Capitol Update
by Senator Howard Marklein
February 28, 2020


Listening To You 
121 Voices from the 17th Senate District

I recently wrapped up a series of seven listening sessions in the 17th Senate District. I was in six of the nine counties I represent by holding sessions in New Lisbon, Fennimore, Richland Center, Reedsburg, Plain, Rewey and Monroe. I tried to schedule a combination of larger municipalities with small towns, as well as a variety of days of the week, including a Saturday session in Plain, which is in the relative center of the 17th Senate District.
My goal for listening sessions is to create a time for those I serve to provide input, in person, in their own communities. I typically hear from 15-30 people at each session on a wide array of topics. It is a wonderful way to connect, locally. This month, I listened to 121 people. Thank you to everyone who took time out of their day to visit with me.
I heard about a wide array of topics including livestock siting, the state surplus and proposed income tax cut, legislative redistricting, rural emergency medical services, housing, health care and more. I appreciated the chance to hear how some issues are impacting individuals and their communities. It is helpful to apply local perspectives to issues that may have statewide implications.
I appreciate that some attendees express frustration that my listening sessions are not a question and answer session or debate on issues. Several of the sessions allowed for some follow-up on my part, but I have found that listening to every attendee in a fair, equitable way produces the best input and ideas.
Experience has taught me that it is important to create opportunities for all citizens on all sides of every issue to have a chance to express their ideas in a safe, fair environment. Opening a Q&A or engaging in debate usually dissolves into an argument, even among participants, and it normally limits the number of people who participate in the conversation. I do not want any voice to be limited or intimidated at one of my listening sessions.
Besides, I believe it is important to listen and truly understand the input and ideas of those I serve. I do this best by keeping my mouth closed and my ears open. We may not always agree, but I want every attendee to know that I have heard and considered their perspective.
It is important to note that I welcome input, ideas and connections with you at any time via phone, email, in the Capitol or when I am out and about in the district. My availability is not limited to the times I schedule official listening sessions. I am always open to your communication.
Again, thank you to everyone who joined me for a listening session in the 17th District. Please do not hesitate to connect with me, visit my website
http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and subscribe to my weekly E-Update by sending an email to Sen.Marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov. Call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.