March 13, 2014
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.
Andy Warhol: 10
Portraits of Jews of the Twentieth Century
Date: Now through Sun., March 30
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.
1360 N. Prospect Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53202
Traditions in American Art
Now through Sun., May
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
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
Shamrock Club of
Wisconsin's St. Patrick's Day Parade
Date: Sat., March 15 at Noon
The Shamrock Club of Wisconsin's 48th Annual St. Patrick's Day Parade
takes place on Saturday, March 15. It steps off at noon at 3rd and
Wisconsin and finishes at Water and Highland. Milwaukee's St. Patrick's
Day Parade is one of the best in the country and the grandest parade in
Wisconsin. The Parade will feature 140-plus units and include local
politicians and celebrities, floats, bagpipe and marching bands, and
Irish and Celtic organizations. And remember, on St. Patrick's Day, everyone is
CLICK HERE for more information.
University High School Spring Musical
and Saturdays from March 21 through March 29 at 7 p.m.
One of Riverside University High School's many great traditions is their
annual Spring Musical. This year, they will be presenting Dreamgirls--a
musical based on the life of music legend Diana Ross and the Supremes.
Performances will be Friday, March 21, Saturday, March 22, Friday,
March 28, and Saturday, March 29. All performances are at 7 p.m. Show your support for this
talented group of students. Tickets are now on sale.
For questions or to purchase tickets call Riverside University High
School at (414) 906-4900.
High School (MAP)
1615 E. Locust Street
Milwaukee, WI 53211
South Milwaukee Recreation Spring Dance Recital
Date: Sat., March 29 at 2 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
The South Milwaukee Recreation Department is proud to present the annual
Spring Dance Recital. The performance will be on Saturday, March 29 at 2
p.m. Theatre doors will open at 1:30 p.m., at which time audience
members may be seated. Plan to arrive at least 15 to 20 minutes early so
that everyone may be seated and enjoy the show.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Performing Arts Center (MAP)
901 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
Just in time for the 2014 elections,
Senate Republicans scheduled a flurry of election restrictions aimed at
limiting our voting freedoms, trampling on local control, and
encouraging pay-to-play politics. Continue reading for more on how these
changes could impact your constitutional voting rights, as well as
information about other
important issues of the week.
State Senator, District 7
Freedoms in Wisconsin
Wisconsin currently ranks in the top
five for highest voter turnout rates in the nation. But this trend will
not continue if Governor Walker and Republican legislators move forward with the copious bills on
its docket aimed at suppressing voter access to the polls. With
elections right around the corner, it makes sense that the Republican
majority would introduce bills aimed at changing our voting rules and
procedures right before session ends for the year. After all, if you are
afraid you may not end up winning, why not change the rules of the game
at halftime? Continue reading for more about these anti-freedom bills
that were passed by the Senate on Wednesday, March 12, as well as
Click here or on the video above to watch this week's debate on the
Limiting In-Person Absentee Voting Access
This bill intends to make it harder for voters to partake in our
fundamental constitutional freedom and right. For proof, look no further
than the relating clause, or one-sentence bill description, which
literally contains the words "limiting" and "voting." Under current law,
voters can apply to vote in-person absentee with the local municipal
clerk beginning on the third Monday preceding the election and ending at
5 p.m. or the close of business on the Friday preceding the election,
whichever is later. Senate Bill 324 would penalize local municipalities
seeking to provide greater access to the polls for qualified voters by
changing this existing law.
Under this bill, in-person absentee voting applications may only be
received by each municipal clerk's office Monday to Friday between the
hours of 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. each day. In addition, the clerk's office
may not be open more than 45 hours a week beginning on the third Monday
preceding the election and ending at 7 p.m. on the Friday preceding the
election in order to receive in-person absentee voting applications.
This means that municipalities that choose to offer extended hours
during weekdays or open their doors on weekends prior to an election
will no longer be allowed to do so.
