LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER


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November 13, 2014

     

 













 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 


CONTACT ME


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

Email:
Sen.Larson@legis.wi.gov

 

Mailing Address:

State Capitol
P.O. Box 7882
Madison, WI 53707

 

Web Site:

SenatorChrisLarson.com

 

Find Me on Facebook and Twitter:

  

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

COMMUNITY EVENTS
 

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. 


 

Disney's The Lion King

Date: Friday, Nov. 14, 8:00 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: 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

 

 

Skywaukee

Date: Saturday, Nov. 15, 1:00 p.m.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: 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
 

 

Milwaukee County Winter Farmers Market

Date: Saturdays, Nov. 1 through Apr. 11.

Location: Milwaukee

Description: 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.

 

Mitchell Park Horticultural Conservatory (MAP)

524 S Layton Blvd
Milwaukee, WI 53215

 

 

South Shore Economic Development Forum
Date: Mon., November 17, 6:30 p.m.

Location: St.Francis

Description: 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. CLICK HERE 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.

Location: South Milwaukee

Description: 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 upcoming 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.


I 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.

 


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

The Changing Face of the Legislature

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 Republicans.

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 speaker.


With my support, Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) will now serve as Senate Democratic leader, while Republican Scott Fitzgerald will continue serving as the majority leader.


Moving Forward

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 families.

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 - it 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 and opportunity.
 

Are You Prepared for Winter?

This 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 following:

  • Flashlights and extra batteries

  • Battery-powered NOAA Weather Radio and a commercial radio

  • Bottled water and non-perishable food

  • First-aid supplies

  • Fire extinguisher, smoke detector, and carbon monoxide detector

  • If needed, extra medications and baby items

  • 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

  • First-aid kit

  • Shovel, tools, booster cables and windshield scraper

  • High-calorie non-perishable food

  • Sand or cat litter to use for traction

  • 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 information.

 

Click here to view the Department of Transportation's travel information website.


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.

 

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: What were the outcomes of Milwaukee County referendums on strengthening BadgerCare and ensuring a fair wage?

A: 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 basic necessities.

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?

Ringling 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 circus.

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.
 

November is 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.

 

Attending Local Veterans Day Events

This 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 truly special.

 

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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