Capitol Update




Richland Center Foundry
Dislocated Worker Assistance

If you, or someone you know, is impacted by the Richland Center Foundry closure, please do not hesitate to contact my office for assistance and information.

State resources, guidance and job opportunities are being deployed directly to the workers, but my team is also a resource to connect and re-connect those who need further assistance. Please call or email and we will work with you to guide you toward available resources and opportunities.




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Visiting Madison?

I would be happy to arrange a capitol tour for you.  Call my office at (608) 266-0703 for more info.


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Merry Christmas & Happy New Year!

My best wishes for a happy and joyous holiday season! 

This is the last E-Update for 2015. I will send my next E-Update on Friday, January 8, 2016.

Legislative Year In Review


It doesn’t seem possible that this time last year, I was preparing to begin my role as the State Senator for the 17th Senate District. I have experienced innumerable new things, met an amazing array of people and impacted a wide variety of legislative initiatives during the past year. It has been a true and sincere honor to serve you during the first year of my four year term.

In 2015, the state legislature was tasked with passing a state budget and it was a welcomed challenge to serve on the Joint Finance Committee (JFC). I know that my role on this important committee directly benefited the residents of the 17th Senate District and I look forward to continuing to serve on this committee. Following is a brief summary of the highlights of my role on the JFC.

I also appreciated the opportunity to work with my colleagues on several important pieces of legislation and I have highlighted several of those items in the following list.

As I look toward 2016, I am optimistic that we will continue to improve the financial condition of the State of Wisconsin and find ways to make our state laws work for the people, organizations and businesses that make up our great state.

2015-2016 State Budget Highlights – following are highlights of my efforts to as a part of the JFC.

BUDGET: Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC)
With all the proposed changes to Family Care and self-direction in the budget, I heard from many of my constituents that one of the greatest resources in our communities is our Aging & Disability Resource Centers (ADRC). I was proud to fight for the ADRCs and am happy to report that ADRCs and self-direction with be preserved in any new long-term health care structure moving forward.

BUDGET: Preservation of SeniorCare
In the original budget, a suggestion was made to move seniors away from SeniorCare and to Medicare Part D for prescription drugs. I opposed this move and fought to preserve SeniorCare. I have always been proud to support SeniorCare and will continue to support this popular program in the future.

BUDGET: Increased state support for K-12 education
In the budget, I supported an increase of more than $300 million in state aid for K-12 education. We also increased high cost special education aid $5 million over the biennium. For our rural schools, I supported an increase of $2.5 million in high cost transportation aid and $8.4 million in sparsity aid.

BUDGET: State Park Fee Structure
In the budget, I worked closely with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) on the funding structure for state parks and camping fees. The DNR asked for flexibility to charge differing fees based on the popularity of certain parks and for seasonally busy weekends. This change maintained the current funding levels for state parks and will create new revenue.

BUDGET: Prosperity Southwest
In the budget, I supported a $250,000 grant for Prosperity Southwest to promote job creation in Southwest Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the provision was vetoed by Governor Walker after the budget was passed by the State Legislature. I will be working with Representative Travis Tranel to introduce this as separate legislation and will continue to seek ways to support our local economic corporations.

BUDGET: Tax Package
In the budget, I worked closely with my colleagues on a package of tax ideas that would simplify and federalize the tax code. The largest piece of tax relief came from reducing the marriage penalty by increasing the maximum deduction for married taxpayers filing joint and separate returns.

2015-2016 Legislative Highlights – following are highlights of my efforts during the general legislative session.

(Click on the highlighted titles to be re-directed to the legislative record for each bill and to read the full text).

SENATE BILL (SB) 252 (ACT 61): Cassville Power Plants
I worked closely with Representative Tranel on a bill that would help alleviate the impact from the closure of the power plants in Cassville. The bill would ensure that both power plants were eligible for a step-down reduction in state aid utility payments, rather than an immediate reduction. SB 252 was signed into law as Act 61 earlier this year.

