LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

 

 

July 15, 2011

     

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

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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.

 

 

Bastille Days

July 15 from 11 a.m. to July 17 at 9 p.m.
Join in celebrating the 30th anniversary of Bastille Days. Attend North America's largest outdoor French-themed festival, which takes place in downtown Milwaukee at Cathedral Square Park.
Celebrate the French Independence Day with a variety of entertainment options, activities for the kids, roaming minstrels, great food and much more. CLICK HERE for more information.

 

Cathedral Square Park (MAP)

825 North Jefferson Street Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 276-0130

 

 

South Shore Frolics
July 15 through July 17

Stop by the 62nd annual South Shore Frolics. This family-oriented Bay View festival is free and features fireworks, a parade, a car show, outdoor movies on the beach, live music and more. For additional event information, please CLICK HERE.

South Shore Park (MAP)
2900 S. Shore Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53207

 

 

Taste of Egypt 2011
July 15 at 10 a.m. through July 17 at 7 p.m.

Prepare your taste buds for an Egyptian festival full of fun activities, entertainment, Egyptian souvenirs and best of all, authentic Egyptian foods. Admission to the fourth Taste of Egypt Festival is free. For additional information, please CLICK HERE.

St. Mary & St. Antonious Coptic Church (MAP)
1521 W. Drexel Avenue
Oak Creek, WI 53154
(414) 764-5944

 

 

Croatian Fest 2011
July 16 at 6 p.m. through July 17 at 9:30 p.m.

Visit this year's Croatian festival this weekend. Enjoy live music from TS Barabe, cultural programming, and traditional foods such as roasted Croatian lamb, pork and chicken. Saturday admission is free from 6 p.m. to 10 p.m. Admission for Sunday, which runs from 11 a.m. to 9:30 p.m., is $3. CLICK HERE for more information.


Croatian Park (MAP)

9100 S. 76th Street

Franklin, WI 53132


Festa Italiana
July 21 from 2 p.m. through July 24 and midnight
Attend Milwaukee's longest-running lakefront ethnic festival. This event boasts Italian cuisine, an opera tent, concerts, traditional dancers, Sunday mass followed by a procession and fireworks. This year's featured region is the Veneto. Festa is open from 2 p.m. to midnight on Thursday and 11:30 a.m. to midnight Friday through Sunday. Admission is $10 in advance, $13 at the gate. CLICK HERE for more information.

Henry Maier Festival Park (MAP)
200 N. Harbor Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 273-3378
 

 

Bay View Beach Cleanup

July 23 from 8:30 a.m. to 10 a.m.
Meet at the brown stairway just south of Oklahoma Avenue at Bay View Park to join  neighbors in this month's summer cleanup. The Bay View Neighborhood Associationís Environmental Committee will supply garbage bags and gloves. Contact coordinator Rob Miller for additional information by CLICKING HERE.

 

Bay View Park (MAP)
3120 S. Lake Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53207
(414) 482-4270
 


Milwaukee Firkin Craft Beer Festival
July 23

Join the East Town Association for a celebration of Milwaukee's brewing heritage. This Milwaukee beer festival will exclusively showcase the craft brews and breweries that continue to make Milwaukee famous. Samples of over 50 Milwaukee craft beers, including many special brews not regularly offered by the breweries, will be available. CLICK HERE for a list of participating breweries and more information.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend,

This week's hot topic is redistricting. I have included information and a survey about Wisconsin's redistricting process. You can also CLICK HERE to view a brief video I compiled to further discuss this important topic.

Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

 

Redistricting Process Increases Partisanship, Decreases Transparency

The Wisconsin State Legislature is required by Article IV, Section 3 of the Wisconsin Constitution to redraw Senate and Assembly districts every 10 years based upon the results of the federal census to ensure districts provide representational equality for all potential voters.

 

Wisconsin currently uses a legislative redistricting process, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature, are voted on by the Senate and Assembly, and are then signed by the governor. If the Legislature cannot agree on a redistricting plan, as is usually the case with split houses, the Supreme Court steps in to finalize the new legislative districts. For the past 50 years, Wisconsin's elected officials have had to work together with bipartisan cooperation or leave the task of redistricting up to the courts. This will be the first time in 60 years that one political party will have complete control over the redistricting process.

 

With the proposed district maps recently being made available to the public, redistricting has now become a key issue in Wisconsin. The new district maps proposed by Republican legislators will likely have a profound effect on Wisconsin politics by making districts less competitive, placing the jobs of Republican incumbents ahead of the interests of Wisconsin voters. These maps will also increase partisanship across the state making Wisconsin even more polarized than it is now.

 

Many concern have been raised by neighbors, advocacy groups, and local, state and federal officials over the process that has been employed by Republican legislators during the current redistricting process. These concerns include conducting the majority of the process in secret, forgoing the work done by local governments, and the rising cost to taxpayers.

 

Continuing Secrecy and Decreasing Transparency

Republican legislators began working on the new district maps months ago in secret and behind closed doors. The maps did not become available to the public until just last Friday, July 8. Further decreasing transparency, Republicans have opted to fast-track their redistricting plan by scheduling a vote less than two weeks after the release of the new district maps, leaving little time for public input on a decision that will have a significant impact on our state for the next 10 years.

