LARSON REPORT

WEEKLY NEWSLETTER


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November 21, 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 through Sunday, Dec. 7.

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: Saturdays, November 15 through December 13, 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

 

 

Holiday Folk Fair International
Date: Friday, November 21 through Sunday, November 23

Location: Milwaukee

Description: This year's annual Holiday Folk Fair will focus on artisans and their crafts, featuring masterfully crafted items like pottery, quilts, stained glass, clothing, jewelry, and more. At the event, enjoy live entertainment and delicious foods, highlighting a variety of cultural traditions. For more information, including timings and a schedule of live performances, CLICK HERE.

Wisconsin Exposition Center at State Fair Park (MAP)
640 S 84th St, West Allis, WI 53214


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,

 

As we prepare for the next session, we hear a lot of questions surrounding other legislators' priorities for upcoming issues and legislation. Some of the most important questions facing us include how we will fix the budget deficit created by Governor Walker and Republican legislators while maintaining vital programs and services for our neighbors and families.


Throughout the election, Republican legislators denied or avoided the existence of their $1.8 billion budget deficit. But now, with future budget considerations in mind, Legislative Republicans are forced to address the reality of the crisis they created. And as predicted, their proposals for "fixing" the deficit will force the average Wisconsinite to pay even more. In state agency budget proposals, we see hardworking Wisconsinites bear the brunt of GOP mistakes, while their leadership continues to engage in pay-to-play political schemes.

 

My Democratic colleagues and I will continue to push back against harmful policies, and fight for the values and programs that make Wisconsin great -- like early childhood education, universal access to healthcare, and ensuring every one of our neighbors has access to pursue the American Dream. 


Continue reading for more important news on developments for the upcoming legislative session.


Sincerely,

Chris Larson
State Senator, District 7

 

State of Transportation

Just a few months ago, a right-wing group, the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute, released a report where they detailed fixing Wisconsin's deficit through a number of tax increases on basic, everyday necessities. These strategies, called "broadening the base," brought about a great deal of concern, as implementing them in Wisconsin would place an undue burden on struggling families. But these ideas were just suggestions -- until now.

Department of Transportation Secretary Mark Gottlieb submitted his agency's budget proposal, which involves "broadening the base" in transportation, or adding additional taxes and fees to basic purchases. The DOT introduced this new plan to fund their $680 million projected budget shortfall.

The largest fee increase proposed will be on newly purchased vehicles, called the "highway use fee." This fee increases taxes on new vehicles to 2.5%. That means, for a $32,000 vehicle, a purchaser could pay $2,544.50 in taxes and fees -- $800 more than current levels. This proposal has already received criticism from the Wisconsin Automobile and Truck Dealer's Association, as it has the potential to drive purchasers away from Wisconsin dealerships. Of Midwestern states that impose similar fees, Wisconsin would have the most expensive fee. But, the DOT's increased taxes go far beyond new purchases.

The DOT budget request also proposes replacing the gas tax with a sales tax of 8%. This added sales tax has been proposed by Republican legislators in the past, and was touted by Governor Walker in October. As a general concept, replacing the gas tax with a sales tax does not sound as though it could negatively impact Wisconsin's consumers. However, the current gas tax and proposed sales tax are not equal. Imposing a $0.36 sales tax on gasoline would increase the price of gas by 5 cents per gallon. With this new sales tax, for a typical car with a 12-gallon tank, you would pay approximately $4.32 in taxes every time you fill up your car. Over time, this expense would add up to quite a hefty sum for the average driver.

The most concerning feature of the DOT proposal is its penalty for owners of electric or other fuel-efficient vehicles. In the budget, owners of fuel-efficient vehicles would have to pay a yearly fee of $125 (compared to $75 for standard vehicles) simply for choosing a more responsible option. In the U.S. overall, 37 states grant incentives for fuel efficiency, both in the home and in transportation use, in order to highlight the importance of reducing our carbon footprint. Both Clean Wisconsin and the Sierra Club have voiced opposition to this proposal, noting the negative long-term effects it could have on our environment. As climate change worsens, Wisconsin should be incentivizing, not penalizing smart, environmentally-conscious choices.

Overall, Walker's DOT budget proposal amounts to a $750 million increase in fees for Wisconsinites over the next two years.
 

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 keep hearing about the "Hill Farms" real estate deal. What is it, and why does it matter?

A: The "Hill Farms real estate deal" involves the sale of the Hill Farms land in Madison to private developers, in order to create the city's largest office complex. The Hill Farms site is currently occupied by the Department of Transportation's office building. The 600,000 square-foot renovation on the Hill Farms site would cost an estimated $197 million.


