Capitol Update

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School Membership Counts Set School Budgets
Today, Friday, September 18, 2015, is a major day for school districts throughout our state. The third Friday of September is one of two dates annually that all public school districts take an official membership count and report it to the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI).

The Membership Count is the single largest variable in determining a school district’s budget.

According to DPI, “Membership” is defined as the average of the resident full-time equivalent (FTE) students enrolled on the third Friday of September and 2nd Friday of January (including part-time attendance by home-based or private school students), plus the summer school and foster group home FTE.

The Membership Count, or the number of students in a school district, is the key variable in a school district’s budget. The Membership Count determines the size of our school district budgets. The size of a local school district’s budget is calculated by multiplying the membership count by the district’s cost per pupil.

For example, if a district’s enrollment is 1,200 pupils and its allowable revenue limit per pupil is $10,000 (state average), the district’s budget is $12,000,000. Using the same allowable revenue limit per pupil, a district of 700 pupils would have a budget of $7,000,000.

If a student body increases, the budget increases. If a student body decreases, the budget decreases. As a result, the total dollars dedicated to public education in Wisconsin are less important than the actual number of students in the classroom, especially in rural school districts.

In the 17th Senate District, we face an uphill battle for school finances. Rural populations are changing. We have fewer young families in our communities sending fewer children to school. As a result, our membership counts are declining, directly impacting the overall budgets for rural school districts.

As a result of this reality, it is important for us to recognize that economic development, jobs and quality of life are important factors for funding our schools. Communities throughout the 17th District are seeking ways to grow existing businesses, attract new businesses, improve quality of life opportunities and increase population. These efforts directly impact local school finance.

Overall, school districts in the 17th Senate District face funding challenges. However, many of our districts are using unique, innovative ways to continue educating our youth and developing new programs with fewer resources. As your State Senator, I marvel at some of the partnerships and collaborative efforts among communities, business and schools. Working together, we will find ways to overcome the impacts of declining membership so that our kids will receive high-quality education and our communities will grow and prosper.

For more information and to connect with me, visit my website http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein and do not hesitate to call 800-978-8008 if you have input, ideas or need assistance with any state-related matters.

Senate Floor Session
This week, the Wisconsin State Senate was in session. I am happy to announce that two of the bills that I am the lead sponsor on were passed unanimously out of the Senate and now head to the Assembly floor and then hopefully onto the Governor’s desk for his signature.


Senate Bill 252 –Utility Aid Payments

Under current law, communities such as Cassville would see a dramatic reduction in state aid for utility aid payments due to the closure of two power plants in 2015.

By the end of the year, two power plants located in the Village of Cassville are scheduled to close, the Nelson-Dewey coal burning plant and the E.J. Stoneman biomass plant. The closures mean the loss of over 90 good-paying jobs. This is a huge blow to the community and the families that rely on those jobs.

Communities that have a plant closure would go through the decommissioning process, which includes a gradual step-down in state aid payments to that particular municipality and county. The current statutory process for plant decommissioning only applies to nuclear and wind plants, not biomass or coal fired plants. The bill would change the law to include biomass and coal burning plants as part of the decommissioning process, thus allowing the Village of Cassville and County to receive utility payments for a period of time.


Senate Bill 236 – Wine Walks

Over the past decade, communities in Southwest and South Central Wisconsin have promoted businesses in their area by sponsoring events called Wine or Beer Walks. During these events pre-registered guests are welcomed into a wide variety of participating businesses to sample wines and beers while they meet the business owner and “shop” their business. These events are usually sponsored by a chamber of commerce or downtown business association to encourage local residents to explore businesses they wouldn’t otherwise know, create a fun community event and fundraise for local programming year round.

While the concept of these events may seem simple and straightforward, the Department of Revenue (DOR) recently clarified that Wine Walks are illegal because current law does not allow a municipality to issue licenses in number, location and manner in which the events are currently created. In collaboration with Representative Keith Ripp’s (R-Lodi) office, we wrote a bill that adjusts current law to create a framework for Wine Walks to continue throughout our state. In order to legalize these important events, Senate Bill (SB) 236 changes existing law to allow local Chambers and business groups to obtain temporary licenses for a set number of locations during a specified time to create a Wine Walk. Each location will be required to have a licensed operator on site and comply with other alcohol service rules and regulations.

All of the communities that have held these events have shared the profound impact on local business exposure and fundraising efforts that help our downtown communities thrive. I am honored to be a part of a solution to continue these important events and look forward to encouraging my colleagues in the Assembly to pass this bill.

After the Senate floor session, Senate Bill 252 and Senate Bill 236 await the passage on the floor of the State Assembly and a signature by Governor Walker.

Senator Marklein’s 2015 Fall Legislative Survey
If you haven’t already, please take my 2015 Fall Legislative Survey. Below you will find a link to a 10 question survey seeking your thoughts on a number of relevant legislative issues and concepts that we will be discussing in the coming months.

This survey is available online at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/senate/17/marklein or please feel free to print out a copy from the link below and return it to me at PO Box 7882, Madison, WI 53703 or via fax at 608-282-3557. Please submit your survey by October 30, 2015.

