event is planned by the Cudahy Recreation Department with the Sheridan Park Friends. Refreshments will also be available. CLICK HERE for more information about this event.  


Sheridan Park (MAP)

4800 S. Lake Drive

Cudahy, WI 53110



12th Annual Local Farmer Open House
Date: Sat., March 8 from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: Know your farmer, know your food. Whether you are learning about Community Supported Agriculture (CSAs) or have been a member for years, this is a great opportunity to talk with local farmers, learn about their growing practices and share options, and choose which farm is best for you. Short workshops on issues such as cooking from your CSA, will also be featured. This event is free and open to the public. CLICK HERE for more information. 


Urban Ecology Center Riverside Park (MAP)

1500 E. Park Place

Milwaukee, WI 53211



16th Annual Food & Froth Fest
Date: Sat., February 22 from 7 p.m. to 10 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Beer is one of the oldest beverages created by humankind. Some archaeologists even speculate that beer was a key component of early civilization. Beer belongs in a museum. Celebrate beer's history as one of our favorite beverages at the Milwaukee Public Museum's 16th Annual Food & Froth Fest on Saturday, February 22. Sample stout crafted halfway around the world, or pair a lager brewed across town with appetizers from a variety of area restaurants and caterers. You will also get a taste of Milwaukee's great music scene through an exceptional line-up of local bands. Event Tickets costs include a chance to sample more than 200 different beers from Midwest and international breweries, a complimentary commemorative take-home glass, and great food from local Milwaukee vendors. CLICK HERE for more information.

Milwaukee Public Museum (MAP)
800 W. Wells Street
Milwaukee, WI 53202




Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,


This week, my Democratic colleagues and I introduced a proposal that would make Wisconsin more equal for all by removing the current ban on marriage equality. If you would like to join us, continue reading and sign the petition available at


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Renewed Fight for Marriage Equality

In 2006, Wisconsin adopted a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality for all in our state. This backwards amendment has prevented many Wisconsinites from being able to partake in the ultimate expression of love and commitment--Marriage. Further, it has left many couples and their families vulnerable to intolerance and undue hardship.

As Wisconsinites, we share the same core values. We believe in freedom, equality, and justice for all. According to an October 2013 Marquette University Law School Poll, the majority of Wisconsinites (53%) now support the freedom to marry. Further, 17 states and the District of Columbia have already paved the way to fairness by protecting marriage equality. It is time that Wisconsin follows suit.

Just in time for Valentine's Day, Senator Tim Carpenter and Representative JoCasta Zamarripa, along with other Wisconsin legislative Democrats, have introduced a proposal that would remove our current constitutional ban on marriage equality. Our gay and lesbian family members, neighbors, co-workers, and friends deserve to be treated fairly in comparison to every other Wisconsinite. Let us support them in their goal to spend each and every day--including Valentine's Day--married to the person they love.



Click here or on the media player above to watch the Democratic press conference on marriage equality.


The current legislative session is slated to end in April. We encourage our Republican colleagues to join us in taking this positive step forward by removing the marriage equality ban before we finish for the year.

Click here if you would like to sign the petition in support of legislation that would remove Wisconsin's ban on marriage equality.

You can also encourage your family, friends, and neighbors to show their support by printing a petition and circulating it throughout your community or across the state.


Click here to download or print the PDF for the Marriage Equality Wisconsin Petition.

Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have regarding this marriage equality proposal.


Senate Passes Infant Safety Bill

This week, the Legislature passed a bill that will help provide Wisconsin families with peace of mind regarding the health of their newborns. This legislation, Senate Bill 523, gives the Wisconsin Department of Health Services the authority, through administrative rules, to add screenings such as pulse oximetry to the newborn screening program in Wisconsin.


While some heart defects are revealed on the 20-week ultrasound or when the baby is born, some serious underlying heart problems can go undetected in the first days after delivery. According to the Center for Disease Control, congenital heart defects are the cause of 24% of all infant deaths. Further it is the number one killer of infants with birth defects. 


Early discovery is the key to effective treatment and recovery of congenital heart defects. Pulse oximetry is a simple, inexpensive, non-invasive procedure with the potential to save lives. During the procedure, a small probe is held against a newborn's foot and hand for a couple minutes. The probe tests how well the baby's blood is saturated with oxygen, an indicator of how well the heart is functioning, and the results can reveal the presence of congenital heart defects that might otherwise go undetected. According to the American Heart Association, wider use of pulse oximetry screening would help identify more than 90% of heart defects.


