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November 5, 2015




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



Mailing Address:

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. 

Milwaukee Fish Fry Tour
Date: Fridays now through November at 5:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: Enjoy your Friday evening exploring the streets of Milwaukee and enjoying fish fries along the way. On this tour, you will be able to sample three half size fish fries along with dessert! This is a bus tour, but does require minimal walking. For location and more information, CLICK HERE.

Build the Future Community Tailgate
Date: Saturday, November 7 from 2:00-6:00 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Milwaukee Bucks are going to transform the outside of the arena into a community wide tailgate. Throughout the tailgate, there will be great food and drink from Old World Third Street bars and restaurants, with live music from local musicians, culminating with a performance by Hip Hop legend DMC. CLICK HERE for more information.

Outside the BMO Harris Bradley Center
1001 N 4th St.
Milwaukee, WI 53203


Friends of Cudahy Library Fall Vendor Fair
Date: Saturday November 7, 2015, from 10 am to 3 p.m. and Sunday November 8, 2015, from Noon to 3 p.m.
Location: Cudahy
Description: Get started on your holiday shopping while supporting local vendors and the library! Featuring some of your favorite products such as Pampered Chef and PartyLite, as well as beautiful; handmade creations. For information, CLICK HERE.


Cudahy Family Library


3500 Library Ave.

Cudahy, WI 53110


Italian Apertivo
Date: Monday, November 9 at 4:30 p.m.
Location: Milwaukee
Description: The Pasta Tree will be hosting an after work social featuring food and drink specials! Come relax with after work with "Happy Hour." CLICK HERE for more information.

The Pasta Tree
1503 N Farwell Ave.
Milwaukee, WI 53202


Milwaukee Holiday Lights Festival
Date: November 19, 2015, through December 27, 2015
Location: Downtown Milwaukee
Description: Downtown Milwaukee will feature sparkling rooflines, harp lamp lighting and suspended d�cor above downtown intersections. In addition, $1 Jingle Bus rides will operate Thursday through Sunday evenings! CLICK HERE for locations and more information.

Milwaukee Holiday Parade Presented by Johnson Controls
Date: Saturday, November 21, 2015, at 9:30 a.m.
Location: Downtown Milwaukee
Description: One of the most cherished holiday traditions, this parade will feature over 100 units 100 units including marching bands, floats, giant helium balloons, local personalities, costumed characters, live animals, specialty vehicles and, of course, Santa Claus! CLICK HERE for the parade route and more information.

Bloody Mary Brunch Tour
Date: Sunday, November 22 from 10:30 a.m. to 1 p.m.
Location: Historic Third Ward
Description: Start off your Sunday with a walking tour of the Historic Third Ward. This tour will be approximately one mile long with plenty of walking breaks ad feature over 20 restaurants. You will be able to sample food and drink along with learning fun facts with newfound friends! CLICK HERE for more information and ticket prices.  Exact location information will be provided after ticket purchase.

Kelly Senior Center
Date: Throughout the month of November
Location: Cudahy
Description: With a variety of activities from card making, painting, salsa dancing, beginner Spanish and so much more, Kelly Senior center is sure to have an activity for you. Also, eat at Rock Rocco�s Monday Nov 9, 11:00 am - 8:00 pm and 15% of the sales will be donated to the Kelly Senior Center.


Kelly Senior Center


6100 S. Lake Dr.

Cudahy, WI 53210



Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,

Hope you're having a great week! It was nice to see and talk to many great neighbors like you at the Pumpkin Pavilion and out trick-or-treating.


The Republican leaders in the Senate are pushing for an extraordinary session to rush bills that will dismantle Wisconsin's good government laws. See below for an important call to action.


Also, this week's newsletter will focus on the need for policies that promote safe communities and support families. These include, ensuring equal access to opportunities, reducing disparities, and creating flexible workplaces.


