Capitol Update

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Wine Walks Legislation Demonstrates the Strength of Grassroots
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 held.

A dedicated group of business owners, municipal officials and community leaders collaborated with my office and Representative Keith Ripp’s (R-Lodi) office to draft 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, SB 236 and AB 320 proposed to change 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. In reality, we are simply legalizing the way that these events have successfully operated for many years without incident.

To confirm the local impact beyond the businesses involved, I contacted Reedsburg Police Chief Tim Becker to discuss whether the Reedsburg Wine Walk or Barley Walk created any law enforcement challenges. Chief Becker assured me that the way the Reedsburg Revitalization Organization has conducted the event in the past was well done and participants followed the rules of the event.

The groups organizing Wine and Beer Walks have a vested interest in following a safe, legal framework for these events. All of the communities that have held Wine and Beer Walk events have shared the profound impact on local business exposure and fundraising efforts that help our downtown communities thrive. Bekah Stelling of Bekah Kate’s in Baraboo summarized the impact during her testimony before the Senate Committee on Revenue, Financial Institutions & Rural Issues. She said, “How many other marketing investments can we make as a business that guarantee that 500 people are going to walk into our store on a given day?”

Jim Murphy from WRJC in Mauston also testified at the hearing and recalled the excitement and energy during their first Wine Walk. “Downtown Mauston was full of people on a Friday night!” Murphy said. “There was a different feel to our community. People dressed up, made a night of it and went into businesses they had never explored before! One business owner sent me a text the next day with dollar signs in it. That said it all.”

I am honored to be a part of a solution to continue these important events. These bills are a great example of the strength of grassroots efforts in the legislative process. Local businesses connected with others around the state to bring this issue to our attention and proposed a solution. Their support and encouragement throughout the process was an important reason why these bills moved through the legislature efficiently.

The Senate and the Assembly passed Senate Bill (SB) 236 and Assembly Bill (AB) 320 over the last two weeks and these bills now await Governor Scott Walker’s signature. It is our hope that the Governor will sign these bills very soon so that our communities may move forward with planning Wine Walks this fall.

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

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 28
On Monday I will be having three listening sessions in Fennimore, Lancaster and Bloomington. 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 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


In addition to the listening sessions on Monday, September 28, I will also be having four listening sessions on Friday, October 2, with Representative Ed Brooks, in Mauston, Necedah, Kendall and Elroy that I hope you can make. Here is the schedule for Friday, October 2:

Friday, October 2, 2015

9-10 a.m.                        Mauston – Mauston City Hall, 303 Mansion Street, Mauston

11 a.m.-12 p.m.              Necedah – Necedah Memorial Library, 217 Oak Drive, Necedah

1:30-2:30 p.m.               Kendall – Kendall Village Hall, 219 W South Railroad Street, Kendall

3 -4 p.m.                         Elroy – Elroy Library, 501 2nd Main Street, Elroy

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


A Day in Platteville with UW System President Ray Cross!
This week, I had the opportunity to spend a day visiting with business leaders and community leaders in Platteville with UW System President, Ray Cross.

We were fortunate to get a tour of Esterline AVISTA. The AVISTA group at Esterline Control and Communication Systems provides safety-critical and mission-critical software development and systems engineering services to the world’s leading aerospace, defense, medical and industrial manufacturers. They have attained the highest Capability Maturity Model Integration (CMMI) rating available, Level 5, and International Organization for Standardization (ISO) 9001:2008 certification—one of very few companies in the country to have achieved these standards of process quality. We learned that there are 130 software engineers in the company, and the company continues to grow and provide great jobs for the community.

We also had the chance to stop in and get a tour of Delta 3 Engineering. Delta 3 Engineering is a full-service consulting engineering firm that specializes in civil and municipal engineering, structural engineering, architecture, building and facility design, grant writing, planning, land development, and mapping services.

Both Esterline AVISTA and Delta 3 Engineering have strong relationships with UW-Platteville. Both companies were founded by UW-Platteville Alumni. I want to send my sincere thanks to the folks at Esterline AVISTA and Delta 3 Engineering for showing President Cross and I around.


Senator Howard Marklein, Daniel Dreessens and UW System President Ray Cross at Delta 3 Engineering in Platteville

Helpful Information


August Housing Sales up, Capping Strongest Summer in 10 Years
The Wisconsin Realtors Association (WRA) recently released the August year to date (YTD) housing data for the state. As the summer selling season comes to a close, Wisconsin’s housing market grew at a more moderate pace in August compared to June and July. The August sales and median price levels remained above those of August 2014, according to the most recent analysis of the existing home market conducted by the WRA. Home sales increased 3% in August compared to that same month last year, and the median price rose 2.9% to $161,000 over that same period.

The table below shows the year to date median price and sales for the counties in my district.


*Source: Wisconsin Realtors Association


Wisconsin Local Employment and Unemployment Estimates
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) released the U.S. Bureau of Labor Statistics’ (BLS) estimates of unemployment and employment statistics for metro areas, major cities and counties in Wisconsin. The estimates include revisions for July 2015 and preliminary estimates for August 2015.

The following table shows the local unemployment rates from August 2014 and August 2015 for the counties in our district.

Local Unemployment Rates






Grant 3.6 4.5
Green 3.1 4.0
Iowa 3.1 4.3
Juneau 4.3 5.8
Lafayette 3.2 4.0
Monroe 3.7 4.9
Richland 3.5 4.5
Sauk 3.2 4.3




*Source: Department of Workforce Development


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