June 13, 2013





Please feel free to contact me with any concerns or opinions you might have.

Office Phone: (608) 266-7505
Toll-free Phone: (800) 361-5487



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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. 


Chill on the Hill
Tuesdays from 6 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.

Location: Bay View

Description: Stop by this local music concert series on Tuesday nights this summer at Humboldt Park. Opening acts start at 6 p.m. with main acts running from 6:30 p.m. to 8:30 p.m. The Bay View Neighborhood Association operates the concert series in partnership with the Milwaukee County Parks, with the support of numerous local sponsors, including area restaurants, vendors, and organizations. CLICK HERE to view the poster for this event, which contains the summer music line-up.

Humboldt Park (MAP)
3000 S. Howell Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53207



Flag Day
Date: Fri., June 14 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee

Description: As a part of their continued commitment to honor our veterans for their heroic service, the Milwaukee Center for the Performing Arts is hosting their 3rd annual Flag Day Celebration. Food and beverages will be available for purchase. Join in this very special tribute to the men and women of our military. CLICK HERE for more information.


Peck Pavilion (MAP)

Marcus Center for the Performing Arts

929 N. Water Street Milwaukee, WI 53202


Polish Fest
Date: Fri., June 14 through Sun., June 16
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Do not miss America's largest Polish festival as Milwaukee's Polish Fest returns to the Summerfest grounds. This three-day festival features cultural performances, authentic Polish food, vodka tastings, and much more. Admission is $12 for adults and $10 for seniors at the gate. Adults that purchase tickets in advance can also get in for $10. Children 15 and younger are free. As always, there are plenty of ways to save some money when stopping by, including 50 cent Friday and an option to donate three non-perishable food items to Hunger Task Force for free admission on Saturday. CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-3378 for more information.

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


Juneteenth Day

Date: Wed., June 19 from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Juneteenth Day is the oldest celebration of the end of slavery in the United States and has been a Milwaukee festival since the 1970s. A parade starts off the festivities that include kids games, exhibits, soul food, music, and much more. Local African dance groups and musical groups will be participating in this celebration. Admission is free. This event is located on King Drive between Burleigh and Center. CLICK HERE for more information.


Lakefront Festival of Arts

Date: Fri., June 21 through Sun., June 23

Location: Milwaukee

Description: The Lakefront Festival of Arts is celebrating the 51st event featuring over 170 artists around the world. Painters, potters, sculptors, glassblowers, photographers, and more are all selling art for purchase. This festival has a wine and beer garden, as well as Lakeside dining options. Admission to the Milwaukee Art Museum and festival grounds is $15 and $8 for Milwaukee Art Museum members who provide a valid membership card. Children 16 and under are free with a paid adult. Art enthusiasts can also purchase a $20 three-day pass. CLICK HERE or call (414) 224-3200 for more information.

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


Greek Fest
Date: Fri., June 21 through Sun., June 23

Location: West Allis

Description: Attend the annual Greek Fest event at the State Fairgrounds. This festival will feature a variety of entertainment, including live Greek music, games, authentic dance performances, and rides for the kids throughout the weekend.
The traditional performances are popular, but the biggest draw at this festival is the food. The authentic Greek chicken is a staple, as is the souvlaki, gyros, saganaki, lamb dinners, and loukoumathes (deep fried dough balls drizzled in honey). Admission is free. Parking for cars is $5, but free for motorcycles. CLICK HERE for more information.


State Fair Park (MAP)

North Parking Lot

640 S. 84th Street
West Allis, WI 53214


Say Farewell to East Library

Date: Sat., June 22 from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: East Library is closing its current location. Join in celebrating the library's positive impact on our community by stopping by this event. Neighbors can share a memory in the scrapbook, greet Browser the Library Lion, and pick up an "I Closed East Library" magnet. East Library is moving temporarily to 2430 N. Murray Avenue beginning July 1, 2013 before returning to a brand new library facility in 2014. The temporary site will have: hold pick-ups, a collection of popular materials, a book drop, laptop computers, and parking. Library hours for that location will be the following: Monday from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m.; Tuesday and Wednesday from 12 p.m. to 8 p.m.; Thursday and Friday from 10 a.m. to 6 p.m.; and  Saturday from 10 a.m. to 5 p.m.


