Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might
Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707
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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.
Winter Farmers' Market
Date: Now through April 11, Saturday mornings, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Description: The Milwaukee County Farmers' Market will be held
again this year at the Mitchell Park Domes. The Farmers' Market gives
Wisconsin residents a great opportunity to shop for local produce from
the 35 weekly vendors. Vendors provide a wide selection of fresh fruit,
vegetables, dairy, bakery, poultry and meats all winter long. Free
parking spaces are provided.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Mitchell Park Domes (MAP)
524 South Layton Blvd. Milwaukee, WI 53215
St. Ann Indoor
Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. from now
through April 2015
There are many great products sold including: Fresh, seasonal, natural,
and organic produce; preserves; canned goods; handmade items; jams and
jellies; soups; soaps; lotions and makeup; jewelry; household items; and
more. They feature live music, family fun, and free coffee every week!
Purchases from the market support local vendors and the young, elderly,
and clients with disabilities at the center.
St. Ann Center for
2801 E. Morgan Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53207
Performing Arts Center 10th Anniversary Performing Arts Series
Friday, Feb. 13, 2015 from 7:30 p.m. to 9:15 p.m., ends Friday, May 1,
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: The Performing Arts 10th Anniversary Series features
10 shows that highlight topics relevant to South Milwaukee and
surrounding communities. Each show speaks to a memory of South
Milwaukee's proud past, reflects on a shared experience, or brings hope
and optimism for a bright, creative future. Some shows are celebratory
and entertaining, while others address important social issues like the
changing nature of Main Street or what it means to be "broken," yet
inspired. For more information about each show,
South Milwaukee Performing Arts Center (MAP)
901 15th Ave.
South Milwaukee, WI
Date: March 7 and 8, 3 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Description: This is a great event for parents, children,
relatives, friends and mad hatters! Come to the Charles Allis Art Museum
to meet "Alice In Wonderland" characters while sampling a variety of
Rishi teas, catered sandwiches, and sweet treats. Live music
performed by Jeffrey Krumbein, complimentary hand massage given by the
Milwaukee School of Massage, a Docent-guided museum tour, prizes, and
CLICK HERE for more information.
Charles Allis Art Museum
1801 N Prospect Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53202
March 8, 2015 from 1:30 p.m. to 5 p.m.
Join women from across the globe to celebrate International Women's Day
(IWD). This free celebration, hosted in the Bradley Pavilion at the
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts, is coordinated by a collaborative
of organizations whose joint mission is to educate, empower and inspire
women for the greater good of community.
The theme for IWD 2015 is "Equality for women is progress for all" and
highlights the contribution of women in our communities to create a
positive, safe and nurturing environment for their families, co-workers,
friends and neighbors. Additionally, for the first time, IWD Milwaukee (IWD
MKE) will host a women�s leadership institute. This institute will bring
together women of all ages for the purposes of learning together and
sharing wisdom, mentoring the next generation of women to follow their
passions and come together to make a difference.
At the March 8th celebration, cultural groups will present dance and
music, guest speakers will share inspiring stories, and refreshments
will be served.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Marcus Center for the Performing Arts (MAP)
929 N Water St.
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's St. Patrick's Day
Date: March 14 at Noon
Description: The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's 49th Annual St.
Patrick's Day Parade will take place on March 14th, starting at 3rd and
Wisconsin and finishing at Water and Highland. Come and enjoy one of the
best St. Patrick's Day Parades in the country! The parade will feature
more than 140 units and includes local politicians and celebrities,
floats, bagpipe and marching bands, and Irish and Celtic organizations.
CLICK HERE for more information.
3rd St. and Wisconsin Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
This week, the Senate was rushed into
an Extraordinary Session to take up anti-worker legislation that will
reduce wages, increase poverty, and lower rates of employer-sponsored
health care coverage. The bill, wrongly coined as "Right to Work" (RTW)
was introduced hurriedly last Friday, raced to a public hearing on Tuesday, and
before the full Senate on Wednesday, February 25.
By calling an Extraordinary Session,
the Republican Majority is able to fast-track this bill limiting debate,
review, and public involvement. It is in the Assembly and already
scheduled for action on Monday.
Governor Walker and legislative
Republican's may think we have forgotten about the $2.2 billion deficit
they created, the $300 million in cuts to the UW System and attack on
SeniorCare and IRIS in the recently introduced state budget, and the
state's lagging job growth -- but Democrats and Wisconsin neighbors
haven't. Read on for more on these important issues.