Unfortunately, the people that really lose out under this proposal are
Wisconsin's workers who may be unable to leave their job to vote
absentee during normal business hours. While employers often provide
workers the opportunity to leave work in order to cast their vote on
Election Day, many of these workers do not have the luxury to take their
employers up on this offer. Imagine you are a nurse working a 12-hour
shift in the emergency room. When are you going to have the time to
leave work for an hour or two to visit the polls? What if you are the
sole owner and operator of a small business? With no one to watch the
business while you are gone, your only option is to close up shop for at
least a couple of hours. How about the high school senior or university
student that has classes all day during normal business hours and wants
to participate in our Democratic process? The list of those that could
be negatively impacted by this unnecessary restriction on access to the
polls for voters goes on and on. Put simply, this bill is an attack on
In addition to making it more difficult for our hard-working
Wisconsinites to exercise their constitutional right to vote, this bill
also infringes on the rights of local government. Who better to know if
the municipal clerk should offer extended hours for voters than the
office that conducts the elections for those Wisconsinites each Election
Day? This bill does not allow large communities, such as Milwaukee, to adapt
their policies and procedures to accommodate the fact that they have a
population 1,200-times the size of a small town with only 500
Let's look at the facts. In the 2012
Presidential election, Big Bend, a village with a population of less
than 1,300 Wisconsinites, had 114 in-person absentee voters. Assuming 90
hours of in-person absentee voting, that would mean only one person
stopping in to every 48 minutes to vote. Delafield, on the other hand, a city with over 7,100
Wisconsinites and one of the highest rates of in-person absentee voting
statewide at 1,159 voters, would have one person stopping in to vote
every five minutes. The city of Milwaukee, a municipality with a
population totaling nearly 600,000 Wisconsinites, had 35,200 in-person
absentee voters in the 2012 presidential election, which adds up to one
person coming in to vote every nine seconds during that 90-hour time
frame at city hall.
In the end, pretending like these communities are the same will have a catastrophic effect. Absentee
in-person voting has been an essential tool utilized by larger
communities to reduce Election Day voting waiting time. Due to their
drastic size, it is not uncommon for cities like Milwaukee to experience
wait-times of one hour to vote, a problem that will only be exacerbated
by limiting in-person absentee voting hours. Parents trying to vote
after work with their kids in tow should not have to wait in line for an
hour to exercise their constitutional right to vote. All Wisconsin
communities are not the same, which is why decisions as important as
this should be conducted at the local level. As much as Republicans
would like to pass a one-size-fits-all restriction, such as the one in
this bill, this will not
work in a community like ours. The gravity of these restrictions would
likely end up in the courts on constitution grounds. Therefore, the only
common sense position on this anti-freedom proposal is to oppose it.
Which is why this bill passed the Senate with only Republican support,
but bipartisan opposition.
This is not the only controversial
election-related bill that passed in the Senate during session this
week. There was also a bill, Senate Bill 655, that would further create
a pay-to-play atmosphere in governing as it would allow lobbyists to
contribute to Senate campaigns earlier than under current law. Not
surprisingly, this bill is seemingly the work of conservative corporate
lobby group Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce and Senate Republican
leaders. Additionally, the rushed nature of the bill should most certainly be
alarming. Senate Bill 655 was introduced on Monday, March 3, 2014. A
hearing was held two days later on March 5 and the bill was voted out of the
committee on March 6. That means that the Legislature passed this bill
after only eight days in existence, which is virtually unheard of as it
is poor public policy. Another couple of proposals, Senate Bill 20 and
Senate Bill 265, would place additional restrictions on local municipal
clerks by dictating who can volunteer to assist on Election Day.
Proposal to Eliminate Same Day Registration Introduced Again
Wisconsin has historically been one of the top states for voter
participation. Much of this stems from our adoption of same-day
registration laws, which reduce barriers for eligible voters to
participate in Wisconsin's elections by allowing them to register at the
polls on Election Day prior to voting. However, the
Republican-controlled Legislature is attempting to undo this success by
again introducing legislation that would prohibit same-day registration
Same-day registration enhances freedom and democracy, and has proven to
be a popular option for voters. It is also widely supported by the nonpartisan officials that administer
our elections. According to the Government Accountability Board, during
major statewide elections, 10-15% of Wisconsin voters opt to register to
vote or update their registration information on Election Day. This rate
is even higher in our area. The Milwaukee Election Commissioner Neil
Albrecht reported that in the November 2012 general election, 19% of
those who voted in Milwaukee registered that day.
Eliminating this widely needed registration option would create a tremendous
barrier for many voters and create countless problems. If same-day
registration were to be eliminated, Wisconsin would immediately become
subject to federal voter protection laws, including the National Voter
Registration Act of 1993 and the Help America Vote Act of 2002.
Wisconsin was previously exempt from these laws because it offered
the freedom of same-day registration. These laws require that voter registration take
place at the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) as well as at agencies
that provide federal or state public assistance or administer programs
that primarily assist neighbors with disabilities. Many DMV locations in
Wisconsin, especially in rural areas, are open during limited hours.
