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July 2, 2015




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. 


Summerfest Music Festival

Date: Now through Sunday, July 5 from Noon to Midnight

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Our community is currently hosting the celebrated Summerfest Music Festival. During these days, the famous Marcus Amphitheater, along with 12 other stages, will present live music day and night to music lovers of all genres and ages with over 800 acts. This annual event is being held at Henry Maier Festival Park, a location boasting 75 acres along Lake Michigan in beautiful downtown Milwaukee. Along with over a week of music, festival-goers can enjoy a diverse selection of food and beverages, marketplaces, interactive exhibits, and family-focused entertainment and activities. CLICK HERE for more information on the activities and the line-up for this year's Summerfest.

Henry W. Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N Harbor Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202

Chill on the Hill 2015
Date: Tuesdays, June through August, 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Bay View Neighborhood Association, in partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks, has brought the Humboldt Park Band Chalet to life on Tuesday nights with live music and a gathering of neighbors on the hill under the open sky. The concerts are set in a family friendly atmosphere with ample street and inexpensive lot parking, hillside seating, picnic baskets and blankets, with a focus of bringing the neighbors out to Humboldt Park not just for one night, but for all nights.


Humboldt Park

3000 S Howell Ave
Milwaukee, WI 53207



Artists Working in Education (A.W.E.)
Date: June 29 to July 3rd, and July 6th to July 10th
Monday to Friday, 12 p.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: A.W.E. offers FREE drop-in art programs for kids ages 4-14. For more information, visit, CLICK HERE.

Truck studio at Burnham Park (35th & Burnham)


Milwaukee, WI


MCTS is Your Ride to Summerfest
Date: June 24 to 28 and June 30 to July 5
Description: The Milwaukee County Transit System (MCTS) offers several choices for an easy and convenient ride to Summerfest. Take a bus or drive downtown (and park at one of many parking lots) and then take the Shuttle to the Summerfest North Gate. Those farther out can park at one of eight park-ride lots and take a Freeway Flyer to the Summerfest Mid Gate. Don't forget those traveling from north of Milwaukee can take the Ozaukee County Express

For more information, CLICK HERE.


Bastille Days
Date: Thursday, July 9  from 11 a.m. to Midnight, Friday, July 10 from 10 a.m. to Midnight, Saturday, July 11 from 10 a.m. to Midnight, and Sunday July 12 from 11 a.m. 9 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The streets of Milwaukee are transformed into a mini French city complete with an Eiffel Tower. Enjoy street entertainers, a marketplace, more than 25 sidewalk crafts, and the annual Storm the Bastille 5K Fun Run/Walk.

East Town/Cathedral Square (MAP)

Milwaukee, WI 53202

Festa Italiana
Date: July 17-19 (Fri-Sun) 11:30 a.m. to Midnight (11 p.m. Sunday)
Location: Milwaukee
Description: America's largest Italian cultural event. Nine stages of international and local entertainment, Sicilian brass marching band, cultural exhibits, and the colorful procession following Sunday Mass. Nightly fireworks.

Henry W. Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N Harbor Dr
Milwaukee, WI 53202



Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,


Happy Independence Day! Remember to take time this holiday week to honor our veterans, as well as troops that are actively serving. In commemoration of Independence Day, this report will include information about events in the Milwaukee area. Hopefully, the weather will hold out as in years past.


Here at the Capitol, Legislative Republicans have finally revealed some details of the backroom deals that have been made during their five-week budget hiatus.


More on this, as well as updates on key U.S. Supreme Court rulings -- both good and bad -- and their implications for Wisconsin.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Budget Hiatus Finally Over?


Here's how the budget process is supposed to work in Wisconsin:


Each odd-numbered year, the governor of Wisconsin delivers a budget address to the Legislature. After the initial budget is introduced by the governor, it is then taken up in the Joint Finance Committee

(JFC). After reviewing the proposal and getting feedback from neighbors via public hearings, JFC makes changes to the governor's proposal and submits it to the Legislature for approval. Both houses must pass an identical budget proposal before it can be sent back to the governor for partial vetoes and his signature. State law requires Wisconsin to enact a budget by July 1.


In contrast, here's how 2015-2017 state budget process is going so far:

This year, at Governor Walker's budget address on February 3, he claimed this biennium's budget would be fast-tracked and expected it to pass by Memorial Day weekend. However, after secret provisions were uncovered, such as removal of the Wisconsin Idea from state law, it became crystal clear the budget needed to be thoroughly examined by the public and legislators before being hastily signed into law.