 

Republicans also made an unprecedented power grab during this redistricting process by hiring lawyers with taxpayer dollars to look out for their best interest, while dismissing all legal council for Democrats.

 

Overrule Local Governments

Rushing through the current redistricting proposal created by Republican legislators and their lawyers will have a detrimental impact on our local governments. Republicans are so focused on passing the redistricting legislation before the recall elections have concluded that they are acting before all local governments have even submitted their final local ward redistricting maps.

 

The City of Milwaukee, for example, will be forced to change 55 of its 315 wards and 9 of its 15 aldermanic district boundaries as a result of the preemptive actions by Republicans on redistricting. These changes come after Milwaukee has already held four public hearings, participated in three public listening sessions, held two full-day public workshops for citizens to produce their own maps, and conducted countless informal briefings to individuals and activist groups. Milwaukee has also already spent over $40,000 for dedicated labor hours and administrative expenses related to the redistricting process. There is no reason why the state should be moving at such a careless speed that will negate months of work by local officials, circumvent the open and transparent public hearing process and waste additional taxpayer funds.

 

To view the map that illustrates the changes Milwaukee will be mandated to make, please CLICK HERE.

 

Substantial Cost to Taxpayers

The partisan nature of redistricting often comes with a daunting price tag. Republicans have not released how much of our taxpayer dollars have been spent on the current redistricting process thus far. However, legal fees for redistricting in Wisconsin in 2000 went into the millions.

 

The Future of Redistricting in Wisconsin
One common and constant concern with the redistricting process is the potential for gerrymandering, or manipulating the redrawing of districts to achieve political gain and help ensure the reelection of incumbents. The majority of states still use a Legislative Redistricting Model, where the maps are drawn up by the majority parties in the Legislature. However, many states are shifting to using bipartisan or nonpartisan commissions to draw up their maps in an effort to decrease partisanship as well as legal fees involved with the process. So far 21 states use some form of a Commission Redistricting Model. Below you will find a list of redistricting models currently used throughout the country.

  • Legislative: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. Once finalized, they are placed in a bill which must be passed by both houses and signed by the governor. This model is used in Wisconsin, Minnesota, and 27 other states.

  • Back-up Commission: Maps are drawn by the majority parties in the Legislature. If the Legislature does not finish by the statutory deadline, a bipartisan commission completes the process. This model is used in Connecticut, Texas, and three other states.

  • Advisory Commission: Maps are drawn by the advisory commission. These can be accepted or rejected by the Legislature. The Legislature must enact their own plan or the commissionís, before the statutory deadline. This model is used in Maine and Vermont.

  • Bipartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of bipartisan members. The plan must be approved by either the commission or the State Supreme Court. This model is used in Ohio, Washington, and 10 other states.

  • Nonpartisan Commission: Maps are drawn by a redistricting commission comprised of nonpartisan members. If the Legislature rejects all three plans proposed by the commission, the State Supreme Court makes the final decision. This model is used in Iowa.

Participate in My Redistricting Survey

In order for me to better represent you, please participate in my redistricting survey to share your opinions on the current redistricting process and provide feedback on the direction you would like to see our state going with redistricting in the future. To take the redistricting survey, please CLICK HERE.

 

For more information about redistricting or to view the proposed maps for the state, please CLICK HERE.

 

 

 

Update on Unemployment Extension

After receiving pressure from people across Wisconsin and Democratic legislators including myself, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has scheduled a special session for Tuesday, July 19 to take up legislation to extend unemployment benefits for Wisconsinites. This legislation passed almost unanimously this past Monday in the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Safety, and Urban Affairs and the Assembly Committee on Labor and Workforce Development.

 

With a simple legislative change, Wisconsin would be able to capture nearly $90 million from the federal government to extend unemployment benefits in the state. These funds would not need to be repaid.


There is no question that extending unemployment benefits is paramount for our communities. We must continue providing our neighbors who have been unable to find work during these tough economic times with the support that they need. Accepting these funds will allow our neighbors to keep paying their bills and supporting their families while they continue their job search. It will also ensure that another $90 million is injected into our state, providing our local economies with a much-needed shot of adrenaline.

 

CLICK HERE to view a copy of the letter that was sent by the Milwaukee Democratic Legislative Caucus to Majority Leader Fitzgerald requesting that he schedule a session day to take up this important legislation.

 

 

 

Democrats Introduce Constitutional Amendment to Preserve Transparency

Late last week, Assembly Democrats circulated a proposed constitutional amendment that would require the Wisconsin State Legislature to comply with current open meetings law. The amendment, authored by Representative Jon Richards and supported by myself and other Democratic colleagues, will preserve Wisconsinís tradition of open government that has been increasingly threatened.


Last month the Wisconsin Supreme Court refused to rule on whether Republican legislators violated the stateís open meetings law when they rushed into a conference committee without providing proper notice to pass a divisive bill eliminating collective bargaining rights for public workers. The court concluded that the constitutional separation of powers bars them from applying notice and public access requirements of the open meetings law to legislative bodies.