Though renovations of the Hill Farms site have been discussed for several years, the quick timeline of recent action has raised question by many. In October, the Walker Administration quietly accepted proposals from private developers for the site, without notifying the public or legislators on the State Building Commission. According to The Cap Times, the initial request for proposals (RFP) was posted on October 13, with interested developers required to express interest by October 15 to receive a mandatory tour of the facility and submit final proposals by November 7. Considering the proposal was not announced publicly, nor were legislators informed of the action, this gave developers a very small window to submit proposals for the project.

Why is this important?


The suspiciously short timeline suggests certain developers were already informed about the potential project. The rush to sell state property like this is similar to what happens in bid-rigging schemes.


Alarmingly, this is not the first time the public should be concerned about potential bid-rigging. Recently released John Doe documents indicate that in 2010 one of Walker's top aides shared information about Milwaukee real estate dealings with a consultant for a potential bidder, who was also the treasurer for Walker's gubernatorial campaign. Three bidders in the Hill Farms project made donations to the Walker campaign shortly before, or during the timeframe, that the RFP was posted. This raises concerns that more of the same pay-to-play politics are occurring.


The owner of T.Wall Enterprises, a finalist for the construction project, made a contribution of $9,975 to Friends of Scott Walker on October 25. Two other construction groups' executives who are working in conjunction with T. Wall Enterprises, Miron Construction, and Potter Lawson, made contributions of $2,500 and $1,000, respectively, to Walker's campaign during the same timeframe.


Scott Walker and his allies are trying to sell our state to the highest campaign bidder. But Wisconsin should not be for sale, and this most recent scheme should outrage Republicans and Democrats alike. Everyone should agree that our Governor should be focused on our state's economy, not cutting deals for political pay-outs.
 

Did you know...?

Communications technology has evolved greatly over time -- from the early printing presses used to distribute news, to today's 24-hour news cycle.


But did you know that a Wisconsinite made a significant contribution to the distribution of news and printed media? In 1871, Christopher Latham Sholes invented the typewriter in Milwaukee.


The typewriter went on to gain popular success after Sholes sold his patent to Eliphalet Remington and Sons, manufacturers of firearms and other machinery. The first commercial typewriters were manufactured in 1873, and went on to be sold by the Remington Typewriter Company until 1927. Remington typewriters can often be found in vintage stores and online, even today.
 

Mustaches for Men's Health

"No Shave November" and "Movember" have become popular in the past few years, encouraging men to grow facial hair for one month, and document the results on social media. But did you know that these month-long events are actually for a good cause?

 

Participating in Movember is meant to raise awareness about men's health issues, including prostate cancer, testicular cancer, and mental illness. The sponsors of the event, The Movember Foundation, note that 12.1% of adult men in the United States are in poor health, and the reasons for this often include a lack of understanding about men's health issues, a lack of open discussion on men's health and wellness, and stigmas surrounding mental health.

 

The Movember Foundation aims to increase awareness of men's health by "putting a fun twist on this serious issue. Using the moustaches as a catalyst, the idea is to bring about change and give men the opportunity and confidence to learn and talk about their health and take action when needed."


If you are interested in taking part in Movember, you do not necessarily have to grow a mustache. In fact, even women can take part in Movember as a "Mo Sista," by raising funds and awareness for men's health.

 

Click here to learn more about Movember and sign up to raise awareness for men's health.
 

Early Holiday Events Start This Week

Thanksgiving Day is right around the corner, and the Milwaukee area is already getting ready for the holidays. Here are a few early holiday events that will be taking place in our neighborhood:


South Milwaukee Holiday Parade

Date: Sunday, Nov. 30

Location: South Milwaukee City Hall

South Milwaukee begins its holiday celebrations with the Lions' Christmas Parade, which starts at 12:30 p.m. at 12th and Milwaukee, and ends at City Hall. At City Hall, enjoy a number of holiday traditions including ornament decorating, visits with Santa, a performance by the South Milwaukee High School Madrigal Singers, and much more. Make sure to stay until 5:00 p.m. to see the lighting of the city Christmas tree.


Milwaukee Holiday Parade

Date: Saturday, Nov. 22, 9:30 a.m.

Location: Downtown Milwaukee
This year, Milwaukee's annual Holiday Parade will include approximately 100 units of marching bands, floats, giant helium balloons, local personalities, costumed characters, and more! The parade starts at 9:30 a.m., at the intersection of Kilbourn and Astor in downtown Milwaukee. Can't bear the cold? The parade will also be broadcasted live at 9:30 a.m. on Fox 6, so you can experience the holiday cheer from the comfort of your home.

 

Are You Prepared for Winter?

Last week, November 10-14, was 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.
 

 

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