Also, I wanted to let you know that, due to State Statute 11.33, the Larson Report will be on hold starting at the end of November to Tuesday, April 5, 2016. As such, the last Larson Report newsletter before it is placed on hold will go out on November 19. In an effort to keep you up-to-date on the latest in state news and community happenings, I encourage you to follow me on Twitter and connect with me on Facebook, where I will be posting regular updates. Additionally, I will post important updates for you on my website.

As always, it is great to see many of you in the community at farmer's markets, races, and events. Please remember that I welcome your ideas and always appreciate hearing from you about your priorities and concerns. 

See you in the neighborhood,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7



Action Alert: Help Save Clean Government in Wisconsin!
Senate Republican leadership had signaled that the Senate would be in session on Tuesday, November 3 to pass two destructive bills that would blow open the doors to more cronyism and corruption in Wisconsin. However, for the second week in a row, the GOP temporarily balked, slowing the runaway Tea Party policy train.

With increased spending and influence being plied on the few remaining moderate Republican legislators, Republican leadership -- with the help of billionaire special interests -- are strong-arming enough votes to pass a bill to politicize the Government Accountability Board as well as a bill that would allow an avalanche of special interest money to flow to political parties, burying principles and values under a mountain of money. Indications are bullying tactics are winning the votes and the GOP will rush the Senate in an extraordinary session on Friday, November 6 to take up these bills.

Democrats, hold-out Republicans, and the majority of our Wisconsin neighbors know that the passage of these bills will shred vital safeguards on clean government in Wisconsin.

To learn more about these destructive bills, click here to read about them in a previous Larson Report newsletter.

Help Senate Democrats kill these misguided bills -- that will squash Wisconsin's open government policies -- by doing the following:

1.) Sign this petition to say "no" to more corruption in politics.

2.) If you haven't already, please make sure to contact your own state senator to voice your opinion. Find out who your senator is, here, or call 1-800-362-9472.

3.) Share this message with friends and family and on social media to help spread the word about these dangerous bills. Check my Facebook page to share graphics and the petition.


Wisconsin is in Need of Policies that Promote Safe Communities
Every year, nearly 500 children, women, and men are killed with guns. These senseless acts devastate entire communities. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on ways to make our communities safer, such as implementing background checks for all types of firearm sales -- which polling has shown a vast majority of the public and even 74% of National Rifle Association members support -- Republicans are taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction.

For instance, just this past June, the Republican-controlled Legislature passed Senate Bill 35, a dangerous proposal that eliminated the cooling-off safety period for handgun purchases. This 48-hour cooling-off period served as a vital pause that allowed those who wanted to purchase a handgun to reconsider the intent and outcome of possessing a deadly weapon. The facts are clear, the cooling-off period saves lives. However, in rushing this proposal through, Governor Walker and his fellow Tea Party Republicans argued that the tragedies that result from immediate access to firearms was outweighed by the shopping inconvenience an additional gun store visit would create. I know that this opinion is not shared by the majority of our neighbors, in fact, I am a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 264, a proposal to restore public safety by re-establishing the 48-hour cooling-off period. With growing public concern and advocacy, I hope we can remedy the mistake that Walker made when he stripped away this public safety measure.

Wisconsin Needs to do More to Prevent Violence
These recent actions by legislative Republicans come as a slap in the face to citizens desperate for solutions to decrease gun violence. Following recent tragedies involving gun violence in our community and across our nation, I have heard from many neighbors with concerns about community safety. Our own neighborhood has experienced the devastation of gun violence first-hand, at the Sikh Temple in Oak Creek, Azana Salon & Spa in Brookfield, and countless other tragedies. We must do more to protect families against gun violence.

On Wednesday, October 28 hundreds of citizen advocates from Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort (WAVE) called, emailed, and visited legislative offices throughout the Capitol. This type of grassroots advocacy renews the commitment of those of us who have taken a stand against the bully tactics and big money of the NRA and special interest gun lobby. I was also excited to see WAVE's "Pledge to Protect," -- a challenge to legislators to show where they really stand on this important issue. I signed the pledge, and hope many of my colleagues join me.