Additionally, some Wisconsinites have to drive nearly an hour to reach
the nearest DMV center. These complications, among others, will make it
increasingly difficult for people with full-time jobs, the elderly,
students, individuals with disabilities, and Wisconsinites in rural
areas to register in a timely manner prior to elections.
Furthermore, eliminating same-day registration will also prove costly to
taxpayers. The Government Accountability Board, which would be tasked
with implementing any changes to our registration and voting laws,
conducted a report in cooperation with the other affected
departments--including the Department of Transportation, the Department
of Health Services, the Department of Children and Families, and the
Department of Workforce Development--to estimate the costs of
eliminating same-day voter registration. The report, dated February 18,
2013, estimated that costs in the first two years could range from $11.3
million to $16.3 million for the five affected state agencies. This
estimate excludes the financial impact on local government associated
with eliminating same-day voter registration.
Click here to view the Government Accountability Board's report in its
Continuing to deny people the freedom
to register on Election Day and having to instead comply with
federal laws will also have an annual fee attached. Past estimates have
placed this costs at $2 million or more every two years from here on
out for the Government Accountability Board alone. No word yet on what
the costs would be each biennium for other agencies, such as the Wisconsin Department
Senate Democrats Introduce Proposal to Protect Voting Freedoms
When it comes to election reform, the difference is clear. While
Governor Walker and legislative Republicans are working on restricting
the freedom to vote, Senate
Democrats are making it harder to cheat. In response to
efforts by the majority aimed at restricting access to the polls for
qualified citizens, I have signed on as a co-sponsor to a resolution
authored by Senator Jennifer Shilling, which will protect our individual
freedom and constitutional right to vote. This resolution, also known as
the Right to Vote Act, reaffirms that each qualified elector has a
fundamental right to vote in any public election held in the district in
which they reside. Adoption of this proposal would further enable
Wisconsinites to continue our proud tradition of high voter
participation and turnout. According to the Government Accountability
Board, Wisconsin saw a turnout rate of 70.1% in one of the most recent
elections. Additionally, 3,071,434 votes were cast for president in the
November 2012 elections; the highest number of votes cast for a single
office in a statewide election in Wisconsin history. These are numbers
of which to be proud. Upholding this tradition, not reversing it, is the
ACA March 31 Deadline
Are you uninsured? Do you have a
family member or friend who is uninsured? Under the Affordable Care Act, which
was signed into law on March 23, 2010, eligible Wisconsinites may
register for health care coverage through the health insurance
exchange. Neighbors looking to start receiving coverage may enroll in
the exchange during its open enrollment period. After the open
enrollment period for 2014 ends on March 31, Wisconsinites will no longer be allowed
to apply for health care through the health insurance marketplace unless
they experience a significant life-changing event, which could make them
eligible for a special enrollment period.
The first open enrollment period for
the health exchange began on October 1, 2013, and ends on March 31,
2014. It is important that everyone who plans to apply for health
insurance through this program is aware of this deadline, as those who
fail to register by March 31, 2014, will have to wait until the next open
enrollment period, which is October 1, 2014, to apply for coverage.
There will be information and enrollment session throughout Milwaukee
over the next couple of weeks. These events are a great way to learn
more about signing up through the exchange.
Click here to view dates and times for these events.
It is required that all U.S. citizens
have health insurance in 2014, and those who do not may be fined as a
result. The Affordable Care Act includes provisions for providing health
care to those experiencing financial difficulties, by offering
low-income participants access to subsidized health care coverage
options, as well as exempting certain low-income individuals from being
fined for not having coverage.
As of February 27, 2014, 4 million people across the United States have
signed up for coverage through the health insurance marketplace. In
fact, a recent Gallup poll found that the number of uninsured adults has
dropped from 17.1% to 15.9% over just the last three months. However, there
are still many others who are eligible for health care coverage, but have yet to apply before the
Click here to visit healthcare.gov and
follow the easy steps to apply for coverage through the health care
In 2013, Governor Scott Walker declined federal funds to strengthen
BadgerCare and refused to set up a state-run health insurance exchange
for Wisconsin. The funding for these programs would have been drawn from
a fund that has already been paid into by Wisconsinites through payment
of federal taxes. If Governor Walker had accepted this funding, nearly
85,000 more citizens could have been insured, while simultaneously
saving taxpayers a total of $119 million. On top of this, strengthening BadgerCare would create over 10,000 jobs here in Wisconsin. In order to
move Wisconsin forward both economically and in terms of health care, it
is necessary that we accept federal funding to strengthen BadgerCare.
