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November 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.
Disney's The Lion
Nov. 14, 8:00 p.m.
The award-winning musical returns to Milwaukee on Friday, Nov. 14. From
the unforgettable score, to the breathtaking sets and props, you will
not want to miss this show. Tickets range from $24 to $116.
CLICK HERE for more information about the show.
The Milwaukee Theatre (MAP)
500 W. Kilbourn Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53222
Nov. 15, 1:00 p.m.
Take a winter
walking tour of historic Milwaukee, all without braving the cold. The
"Skywaukee" indoor tour of Milwaukee's best sites takes place in
Milwaukee's skywalk system. Skywaukee is operated by Historic Milwaukee,
Inc., and is led by a certified HMI tour guide. The tour is free for
non-HMI members and children under 6, and $10 for all other adults.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Plankinton Building (MAP)
161 W. Wisconsin Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53203
Winter Farmers Market
Saturdays, Nov. 1 through Apr. 11.
The indoor Milwaukee Farmers Market starts early November, and
encourages community members to buy local. The Farmer's market takes
place at the Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory. On Saturdays from
9 AM to 1 PM, enjoy the wide array of Farmer's Market offerings
including fresh herbs, grass-fed meats, free-range eggs, baked goods,
seasonal jams, and more.
Horticultural Conservatory (MAP)
524 S Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215
Economic Development Forum
Date: Mon., November 17, 6:30 p.m.
The 3rd annual Economic Development Forum, hosted by the South Shore
Chamber of Commerce, will feature new and planned economic development
projects in St. Francis, Cudahy, South Milwaukee, and Oak Creek. This
forum is an excellent opportunity for small business owners and
entrepreneurs in the South Milwaukee area.
to view the flyer for the event.
St. Francis Civic Center (MAP)
3400 E. Howard Avenue
St. Francis WI 53235
Heritage Place Tree Lighting
Date: Saturday, Nov. 22, 3:30-5:00 p.m.
Stop by this holiday event located at Heritage Place Park on the northwest
corner of 10th and Milwaukee Avenue. Santa will stop by for a
visit and hot cocoa and cider will be available to enjoy. A music
performance by Milwaukee School Choirs will begin at 4:30
p.m. with the tree lighting immediately following performance.
CLICK HERE for more information.
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
Welcome to the first Larson Report of the
legislative session. As you may know, per Wisconsin State Statute, the Larson
Report was halted from April 10 to November 4, Election Day. After a
tumultuous election, I am honored to continue serving as your Senator,
and working to better our community and state.
would like to thank you all for your support during the election. In my
second term, I look forward to being able to continue representing the
interests of our community, and making positive changes in our state.
In each Larson Report, I hope to provide you with information on the most important
topics in our
neighborhood, state, and region.
State Senator, District 7
The Changing Face of
This election, our state and nation
saw a dramatic shift in representation. In Wisconsin alone, Republicans
added to their majority hold in the Assembly and Senate, gaining one
seat in the Senate, and three in the Assembly. The Senate composition is
currently 19-14 seats, with the Assembly at 63-36, both in favor of
Several changes in caucus leadership have also occurred in anticipation
of the upcoming legislative session.
In the Assembly, Peter Barca remains Democratic leader, and Republican Robin Vos
will retain his role as
With my support, Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) will now serve as
Democratic leader, while Republican Scott Fitzgerald will continue
serving as the majority leader.
For the past two years, I have been honored to serve as Wisconsin's
Senate Democratic leader. This role kept me on a rigorous schedule the
last two years of leading our Democratic caucus, traveling, recruiting
candidates, fundraising, and responding to the continuous Republican
attacks on our shared values.
This session, I have chosen to step away from Senate Democratic
leadership. Supporting one of my colleagues instead of continuing in
leadership was a personal decision, made in order to have more time to
focus on my family, and the issues facing my Wisconsin neighbors and
The opportunity to support Sen. Shilling as our new caucus leader will
allow me to fight for Wisconsin and our shared values without the
confines of leadership.
Republican Plans Push
Wisconsin's Education Further Behind
In the weeks following the election,
Republican leadership has put forth a number of statements suggesting
which issues they will focus on in the next legislative session. Some of
these suggestions include drastic changes to Wisconsin's most vital
programs. This Larson Report focuses on proposed changes to Wisconsin's
public education system, as there have been many suggestions made for primary,
secondary, private, and higher-education institutions.
