LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER

 

 

July 21, 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.

 


South Milwaukee Heritage Days

July 17 through July 24

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. More information about these events are available by CLICKING HERE.

 

 

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
 

 

Chinese Culture Festival
July 23 at 10 a.m. through July 24 at 5 p.m.
This festival offers two days of authentic Chinese experiences for the entire family. The festival will feature performances in acrobatics, traditional dance, Chinese folk music, Peking opera and martial arts. There will be hands-on opportunities to make opera masks and lanterns, play traditional games, participate in a dragon parade, and even learn to speak and write Chinese. Shop over 40 local vendors and businesses that house cultural souvenirs and traditional cuisine. The highlight of the festival will be the Dragon Boat Race, which will feature vibrantly colored boats paddling through the waters of Discovery World's South Lagoon. CLICK HERE for more information. Event is free with museum admission.

Milwaukee Art Museum (MAP)
700 N. Art Museum Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53202
(414) 224-3200

 

 

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.

 

 

South Milwaukee Municipal Band Concert

July 26 from 7 p.m. to 8:30 p.m.
Bring a blanket or lawn chairs to Immigrant Family Park and enjoy refreshments and free music under the stars. This event is sponsored by the Cudahy Historical Society.

 

Immigrant Family Park (South of the Cudahy
Depot - MAP)

4647 S. Kinnickinnic Avenue

Cudahy, WI 53110

 

 

GermanFest
July 28 through July 31
GermanFest features an extensive variety of traditional music, authentic food, a cultural village, children's activities, weiner dog races and much more. There will also be a home-brewed German beer competition and nightly fireworks. Admission is $10 in advance or $13 for adults, $7 for seniors over 60 and students with a valid ID, and free for children 12 and under. For additional GermanFest information, please CLICK HERE.


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

 

Brady Street Festival
July 30 from 11 a.m. to 11:00 p.m.

Enjoy this annual festival that takes place on Brady Street between the cross streets of Farwell and Marshall. The Brady Street Festival offers three music stages featuring a variety of local bands and musical persuasions. There will also be local vendors selling food, drinks, clothing, jewelry, arts and crafts and more. CLICK HERE for more information about the event or call (414) 581-5947.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Dear Friend,

This week I will be analyzing the extension of unemployment benefits and raising the debt ceiling. These two things will help Wisconsin's economic success and keep our state moving forward towards shared prosperity.

Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

 

 

GOP Legislators Delay, Deny Unemployment Benefit Extension

The Legislature went into extraordinary session earlier this week to vote on Senate Bill 147, legislation that would extend unemployment benefits to help Wisconsin's displaced workers while they continue looking for jobs during these tough economic times.

 

The simple legislative change proposed in Senate Bill 147 would have allowed Wisconsin to capture nearly $90 million from the federal government to extend unemployment benefits in the state. These funds would not need to be repaid to the federal government.

 

Unfortunately, while the Democratic legislators succeeded in pressuring Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to schedule a vote on this important bill, the legislation is currently at a standstill due to infighting between Republicans in the Senate and the Assembly.

 

As a result of Republican legislators failing to work together to reach a consensus on this important legislation, tens of thousands of our fellow Wisconsinites who were knocked down by this economic crisis are left wondering if they will get the support they need to get back up on their feet again. Many of these individuals reside right here in our own community as Milwaukee County reported an unemployment rate of 8.4% in April of 2011.


It is shocking that Republican legislators rushed to push through redistricting legislation before the recall elections in order to save their own jobs, but are unwilling to move at the same speed for those that they are supposed to represent. Many are left asking if Republican legislators are more concerned about locking in partisan advantage than they are about the well-being of their constituents.

 

I encourage my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to place their responsibilities as elected officials above partisan politics, and call upon the Senate to return to the floor next week. Passing this legislation would help to ensure that our neighbors do not lose hope and financial stability while they are looking for jobs.

 

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.