Insuring more Wisconsinites for less money is not only common sense, but
it is the right thing to do.
Neighborhood businesses are doing a
lot of great things to improve our community for family, friends, and
neighbors. Therefore, I will be featuring a biweekly article in the
newsletter that acknowledges a new, growing, or award-winning business
in our community. Continue reading to learn more about this week's
Congrats to Great Lakes Dermatology on Expanding!
Lakes Dermatology has expanded their Oak Creek clinic. Last
Thursday, March 6, Great Lakes Dermatology hosted their Grand Re-Opening
celebration at the Oak Creek clinic. While Great Lakes Dermatology
started in South Milwaukee in August 2000 and was only open a couple
days a week, it has since grown to 10 locations in Milwaukee and the
surrounding area. Great Lakes Dermatology provides medical treatments as
well as cosmetic services to a wide variety of patients, customizing
treatments for each patient's needs.
Dermatology is an underserved
specialty in the corridor from Oak Creek to downtown Milwaukee and Great
Lakes Dermatology wanted to be able to offer the people in these
communities exceptional care in a timely manner. This local business
believes people should not have to wait months to see a dermatologist.
Therefore, Great Lake Dermatology was also one of the first practices in the area
to offer evening and weekend hours. They respect the fact that people
nowadays are in tough situations and demanding careers that prevent them
from coming to see doctors during the work day, which is when most
specialists offer services.
According to Director of Operations
Michael Hood at Great Lakes Dermatology:
"Our motto of 'Your Kind of Skin Care' isn't just a marketing slogan,
it is truly our philosophy in every decision we make affecting patient
care. The fact is that medicine is changing and no longer can medical
groups just pump patients out as they have in the past. We now are being
held accountable for the total outcome of their visit with us and must
ensure that every aspect of our business delivers an exceptional visit
with patients, positive and timely outcome of treatment, respect
people's time and have good access to the care we offer.
"I speak for the entire practice when I say the best part of practicing
in Oak Creek is the definitely the people. Everyone is just so nice and
we routinely get patients bringing in baked good for the providers,
thank you cards and most importantly telling their friends and family
about our practice."
This expansion will increase access to dermatology services in our
community. I would like to congratulate Great Lakes Dermatology on their
tremendous success and for providing such a positive experience to our
neighbors in the Milwaukee area, including Oak Creek.
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.
I recently took your K-12 Education Survey online. Could you tell me the
A: Thank you to everyone that took the time to complete the K-12
Education Survey that I offered on my Web site. Your feedback on what is
important to our community and state is very much appreciated.
Overall, approximately 400 people responded with their perspective on
questions about various education policies, and many also provided
anecdotes about what they have experienced first hand regarding our
As you review the results, please keep in mind that the survey was not
scientific. I invited anyone that subscribes to the Larson Report to
participate and also made the survey available to all on my Web site.
Survey questions and results are listed below:
1. Over the past 20 years, $1.5
billion has been spent funding private voucher schools that receive tax
dollars, but do not have to follow the same accountability and
transparency standards as public schools. I __________ increasing
accountability and transparency in all schools receiving taxpayer
Oppose = 7%
Support = 92%
Unsure/No Opinion = 1%
2. I __________ the recent increase of
funding to private voucher schools by up to $1,414 per pupil while
public schools will only see an increase of a mere $100 per pupil in the
same school year.
Oppose = 95%
Support = 4%
Unsure/No Opinion = 1%
3. Unlike public schools, voucher
schools are not currently required to conduct background checks on
prospective teachers or employ only teachers who have been licensed by
the Department of Public Instruction (DPI). What is your opinion on
I support the status quo = 1%
I believe teachers at voucher
schools need to be licensed by DPI, but do not need a background
check = 1%
I believe teachers at voucher
schools need a background check, but do not need to be licensed by
DPI = 6%
I believe teachers at voucher
schools need both a background check and DPI licensure = 92%
4. To discourage discrimination, all
schools receiving taxpayer dollars should be required to provide a
quality education to all of its students, including those with a mental
or physical disability.
Agree = 96%
Disagree = 3%
Unsure/No Opinion = 1%
5. The most recent budget expanded the
voucher program statewide while capping enrollment in the 2013-2014 and
2014-2015 school years. I __________ expanding the voucher program
further by raising or lifting the cap.
Oppose = 94%
Support = 3%
Unsure/No Opinion = 3%
6. I believe it is fair that parents
of voucher or private school students can receive a tax credit of up to
$10,000 per child, while the parents of public schools students are
forced to pay for two separate school systems: public schools and
private voucher schools.