State Senator, District 7
This week, the Republican leadership approved going into an
Extraordinary Session to take up the anti-work RTW bill. The bill was
introduced late on Friday, February 20, 2015, had a public hearing --
just a few days later -- on Tuesday, February 24, 2015, and went before
the full Senate the next day. By calling an Extraordinary Session, the
Republican-controlled Legislature is able to jam the bill through the process
without fair consideration.
RTW Interferes with Private
Business Relations and Hurts WI Families
Under current law, businesses in Wisconsin -- like contractors and
sub-contractors -- can already choose whether they wish to employ union
workers or nonunion workers. Similarly, federal law states that unions
must represent members and nonmembers equally. In exchange, federal and
current state law allows the union to collect fees from the nonunion
employees in exchange for representation -- such as legal help if they
are wrongly fired. Importantly, federal law also states that an employee
can NOT be required to contribute to that union's political activities.
RTW laws, then, interfere with these private contracts between employers
and employees and takes away freedom for workers. The bill even makes it
a Class A Misdemeanor to maintain a traditional worker organization in
Wisconsin, with a penalty of up to $10,000 and 9 months in jail.
Currently, 24 states have imposed RTW laws. While corporate CEOs and
their right wing foundations, the strongest
proponents of RTW laws, want us to believe that these policies are for
our benefit, they are actually more for theirs. If such a law is
enacted, worker organizations could be forced to legally defend workers
who do not pay dues to the organization for that or other member
services. This costly legal mandate is not forced upon other private
organizations and is designed to bankrupt groups that protect workers.
CEOs want to push these policies to make it easier to move us into
part-time positions, pay us less, and cut back on health and safety
standards. RTW laws are wrong for Wisconsin because they hurt all of us,
not just those in union professions. According to facts gathered by the
U.S. Department of Labor and the Census Bureau, in states where similar
laws were enacted:
Families earned $5,333 less per
year than workers in states without the laws
States spent $2, 671 less per
pupil on elementary and secondary education
14.2% of nonunion members were
uninsured, compared to 2.9% union uninsured
Poverty rates increased from 10.2%
Incidences of workplace fatality
were 51% higher
Further, these anti-worker laws
decrease protection against unfair firing, and harm middle-class
families by gutting their ability to negotiate for better safety and a
fair workplace. For example, our neighborhood nurses could be stripped
of the ability to join together and negotiate safe patient-staff ratios
in hospitals. As you can see, this is not only taking away freedoms from
our nurses, but also putting the health of our entire community at risk.
Cutting off the Voices of the
The facts are, if passed into law, RTW means less freedom for workers
and hurts all of us. As stated, RTW laws reduce worker wages, diminish
worker health and safety, and, at the same time, increase poverty and
workplace fatalities. This legislation puts our state in the race to the
bottom. It is simply wrong for Wisconsin.
There was an overwhelming amount of concern expressed by my Democratic
colleagues, as well as neighbors across the state, about the bill being
fast-tracked -- passing the full Senate in less than a week from its
The public hearing for the bill went before the Senate Committee on
Labor and Government Reform, of which I am a member, and started at 10
a.m. this past Tuesday. The hearing was originally scheduled to go to 7
p.m. Throughout the day we heard comments from fellow Wisconsinites --
one woman said she drove five hours to be there, arriving shortly after
8 a.m. to register to speak. Another gentleman waited nine hours to
speak and was late for his 2nd shift job, but knew it was important he
and his co-workers have their voices heard.
Despite the sacrifices made from Wisconsin workers in order to be at the
hearing -- waiting for hours to have a chance to express their concerns
with the bill -- the Committee Chair announced shortly after 6:20 p.m.
that public testimony would be halted because of a
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel blog that said a "peaceful" disruption was
planned at 7 p.m. if the Committee Chair refused
to hear the testimony of those who had waited all day to speak.
Ironically, he used likely frustration of those who would be cut off, to
deny even more the opportunity to participate. Apparently, he
constitutes the public a "credible threat."
Click here to see the article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
Putting a time limit on public testimony is not how the Democratic
process ought to work, and it was disappointing to me and our fellow
Wisconsinites to have so many voices ignored. Throughout the hearing, I
asked the Committee Chair more than once to update the committee members
on how many individuals were waiting to speak, how many individuals were
registered opposed, and how many were in favor. After the Committee
Chair announced he was cutting off debate, earlier than what was
previously stated, I tried advocating for people to be allowed to
continue to speak. I again asked the chair for an update on the
registries, as I felt it important to know the number of Wisconsinites
who supported vs. opposed the bill before voting. My request was
ignored. My request to debate the bill was also ignored.
The process of which they are jamming this bill through is unfair to our
hardworking neighbors. A bill should not be voted on without adequate
public input or debate by committee members on the issue. The Committee
Chair gaveled the executive session closed without answering my request
and without providing basic information from the public hearing.