East Library (MAP)

1910 E. North Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53202



Summer Soulstice
Date: Sat., June 22 from Noon to Midnight

Location: Milwaukee

Description: Enjoy great music, entertainment, food, and family fun at the 12th annual Summer Soulstice festival. Family fun entertainment includes Bernie Brewer and the Racing Sausages, creating pottery to take home, musicians, jugglers, balloon artists, and much more. Local restaurants and vendors will have food available for purchase and area bands will be performing throughout the day. This event will take place on E. North Avenue between N. Oakland and N. Prospect. CLICK HERE for more information.


Dear Friend,


This week, Republicans silenced Wisconsin women by halting debate on passage of an extreme bill after about 25 minutes. Continue reading for more information about how this bill will affect women's health care in Wisconsin. Other important issues, including how Wisconsin ranks nationally, non-fiscal budget items, and LGBT Pride Month are also discussed.


Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Republicans Silence Wisconsin Women, Pass Extreme Bill

Yesterday, Senate Republicans trampled on our democracy by gaveling down debate on passage of a highly controversial anti-woman bill, Senate Bill 206, after a mere 25 minutes or so. With 33 Senators, this left only enough time for one of the many opponents of the bill to voice the thoughts and concerns of those they represent. Therefore, the majority of Wisconsinites were excluded from the decision-making process of legislation that will have a devastating impact on Wisconsin women.

Big Government Overreach in Private, Medical Decision
Matters of family planning and a women's gynecological health are all very personal. Our constitution, and common decency, afford women in our country a certain level of privacy to ensure that decisions or concerns related to such issues are kept between her, her partner, her physician, and her faith.

Unfortunately, Republican legislators have reignited their war on women that began last session. Their actions confirm that they believe Wisconsin women are incapable of making personal decisions about their body and thus need legislators, most of whom are male, to step in to tell them what to do. Senate Bill 206 does just that. Under this bill, should a woman decide that terminating her pregnancy is in the best interest of her and her family, she would be forced to have a politically motivated, medically unnecessary ultrasound procedure first. This medically invasive test will still be legally required even if the woman and her physician object. Given that it is difficult to get an accurate picture of a fetus during the early stages of pregnancy, it is likely that those administering the ultrasound will recommend a transvaginal ultrasound instead of an abdominal ultrasound. This is a highly invasive procedure compared to its abdominal counterpart. It requires the woman to have a probe inserted into her vagina, which can be uncomfortable and humiliating, lasting about 30 minutes to an hour.

The Senate Republican author of the bill, said such a bill is necessary because abortion "became popular in the '60s. It became the thing to do. You know, you almost had to get one to be a woman." I do not know what medical journal or scientific study the Senate author was quoting here (most likely it is one that does not exist), but abortion is not a medical procedure women boasting about. It is not a fad or club that females want to be a part of to feel accepted or cool. But rather, it is a personal medical decision that is not taken lightly. An unplanned pregnancy is a difficult and emotional situation for a woman to manage. And while there are many legal options available to her, including raising her baby, adoption, or abortion, it up to each woman to choose her path based on her personal circumstances.

Punishing Victims of Sexual Assault
According to the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, every two minutes, someone in the U.S. is sexually assaulted. Further, 44% of these victims are still children under the age of 18. Unfortunately, because of the potential stigma or shame a victim may face, 54% of sexual assaults will go unreported to police. These victims may also just be too afraid to come forward, especially given that two-thirds of sexual assaults are committed by someone known to the victim, such as a family member or friend.

Senate Bill 206 flies in the face of what we know about rape, which can result in unplanned pregnancies. While the bill would allow an exemption from the intrusive transvaginal procedure for the 46% of sexual assault victims that report their crime, it ignores the 54% of victims that are unwilling to share the horrifying details of their traumatic experience to complete strangers by filing a police report. This bill will re-victimize those that have already suffered more than anyone ever should. In fact, here is a list of effects women often experience after a rape or sexual assault:

  • Post traumatic stress disorder

  • Flashbacks

  • Stockholm syndrome

  • Depression

  • Body memories (when stress manifests as physical ailments)

  • Dissociative Identity Disorder

  • Borderline Personality Disorder

  • Sleep disorders

  • Eating disorders

  • Substance abuse

  • Self-harm/Self-injury

  • Sexually transmitted infections

  • Pregnancy

  • Suicide

Clearly, recovering from a rape in and of itself is difficult enough, without the complications of an unwanted, unplanned pregnancy. It is our job as legislators to stand up for and support these victims, not to shame them should they make the personal choice to terminate their pregnancy.

