Dislocated Worker Assistance
If you, or someone you know, is impacted by the Richland Center Foundry
closure, please do not hesitate to contact my office for assistance and
State resources, guidance and job opportunities are being deployed
directly to the workers, but my team is also a resource to connect and
re-connect those who need further assistance. Please call or email and we
will work with you to guide you toward available resources and opportunities.
would be happy to arrange a capitol tour for you. Call my office at
(608) 266-0703 for more info.
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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!
My best wishes for a
happy and joyous holiday season!
This is the last
E-Update for 2015. I will send my next E-Update on Friday, January 8, 2016.
Legislative Year In Review
It doesn’t seem possible that this time last year, I was
preparing to begin my role as the State Senator for the 17th Senate District.
I have experienced innumerable new things, met an amazing array of people and
impacted a wide variety of legislative initiatives during the past year. It
has been a true and sincere honor to serve you during the first year of my
four year term.
In 2015, the state legislature was tasked with passing a state budget and it
was a welcomed challenge to serve on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). I
know that my role on this important committee directly benefited the
residents of the 17th Senate District and I look forward to continuing to
serve on this committee. Following is a brief summary of the highlights of my
role on the JFC.
I also appreciated the opportunity to work with my colleagues on several
important pieces of legislation and I have highlighted several of those items
in the following list.
As I look toward 2016, I am optimistic that we will continue to improve the
financial condition of the State of Wisconsin and find ways to make our state
laws work for the people, organizations and businesses that make up our great
2015-2016 State Budget Highlights – following are highlights of
my efforts to as a part of the JFC.
BUDGET: Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)
With all the proposed changes to Family Care and self-direction in the
budget, I heard from many of my constituents that one of the greatest
resources in our communities is our Aging & Disability Resource Centers
(ADRC). I was proud to fight for the ADRCs and am happy to report that ADRCs
and self-direction with be preserved in any new long-term health care
structure moving forward.
BUDGET: Preservation of SeniorCare
In the original budget, a suggestion was made to move seniors away from SeniorCare and to Medicare Part D for prescription drugs.
I opposed this move and fought to preserve SeniorCare.
I have always been proud to support SeniorCare and
will continue to support this popular program in the future.
BUDGET: Increased state support for K-12 education
In the budget, I supported an increase of more than $300 million in state aid
for K-12 education. We also increased high cost special education aid $5
million over the biennium. For our rural schools, I supported an increase of
$2.5 million in high cost transportation aid and $8.4 million in sparsity
BUDGET: State Park Fee Structure
In the budget, I worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources
(DNR) on the funding structure for state parks and camping fees. The DNR
asked for flexibility to charge differing fees based on the popularity of
certain parks and for seasonally busy weekends. This change maintained the
current funding levels for state parks and will create new revenue.
BUDGET: Prosperity Southwest
In the budget, I supported a $250,000 grant for Prosperity Southwest to promote
job creation in Southwest Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the provision was vetoed
by Governor Walker after the budget was passed by the State Legislature. I
will be working with Representative Travis Tranel
to introduce this as separate legislation and will continue to seek ways to
support our local economic corporations.
BUDGET: Tax Package
In the budget, I worked closely with my colleagues on a package of tax ideas
that would simplify and federalize the tax code. The largest piece of tax
relief came from reducing the marriage penalty by increasing the maximum
deduction for married taxpayers filing joint and separate returns.
2015-2016 Legislative Highlights – following are highlights of
my efforts during the general legislative session.
(Click on the highlighted titles to be re-directed to the
legislative record for each bill and to read the full text).
(SB) 252 (ACT 61): Cassville Power Plants
I worked closely with Representative Tranel on a
bill that would help alleviate the impact from the closure of the power
plants in Cassville. The bill would ensure that both power plants were
eligible for a step-down reduction in state aid utility payments, rather than
an immediate reduction. SB 252 was signed into law as Act 61 earlier this
SB 236 (ACT
62): Wine Walks
Wine Walks are an event that many local communities in the 17th Senate
District hold annually to help benefit main street programs, downtown
business districts or local chambers of commerce. Earlier this year, the
Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that these events were illegal because
they did not abide by alcohol licensing laws. I worked with my colleagues and
local communities to set up a specific licensing structure for Wine Walks. SB
236 was signed into law as Act 62 this fall.