For a PDF version of the survey, click here.

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.


In the District


Listening Sessions on Monday, September 21
On Monday I will be having three listening sessions in Richland Center, Lone Rock and Boscobel. I hope that you will be able to join me at one of these listening sessions! I look forward to the opportunity to receive your thoughts, ideas and concerns. Here is the schedule for Monday:

Monday, September 21, 2015

10:30-11:30 a.m.               Richland Center – Brewer Library, 325 N. Central Avenue, Richland Center

1:30-2:30 p.m.                   Lone Rock – Community Hall, 220 Pearl Street, Lone Rock

3:30-4:30 p.m.                   Boscobel – Boscobel Public Library, 1033 Wisconsin Ave., Boscobel

Rep. Novak will be attending the Lone Rock listening session.


In addition to the listening sessions on Monday, September 21 I will also be having three listening sessions on Monday, September 28, in Fennimore, Lancaster and Bloomington that I hope you can make. Here is the schedule for Monday, September 28:

Monday, September 28, 2015

9-10 a.m.                            Fennimore – SWTC, 1800 Bronson Blvd, Fennimore

11 a.m.-12 p.m.                  Lancaster – Schreiner Public Library, 113 West Elm Street, Lancaster

1:30-2:30 p.m.                   Bloomington – Bloomington Town Hall, 453 Canal Street, Bloomington

For a complete list of all of my upcoming listening sessions, please visit my website.


Annual Farm Bureau Annual Meetings
This month there are a number of different annual Farm Bureau meetings being held around the district. Last week, I had the opportunity to attend the Green County and Sauk County annual farm bureau meetings and this week I was present at the Iowa County and Lafayette County meetings.

These farm bureau meetings are a great opportunity for me to hear about agricultural issues and listen to the questions and concerns of members. I look forward to the opportunity to attend more farm bureau annual meetings around the district in the coming weeks.


*Senator Marklein addressing members of the Sauk County Farm Bureau at their annual meeting on September 9, 2015


*Teyanna Loether, 68th Alice in Dairyland and Senator Howard Marklein at the Sauk County Farm Bureau annual meeting on September 9, 2015


Helpful Information


Department of Health Services: Family Care/IRIS 2.0 Upcoming Public Hearings
Department of Health Services Secretary Kitty Rhoades, recently passed on information regarding upcoming public hearings scheduled for the months of September and October where the Department of Health Services (DHS) would like to hear back from Wisconsin residents as they prepare to develop the Family Care/IRIS 2.0 Programs as passed in the recent budget.

While none of the upcoming public hearings are in the 17th Senate District, a couple of them are just a short drive and I wanted to make sure you were aware of them if you were interested in attending.

September 21, 2015
9:00 am - 12:00 pm
Northcentral Technical College
Rooms: E101/E102
1000 W. Campus Drive
Wausau, WI 54401

September 21, 2015
5:30 pm - 8:30 pm
Hayward High School
10320 N. Greenwood Lane
Hayward, WI 54843-7167

September 23, 2015
9:00 am - 12:00 Noon
Goodman Community Center
Evjue Community Room D
149 Waubesa Street
Madison, WI 53704

September 28, 2015
12:30 pm - 3:30 pm
LaCrosse Public Library Auditorium
800 Main Street
LaCrosse, WI 54601

October 6, 2015
9:30 am - 12:30 pm
Wilson Park Senior Center
2601 W. Howard Avenue
Milwaukee, WI 53221

A full list of public hearings and more information can be found here, and for more information, you can contact the Department of Health Services at 608-266-1865 or send them an email DHSwebmaster@dhs.wisconsin.gov.


Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles
This week, we got word from Tom Rhatican, Assistant Deputy Secretary, Wisconsin Department of Transportation, that our Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) offices will begin issuing new black and white driver licenses (DL) and identification (ID) cards this fall. These new cards will be the most secure in the United States and will help curb fraud and identity theft.

Please see the attached FAQ and video link for a short overview: http://youtu.be/r31hWskELww

The black and white photos are laser-engraved onto a polycarbonate card and will be very hard to replicate without destroying the card. Additional security features include:

  • A raised signature, date of birth (DOB), and expiration date that you can feel.

  • “U21” (under 21) prominently displayed in red ink.

  • UV ink highlighting intricate Wisconsin artwork on front.

  • The card feels slightly stiffer and makes a unique sound when dropped on a hard surface.

  • Endorsements for commercial driving, including hazmat certification, are clearly noted.

Two other generations of Wisconsin driver licenses and ID cards are currently in circulation. Some are set to expire in 2020, and cards issued between March 2012 and October 2015 will expire in 2023.

The process for customers is the same -- no need to visit a DMV Customer Service Center for a new card until the current card expires.

Implementation of the new cards will be completed statewide by November 1, 2015.

*Senator Marklein is pleased to provide this legislative E-Update to the constituents of the 17th State Senate District. Please feel free to share this update with other interested citizens and taxpayers. You are receiving this update because you have either subscribed or contacted Senator Marklein directly.

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