Allowing Guns on Campus
One of the bills currently before the Legislature that WAVE advocates expressed concerns about while visiting my office was the misguided attempt to strip the authority of UW campuses to keep guns out of classrooms and away from student housing. From campus police to campus neighbors and student body presidents, there has been overwhelming rejection of the senseless bill, introduced in the Senate as Senate Bill 363.

Click here to view Senate Bill 363.

As noted by University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Student Body President Mike Sportiello in a strong statement to legislators, the outcome of such a law will foster an environment that invokes a state of worry and fear, rather than one of learning. Not only does this proposal fail to meaningfully protect our students and campus neighborhoods from violence, it does not have the support from those who would be impacted.

Click here to read the letter from UWM Student Body President mike Sportiello.

Evidence proves that guns endanger people; adding more guns creates more problems. In fact, several studies have found that students are more likely to have a firearm at college if they are male, binge drink, and engage in risky and aggressive behaviors after drinking. Additionally, suicide is already the leading cause of death for college and university students in our country, and men are nearly four times more likely to commit suicide when firearms are accessible. Suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal more than 90% of the time. 

Students, Police Say No Guns On Campus
Currently, there are 19 states that outright ban carrying a concealed weapon on a college campus. After the strong response by students and campus police officers, legislative Democrats proposed a bill that would prohibit a person from carrying a dangerous weapon on a university or college campus. The proposal, LRB 3505, has been circulated for co-sponsorship but has not yet been formally introduced to the Legislature.

Click here to see a copy of the LRB 3505.

Rejecting the culture of fear and firearms is not unique to Wisconsin as those actually on college campuses across the country have voiced their opposition to concealed carry. In a 2009 poll, only 5% of university police chiefs nationwide thought allowing students to be armed would prevent shootings on campus. Further, another study found that 95% of college and university presidents are opposed to allowing concealed guns on campus. In 2013, a study found that 78% of Midwestern students are not in favor of concealed handguns.

Click here to read an article regarding the study showing the majority of Midwestern students do not support concealed handguns.

The majority of college campuses in the United States prohibit firearms on campus. These gun-free policies are why college campuses have some of the lowest rates of violent crime. Instead, of promoting policies based on anecdotes rather than evidence, legislative Republicans should join Democrats in focusing on improving the quality of life of our neighbors here in Wisconsin. We'd be much better off as a state if leaders instead promoted our state's shared values, such as investing in our kids' schools, improving access to basic health care services, and creating family-supporting jobs that will help us grow the economy, as well as implementing policies known to combat violence.


Education Performance Gap Widens
Recently, the U.S. Department of Education released a new report in which they detailed Wisconsin's overall performance in the areas of mathematics and reading as well as high school graduation rates for our state. As Wisconsin students remain steady at past levels of educational performance in mathematics and reading amongst fourth and eighth graders, we saw a widening racial gap in our high school graduation rates.

Wisconsin now ranks third in the nation for high school graduation overall; however, the disparity amongst races is something that continues to be of serious concern. In the U.S. Department of Education report, we saw that while white students graduate at a rate of 92.9% black students are graduating at a rate of 66.1%. This disparity -- represented by the 26.8% gap between white and black students -- is the largest in the United States and serves as a harsh reminder that the republican education strategy is failing Wisconsin's students.