While the exact numbers have still not been released by the Committee
Chair, an initial tally by his office shows there were 1,751 speakers
and registrants in opposition to the bill and just 25 people in support.
Further, the only individuals who testified in support of the bill at
the hearing were either currently or previously associated with the
ultra-conservative Bradley Foundation. Additionally, one proponent of
the bill, Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce admitted during the
hearing that less than 7% of their members came out in favor of this
The overwhelming opposition to the
proposal was so alarming to GOP leadership that they have had to change
the rules, promoting a new support-only website that allows their
supporters to officially register at the committee days ahead of
opponents who would be required to attend the hearing before the
Assembly committee. These are desperate measures meant to cloud the
reality of the overwhelming opposition to this proposal.
If you want your voice to be
heard, and cannot attend the hearing on Monday, Assembly Democrats
will be submitting -- in the hopes they will be added to the hearing
record -- all the names of those who have completed the RTW survey,
Wisconsinites do not Support RTW
We heard concerns from veterans, economy professors, business owners,
and trade professionals in opposition to the bill -- who were all
ignored by the Republicans. Wisconsin businesses recognize how dangerous
this bill is. In fact, a coalition of more than 400 local businesses,
who know firsthand the value of working in partnership with private labor groups,
expressed their strong opposition to RTW. If Republicans took the time
to review the list of businesses, they would surely find some in their
On Wednesday, February 25, 2015, the bill went before the full Senate.
Despite my Democratic colleagues and I bringing up damaging consequences
to the state should RTW legislation be enacted, the bill was passed
17-15, with only one Republican joining Democrats to stand on the side
of workers and families.
When complex legislation, such as RTW, is pushed through, it opens the
door to a wide-range of consequences, due to the bill not being
thoroughly considered. For example, Republicans were unable to answer
important questions about provisions of the bill -- such as how players
on the Green Bay Packers and Milwaukee Brewers (who belong to unions)
would be prevented from being charged with a class A misdemeanor, which
could lead to up to 9 months in jail and up to a $10,000 fine.
Click here to view the statement against RTW by the NFL Players
Click here to view the statement against RTW by MLB Players
It is also unclear whether the state
could lose federal funding for our local transit systems. Under federal
law, transit systems must ensure certain protections for workers, such
as preserving employee rights and benefits and maintaining collective
bargaining. While transit employees were taken out of Act 10 for these
reasons -- after much criticism over the federal funds in jeopardy, as
pointed out by Democrats -- some transit systems are operated privately.
It is unclear how RTW will impact federal funds or rights of workers in
Calling this Extraordinary Session is
a distraction on the real issues Wisconsin is facing, such as our
lagging job growth and $2.2 billion budget deficit. RTW is a smokescreen
trying to diminish the blowback the governor is receiving over his
irresponsible state budget. Introduced earlier this month, the budget
cuts funding for local schools, undermines the integrity of our
university system, effectively kills our Stewardship program,
jeopardizes community assets like Wisconsin Public Radio and Wisconsin
Public Television, forces layoffs across Wisconsin, limits access to
affordable health care, and increases state borrowing to pay for more
The RTW bill will now head over to the Assembly next week for
consideration. I encourage you to contact your state representatives to
make sure your voice is heard. Also, I would like to thank all of those
who came to the hearing and/or called my office to show your support for
Click here to view a copy of the bill.
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: Are there any efforts to encourage Wisconsin to take advantage of
the federal money to increase health care coverage?
A: This past Monday, Wisconsin Democrats took a responsible,
proactive step in promoting Wisconsin's shared values that would also
help ease some of the austerity measures included in Walker's budget,
due to the over $2 billion deficit he created, such as the $300 million
cut to the UW System and $127 million cut to K-12 education.
State Representative Daniel Riemer and State Senator Jon Erpenbach
introduced a bill that would accept the popular Medicaid expansion money
from the federal government, which would save the state at least $241
million, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. That
one act -- accepting the Medicaid funds -- would also allow 81,000 more
Wisconsinites to receive affordable health care coverage, and bring in
an additional $1.2 billion in federal funding to cover the costs of
health care for our neighbors.
Wisconsin has long been a national leader in health care, ranking among
the top states for health care quality and access. We know that access
to affordable health care is a vital step on the path to economic
stability and, therefore, is a key factor for the security of
Wisconsin's middle class families, and those trying to reach the middle
Representative Riemer's bill is modeled after the plan the Republican
administration in Iowa implemented just over a year ago, championed by
their six-term Republican governor, Terry Branstad. Iowa provides
Medicaid to its citizens who are in poverty. Iowans above poverty -- up
to 133% of the poverty line -- get help to purchase private plans.