RESOLUTION (SJR) 55: GAAP Constitutional Amendment
Currently, the state does not use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles
(GAAP) for the state budget. The state uses cash-based budgeting which is not
an accurate reflection of the state’s current financial condition. The state
should have to budget in the same way as local units of government and school
districts. SJR 55 awaits floor action in both houses. Since it is a
constitutional amendment, the bill requires the approval of two consecutive
legislatures and voters statewide before becoming law.
SB 227 (ACT
126): Tax Exemption for Construction Materials
Construction materials are exempt from sales tax when they are purchased for
projects for governments like counties, cities, towns, villages, school
districts, and nonprofits like churches, and hospitals. However, the law was
confusing and required unnecessary paperwork and a cumbersome process. SB 227
changed the law to allow contractors to purchase materials for construction
directly, streamlining the process for saving money on local construction
projects. SB 227 was signed into law as Act 126.
SB 242: Local
Approval for Roundabouts
SB 242 bill gives municipalities a role in the process for planning a
roundabout in their community. Too often we hear that the Department of
Transportation (DOT) is not taking local traffic needs seriously and that
roundabouts are forced on communities without their consent. This bill aims
to boost community involvement and encourages dialogue with local
representatives about road decisions in our communities.
SB 182 (ACT
26): Rural EMS Service
Several communities in southern Lafayette county utilize the Warren, Illinois
Ambulance service right over the border for emergency medical needs. A rule
change from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) meant citizens
would no longer be able to use emergency services from a bordering state, no
matter how much closer those services may be. For many rural communities
Wisconsin-based emergency services may not be the closest or the quickest to
respond. This bill changed the law, allowing the use of emergency services,
no matter the location of those services. SB 182 was signed into law as Act
(AB) 550: Mauston Welcome Signs
I authored AB 550 with Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg), to allow the
City of Mauston to install welcome signs along highways within city limits
despite a ruling by the DOT. Due to a federal rule change, the DOT is no
longer allowing the city to put up welcome signs at several locations. These
signs represent an investment of over $30,000 and would increase the
visibility of Mauston. This legislation seeks to address DOT’s inflexibility
and is currently pending.
Again, this summary includes highlights of the
budget and legislative session to date. I look forward to continuing our work
this winter and into the spring.
2015-16 Blue Books
The 2015-16 Blue Books have arrived at the Capitol! If you
would like one, please let me know, I would be happy to make sure you receive
a blue book.
Congratulations, Monroe High School Mentoring
On Monday, I had the
opportunity to attend the presentation of AT&T’s Innovation Award to
Monroe High School and the Link Crew mentoring program that they have at the
school. The mentoring program at Monroe High School is designed to help
freshmen have a successful first year by connecting them with junior and
senior mentors to help them get off to the right start and achieve success
in their first year.
This is the second donation from AT&T to support the Link Crew program.
In 2013, AT&T provided a $5,000 donation to help launch the Link Crew
program at Monroe High School.
I am very proud of Monroe High School and the Monroe School District for
working together to support the Link Crew program. This program is a great
way to help make the first year of high school a positive and successful
experience for Monroe freshman. Public-private partnerships like this make
a positive difference for our students and a positive difference for
again, Monroe High School!
Welcome to the Capitol, St. Luke’s!
This week, St. Luke’s school
located in Plain, came to the Capitol for a visit! It was great to be able
to meet with students and hear what they thought about the Capitol and what
they found most interesting. There are definitely some future Senators and
Representatives in the group!
for visiting, St. Luke’s!
Revenue Collections: October 2016
The Wisconsin Department of
Revenue (DOR) recently released a report detailing general purpose revenue
(GPR) taxes collected by the agency for the month of October. The following table
shows the GPR collections to date for the month of October.
of Revenue Collections, October FY2016
General Sales &
*Source: Department of Revenue