(Click to Enlarge)


Rather than diverting more funds away from public education and rescinding power from local school boards, we must focus on what we know works. This includes investing into our traditional neighborhood schools. Additionally, the community school model that I introduced with Representative Barnes helps to address the complex range of factors that lead to underachievement, while strengthening local communities in the process. The creation of community schools empowers parents, engages community organizations, provides social services, as well as enriches a student's education beyond teaching to a standardized test. With community schools, we can transform the life of the student and help secure a positive future for our communities. For instance, if a young student is living in an impoverished community, they may not have access to regular meals. We know that kids perform worse in school if they are hungry, so this student may continue to fall further and further behind in their classes. Now let's say this same student also has a cavity that is causing them pain, but they do not have access to a dentist. This will compound the problem and could cause the student to miss days of schools because of the pain, even though they are already struggling and cannot afford to miss. The community schools model takes a wrap-around approach to help students like this. Through this model, the school would partner with local nonprofits and other community members to ensure that this child is able to eat breakfast -- so they can start their day off ready to learn -- as well as find a way to address the child's cavity. If we want to address disparities in education, we must look at the whole picture.  

I commend State Superintendent Tony Evers, in his attempts to work within current law to promote positive change, however, state lawmakers also need to be part of the solution. Wisconsin needs a bold new education direction in order to correct this worst-in-the-nation disparity. To be effective in forging this better future, I need each one of you to make your voices heard. Please contact my office with your ideas and concerns. Together we will change Wisconsin for the better.


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: I am concerned about the high rate of African American unemployment in our community, is there anything being done to address this?

The disparities for boys and men of color in this country on nearly every major indicator of economic, social, and physical well-being are well-documented and demonstrate that they do not have access to the structural supports and opportunities needed to thrive. In Wisconsin, African Americans, particularly men, fare even worse. As discussed in the previous article, Wisconsin is failing people of color in areas such as education. Additionally, according to an article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, Wisconsin is the leader in the incarceration of black men.


Another major issue facing our community is black male joblessness in Milwaukee. On Wednesday, October 21 I was able to take part in the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin's (UEDA) recent summit meant to tackle the high black male unemployment rate in Milwaukee. Nearly 150 individuals joined the 14th Annual UEDA Community Development Summit.


Since its inception in 1997, UEDA has worked to strengthen the community and economic development sector by facilitating collaboration among individuals and organizations in the private,
public and nonprofit sectors. UEDA summits highlight relevant and emerging issues, and bring together diverse stakeholders to focus on challenges related
to regional transportation, foreclosures, access to capital and now workforce and employment.

Held during Milwaukee's Boys & Men of Color Week, this year's summit highlighted ways to better connect those left out of traditional employment to work and increase economic participation. Barriers to employment opportunities are often rooted in racial discrimination, compounded by a lack of access to job opportunities, and a lack of outreach to black communities and individuals. Attendees at the participated in interactive labs designed to generate outcome-driven, problem-solving discussion that will develop creative strategies to address these issues and strengthen this citywide effort.

Notably, the issue of black male joblessness is particular to Milwaukee. UW-Milwaukee Professor Marc Levine pointed out that, although issues such as a skills gap exist across the country, cities such as Raleigh and Charlotte, N.C., Boston, Washington D.C. and Atlanta have "substantially lower black male non-employment (joblessness) rates." In 2010, only about 45% of the Milwaukee metro area's working-age black males (ages 16-64) were employed, the lowest rate ever. Plus, even though 12% of African-American males in Milwaukee have a college degree, versus 37% of white males, only 11% of Latino males have a college degree and the Latino male non-employment rate is one-third the black rate in Milwaukee.


At the summit, Mayor Tom Barrett stressed the importance of ensuring the doors to opportunity are open and accessible to everyone in the community. "There's an economic imperative. There's also a social and a moral imperative that we do a better job of making sure that people have an opportunity to support their families, just as we all want to support our own families," he noted.


Professionals in academia, construction, health care, and the public sector also came together to discuss the skills gap and explore nontraditional educational pathways, thinking creatively about employing black males, and addressing the issue of confidence. As work around this issue continues to develop, I will keep you updated.

Click here for link to the UEDA website where they will soon release a summary report on the summit. You can also view summaries of their past summits.

To get involved with this important initiative, contact the UEDA by clicking here.  