According to Representative Riemer, his plan saves Wisconsin $241
million over the next two years by calling for Wisconsin to adopt the
Iowa model that helps people -- who are above the poverty line but who
still struggle to access truly affordable coverage -- afford private
insurance on the health care marketplace.
In Iowa, the money is funded in full by the federal government under the
provisions of the Affordable Care Act that expand Medicaid. Currently in
Wisconsin, the funds come, to a much larger degree, from Wisconsin
taxpayers because the governor turned down the federal money that Iowa
accepted. This would be the right move for Wisconsin as it would allow
81,000 people to have access to basic health care services and would
save tax payers hundreds of millions in the future.
Unfortunately, Wisconsin's ability to achieve more affordable, better
access to health care has been undermined in recent years by Governor
Walker and the Republican Legislature's refusal to work with the Obama
Administration, based on their own right-wing ideology. Their one main
argument -- because of national budget deficits, there may come a time
when our national government might reduce funds for BadgerCare.
However, Representative Riemer says that by adopting the plan he and
other Democrats have proposed, Wisconsin gets at least a 90% commitment
from our national government to help fund BadgerCare, which, as stated,
will save Wisconsin $241 million over the next two years. To alleviate
the irrational concerns from Republican's -- in the unlikely event the
federal government reduces funding for Medicaid -- the bill includes an
escape clause permitting the Wisconsin Legislature to review any new
federal funding formula. This means Wisconsin can walk away from the
plan and return to the way things currently are. That sounds like a
win-win for all of our neighbors.
An added bonus is the investments Wisconsin could make with $241 million
in savings. Democrats would propose using it to invest in education and
reduce the $300 million dollar cut to the UW System that is included in
the governor's most recent state budget. Unfortunately, it seems clear
Governor Walker and legislative Republican's are willing to put their
extreme ideology ahead of our state's shared values and what is in the
best interest of children and families in Wisconsin.
What can you do help? Contact the governor and Republican legislators
and let them know that we want the tax dollars we send to Washington
returned to Wisconsin through Medicaid expansion. It's time to end the
political posturing, and save Wisconsin taxpayers $241 million so that
we can use that funding to grow Wisconsin's middle class.
Click here to view a copy of the proposed bill.
you may know, Governor Walker�s 2015-17 state budget was introduced as
Senate Bill (SB) 21 on February 3, 2015, and was referred to the
Legislature�s Joint Finance Committee (JFC). One of the damaging
provisions included in the budget, that our neighbors have expressed
concerns about, is the attack on the SeniorCare program. The governor's
budget cuts SeniorCare funding by $15 million and forces all SeniorCare
participants to sign up for Medicare Part D � a move which would reduce
patient coverage and increase costs.
SeniorCare is a vital state health care program that provides
life-saving medication to seniors at a price they can afford. SeniorCare
first went into effect in 2002, and currently serves around 85,000 of
our neighbors. SeniorCare is often a better option for our seniors,
compared to the federal Medicare Part D, because it is easier to apply
for and understand, provides reliable coverage at a lower cost, and
costs taxpayers less than what Medicare Part D does. Unlike Part D,
SeniorCare has a simple enrollment process, a $30 annual enrollment fee,
income-based deductibles, and co-payments of just $5 for generic
medications and $15 for name brand medications. Additionally, according
to the Wisconsin Aging Advocacy Network, under Walker�s plan, an
enrollee's out-of-pocket costs would increase by an average of $732 per
SeniorCare has earned widespread support because it is a responsible
program that serves the health care needs of seniors in a way that makes
the best possible use of scarce state and federal funds. It is important
that we support this popular and important program that ensures our
seniors are able to purchase the medications they need. Actions by the
governor, like cutting SeniorCare and refusing health care coverage to
more people at a lower cost to the state by rejecting federal money for
BadgerCare, are irresponsible. I will continue to advocate for a state
budget that reflects Wisconsin�s shared values and ensures economic
security for hardworking families in our state.
There are two things that you
can do to Save SeniorCare:
1. Go to
www.SaveSeniorCare.Com to show your support for this life-saving
program that helps our seniors, by signing the petition creating by
2. Attend JFC public hearings. JFC
will be holding public hearings as they review the budget, and will make
changes over the coming months, before approving a final version to be
voted on by the full Legislature, which typically occurs in June. I am
strongly advocating for having one of these committee hearings in
Milwaukee, and I hope to see my fellow neighbors come to express their
opinions and concerns regarding the state budget, such as the attack on