Unfortunately, the bill's author was quite clear that she had little regard for such victims during her final remarks on the bill. After the only Democratic senator allowed to speak shared her personal story of suffering a sexual assault and described the impact that passage of Senate Bill 206 would have on victims like her, the bill's author had the audacity to call this senator's personal, heart-wrenching story "theatrics." In contrast to this callous remark, I commend my fellow Democratic colleague for her bravery. It takes tremendous courage to share such a personal, traumatic, and emotional experience with anyone, let alone the entire state of Wisconsin via WisconsinEye. I also thank my Democratic colleague for telling the truth about how Senate Bill 206 will only re-open traumatic wounds for Wisconsin women who have experienced sexual assault.

Click here or on the video above to view the abrupt debate on Senate Bill 206, including personal stories from sexual assault victims.


Encouraging Unqualified Individuals to Perform Invasive Medical Procedures
During the "debate" on this bill, Republicans said this was about health care for Wisconsin's women. However, after their rejection of federal funds to expand health care coverage to more Wisconsinites it became crystal clear that they could not care less about health care coverage. This same mentality was also apparent in this bill. In truth, Republicans cared so little about protecting a woman's health in this legislation that they only made one stipulation of the individual performing the abdominal or transvaginal ultrasound--they cannot be a registered sex offender.

These individuals who may be tasked with inserting an invasive probe inside a woman do not need to have medical training, have a medical license, or even have demonstrated that they know what a vagina or uterus are or look like. This can put women at great risk. Not only could inexperienced "technicians" result in a longer lasting procedure that is already uncomfortable at the very least, but it could also result in infection due to improperly sterilized equipment or other complications. If this bill were really all about safeguarding health, they would require licensed medical practitioners or staff to perform the procedure.

Implementing an Unfunded Mandate on Women

In addition to forcing women to have an unnecessary and invasive medical procedure, Republicans are also requiring these women to cover the costs on their own. This means that women with or without insurance will likely be on the hook for covering the costs of all or part of the ultrasound procedure. According to a new mother who testified at the public hearing on Senate Bill 206, her ultrasound cost $1,200. Not a lot of people have this type of money just laying around. For women, especially those without health insurance, this may price them out of certain legal family planning options, which may even be required for lifesaving reasons or to end an unplanned, unwanted pregnancy that resulted from sexual assault.


While Senate Republicans may have callously silenced the voices of women on Wednesday, their voices will not and cannot be silenced forever. This debate is not over. My colleagues and I will continue standing up for the rights of Wisconsin women to make decisions and choices about their own body, rather than allowing the Legislature to play doctor.



How Wisconsin Ranks

While many other states are starting to see improvement in their overall economic health, Wisconsin continues to lag behind. The photo below illustrates just how Wisconsin is faring in job growth compared to the U.S. as a whole.



The rankings are also not in Wisconsin's favor. Ranking after ranking lists Wisconsin among the bottom states. Below is a summary of where Wisconsin ranks with regard to job creation and economic development:

  • Wisconsin ranks 42nd as best state for business. (Forbes Magazine's Annual "Best States for Business" rankings, December 2012)

  • Wisconsin ranks 44th in the nation in job growth. (Bureau of Labor Statistics--Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 3rd Quarter 2012)

  • Wisconsin ranks 45th in wage growth. (Bureau of Labor Statistics--Quarterly Census of Employment and Wages, 3rd Quarter 2012)

  • Wisconsin ranks 49th in economic outlook. (Federal Reserve Bank of Philadelphia leading index report, April 2013)

  • Wisconsin will be 49th in job growth through 2016. (Forbes Magazine's Annual "Best States for Business" rankings, December 2012)

  • Wisconsin ranks 50th in short-term job growth. (U.S. Chamber of Commerce "Enterprising States" Study, April 2013)

Given that legislative Republicans have routinely chosen to prioritize tea party politics and tax breaks for the wealthy and corporations over areas proven to create jobs, such as education, job training, and public transit, it is no wonder we are floundering. Further, Wisconsin's job creation agency, WEDC, has been mired by controversy including authorizing illegal loans and tax credits, losing track of millions of dollars in loans, and spending taxpayer money on such questionable items as alcohol and iTunes gift cards. Such problems have made it impossible for this public-private agency to fulfill its promise--to create jobs and increase economic development--to Wisconsin and its taxpayers.