As part of Legislative Republican's plans for the next legislative session,
leadership has already placed an emphasis on "reforming" the UW System
budget. UW-Madison consistently ranks as one of the top research
universities in the world. Despite this reputation, Republican
legislators have made statements that they intend to limit the
University of Wisconsin's research areas. Changing the UW-System's
research capacity would also impact the university's standing worldwide
- making it a less appealing institution to receive an education, and
causing economic harm to our state. Speaker Robin Vos went as far
as to say, "Of course I want research, but I want to have research done
in a way that focuses on growing our economy, not on, you know, ancient
mating habits of whatever,"
Steve Ackerman, the associate vice chancellor for research in the
physical sciences responded to Vos' statements in an interview with The
Cap Times, saying, "Basic research is about trying to figure out and
understand things we don't know. It's hard to take the title of a
project or federal grant proposal and transpose that into something. But
it often leads to bigger discoveries, better understanding and,
potentially, economic benefit. Although certainly not always. That's the
way it works." In the same interview, Ackerman also noted the monetary
benefit of the UW system's research programs, which bring in around $1
billion each year.
Click here to view the original article from The Cap Times.
Since 2010, Republicans have been making devastating cuts to public
education. Over the past four years, over $1.6 billion has been cut from
our public schools, resulting in larger class sizes, fewer instructors,
and a lower quality of education available in our state. In addition to
cutting funding from public education, Republicans had also diverted
funding to unaccountable private voucher school programs, allowing public school students to
open enroll in private schools, and taking taxpayer dollars out of
traditional public schools. However, recent statistics revealed that 90% of students
receiving voucher benefits already attended private schools before the
voucher program started, meaning the voucher program is not fulfilling
its stated purpose of providing economically struggling public school students a private education
is simply subsidizing unaccountable private schools. A second issue, and
one that is even more concerning, is that voucher schools are
unaccountable. There is no set standard for voucher schools' curriculum,
licensing for teachers or required teacher training, or requirements for
these schools to provide services to children with learning or
developmental disabilities, meaning students at these schools could easily be falling behind in
statewide education. Year after year, academic studies have shown that
these unaccountable voucher schools perform no better than and in many
cases worse than our traditional public schools.
Currently, the cap for voucher program enrollment sits at 1,000
students. Due to the failure of these voucher schools, it would be
reasonable to assume Republicans would consider putting an end to the
program. However, Sen.
Fitzgerald recently stated that the voucher program would be expanded,
with a potential growth to 9,000 students.
Wisconsinites should not continue funding a failed experiment. In the
upcoming session, my Democratic colleagues and I will fight to preserve
the high-quality education that Wisconsin students deserve. Our students
are our future, and disinvesting from our public education, whether
at the primary or university level, will diminish our future success
Are You Prepared for
year, November 10-14 is Winter Awareness Week. Wisconsinites are no
strangers to harsh winter weather. However, the Midwest is set to face
an "Arctic Outbreak" (coined by the Weather Channel) early next week.
Even though Winter Awareness Week only lasts five days, after last
year's "Polar Vortex," it is important that Wisconsinites are well
prepared for the effects of severe weather throughout this season. The
Wisconsin Emergency Management team (WEM) has complied a number of
helpful tips to keep you and your family safe this winter.
In the home
Severe winter weather can often cause a loss of heat, power, and
communications (including telephone and internet services). To protect
yourself, the Emergency Management team suggests putting together a
"disaster survival kit." Disaster survival kits should contain the
Flashlights and extra batteries
Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio
and a commercial radio
Bottled water and non-perishable
Fire extinguisher, smoke detector,
and carbon monoxide detector
If needed, extra medications and
Proper ventilation for an
emergency heating source, such as a fireplace or space heater
Temporary shelter and plenty of food and
water for pets
Keeping all of these items in an
accessible location in your home can prevent many of the unforeseen
effects of severe weather.
On the road
As many of you know from past winters, road conditions become
increasingly difficult during winter months. According to WEM, in the
past five years, Wisconsin averaged 18,000 motor vehicle crashes during
the winter months. To prevent accidents and ensure the safety of your
vehicle, it is important to take a number of steps before the winter
season begins, and periodically throughout the season.
Before severe winter conditions set in, make sure to winterize your
vehicle and check that your car's battery is in good shape.
Additionally, much like an in-home kit, WEM suggests making a winter
storm survival kit and placing it in the back seat of your car. In
especially severe conditions, you could find yourself stuck on the road
for hours before a storm subsides. The storm survival kit includes:
Blankets or sleeping bags
A flashlights with extra batteries
Shovel, tools, booster cables and
High-calorie non-perishable food
Sand or cat litter to use for
Cell phone adapter
On a day-by-day basis, check weather
conditions before heading out to avoid winter storms, and keep your gas
tank near full to avoid ice in fuel lines. For your convenience, the
Wisconsin Department of Transportation offers up-to-date travel
Click here to view the Department of Transportation's travel information
In the neighborhood
During colder temperatures, it is also important to keep in mind your
personal health. Being out in the cold without proper protection can
cause frostbite, and in extreme cases hypothermia. Make sure to keep
warm by covering up before heading outside, and make sure children and
pets do not stay outside for long periods of time (over 15 minutes)
during colder temperatures.
