March 28, 2013
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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.
Storytime Smiles at
the St. Francis Library
Location: St. Francis
Start your child on the road to reading. The St. Francis Library is
offering free storytimes for children this spring. Families can register
now, in the Children�s Room or over the phone by calling (414) 481-7323. Your
child will enjoy a combination of stories, fingerplays, flannel board
stories, puppets, art projects, and more. Each storytime matches your
child�s developmental level, attention span, and interests, to promote a
love of literature. They are also a great time to meet new and old
friends, and a special time for all who join in. Pajamarama (for ages
2-6) is scheduled for Monday nights from 6 p.m. to 6:45 p.m. Or join
Preschool Storytime (for ages 3-6) on Tuesdays at 10:15 a.m. to 11 a.m.
A Veterans Print
new exhibit is coming to the Milwaukee County Historical Society.
Featuring the stories of Milwaukee County Latino veterans and the
artwork of local printmakers, the Veterans Print Project sets itself
apart by bringing veterans and artists together, with artists creating
original works based on the veteran�s individual story.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 273-8288.
Baseball--Innovations That Changed the Game
From the fingerless gloves of the 19th century to today�s modern
equipment, the game of baseball has continued to change. It is all here
at this fabulous exhibit shown for a limited time at Discovery World.
The exhibit runs from April 1 through May 19 and is included with
general admission to Discovery World.
CLICK HERE or call (414) 765-9966 for more information.
Indoor Spring Market
Date: Sat., April 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Coming off the successful Christmas Market, the South Milwaukee Downtown Market is bringing a second indoor market to our community. This event will be held at South Milwaukee High School on Saturday, April 6 from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m. and will feature a variety of local vendors. CLICK HERE for more information.
South Milwaukee High School (MAP)
1001 15th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53172
Used Book Sale
Date: Sat., April 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
Location: South Milwaukee
Description: Do you have books you want to get rid of but do not know what to do with them? Consider donating them to the Friends of South Milwaukee Public Library for their used book sale. Proceeds will benefit the library by providing funding for special equipment, programs, publicity, and more. The Saturday book sale will be held at the South Milwaukee Public Library on April 13 from 9:30 a.m. to 3 p.m.
South Milwaukee Public Library (MAP)
1907 10th Avenue
South Milwaukee, WI 53712
The Joint Finance Committee has concluded its agency briefings on the budget and will soon be hosting public hearings around the state. Continue reading for more details on this and other important issues, such as decreasing consumer protections, devaluing technical schools in the budget, the upcoming DNR Spring Hearing and Conservation Congress, and more.
Joint Finance to Begin Public Hearings
This past Tuesday signaled the conclusion of the agency briefings on the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget.
The next step in the budget process involves Joint Finance Committee members traveling across the state to conduct public hearings. Unfortunately, the co-chairs of this session's Joint Finance Committee have opted to hold fewer public hearings than in the past. Both this session and last session, Republican co-chairs opted to only hold four public hearings on the budget across the state. This is the lowest number of hearings held by the Joint Finance Committee in 25 years.
Information on where these hearings will be held are now available and details can be found below.
Greendale Public Hearing
Monday, April 8 from 10 a.m. to
Wednesday, April 10 from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
Thursday, April 18 from 10 a.m.
to 5 p.m.
The budget is a document that sets our
priorities and defines our state. I encourage all of our Wisconsin
neighbors to make your voice heard on important budgetary issues, such
as the expansion of unaccountable voucher schools, rejection of federal
funds to expand health care access, doing away with the popular Buy
Local, Buy Wisconsin program, and much more.
Remember to Vote on April 2
Wisconsin's spring elections are fast-approaching. Remember the polls are open on Tuesday, April 2 from 7 a.m. until 8 p.m. If you cannot vote on Election Day, you can also vote absentee by mail or in-person at your clerk's office. Completed ballots delivered by the U.S. Postal Service must be postmarked no later than Election Day and be received by the municipal clerk no later than 4 p.m. the Friday after the election. If using FedEx, hand-delivery, or another method, the completed ballot must be delivered to the municipal clerk no later than 8 p.m. on Election Day. In-person absentee voting, on the other hand, takes place in your clerk's office and has already commenced and will continue through Friday, March 29, 2013.