Extraordinary Session: Partisan Pressure Cooker
Previously, we discussed that the Senate may go into an "extraordinary session" to take up the two bills that will allow for more corruption in Wisconsin. You may be wondering, "What is an Extraordinary session?" Here is an insiders look at what it is.

Historically, extraordinary session is called to take up one or two bills with a specific focus, and has different rules than regular sessions. To hold an extraordinary sessions only the approval of legislative leaders is needed. They are also different than special sessions, which needs approval by the governor.  In the past, the Legislature used extraordinary session to take up bills related to open records laws, collective bargaining contracts, redistricting, the state budget, a constitutional amendment to allow a sports lottery and other issues. Most-recently you may remember the Senate rushing into an extraordinary session to take up the so-called "Right to Work" bill.

Historically, special sessions were used in the 1800s to bring legislators back to Madison in a time of crisis, because at that time they did not meet all year round. Since then the usage has shifted, and both special and extraordinary sessions are used to focus and assure quick passage of specific legislation. In the case of an extraordinary session, it's usually a bill lawmakers want to fast-track.

In 1977, the Legislature adopted a joint rule allowing an extraordinary session to be called during a committee work period or after the expiration of the last scheduled floor period.

One of three legislative procedures can be used for calling an extraordinary session:

1.) At the direction of a majority of the members of the committee on organization in each chamber
2.) By a majority of elected membership in each chamber passing a joint resolution passed 3.)  A joint petition of a majority of the members elected in each house

Since the last scheduled day of regular session for this year was Thursday, November 5, the Senate Committee on Organization planned to circulate a ballot to approve bringing legislators in on Friday, November 6, for an extraordinary session, to take up the aforementioned bills and potentially other lingering business.

Extraordinary sessions follow a different set of rules than regular session designed to expedite the legislative process and limit the amount of time allowed for debate. The rules differ slightly between the Assembly and Senate, however, in both houses, notices for committee hearings aren't required beyond posting online and on legislative bulletin boards. Further, a schedule of committee activities doesn't have to be published.

While sometimes urgency is appropriate and swift action is necessary, I am concerned that extraordinary sessions are a tool that can feed the GOP's culture of corruption by restricting debate and shutting the door to public involvement and scrutiny.

Other rules of extraordinary session include:

  • Proposals are referred to the day's calendar and may be taken up immediately. A calendar doesn't have to be provided.
  • Motions to postpone proposals -- know as "rejecting the third reading" -- are not allowed and, in almost all cases, motions to reconsider will be taken up immediately. A vote from a majority of present members is required to advance a proposal to a third reading or to message it to the other house.
  • Under Senate rules, any point of order must be decided within an hour.
  • If the extraordinary session is held before the conclusion of the final general floor period, lawmakers can also introduce new legislation or consider bills that have already been introduced.
  • The purpose of an extraordinary session can also be expanded and supplemented in order to act on other business.

    Want to learn more? Click here to view an informational paper by the nonpartisan Legislative Reference Bureau.


November is Family Caretakers Month
Last year President Obama declared November as National Family Caregivers Month. Parents and children, siblings and spouses, friends and neighbors, support those in their lives affected by illness, injury, or disability. Each day they are challenged with not only meeting their own needs but also the needs of loved ones they care for with dignity and respect. It's an act of love, compassion, and sacrifice, which so many in our community selflessly and loyally give.

Many caregivers rely on workplace flexibility and reasonable accommodations in order to do so. The Obama administration is fighting to ensure that American citizens do not have to choose between being productive employees and responsible family members. They'd like to ensure caregivers have access to the support they need, including financial assistance, comprehensive caregiver training, mental health services and counseling, and respite care.

Locally, I am fighting to ease the burden caregivers take on each day as well. For instance, I am a co-sponsor of the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Insurance Act. Ensuring workers have access to paid leave provides our workers compassion and understanding and promotes Wisconsin's shared family values. Our neighbors should not have to choose between taking care of a family member and keeping their job. This bill is designed to help families in a time of need and allows employees to take family leave to care for a family member.

