Capitol Update
by Senator Howard Marklein
July 31, 2020


Successful Session

I don’t think any of us will ever forget 2020. We’re barely half-way through the year and I think many of us are ready to wish each other a Happy New Year and move on to 2021.
It seems like eons ago that I wrote my Year In Review column and discussed my priorities for the remainder of the legislative session. Looking back, we were business-as-usual until March 13, 2020 when our entire world changed.  The following 10 weeks, this column and my work, was dominated by COVID-19.
In June, I decided to shift the discussion of this column to Dairy Month and have tried to address other issues such as the attack on the State Capitol, re-opening schools, broadband expansion and our county fairs. I have also relaunched Hire Howard and have had a couple of terrific, educational job shadow experiences already this summer.
However, I still wanted to wrap-up the legislative session and look back at our accomplishments since we began in January 2019 with a new administration. We have accomplished a lot of good things for the people of Wisconsin, especially in the 17th Senate District.
This column is a summary of my work on your behalf. Over the next several weeks, I am going to focus on specific topics such as the state budget, agriculture, rural issues, education, health care, tax reform and transportation. It is my hope that these columns will provide a positive recap of my work for you. It will also help me to draft priorities and plans for the next legislative session, which begins in January 2021.
When the current session began, I figured that I would have difficulty moving bills through the process to become law because we are in a politically split-government.  However, upon analysis, I am proud to report that I worked on 48 bills over the last two years and 20 of them were signed into law!  In 2017-18, I worked on 48 bills as well and 22 of them were signed into law.  Despite the political difference, our achievements were similar!
If the legislative session had not been interrupted by COVID-19, I believe I would have completed an additional 10 bills. In March, I had 12 additional bills that were ready for the Senate floor and nine bills that were passed by the Assembly and ready for the Senate.  I will be reviving several of these proposals in the next session and am preparing to request re-drafting.
I credit these achievements to the great ideas and hard work of the people I serve. Many of the ideas and initiatives I worked on came directly from people, businesses, community leaders and experiences in the 17th Senate District. For example, Act 43 provided a waiver for teachers who are certified out of Wisconsin so that school districts on the borders can hire highly qualified teachers quickly.
Likewise, Act 100 created a Licensing Compact for Physical Therapists to practice across state borders. Act 91 created an exemption for motorized chairlifts at historical churches so that the Jordan Lutheran Church in Green County could provide access to their parishoners. Act 159 streamlined disaster assistance funding and processes for communities suffering from disasters like the Town of Glendale in Monroe County. Act 128 created a property tax exemption to incentivize broadband infrastructure investments.  Act 174 changed requirements for agricultural truck drivers to better accommodate the reality of harvest seasons.
Overall, I am very proud of my work on your behalf and look toward the 2021-22 session with optimism and hope for continued success. Thank you to all of the individuals, associations, businesses and community leaders who have worked with me to get things done. It was a successful session!
As always, please do not hesitate to connect with me to provide input, ideas or to seek assistance.  Send an email to sen.marklein@legis.wisconsin.gov or call 608-266-0703.