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 were the outcomes of Milwaukee County referendums on
strengthening BadgerCare and ensuring a fair wage?
On the November 4 election ballots, Milwaukee County residents saw two
referendum questions on expanding BadgerCare and creating a fair wage
for Wisconsin workers. Both of these questions were advisory referendums, meaning
that positive votes in either would not change state law, but rather
provide legislators an insight into public opinion on the issues.
For the question regarding fair pay, Milwaukee County residents
overwhelmingly voted "yes", to raise the wage to $10.10 per hour. 67% voted "yes", with only 33%
voting "no." My Democratic colleagues and I have pushed to ensure fair
wages many times,
including putting forth two proposals in the last session. While at the
time our Republican counterparts blocked the proposals from even
reaching a vote, the overwhelmingly positive response from Wisconsin
voters indicates that we need a change in our state.
On election day, five other states voted to afford their residents a
fair wage -- Alaska, Arkansas, Illinois, Nebraska, and South Dakota.
These states join 16 other states that have already raised, or taken
steps towards increasing a worker's base payment. The benefits of raising wages are
far-reaching. Raising the wage to $10.10 would impact nearly
600,000 Wisconsinites, increasing activity by over $500 million and
creating thousands of new jobs. The average low-wage worker in the
United States is 35 years old. 88% of these workers are
over 20. In addition, on average, workers earn half of their family's
total income. The current minimum wage in Wisconsin of $7.25 puts a
family of four well below the poverty line, making it difficult for our
workers to provide for themselves and their loved ones. Paying workers
fair earnings - of $10.10 per hour - would allow a whole group of
Wisconsinites to become self-sufficient.
The second question on voters' ballots dealt with accepting more federal
dollars to strengthen our BadgerCare program. In July, Governor Walker
rejected an opportunity to bring more of our public dollars home, which left 38,000 Wisconsinites without
necessary health care. 76% of Milwaukee County voters voted "yes" to
investing in BadgerCare, with 24% voting "no." This trend was
relatively consistent across Wisconsin, with all counties majorities
voting "yes" to accept federal funds. Given the public opinion, it is
necessary in this session that Republicans put aside partisan beliefs on
the ongoing health care debate, and care for Wisconsin's citizens. By
rejecting an increase in federal dollars, thousands of our Wisconsin
neighbors have lost necessary care, making our entire state susceptible to preventable
illness, and putting many hardworking Wisconsinites in an unfortunate
spot -- deciding between basic health care, or providing food and other
I am hopeful that in this upcoming session, my Republican colleagues
will consider public opinion, as well as proven benefits, and make a
bipartisan effort to ensure a fair wage and provide BadgerCare for
our deserving Wisconsinites.
Did you know?
brothers, the nationally-famous circus performance, started in Baraboo,
Wisconsin in 1884. Before the start of the show in 1884, the five
Ringling brothers performed in town halls around Wisconsin. Their first
successful show featured entertainer Yankee Robinson in a one ring
The show gained monumental success after acquiring Barnum and Bailey
circus in 1907. As "Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus", the show
was called, "The Greatest Show on Earth."
The Ringling Bros. circus still has wide success today, with four
touring companies traveling throughout the U.S. and Mexico.
American Diabetes Month
Diabetes is one of the fastest growing
diseases among American adults, and it is projected that one in three
adults will have diabetes by 2050 unless we make significant changes in
our national health trends. One form of Diabetes, Type II, is often
caused by poor health trends. In America today, the prevalence of
obesity, and a lack of emphasis on nutrition and exercise contributes to
the rising diabetes figures.
This year, through American Diabetes Month, the American Diabetes Association is focused on not only
spreading awareness for diabetes, but informing Americans of the
positive lifestyle choices they can make to prevent diabetes. This year,
the American Diabetes Association is focused on inspiring the public to
opt for healthier choices, with its "America Gets Cooking" campaign.
This campaign provides a number of healthy recipes, as well as exercise
plans and tips for simple lifestyle changes to get you and your family
on a healthier track.
Click here to learn more about the America Gets Cooking campaign, and
pick up some recipes and tips.
Veterans Day Events
past weekend, as well as Tuesday, I had an opportunity to attend some
local Veterans Day events, including the ceremony in Oak Creek and the
annual presentation at Cudahy High School. I would like to thank our
local communities and neighbors for attending and for making these events
I would also again like to thank all
of our veterans for their dedicated service to our country. There are no
words to describe just how grateful our community is for all that you have
sacrificed to keep us safe here at home.
While Veterans Day provides a yearly
opportunity to honor Wisconsin's brave men and women, it is important to
recognize their service and sacrifice year-round. We will continue to
honor the service of Wisconsin's veterans year-round by investing in
worker training, small business start-up assistance, tuition relief, and
a strong health care system. Our veterans -- along with our neighbors and
families that they risked their lives protecting -- deserve nothing less.
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