I supported similar legislation last session and was happy to vote in favor of Senate Bill 523 this week. I cannot think of a better way to commemorate Congenital Heart Defect Awareness Week (February 7-14) than passing this legislation.


Click here to view Senate Bill 523.


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: RTA legislation was voted on this week. Could you clarify what this particular bill does?

A: This Tuesday, the Senate passed SB 259, legislation that would re-establish the creation of a Regional Transit Authority (RTA) in the Fox Valley area. RTAs can help to connect local communities by adequately investing in the public transit infrastructure of that region. Further, such investment can promote much-needed economic development and job creation in the regions that have an RTA established. 


This bill would allow for the creation of an RTA if the governing body of two or more municipalities located in the Appleton/Fox Cities area adopt a resolution authorizing the municipality to become a member of the RTA. These resolutions must then be supported by a majority of the voters living in those municipalities through a referendum.


After the RTA is created, any municipality in the RTA's planning area may join so long as:


  • The municipality adopts a resolution to join the RTA.

  • The resolution is ratified by voters through a local referendum.

  • The RTA Board of Directors--composed of elected officials from the participating municipalities-- approves.


This legislation also contains the following guidelines related to RTAs:


  • A county can join only if a municipality within it joins.

  • Municipalities can still enter into a service contract with a transit authority or provider without joining the RTA.

  • Authorizes a sales tax in the RTA's jurisdiction at a rate not exceeding 0.25%.

  • If at the end of a fiscal year, the RTA's fund balance is greater than 0.25% of their operating costs, they must return the excess to participating municipalities by reducing the tax levy by that amount.


The most recent Census found that the Fox Valley area has surpassed a population of 200,000 people. This population increase will push the region into a new federal transit funding bracket that will decrease the amount of federal funding support it receives. This was the impetus behind the creation and adoption of this bill.


This bill was approved by the Senate with a vote of 25-7, with only a handful of Republican senators voting against the bill. I voted for this bill, as it is a positive step forward in providing local communities and voters the tools to decide what is best for them. I will continue to fight for the ability of local communities to decide whether an RTA is right for the family, friends, neighbors, and businesses in that particular region.



Did You Know...?

If you have turned on your TV or picked up a newspaper, you are likely aware that the Sochi Olympic Games are currently underway. But did you know that Wisconsin is one of the top five states for producing Olympic athletes at this year's games?


According to data compiled from the Washington Post, Business Insider, and the Team USA Web site, the United States sent a record 230 Olympians--105 women and 125 men from 38 states--to Sochi. Below is a breakdown of the top five states represented at the 2014 Olympic Games:


California--20 athletes

Colorado--19 athletes

Minnesota--19 athletes

New York--18 athletes

Wisconsin--15 athletes


Congratulations are in order for Wisconsin's athletes on their tremendous achievement of reaching the Olympic Games in order to compete on behalf of the United States. Be sure to cheer them on as they strive to achieve one of the highest athletic honors by earning a gold, silver, or bronze Olympic medal.


Click here for more information about the Sochi Olympic Games.



Join Me at Bay View Winter Blast

Join me and our neighbors at the annual Bay View Winter Blast celebration on Sunday, February 16 from Noon to 4 p.m. at the South Shore Park Pavilion. Every winter, the Bay View Neighborhood Association hosts a warming event for neighbors to get together and have a blast. This is a luau-themed party that will boast a Hawaiian shirt contest, hula hoop and limbo contests, spam carving, and face-painting. A tiki photo booth will also be available to take memorable photos. Live music, delicious food from local restaurants, and booths from numerous community and neighborhood groups are just a part of what to expect at this year's Winter Blast.


South Shore Park Pavilion (MAP)

2900 South Shore Drive

Milwaukee, WI 53207


Click here for more information about this event.



American Heart Month Celebrates 50 Years

February is American Heart Month, which aims to raise awareness of our nation's number one killer. This year, American Heart Month also celebrates its 50-year anniversary.

Heart disease is currently the nation's number one killer, claiming more lives than all forms of cancer combined, according to the American Heart Association. Further, approximately every 34 seconds, one American has a coronary event, and approximately every one minute 23 seconds, an American will die of one.

These national trends are also found in Wisconsin. In 2007, the most current year with data available from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, cardiovascular disease accounted for about 32% (14,836) of all deaths (46,117) in Wisconsin. This includes 6,824 deaths due to coronary heart disease, 1,419 to congestive heart failure, and 2,632 to stroke.

Although some factors of heart disease are genetic, there are risk factors we can control, including poor diet and physical inactivity. There are many steps you can take to preserve your heart's health. Eating nutritious and balanced meals, increasing your level of physical activity, and learning how to manage stress are a few examples of how to improve your overall health.