Agree = 6%
Disagree = 93%
Unsure/No Opinion = 1%
Did You Know...?
You may know that Wisconsin always
ranks first or second in the United States for dairy and cheese
production. But did you know that Wisconsin also ranks No. 2 nationally
for the number of organic farms in our state?
According to a 2012 UW-Madison report,
titled "Organic Agriculture in Wisconsin: 2012 Status Report," Wisconsin
boasts the second largest number of organic farms in the U.S., ranks
first among the states for the number of organic dairy and beef farms,
and is third in the nation for organic vegetable farms.
Click here to read the report in full.
Groundwater Awareness Week
This week, we recognized the 16th
annual National Groundwater Awareness Week. This event is held every
year by the National Groundwater Association (NGWA), and aims to spread
information about our groundwater and the issues that affect it. The
NGWA hopes that by drawing attention to groundwater during this week,
they can promote conservation and protection of this vital natural
resource. I encourage everyone to take this opportunity to learn more
about groundwater and what we can do individually to ensure that our
groundwater supply and quality is responsibly maintained.
Groundwater is extremely abundant in the United States and makes up a
large majority of our available freshwater. It is also a renewable
resource, as it is replenished over time by rain, snow, and flows from
surface bodies of water, such as rivers and lakes. According to
estimates made by the NGWA, 44% of Americans depend on groundwater to
supply their drinking water. This can be in the form of a water supply
from a public well, or from private wells to individual households.
Groundwater is also essential to agriculture, as it is one of the main
sources of water used to irrigate crops. To fulfill either of these
purposes it is vital that we maintain a steady, unpolluted supply of
Although it plays a crucial role in maintaining a healthy and productive
environment here in Wisconsin, our supply of groundwater still faces
some threats. Rising levels of phosphorous have been observed in
Wisconsin's waterways in recent years, which can lead to contamination
of the groundwater supply as many rivers and lakes feed into sources of
groundwater. Senate Bill 547, which aims to slow the reduction of phosphorous
levels in Wisconsin waterways, was passed on February 18, 2014. This bill
allows certain corporations and municipalities to put off compliance
with safeguards against phosphorous, as well as capping the amount they
could be required to pay to reduce current levels of phosphorous in the
water supply. This legislation could lead to further degradation through
eventual contamination of our groundwater supply. In addition to this,
the most recent budget includes a policy stating that citizens cannot
challenge the approval of high-capacity wells by the Department of
Natural Resources. The high volume water withdrawal required to run a
high-capacity well can negatively impact area lakes and streams, and can
also lead to increased contamination and depletion
of the Wisconsin water supply. Removing citizens' abilities to challenge
such a controversial initiative is a step in the wrong direction, as it
is important that decisions impacting the environment in such a profound
manner are made with the opinion of the people in mind.
There are many things that you can do as an individual to protect our
state's groundwater. One of the best ways to preserve this vital
resource is to simply conserve water in daily life. This can be done in
a variety of ways, such as using water-efficient appliances, only
running the dishwasher or washing machine when it is full, and using
water sparingly when watering a lawn or washing a car. Another important
step in protecting groundwater is reducing pollution daily. It is vital
that all hazardous household substances are disposed of correctly and
that steps are taken to ensure these substances do not enter the
environment during use. By conserving water and preventing hazardous
materials from entering the environment, we can maintain a clean supply
of groundwater here in Wisconsin for many years to come.
For more information about groundwater and what you can do as a steward
of Wisconsin to preserve this important resource, please visit the
Department of Natural Resources' groundwater Web site.
Click here to learn more about groundwater.
Sign the Marriage
Equality Petition Today!
Democratic colleagues and I introduced a proposal that would remove
Wisconsin's ban on marriage equality. The support for this legislation
has been overwhelming. After being in circulation for a month, the
Marriage Equality Wisconsin Petition has already garnered nearly 24,000 signatures. If you have not yet signed the petition
still have time to join our Wisconsin neighbors in supporting the
proposal to remove Wisconsin's ban on marriage equality. If you have
already signed, please encourage your family, friends and neighbors to
do so as well. Continue reading for more information about the details
of this marriage equality proposal.
In 2006, Wisconsin adopted a constitutional amendment banning marriage
equality for all in our state. This 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.
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 married to
the person they love.
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
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
Please do not hesitate to contact me with any questions you may have
regarding this marriage equality proposal.
Support the Higher Ed,
Lower Debt Bill
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
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
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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