In the weeks that passed, even more damaging provisions in the state budget were revealed. Before activity stalled in the Republican-controlled JFC, they passed many provisions that are simply wrong for Wisconsin, such as disinvesting in our UW System, firing conservation scientists, handing over our Family Care and IRIS programs to big, for-profit insurance companies, and expanding the failed private voucher school system statewide. 


On Wednesday, July 1, Republican leadership announced the Bucks deal would not be in the budget, and would instead be taken up -- as soon as next week -- as stand-alone legislation. After five weeks of backroom dealing, JFC is meeting today, Thursday July 2, to finish their work on the budget, without the inclusion of a Bucks deal. I will be going over the details of what happened in JFC, including the transportation budget failure and what it will mean for local projects, and will provide more details in a future Larson Report. 

It is absurd that the budget process became stagnant for so long with the Republicans currently in control of all houses of government. While Democrats have pushed for an investment in our shared values, like education and keeping our nationally recognized long-term care system, Republicans are poised to favor special interests over the interests of Wisconsinites.

At a press conference this week, Fitzgerald opined that Democratic Senators from Milwaukee need to support a plan for the Bucks arena in order for it to pass. Democratic legislators from Milwaukee and across the state have been open to working with our Republican colleagues to negotiate a deal on the arena that is in the best interest of both the taxpayers and the city of Milwaukee. It was only last week that Republican Senate leaders were willing to start preliminary discussions about the deal with those who directly represent the communities surrounding its proposed location. As you may know, Legislative Republicans finally unveiled details of the latest Bucks arena plan this past Monday. 

Like many across Wisconsin, I am still going through the details of the proposal and will keep pushing for transparency and public scrutiny as this issue continues to unfold. Democrats remain willing to work with Republicans on the arena, however, it is disappointing that our continuous calls for inclusion were ignored for so long.

If done right, I believe the project could be great for Milwaukee and the state.  As with the details of the state budget, I will continue to update you via social media as well as with the Larson Report. 

To see a summary of the proposal, click here.


Victories for Marriage Equality and Health Care Access
Two key U.S. Supreme Court rulings were made last week, and both were great news for Wisconsinites. On Thursday, the Supreme Court announced that subsidies for health care within the federal Marketplace are allowed. The next day, they ruled in favor of marriage equality for same-sex couples.

Ensuring Equality for All Couples

As you know, in 2006 Wisconsin hastily adopted a constitutional amendment banning marriage equality for all in our state. This amendment created a subclass of citizens and prevented many Wisconsinites from being able to partake in the ultimate expression of love and commitment, as well as benefit from the stability of marriage. Further, it has left many couples and their families vulnerable to intolerance and undue hardship.

Wisconsin Democrats have been proud to join people across Wisconsin and all around the nation, standing tall in the face of continued moral injustice. Last year, my Democratic colleagues and I introduced a petition that allowed Wisconsinites to voice their support for marriage equality. More than 24,000 people from every corner of the state signed the petition. The stories shared by our Wisconsin neighbors, three of which are below, made one thing clear: in one way or another, we all felt the injustice of this discrimination.

Whether it's a friend:

"My closest friends are in same-sex relationships. They should be able to have the same commitment, through legal marriage, as I have been able to experience with my husband." - Kristy

A family member:

"Our daughter came out to her father and me a month ago. We're still processing what this means for her life and future. We hope our daughter will find love and be able to enjoy all the benefits of marriage one day." - Debra

Or yourself:

"My partner and I have been together for 20 years. We have adopted 3 beautiful children who deserve to have all of the security and benefits afforded to 'traditional' families." - Terrence

The right to marry the person you love is a basic freedom that should not be denied to anyone. All of our neighbors should have the opportunity to live their lives freely and happily with equal protection under the law. When Wisconsin's constitutional ban on marriage equality was struck down last year, it was a proud day for all in our state. Last week, love won once again -- this time nationwide for all Americans.

Now, ideological forces nationwide will no longer be able to promote inequality, foster discrimination, or unconstitutionally limit our rights and freedoms over who we choose to marry. The Supreme Court's decision says equality, fairness, and the freedom to love and marry whomever you want is guaranteed to all Americans.