You will NOT need to present a valid photo ID since that requirement has been ruled unconstitutional by the Courts. This ruling is subject to appeal, but is not expected to change before the upcoming election, if at all. If you are first-time voter or have never voted at your current residence, please remember to bring proof of residence. You will also be asked to provide your driver's license or Wisconsin ID number, if you have such an ID.
Voters in the city of Milwaukee should also be aware that there is an advisory referendum on their ballot seeking their input on Wisconsin's same-day registration provision. The ballot question, which was approved by the Milwaukee Common Council in January, states: "Should the state of Wisconsin continue to permit citizens to register to vote at the polls on Election Day?"
Same-day registration has proven popular among Wisconsin voters, and 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 most recent general election 19% of those who voted in Milwaukee registered that day.
Eliminating same-day registration
would also prove costly to taxpayers. The Government Accountability
Board, which would be tasked with implementing any changes to our
registration and voting laws, has estimated that this change will
initially cost approximately $5.2 million during the first two years of
the switch. Continuing not to offer same day registration and having to
instead comply with federal laws will then cost the Wisconsin Government
Accountability Board at least $2 million every two years from here on
out. No word yet on what the costs would be for other agencies, such as
the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.
A study done by George Mason University examining voter turnout for the 2010 general elections ranked Wisconsin among the top five states with the highest voter turnout. This trend continued in the general election in 2012, as well. According to the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, Wisconsin saw a turnout rate of 70.1% in the most recent elections. Additionally, 3,071,434 votes were cast for president in the November 2012 elections. This was the highest number of votes cast for a single office in a statewide election in Wisconsin history. It is important that we continue our proud tradition of high voter turnout in elections by participating in the electoral process on Tuesday, April 2.
Efforts to Weaken Consumer Protections
Both the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget and recently introduced legislative proposals aim to weaken Wisconsin's consumer protections laws making Wisconsinites more susceptible to "bad actors" in various industries. Continue reading for more information about just a couple of these concerning provisions to be introduced.
Exempting Rent-to-Own from Consumer Protection Laws
While the budget is meant to be a purely fiscal document, a provision was slipped in to the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget that removes "rent-to-own" companies from consumer protection laws, meaning they would not need to disclose their interest rates. Many legislators were surprised to see this provision sneak its way into the budget as there was bipartisan opposition to the stand alone rent-to-own bill last session.
Under rent-to-own programs, consumers
who may not otherwise qualify for a credit purchase can rent a desired
item with the potential to eventually own it. However, unlike with a
credit transaction, the lender does not consider the borrower's ability
to pay, charges three- to four-times the value of the item in rental
fees, and does not disclose the true cost of the rental or eventually
purchased item. For example, a consumer, after realizing they do not
qualify for a credit card, could decide to rent a TV instead of buying
it right away. They may sign a contract to rent the TV at a rate of $10
per week for 78 weeks prior to paying off the item in order to own it.
As a result, they will end up paying a total of $780, even though the
actual retail price of that TV is approximately $220. That rent-to-own
company would be requiring this Wisconsinite to pay $560 above the
retail price, which equals a 228% annual interest rate.
Penalizing Responsible Victims
(Senate Bill 22)
For example, drunk drivers would not be held fully responsible for the damages caused to an injured victim of the drunk driver if the driver has worked hard, planned ahead, and made sacrifices to obtain health insurance coverage, disability coverage, or other benefits. This injured person would receive less for the same injury than someone who has never paid premiums and obtained health insurance.
The bill will also change a century-old law, called the collateral source rule, which was upheld just last summer by the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Senate Bill 22 is simply not fair to our hard-working, responsible Wisconsinites. This legislation has been referred to the Senate Judiciary and Labor Committee, but has yet to be scheduled for a public hearing.