The bill has not been formally introduced yet as it is still be circulated for co-sponsorship. Click here to see a draft.

Another bill that has been introduced this session is Senate Bill 19, which will help to make sure caregivers know what their loved one needs after a hospital visit by providing guidance to those who will be caring for them. This will likely prevent return visits to the hospital. Also, under this bill, if a patient designates a caregiver, the hospital must notify the caregiver of a patients discharge, and prepare the caregiver for aftercare assistance. Simple changes can make a world of difference to ease the strains and challenges caregivers face when tending to the needs of loved ones who've fallen ill. I'm pleased to be a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 19 and am joined in this effort by AARP, who recently visited my office to show their support for this legislation.

Click here to view Senate Bill 19.

The citizen advocates from AARP shared some startling facts with my office during their visit. They informed me that there are about 578,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin who provide $7 billion worth of unpaid care. Each week, the average caregiver provides 18 hours of assistance to a loved one. Almost half of these caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks, such as complex medication management and injections.

Strengthening our policies to support family caregivers would be a tremendous help to individuals in our community. Neighbors like Laura who shared her story with the Caregivers Action Network (CAN). Laura is 44 years old and takes care of her 41-year-old sister, Sue. Sue suffered a brain aneurysm and also had two strokes after surgery. Laura has been caring for her sister since 2000. Each day, Laura wakes up at 5 a.m. to provide Sue with needed medication and personal cares. A caregiver comes to help during the day while Laura is at work. After she gets home from work each day, she must provide more personal cares and give Sue additional medication. Laura also takes care of Sue's two sons and is only able to have two weekends off per year. Laura notes she is saving public resources by taking on the bulk of the financial costs for Sue's cares, and indicates there is a need for more policies to assist people in her situation. This includes, access to respite care so Laura has the ability to recharge and renew herself.

Laura's is not alone in the struggles she experiences as a family caregiver. CAN is an organization working to improve quality of life for more than 90 million caregivers in the U.S. CAN offer the following 10 tips for family caregivers:

1.) Seek support from other caregivers. You are not alone!
2.) Take care of your own health so that you can be strong enough to take care of your loved one.
3.) Accept offers of help and suggest specific things people can do to help you.
4.) Learn how to communicate effectively with doctors.
5.) Caregiving is hard work so take respite breaks often.
6.) Watch out for signs of depression and don't delay in getting professional help when you need it.
7.) Be open to new technologies that can help you care for your loved one.
8.) Organize medical information so it's up to date and easy to find.
9.) Make sure legal documents are in order.
10.) Give yourself credit for doing the best you can in one of the toughest jobs there is!

Are you a family caregiver? I'd love to hear your own story and thoughts on the aforementioned bills. Email me at Sen.Larson@Legis.WI.Gov

For more information about CAN click here.


Tips for Driving Safely this Winter
The weather is starting to change as we approach winter. Below is a list of safe winter driving tips to assist you in being mindful of the weather and roads:
  • Ensure your tires have the proper air pressure. Failure to maintain the correct air pressure can result in poor gas mileage, reduce tire life, affect vehicle handling, and increase your chance of being in an accident.
  • Pay extra close attention. Look ahead in traffic farther than you normally do, do not use cruise control in wintry conditions, and do not attempt to out-drive the conditions. Remember the posted speed limits are for dry pavement.
  • Use brakes carefully. Make sure you give yourself more time to stop and do not pump anti-lock brakes.
  • Clear snow and ice from all windows, lights, the hood and roof before driving. This will ensure you maintain proper visibility during your entire drive.
  • Know the current road conditions. Call 5-1-1 or CLICK HERE to log onto the winter road conditions report Web page for up-to-date information about the roads you will be traveling.

Click here for more information about weatherizing your car or staying safe on the roads this winter courtesy of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation.



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