Unfortunately, Governor Walker and Wisconsin Republicans have, time and again callously fought to deny equality in our state. Instead of acknowledging the long overdue equality for same-sex couples, Governor Walker accused the Supreme Court of advancing their own political agenda and called the decision "a grave mistake."

This is why work is still needed from Wisconsin legislators to ensure that we no longer allow hateful, discriminatory language in our constitution. Last week, I signed on as a co-sponsor to legislation proposed by State Senator Tim Carpenter (LRB 0076), which would repeal the language in our constitution that bans marriage equality. This Senate Joint Resolution would be another step towards affirming equality in Wisconsin.

Ensuring Health Care Coverage is Affordable

Another Supreme Court ruling last week confirmed families are able to receive assistance to help pay for health coverage through the Marketplace -- regardless if it is state-based or federal.

Wisconsinites had a lot at stake pending this ruling as 180,000 of our neighbors were at risk of losing their health coverage if the Supreme Court decision had went the other way. One thing needs to be made clear that was missed by much of the media: our neighbors were unfairly put in this situation two years ago when Governor Walker kicked thousands off of BadgerCare and changed eligibility for the program on the and forced individuals to get coverage through the federal Marketplace that were never intended to under the law.

While the ruling cements the Affordable Care Act into law after years of court challenges, and ensures Wisconsinites will continue to receive coverage through the federal Marketplace, it's also an opportunity for Republican leaders to accept the health care law is here to stay and acknowledge that we as a state ought to take full advantage of what the law has to offer. This means creating a Wisconsin-based health care Marketplace and accepting the federal funding to allow more of our neighbors to get coverage they can afford. By accepting money to strengthen our BadgerCare program, our state could save $360 million over the next two years. This money could then be used to reinvest in our shared values, like public education and our university system.


Protecting our Freedom to Breathe Clean Air and Drink Clean Water

Recently, Pope Francis released his second encyclical, "Laudato Si," highlighting the urgent need to address climate change. Grounding his call to action in undeniable scientific evidence of global warming, the Pope has strengthened the growing movement of faith leaders and congregations that view controlling carbon pollution and addressing climate change as moral responsibilities.

The issue of global climate change is not simply about conservation or ecological damage, it's a crucial social justice issue: the freedom to live a healthy life.

In the words of Pope Francis, "Exposure to atmospheric pollutants produces a broad spectrum of health hazards...and causes millions of premature deaths."

Our neighbors here in Milwaukee, Wisconsin, and across the Midwest are no stranger to the damage to life and health from climate change. In fact, in 2014 Milwaukee received an "F" for polluted air from the American Lung Association. Further, heat waves are the number one weather-related killers in Wisconsin for the past 20 years.

Despite the fact that climate change is hurting people in our communities and state, Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans have politically paralyzed Wisconsin by reversing pollution safeguards and stifling renewable energy investment. Alarmingly, the Republican-controlled Commissioners of Public Lands has prohibited its staff, that manage over 77,000 acres of public forests, from working on climate change issues. At a recent legislative committee hearing, we even saw corporate special interests largely denying the reality of human influence on climate change as they opposed the Environmental Protection Agency efforts to introduce new rules to reduce toxic carbon pollution.

Nationally, we have seen a growing awareness that we must curb our carbon pollution, and encourage other emerging industrial nations to follow suit. On Earth Day, President Obama said, "We've committed to doubling the pace at which we cut carbon pollution. China, in part because of our actions, has now committed for the first time to limit their emissions. And this means that there's new hope that this year the world will finally reach an agreement to prevent the worst impacts of climate change before it's too late." It's clear that we must lead the world in tackling this pollution. Unfortunately, even understanding the urgency, we still face delays and setbacks in our own country.

One of the setbacks came on Monday, June 29, when the U.S. Supreme Court ruled, 5-4, in favor of polluters. The decision argued that the EPA acted to develop and enforce air pollution rules without first considering the cost to polluters. Large, industrial mercury polluters argued that the EPA failed to take into account the monetary impact it would have on them to cut their pollution. Justices that opposed the ruling acknowledged that the EPA did, in fact, look at the costs of the program multiple times while crafting the emission limits. More importantly, the EPA looked at the costs that mercury emissions have on human lives and health. Annually, these restrictions on mercury and other toxic emissions prevent up to 11,000 premature deaths, 4,700 heart attacks, and 130,000 asthma attacks. The annual value of health improvements alone is up to $90 billion. In Wisconsin, the standards prevent 220 deaths per year, and would save the state $1.8 billion in 2016.