SB 236 (ACT 62): Wine Walks
Wine Walks are an event that many local communities in the 17th Senate District hold annually to help benefit main street programs, downtown business districts or local chambers of commerce. Earlier this year, the Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that these events were illegal because they did not abide by alcohol licensing laws. I worked with my colleagues and local communities to set up a specific licensing structure for Wine Walks. SB 236 was signed into law as Act 62 this fall.

SENATE JOINT RESOLUTION (SJR) 55: GAAP Constitutional Amendment
Currently, the state does not use Generally Accepted Accounting Principles (GAAP) for the state budget. The state uses cash-based budgeting which is not an accurate reflection of the state’s current financial condition. The state should have to budget in the same way as local units of government and school districts. SJR 55 awaits floor action in both houses. Since it is a constitutional amendment, the bill requires the approval of two consecutive legislatures and voters statewide before becoming law.

SB 227 (ACT 126): Tax Exemption for Construction Materials
Construction materials are exempt from sales tax when they are purchased for projects for governments like counties, cities, towns, villages, school districts, and nonprofits like churches, and hospitals. However, the law was confusing and required unnecessary paperwork and a cumbersome process. SB 227 changed the law to allow contractors to purchase materials for construction directly, streamlining the process for saving money on local construction projects. SB 227 was signed into law as Act 126.

SB 242: Local Approval for Roundabouts
SB 242 bill gives municipalities a role in the process for planning a roundabout in their community. Too often we hear that the Department of Transportation (DOT) is not taking local traffic needs seriously and that roundabouts are forced on communities without their consent. This bill aims to boost community involvement and encourages dialogue with local representatives about road decisions in our communities.

SB 182 (ACT 26): Rural EMS Service
Several communities in southern Lafayette county utilize the Warren, Illinois Ambulance service right over the border for emergency medical needs. A rule change from the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) meant citizens would no longer be able to use emergency services from a bordering state, no matter how much closer those services may be. For many rural communities Wisconsin-based emergency services may not be the closest or the quickest to respond. This bill changed the law, allowing the use of emergency services, no matter the location of those services. SB 182 was signed into law as Act 26.

ASSEMBLY BILL (AB) 550: Mauston Welcome Signs
I authored AB 550 with Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg), to allow the City of Mauston to install welcome signs along highways within city limits despite a ruling by the DOT. Due to a federal rule change, the DOT is no longer allowing the city to put up welcome signs at several locations. These signs represent an investment of over $30,000 and would increase the visibility of Mauston. This legislation seeks to address DOT’s inflexibility and is currently pending.

Again, this summary includes highlights of the budget and legislative session to date. I look forward to continuing our work this winter and into the spring.

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


Congratulations, Monroe High School Mentoring Program!

On Monday, I had the opportunity to attend the presentation of AT&T’s Innovation Award to Monroe High School and the Link Crew mentoring program that they have at the school. The mentoring program at Monroe High School is designed to help freshmen have a successful first year by connecting them with junior and senior mentors to help them get off to the right start and achieve success in their first year.

This is the second donation from AT&T to support the Link Crew program. In 2013, AT&T provided a $5,000 donation to help launch the Link Crew program at Monroe High School.

I am very proud of Monroe High School and the Monroe School District for working together to support the Link Crew program. This program is a great way to help make the first year of high school a positive and successful experience for Monroe freshman. Public-private partnerships like this make a positive difference for our students and a positive difference for education.


Congratulations again, Monroe High School!


Welcome to the Capitol, St. Luke’s!

This week, St. Luke’s school located in Plain, came to the Capitol for a visit! It was great to be able to meet with students and hear what they thought about the Capitol and what they found most interesting. There are definitely some future Senators and Representatives in the group!


Thanks for visiting, St. Luke’s!



Helpful Information


Revenue Collections: October 2016

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) recently released a report detailing general purpose revenue (GPR) taxes collected by the agency for the month of October. The following table shows the GPR collections to date for the month of October.


Department of Revenue Collections, October FY2016
($ thousands)


Revenue Source

FY 2015

FY 2016

% Change





Individual Income




General Sales & Use








Excise Taxes








Total GPR




*Source: Department of Revenue




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