 

 

 

Republicans Rush Through Redistricting Power Grab, Overrule Local Governments

Despite outcries from local government and growing constitutional concerns, Republican legislators hurriedly passed their redistricting maps that remained secret until recently.
 

Republican Redistricting Process Shrouded in Secrecy

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 Friday, July 8. Further decreasing transparency, Republicans 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. Over the course of 10 days, Republicans perpetrated a power grab that will impact our communities for the next 10 years.

 

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 when there is partisan balance, the judicial system 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.

 

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.

 

Republicans Overrule Local Governments on Redistricting, Costing Valuable Taxpayer Dollars

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

 

The City of Milwaukee, for example, will be forced to change 55 of its 315 wards and nine 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 informational 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. Such actions 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.

 

Legal Challenges

Given the concerns over the maps that were drafted by Republican legislators, it is likely that legal challenges will be filed citing constitutional grievances once the bill is signed into law by the governor and published. However, it is impossible to know what the outcome of such challenges would be.

 

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 re-election 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.

 

 

 

Debt Ceiling Should be Raised to Prevent Economic Catastrophe

One of the hot topics that has been the subject of constant debate and controversy at the federal level is the national debt ceiling. Although this is a federal issue, if Congress and the President opt not to raise the debt ceiling by August 2, it will have devastating implications on our local communities.

 

Failing to raise the debt ceiling will cause the U.S. to unnecessarily default on its loans. This action will then snowball, affecting other aspects of our economic health including lowering our national bond rating, shutting down much of the government, and likely causing another economic crisis.
 

Raising the debt ceiling is nothing new. Since 1962, Congress has voted to raise the debt ceiling 74 times. It has been raised under Republican and Democratic leadership alike.

 

The choice to raise the debt ceiling has nothing to do with the country's ability to borrow in the future and everything to do with enabling our federal government to be able to continue paying the bills we have already incurred. We need to keep our country moving forward by continuing to pay our bills and improving our country's economic prosperity and vitality.

 

I encourage Congress and the President to work together in a bipartisan fashion to do what is best for all Americans, including those right here in Wisconsin, and that is to raise the debt ceiling to prevent any further economic harm in our local communities.

 

 

 

Milwaukee Streetcar

The Milwaukee Common Council is scheduled to vote this upcoming Tuesday on moving forward with the Milwaukee Streetcar project. This project is a positive step forward for improving our community's transportation infrastructure and economic prosperity.

 

The Milwaukee Streetcar network will provide our community with a modern way for us to connect with our jobs, homes and entertainment destinations. However, streetcars do more than simply improve our public transit infrastructure. They will also play a vital role in the economic success of our community by promoting commerce and development, attracting future businesses to the area, raising property values, and providing our workforce with a means to get to and from their jobs.

 

If you live in Milwaukee and would like to voice your support for this proposal, please contact your local alderman. CLICK HERE to visit the Milwaukee Common Council's Web site for your alderman's contact information. You can also find more information about the Milwaukee Streetcar network by CLICKING HERE to visit their Web site. The site includes route, timeline, ridership and cost information for the project.

 

 

Changes to Voting Laws in Wisconsin

Primary, general and special elections are now upon us. 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.

 

 

 

Summer Activities in Our Community

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

 

Visit the Local Beaches

Enjoy sun, sand, and surf at one of our Milwaukee County beaches. Jumping into our community lakes is a great way to relax and take in the beautiful scenery Milwaukee County has to offer. Although each of the beaches listed below are available for sunbathing and swimming, lifeguards are only on duty at Bradford Beach.

Bradford Beach (MAP)

2400 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive

Milwaukee, WI 53211
 

Grant Beach (MAP)

100 S. Hawthorne Avenue

South Milwaukee, WI 53172

McKinley Beach (MAP)

1750 N. Lincoln Memorial Drive

Milwaukee, WI 53202

South Shore Beach (MAP)

2900 S. Superior Street

Milwaukee, WI 53207


 

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