Our friends and family are not free if the air they breathe is poisoned, the water they drink is toxic, or if a polluted environment makes them sick. Controlling pollution is patriotic and a matter of protecting our hard-won freedoms.

Fortunately, this courtroom setback will not derail our national efforts to protect our freedom and limit toxic pollutants, it's just a small roadblock. Based on the rule, many polluting power plants have already instituted reductions to pollution emissions.

It is clear from leading scientists and faith leaders, we must take action to reduce carbon pollution and climate change, starting by doing our part right here in Wisconsin. In the words of Pope Francis, "The climate is a common good, belonging to all and meant for all."

Wisconsin can and should lead the way.


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: In the last Larson Report, you discussed two education bills that you recently introduced. What is the status of these bills?

A: This week, Rep. Mandela Barnes, Rep. Daniel Riemer, and I joined other legislators, along with dozens of concerned parents and public school advocates at the State Capitol at a press conference to call for full and fair funding of public schools in Wisconsin. School advocates from every corner of the state have repeatedly called on legislators to reinvest in our public schools as local school districts struggle to provide quality education in the face of historic public education cuts, while millions of dollars have been funneled to private, unaccountable voucher schools.

While many Wisconsin legislators have ignored these calls, some of my Democratic colleagues and I have listened and are leading the charge on behalf of school districts, families, parents, and most importantly, the children of Wisconsin.

At the press conference, we heard stories from school board members who are faced with making tough choices about cutting programs or staff because of the lack of adequate state investment in education. We also heard from school administrators who have to cut valuable programs to cover the cost of educating and caring for children with special needs. Essentially, the governor and Legislature have forced them into a situation where they are robbing Peter to pay Paul. We also listened to a compelling story from a parent whose fourth grader is in Green Bay Public Schools. Even though she is a Green Bay native, this was her first trip to the Capitol. She spoke of how she never could have imagined that the first time she visited her state Capitol would be to fight for her child's basic human right to a quality education.

While overall state budget spending has grown more than $10 billion since 2010, support for education has been cut by over $200 per pupil over the same period. For that reason we introduced two pro-education bills, the Invest in Our Children Act, which allows for local school districts to make decisions on how to fund their schools, and the Special Education Restoration Act, which reverses the trend of cutting funding for our most vulnerable children with special needs.

Over Governor Walker's tenure, he and Legislative Republicans have continued to pump money into a flawed funding formula that doesn't actually invest in our traditional neighborhood schools. They have also failed to give local school districts the flexibility and tools they need in order to ensure their students succeed.

The Invest in Our Children Act gives locally elected school boards, who are directly accountable to the taxpayers who elected them, the ability to increase their levy limit to keep up with the cost of inflation. School districts from every corner of the state have asked for this flexibility, and if we as a state are serious about making our public schools whole again and investing in our children's future, we must give our school boards the local control they need to do what is best for their districts and our kids.

The Special Education Restoration Act, would increase the reimbursement rates to school districts for special education.

The end of the 2015-17 state budget will mark the eighth consecutive year that special education aid will have been held flat.  While funding for special education will remain frozen at the level set in the 2008-09 school year, the costs associated with educating special needs kids have continued to rise. This has resulted in an overall decrease in the average reimbursement rate the state provides to school districts. In the very first year reimbursement rates were established, 1980, school districts were reimbursed at a rate of 66.1%. By the 1999-2000 school year, reimbursement rates were 34.3%. For the 2014-15 school year, the rate fell to just 26.8% of costs. If passed into law, the Special Education Restoration Act would simply start to modestly reverse this downward trend and bring reimbursement rates back up to 33% by 2017.

These are common sense, nonpartisan bills that directly respond to the key concerns raised by districts across the state and represent the type of proactive measures that parents and communities in Wisconsin have long been demanding for our public schools. These bills are focused on bettering the future of the 870,000 children in our traditional public schools, and protecting their freedom and opportunity to receive a quality public education.

You can watch video of the press conference here:


Happy Independence Day!

Saturday, July 4 marks the 239th anniversary of our nation's declaration of independence. It is a day of celebration with family, friends, and neighbors. We must also remember the sacrifices of those who came before us, in securing our nation's freedoms, as well as the service of our military men and women in uniform who cannot spend this holiday enjoying barbeques or fireworks with their families. We owe them for everything they do to keep us safe.