Enacted in 1976, Wisconsinís open meetings gives teeth to the people's request for open government. The law requires governmental bodies to provide the public with at least 24-hours notice before conducting an official meeting. The law also states that all individuals wishing to attend should have reasonable access to the meeting. This provides Wisconsin citizens the opportunity to actively participate in our government. However, the high courtís June ruling displays a loophole that exists in the open meetings law that holds the Legislature above the law, allowing the Legislature to create its own set of rules.

The proposed constitutional amendment will close that loophole and hold the Wisconsin State Legislature to the same standards of openness and transparency as all other government agencies. It will require the Legislature to follow the current open meetings law and hold members of the legislature that violate the law accountable for their actions. Amendments to Wisconsin's State Constitution require passage in two consecutive legislative sessions and ratification through a popular referendum.

 

I will continue to support this constitutional amendment as it makes it way through the legislative process to ensure that the integrity of our open meetings law is upheld and our commitment to transparency, accountability and open government are cemented in our state's most sacred document.

 

CLICK HERE to view a copy of the constitutional amendment.

 

 

 

Survey Results Now Available

Thank you to everyone that participated in the Spring 2011 Survey to provide me with valuable feedback on what is important to our community and state. I asked for your thoughts on budget priorities and about the direction Wisconsin is headed in. Overall, more than 5,000 people responded with their perspective on the 14 questions that I asked.

 

As you review the results, please keep in mind that the survey was not scientific. I invited anyone that contacted me in support or in opposition to recent legislative actions in Wisconsin to participate and also made the survey available on my Web site.

 

It is my hope that we can continue working together on these important issues to improve our communities and make Wisconsin a better place to live and work for our family, friends and neighbors.

 

CLICK HERE to view the complete survey results.

 

 

 

Changes to Voting Laws in Wisconsin

Primary, general and special elections are fast-approaching. Given the recent changes to Wisconsin's voting laws, I have included a handout to provide you with updated information on voting procedures for this summer's elections. Please contact me if you have any questions.

 

CLICK HERE to view the changes to Wisconsin's voting laws.

 

 

 

Run for the Parks

July 19 at 6:30 p.m.

Join me in lacing up your shoes for the second annual "Run for the Parks." Proceeds of this 5k fun run and 2k walk will be used to assist The Park People in their work to support our neighborhood parks and improve the Humboldt Park band shell. Runners and walkers will also receive a T-shirt, goodie bag from sponsors and refreshments after the race in a VIP area while enjoying the "Chill on the Hill" concert series. For more information or to register for the event, please CLICK HERE.

 

Humboldt Park (MAP)

3000 S. Howell Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53207

 

 

 

South Milwaukee Heritage Days

Attend South Milwaukee's annual week-long community festival that features fun events for the entire family. Neighbors can enjoy great food, outdoor activities, concerts and even a parade. See the list of events for the week listed below. More information about these events are available by CLICKING HERE.

 

Sunday, July 17
Grant Park Family Fun Day

Monday, July 18
DARE Golf Outing

Tuesday, June 19th
South Milwaukee Municipal Band Concert and Ice Cream Social

Wednesday, July 20
South Milwaukee Firefighter's Spaghetti Dinner

Thursday, July 21
Evening on the Avenue

Friday, July 22
Lionsfest, Car Show and Cruise Ride, and Fish Fry

Saturday, July 23
South Milwaukee Lion Club Roaring Challenge 5K Run/ 2-Mile Walk, Heritage Days Parade, and Lionsfest and Rib Dinner


Sunday, July 24
Lionsfest Family Pirate Day and Chicken Dinner

 

 

 

Summer Activities in Our Community

Our community offers a wide variety of summer activities for families, children and adults alike. Below are just a few activities that you can take part in this summer.


Mitchell Gallery of Flight
Aviation and historical enthusiasts will enjoy this local air museum. The museum features a wide range of exhibits including: the story of General Billy Mitchell, replicas of past and present aircrafts, the first commercial airliner, the sistership to the tragically legendary Hindinberg, and the present day giant of the sky--the 747. Other exhibits include commercial air memorabilia, early aviation engines and airport beacons. Exhibits change throughout the year and tours are available. The museum is open daily from 8 a.m. to 10 p.m. CLICK HERE for more information.


General Mitchell International Airport (MAP)
5300 S. Howell Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53207

(414) 747-5300

 

North Point Lighthouse

Visit this local landmark to learn more about Wisconsin's maritime history and the importance of the lighthouse to our community. Take part in a tour of the lighthouse and adjoining quarters, and view educational exhibits. The tour even includes a climb to the top of the 74-foot tower for spectacular views of the lakefront, park and city. Tours are available on Saturdays and Sundays from 1 p.m. to 4 p.m. year round. Admission is free for children under five, costs $3 for children under 12, and $5 for age 12 and up. For additional information, please CLICK HERE.

 

North Point Lighthouse (MAP)

2650 N. Wahl Avenue

Milwaukee, WI 53211

(414) 332-6754

 

 

 

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