My colleagues and I will continue to push for passage of policies that we know create jobs. We will continue to fight for full restoration of the record $1.6 billion cut from our public schools in the previous budget. Further, we will continue advocating for increased investment in our job training programs. We will also work hard to increase funding for public transit to help people get to school or their jobs. Finally, we will strive to reign in our out-of-control jobs agency with much needed accountability and transparency measures so they can get back to work. Without these improvements and investments, Wisconsin will continue falling behind as will be confirmed by future rankings.



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: Is it true that the budget allows bounty hunters to operate in Wisconsin?

A: On the last day the budget was before the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC), Republicans on the committee proposed and adopted a number of nonfiscal items. Included in these amendment proposals was a provision to allow bounty hunters and their employers to operate in Wisconsin.


Allowing bounty hunters to operate in our Wisconsin borders is an unpopular idea with law enforcement, judges, and prosecutors due to the negative impact they can have on public safety. Not only can citizens be subject to ill treatment at the hands of these bounty hunters, but bounty hunters will also be able to dictate and influence the release of individuals charged with a crime who may be a danger to our society. Unfortunately, it is fair to assume that money, not public interest, will dictate bail of individuals charged with a crime.


Surprisingly, despite the fact that this proposal received widespread opposition from legislators and Wisconsinites during debate of the 2011-2013 Biennial Budget, Republicans decided to sneak it in during the middle of the night in the hopes that the public would be none the wiser. This provision is now a part of the Republican budget and will likely remain in the document unless it is removed by the Republican-run Senate or Assembly via an amendment.


This was not the only nonfiscal provision that found its way into the budget without seeing the light of day. A more in-depth list of such adopted proposals can be found below.


Preventing Lead Paint Victims from Receiving Justice in Court (pg. 268, #7)

Since lead paint was banned from residential use in 1978, identifying the specific manufacturer of the paint responsible for a specific injury is difficult or often impossible. Therefore, in lead paint lawsuits the burden of proof falls on each lead paint company to prove it could not have been responsible for the damage, as each is assumed to have contributed to the risk faced by each victim. Legislation passed during the 2011 January Special Session--2011 Wisconsin Act 2--rejected this logic and instead maintained that a victim can only bring a complaint against a single defendant, which means an injured individual must prove which specific company manufactured the lead paint. This budget motion goes even further than Act 2, as it could potentially void all pending and future lawsuits filed against lead paint manufacturers, usually on behalf of poisoned Wisconsin children.

Wisconsin children are uniquely at risk for lead poisoning, which can result in a lifetime of medical complications. One-fourth of Wisconsin residences were built before 1950, meaning they have an increased likelihood of containing lead paint. In fact, from 1996 to 2006, more than 40,000 children were diagnosed with lead poisoning in Wisconsin.


Not only is lead paint a significant threat to Wisconsin's children but the responsibility placed on injured individuals by this bill would make it nearly impossible for these young victims to obtain justice in court. Further, there are additional concerns that such a provision may be unconstitutional, and would most certainly result in legal challenges.

Damaging High Capacity Well Changes (pg. 496, #4)

This budget amendment prevents citizens from challenging the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources' approval of high-capacity wells based on the cumulative environmental impact the water withdrawal would have on drinking water wells and area lakes and streams. This move shows a complete disregard for the well-being of our highly valued ground and surface waters. First, implementation of this amendment could result in environmental issues, such as wells running dry due to overpumping of aquifers. Further, it could also have a negative impact on the health of Wisconsinites as water for consumption could be increasingly contaminated. Finally, this proposals removes current accountability and transparency measures that are in place allowing citizens to hold their government in check. Anglers, farmers, families, and those living in our rural areas should be deeply concerned with the negative impacts of this proposal.

Destroying the Center for Investigative Journalism (pg. 687, #27)

Currently, the University of Wisconsin--Madison houses the Center for Investigative Journalism on their campus in the School of Journalism's building. This center has proven pivotal in training our next generation of journalists for their future careers by providing them with internship opportunities. Further, it aims to serve the public by exposing stories that businesses, individuals, or the government would rather keep hidden. Such stories are crucial to ensuring that the public in not kept in the dark on key matters.


The work done by this center has even earned it awards and received publication in major news outlets including Bloomberg, the Associated Press, and Forbes. Having the center on campus allows center staff to collaborate closely with UW students on a daily basis. Both the involvement of UW faculty and the presence of the center on campus are critical to providing students with the opportunity to learn the ethics, values, and logistics of reporting for the public good.


