Capitol Update

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Senate Session
This week, the State Senate was in session. During this time, three bills that I am supportive of were passed in the Senate:

Senate Bill 15 – Manufacturing Products with Microbeads

This bill generally prohibits, with certain exceptions, the manufacture of a personal care product containing microbeads (small, non−biodegradable plastic particles) beginning December 31, 2017.
Under this bill, a person may not manufacture a personal care product that is an over−the−counter drug containing microbeads beginning December 31, 2018, and may not accept such a product for sale beginning December 31, 2019.

Plastic microbeads have absorptive capacity allowing them to act like sponges saturated with harmful chemicals like PCB’s and other known carcinogens. Fish often mistake these polluted beads as food and chemicals can bio-accumulate causing human health concerns. Alternatives to microbeads include apricot or pecan shell pieces, oatmeal and other biodegradable ingredients.

This bill would affect things that many of you use on a daily basis, such as, hand soaps and facial washes. This legislation passed unanimously.


Assembly Bill 11 – Newspaper Recycling Fees

Under current law, a newspaper publisher is required to pay a newspaper recycling fee based on the cost of newspaper used to print the newspaper, unless at least 33 percent of the fiber of the newsprint is delivered from post consumer waste.

At the time this requirement was put into place, 35% of the old newsprint was being recycled. Today over 73% of old newspapers are recovered and recycled. The demand for old newspapers in other products is so great that newspaper publishers have difficulty getting the required 33% under current law. Many of the publishers are having to import old newspapers from places like Texas in order to meet the requirement.

Current law only applies to Wisconsin-based publishers, putting Wisconsin publishers at an economic disadvantage compared to publishers located outside the state, many of whom publish Wisconsin papers. A newspaper published in Platteville pays the fee, but a Dubuque, Iowa publisher that sells newspapers in Platteville does not pay the fee.

This bill eliminates the newspaper recycling fee and the minimum percentage of post consumer waste content in newsprint. This legislation passed unanimously.

An Evolving Legislature
The Wisconsin state senate is the “oldest” since at least 1943. The average age of senators in the new session is 57, with a range from 34 to 87. Only three senators are under 40, while 15 are 60 or over. The average age of state representatives is 48 years old, with a range of 24 to76.

The election of Senator Mary Lazich as Senate President in 2015 marks the first time a woman has served as presiding officer of either house. Currently, a total of 33 women are serving in the Wisconsin legislature: 11 in the senate and 22 in the assembly. The 11 female senators is the most in history, matching previous peaks in 1999 and 2001. The largest number of female representatives was 33 in 1989.

Through history, 132 women have held seats in the state legislature. The number peaked at 37 in 1989 and 2003. (Legislative Reference Bureau).

I look forward to continuing to work with all of my Senate colleagues this session!


In the District

Job Shadow for the Day
On Tuesday, Elyssa Vondra, a junior at Platteville High School came to my Capitol office for the day to get a feel for what a day in the Senator’s shoes felt like. Elyssa was able to sit in on some meetings that I had throughout the day and she was also able to observe the Senate session and see how that process works. To close out her day at the Capitol, she took a Capitol Tour and got some history on the building. Thanks for coming, Elyssa!



Joint Finance Committee Public Hearing in the 17th Senate District
Reminder: On Thursday, March 26 from 9:30am-4:00pm, the Joint Finance Committee will be holding its final public hearing at Reedsburg High School. We are fortunate to have a wonderful facility at the CAL center at Reedsburg High School. This is a perfect venue for one of the four statewide public hearings!



High School Basketball
Congratulations to the Mineral Point and Hillsboro High School Basketball teams who won tight games Thursday night to continue on in the WIAA State Basketball Tournament. The third-ranked Pointers (27-0) will take on three-time defending state champion and second-ranked Dominican (24-3) and Hillsboro (23-5) advances to play Young Coggs Prep (22-5) in Saturday's championship game. Good luck to both teams!

Helpful Information

As a part of my effort to communicate with the residents of the 17th Senate District, I include a section of data in every E-update. The intent of this effort is to connect you with the newest information available from your state government.

In this week’s E-Update, the following data shows each UW institutions’ budgeted expenditures per full-time equivalent student for 2004-05, 2009-10 and 2013-14. This spending DOES NOT include research, public service, financial aid and GPR debt services. It should be pointed out that the UW-Madison data includes all of the professional programming (e.g.: Medical School, Law School, etc.).

The data was provided by the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB). The LFB used the UW System’s annual budget document called the Red Book to create this table. For more information about the University System budget and the Red Book, please visit: https://www.wisconsin.edu/budget-planning/annual-operating-budget/


The intent of sharing this information is to show you the differences in per student spending on all of our state’s campuses. As a member of the Joint Finance Committee (JFC), this is the type of data that I use to help in my decision making as we continue to study the state budget. I am not taking a position or making a statement by sharing this data. I am simply offering it to you for your reference and personal consideration.


UW System All Funds Budget Per FTE Student by Institution
2004-05, 2009-10, and 2013-14*


  2004-05 2009-10 2013-14
Madison $26,077 $32,071 $34,983
Milwaukee 13,315 14,520 15,659
Eau Claire 10,918 12,622 14,692
Green Bay 11,670 12,697 14,113
La Crosse 12,101 13,070 14,574
Oshkosh 10,974 13,746 14,369
Parkside 11,707 14,081 16,121
Platteville 12,692 13,573 15,559
River Falls 12,136 14,010 15,203
Stevens Point 12,417 14,242 14,547
Stout 13,726 15,544 16,567
Superior 14,040 18,381 20,032
Whitewater 11,147 12,533 13,676
UW Colleges 7,833 8,546 8,950
UW System Average $15,528 $17,999 $19,684
UW System Average Excluding UW-Madison $11,855 $13,418 $14,581

Source: Legislative Fiscal Bureau
*Excludes budgeted amounts for research, public service, financial aid, and GPR debt service






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State Capitol - Room 8 South - Post Office Box 7882 - Madison, Wisconsin 53707 - Phone: (608) 266-0703

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