Strong Consumer Protections: A Shared Wisconsin Value
Wisconsin has typically prided itself on providing adequate protections to our family, friends, and neighbors should they be harmed by the actions of a negligent individual or dishonest corporation. We have even crafted well-regarded consumer protection laws and have an agency--the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection--dedicated to upholding this proud tradition and these fine laws. We should not be sacrificing our commitment to ensuring honest business practices and consumer safety by moving such careless policies forward.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of fraud or illegal business practices, please feel free to contact the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to file a complaint. In 2009, the Bureau of Consumer Protection within the Department received nearly 14,000 written consumer complaints and mediated more than 15,000 cases. Approximately $9.5 million was returned to Wisconsin, primarily being returned to consumers in the form of court ordered restitution, mediated refunds, or product recall refunds. Complaints can be filed online. You can also call to speak to agency staff by dialing 800-422-7128.
Wisconsin Natural Resources, Your Way
Every spring, each person in Wisconsin
has the opportunity to help direct how the Wisconsin Department of
Natural Resources (DNR) manages our natural resources. The DNR holds a
hearing with survey questions and resolutions that are voted on by all
who attend. The hearing happens at the same time in each county across
our state and is scheduled to convene on April 8, 2013, at 7 p.m.
Meeting results, along with written
comments on the evening's questions and DNR recommendations, are used to
advise the state Natural Resources Board. Votes are non-binding and are
presented to the Natural Resources Board as advisories. If you are
interested in outdoor recreation, conservation, or our heritage of being
citizen stewards of our natural resources, I encourage you to attend and
provide your input to this important process.
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: What does the budget do to support our local technical colleges with worker training?
A: Despite the undying work ethic of Wisconsin's middle-class families,
our state is ranked 44th in the nation in terms of job growth. We are
also ranked last in the Midwest in virtually every economic indicator
while neighboring states are enjoying a robust economic recovery. Common
sense would lead us to believe that economic development and worker
training through our technical schools would be prioritized in the
budget to help give Wisconsin a much needed boost to catch up to our
neighbors. Unfortunately, the 2013-2015 Biennial Budget fails to
introduce any substantive economic development programs and throws chump
change at worker training after such programs received a $72 million cut
in the last budget.
|U.S. Supreme Court Debates Marriage Equality|
This week, 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. Should these laws be upheld, same-sex couples will
continue to see discrimination in marriage, access to federal benefits,
Did You Know...?
You may know that the impending arrival of the Brewer's Opening Day signals many exciting months of sausage races. But did you know that our very own Sheboygan, Wisconsin is considered the "Bratwurst Capital of the World?"
In 1970, Sheboygan battled Bucyrus, Ohio for the title of Bratwurst Capital of the World. After a grueling duel, the Sheboygan Press reported on August 14, 1970, that Judge John Bolgert had rendered an official decision bestowing the title upon Sheboygan and barring all other claimers from using it.
Our Sheboygan neighbors have a very specific way that they prepare their world-famous brats. First, they fry the brats rather than grilling them. Then, they place them on a round (not oblong) hard roll and dress it with onion and brown mustard.
This year marks the 60th Annual Sheboygan Brat Days festival, celebrating Sheboygan's famous brats. Thousands will flock to this family-friendly event from August 1-3 of 2013.
|Opening Day for Brewer's on Monday|
Our Milwaukee Brewers celebrate Opening Day on Monday, April 1 at Miller Park, so stop by to cheer on our beloved Brewer's. We are looking forward to a great season filled with homeruns, sausage races, stadium sauce, Bernie Brewer, and fellow fans.
Take My Survey Online
I recently mailed out a newsletter
district wide. This newsletter not only provided an update on a variety
of important legislative issues, but it also featured a survey. The
short survey provides me with a way to learn more about you and gives
you the opportunity to share your thoughts on how to move Wisconsin
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