Some neighbors enjoy displaying a flag during the 4th of July holiday season to show their respect. If you do not currently have a U.S. or Wisconsin flag and would like to purchase one, please contact my office to order one today. Both flags are made of durable nylon and are 3 feet by 5 feet in size. The U.S. flag costs $13 while the Wisconsin flag costs $16.

If you would like the flag flown over the Capitol in honor of someone, please specify the name of the person, the occasion, and the date you would like the flag flown. A certificate of commemoration will be mailed back to you with the flag.

Flags must be purchased with checks made out to the State of Wisconsin. Mail your flag request form and check to:

Sen. Chris Larson
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707-7882

Click here to download a flag request form.

Additionally, around the state, local communities will be hosting parades, ceremonies, and fireworks to celebrate the 4th of July. Continue reading to see what events will be going on in the Milwaukee area.

Spend the day at the Lakefront on Friday, July 3. This early 4th of July celebration starts off with the Gift of Wings Fireworks Kite Festival beginning at 11 a.m. at Veterans Park. Kites will be flying high all day, until the U.S. Bank Fireworks at the Lakefront begin at dusk.

Click here for more information about this holiday event.

Since 1911, the city of Milwaukee has hosted safe and friendly celebrations for families and friends to enjoy. In parks across the city, neighbors and visitors come together for picnics, games, parades, and more. These celebrations will take place on Saturday, July 4, and are capped off by fireworks bursting all over town.

Click here to visit the Fourth of July Commission website to find a celebration in a park near you.

South Milwaukee
South Milwaukee will be offering a 4th of July picnic and fireworks at Grant Park. The celebration starts at 10 a.m. on Saturday, July 4 at the Brown Pavilion (Areas 5 and 6), and includes races, games, a free hot dog lunch, free ice cream and cracker jack for kids, and a children's bicycle and coaster decoration parade. The day is capped off with a fireworks display at 9:30 p.m.

Click here to visit the city of South Milwaukee's website for more information.

The city of Cudahy will host its Independence Day parade and celebration on Saturday, July 4 with a parade stepping off at Noon at the corner of Grange and Lake Drive. The parade will proceed north on Lake Drive to Layton Avenue, head east, and end at Sheridan Park. There will be complimentary ice cream and cracker jacks following the parade. A celebration will be held at Sheridan Park with music, a magic show, and fireworks.

Click here to visit the city of Cudahy's website for more information.

Oak Creek
The Oak Creek 4th of July parade begins at 9 a.m. on Saturday, July 4 at the corner of Groveland Drive and Shepard Avenue. It will wind its way through the city and end at American Legion Post 434 (9327 South Shepard Avenue). Events and food, including children's games, face painting, roasted corn, baked potatoes, and beverages will be available following the parade. Fireworks begin at East Middle School (9330 South Shepard Avenue) at dusk.

Click here to visit the city of Oak Creek's website for more information.

St. Francis
The city of St. Francis 4th of July celebration includes a parade, picnic, talent show, live music, children's games, and fireworks. The festivities begin at 9:30 a.m. on Saturday, July 4 with a bike, trike, and wagon decoration competition at the parade assembly point (Lipton and Howard Avenues). The parade begins at 10 a.m. following Howard Avenue east to Packard Avenue, then heading south to Lunham before heading east to Milt Vretenar Municipal Park. The picnic begins at 11:00 a.m. and includes picnic games and a petting zoo. To top it all off, there will be a fireworks display at 9:15 p.m.

Click here for more information about this event from the city of St. Francis.

Plan to attend this year's three-day Franklin Civic Celebration in Lions Legend Park on Thursday, July 2, Friday, July 3, and Saturday, July 4. Food, carnival rides, activities for kids, and plenty of entertainment will be provided for all ages. The festival begins on Thursday, July 2 at 5 p.m. with carnival rides and live music. The carnival rides will continue at noon on Friday, July 3, and include air bounce rides and more live music. The festival continues on Saturday, July 4 at 9:45 a.m. with Gino's Kid Show. There will be a children's parade beginning at 10:30 a.m., which will meet at the Franklin Police Department building (9455 W. Loomis Road), followed by the main parade, which follows Loomis Road north from Forest Hill to Drexel Avenue. Live music and activities will be held throughout the day ending with dazzling fireworks beginning at 9:30 p.m.


Take the 2015-2016 Neighborhood Survey!
I created a 2015-2016 Neighborhood Survey 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 during the next couple months. 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 take the survey online.

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



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