Under the provision, the Center for Investigative Journalism would not be allowed on campus, or in any facilities owned or leased by the Board of Regents. In addition, UW employees would be prohibited from helping students as a part of their duties as a UW employee. Unfortunately, Republicans shocked everyone by including this provision, which had never been mention until its adoption. This provision is not only bad for our next generation of Wisconsin workers, but it is also a disservice to the public.



Did You Know...?

You may be aware that a new magic filled movie, titled Now You See Me, is out in theaters statewide. But did you know that the most famous magician of all time, Harry Houdini, grew up in Appleton, Wisconsin?

Houdini began his career as an entertainer when he joined a traveling circus at the age of nine and toured Wisconsin as a contortionist and trapeze performer. Eventually, he became known worldwide as an escape artist and illusionist. He even managed to escape countless prisons, a nailed box thrown into a river, and the roof of a skyscraper. Many of these illusions and death-defying stunts remain a secret to this day as nearly all of his tricks were known only to his four intimate helpers or by Houdini alone.



June is LGBT Pride Month

Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender Pride Month (LGBT Pride Month) is held during the month of June to honor the 1969 Stonewall riots in Manhattan, which were a tipping point for the Gay Rights Movement in the United States. Throughout the month, celebrations are held across the country including pride parades, picnics, parties, and workshops. The purpose of this commemorative month is to recognize the impact that lesbian, gay, bisexual, and transgender individuals have had on history and to inspire support for the pursuit of marriage equality for the LGBT community.

Recently, the U.S. Supreme Court took up two cases related to marriage equality in our country. A lot is weighing on the outcome of these cases. If successful, they could effectively legalize gay marriage nationwide negating bans against it in various states, including Wisconsin. Should these laws be upheld, same-sex couples will continue to see discrimination in marriage, access to federal benefits, or both. Both cases have been argued in front of the Supreme Court and are awaiting a decision.

The first case, titled California Ballot Measure: Hollingsworth v. Perry, examines whether California's Proposition 8 violates the 14th Amendment. In 2008, California voters passed this ballot initiative that banned same-sex marriage in the state. The initiative aimed to overturn a California Supreme Court decision, which had previously ruled that the state's constitution required recognition of same-sex nuptials. This case is being brought to the U.S. Supreme Court by couples seeking to marry in the state.

The second case, titled Defense of Marriage Act: Bipartisan Legal Advisory Group of the U.S. House of Representatives v. Gill; Dept. of Health and Human Services v. Massachusetts; Office of Personnel Management v. Golinski; Windsor v. U.S., concerns the Defense of Marriage Act, also known as DOMA. This federal law went into effect in 1996 and defined marriage as a heterosexual union. As a result, spouses in same-sex relationships are prohibited from claiming federal benefits currently available to heterosexual married couples. The benefits at issue include the right to file a joint tax return and receive Social Security survivor benefits. This law is being challenged by Edie Windsor, an 83-year-old woman fighting a $363,000 federal estate tax bill imposed after the 2009 death of her spouse.

The debate surrounding marriage equality has become increasingly prevalent in our society as attitudes have shifted in favor of legalizing same-sex marriage. A recent Gallup poll shows that 53% of Americans say the law should recognize same-sex marriages, the third consecutive reading of 50% or above in Gallup polling over the past year. Hopefully this positive shift is signaling that our country is ready to move forward towards greater tolerance and marriage equality for all.


Summer Activities in Our Community

Our community offers a wide variety of summer activities for families, children, and adults alike. Below are just a few activities that you can take part in this summer.


Community Festivals

Every summer, Milwaukee and the surrounding communities boast endless festivals. While some of these festivals are geared towards celebrating art or memorializing a historic event, others are aimed at celebrating a specific culture or local neighborhood. There is a festival for everyone, so please stop by with friends, family, and neighbors. Upcoming festivals can be found in the sidebar of this Larson Report.


Click here for a complete list of summer festivals.

Milwaukee Trolley Loop
Now through Saturday, August 31
All aboard the Milwaukee Trolley Loop. This ride offers Milwaukeeans and visitors alike a connection to attractions and summer activities throughout Westown, East Town, the Historic Third Ward, farmer's markets, the Milwaukee Art Museum, and more. Two trolleys will service the route to offer 20-minute headways at designated stops. One complete loop is 40 minutes. Service will run from 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Thursdays through Saturdays. Fare is $1 per person, round trip.

Click here or call (414) 562-RIDE for more information.



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