The American Heart Association offers advice on the "Simple Seven," which are the seven controllable factors that Wisconsinites can monitor to maximize heart health. This is a great resource to consult when determining actions to take to live a more heart-healthy life.


Click here for more information about the Simple Seven courtesy of the American Heart Association.


Valentine's Day is Tomorrow

Friday, February 14 is Valentine's Day so remember to show your loved ones how much they mean to you. Valentine's Day celebrations are happening all over our community. Click on the links below for creative ways to celebrate this holiday with family and loved ones.


Click here for a listing of Valentine's Day events in the Milwaukee Area.

Click here to book a table for Valentine's Day at a local restaurant.



Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

Exponential increases in tuition and fees coupled with challenging economic times over the years have made it nearly impossible for students to work their way through school, as was commonplace in the past. In fact, nearly 40 million Americans now hold over $1.2 trillion in student loan debt nationally.

Wisconsin's Student Debt Crisis
Unfortunately, Wisconsin currently ranks 10th in the nation for number of college students with debt, with 67% of graduates from four-year schools having loans to repay. According to the U.S. Federal Reserve System there are 753,000 Wisconsin residents with federal student loan debt (this does not include those with private student loan debt). Further, college tuition costs have doubled over the last 12 years and Wisconsin's student loan borrowers have an average debt of $22,400. It is estimated that Wisconsin residents paying student loans from obtaining a bachelor's degree are currently paying an average of $388 per month for about 18.7 years.

Student debt is the only kind of household debt that continued to rise through the Great Recession, and is now the second largest consumer debt in our country, more than credit cards or auto loans. Having this money tied up in debt is a huge drain on our already struggling Wisconsin economy as the money spent on student loans could instead be spent on cars, new homes, and at local businesses in our communities.


Some issues related to student loans can only be dealt with at the federal level. Unfortunately, Congress' current partisan gridlock leaves little hope for real relief for student loan borrowers in the near future. We cannot wait for Congress to act. It is time for innovative, common sense solutions that will provide real relief for Wisconsin's student loan borrowers.

Therefore, I am asking that the Wisconsin State Legislature passes the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill, authored by Senator Dave Hansen and Representative Cory Mason, which would do the following:


  • Allow Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to deduct their student loan payments from their income tax, resulting in annual tax savings of approximately $172 for the typical borrower or as much as $392.

  • Enable Wisconsin's student loan borrowers to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates, putting potentially hundreds of dollars back in their pockets and into Wisconsin's economy annually. For example, a borrower with an interest rate of 6.8% and the average University of Wisconsin graduate's loan debt of $27,000 who could lower their interest rate to 4% could save over $40 per month. That would put nearly $500 back in their family's pocket over the course of a year.

  • Provide students and parents with detailed information about student loans, the best and worst private lenders, and ensure that students receive loan counseling so that Wisconsin's student loan borrowers can make informed financial decisions about student loans.

  • Ensure data is collected and tracked about student loan debt in Wisconsin to help policymakers and the public better understand the depth and breadth of the debt crisis in our state.


As you can see, this legislation offers common sense solutions for real savings on behalf of Wisconsinites managing student loan debt. I hope legislative Republicans will see the economic value of moving forward with such a proposal. Therefore, I encourage them to join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill. Wisconsinites cannot afford to wait any longer for more affordable college education and decreasing their debt burden.


Sign the Higher Ed, Lower Debt Petition

If you would like to see the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill become law, I encourage you to sign onto the Higher Ed, Lower Debt petition. The petition states the following:

I support the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill authored by Sen. Hansen and Rep. Mason. It is a positive step forward in making higher education more affordable in Wisconsin and frees up money for Wisconsinites to spend in local communities and our state.

Click here if you would like join me in supporting the Higher Ed, Lower Debt bill by signing on to the petition to encourage the Wisconsin State Legislature to pass the bill.

I also encourage you to tell your family, friends, and neighbors to join you in taking action. The more Wisconsinites that advocate for the bill, the more likely it is to pass.



Take the 2013-2014 Neighborhood Survey

I created a survey for the 2013-2014 Legislative Session asking about various issues that are important to our community and our state. The input of neighbors is greatly appreciated. My staff and I will be working hard to deliver as many surveys door to door as possible. In addition, I have also made this survey available online.

Click here to download and print a copy of this survey, which you can return to my office via mail, email, or fax upon completion.

Click here to save a stamp and take the survey online.

I look forward to hearing your views on these important issues!



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