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Conservatively Speaking

State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: November 2-November 8

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:


Construction update November 2 –November 8:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties


All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY


Monday, NOVEMBER 2

Full Closure of I-94 EAST (SB) exit to Airport Spur 9:30pm – 5:30am

Read more

Study: Cost of private health insurance skyrockets under government reform

Government health care, Taxes


A new study shows the impact of government health care reform on private health insurance would be quite costly.

America's Health Insurance Plans commissioned the firm of PricewaterhouseCoopers to determine the effect of four provisions included in Senate Finance Committee legislation. From the study, those provisions are:

1) Insurance market reforms and consumer protections that would raise health insurance premiums for individuals and families if the reforms are not coupled with an effective coverage requirement.

2)  An excise tax on employer-sponsored high value health plans (or "Cadillac plans") that in a few years could also raise premiums for some moderate value plans.


3) Cuts in payment rates in public programs that could increase cost shifting to private sector businesses and consumers. These changes are expected to more than offset the potential reduction in cost shifting resulting from providing coverage to the uninsured.

4) New taxes on health sector entities that are likely to be passed through to consumers.”


Here is what the study found:

“The overall impact of these provisions will be to increase the cost of private insurance coverage for individuals, families, and businesses above what these costs would be in the absence of reform.


On average, the cost of private health insurance coverage will increase:


  • 26 percent between 2009 and 2013 under the current system and by 40 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.
  • 50 percent between 2009 and 2016 under the current system and by 73 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented.
  • 79 percent between 2009 and 2019 under the current system and by 111 percent during this same period if these four provisions are implemented. 


The increases in private health insurance coverage described above would be on top of the underlying growth in medical costs over the coming period. This analysis shows that the cost of the average family coverage is approximately $12,300 today and could be expected to increase to approximately:

  • $15,500 in 2013 under current law and to $17,200 if these provisions are implemented.
  • $18,400 in 2016 under current law and to $21,300 if these provisions are implemented.
  • $21,900 in 2019 under current law and to $25,900 if these provisions are implemented.

Read more

Your auto insurance is going up and here's why

State budget


Auto insurance ratepayers in Wisconsin are learning about an increase in their premiums and they are not pleased.

Drivers are starting to understand the direct impact of the 2009-11 state budget, a document composed and approved by legislative Democrats and Governor Doyle. The current state budget is costing motorists much higher premiums due to government provisions in the state budget mandating changes to your auto insurance.

A Democrat leader in the state Assembly tried to put the blame on insurance companies in a letter to a constituent dated October 7, 2009,  that reads, in part:

“Recently, some members of the insurance industry are trying to pass the buck for increasing rates on their customers, blaming rate increases on the state budget passed by the Legislature and signed into law by Governor Doyle. Quite simply, any previous increases are due to the business decisions of insurance providers rather than any action taken by the Legislature.”

The fact is that legislative Democrats and the governor pushed, supported, and voted for state budget provisions that are directly responsible for higher insurance costs that are making consumers angry. The news media sent out warnings earlier this year.

During state budget deliberations last June on the floor of the state Senate, I was the lead author of an amendment that would have removed all costly insurance mandates from the state budget. The amendment was defeated along party lines by Democrats that control the state Senate.

As a result, premiums and tempers are on the rise.
Terry Scheller of Nichols with insurance on three vehicles increasing $231 told the Wisconsin Associated Press, “I think it’s awful. How much more can people afford? Times are tough. Guess who’s paying for it? People like me with clean driving records.”

Read more

Congratulations Muskego High School!

Good news from Senate District 28


Over the weekend, the Muskego boys soccer team won the WIAA Division 1 state championship, defeating Madison Memorial 1-0. 



 

Read more

I-43-County Y interchange work completed in Waukesha County

News you can use

 

Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-43 /County Y intersection:

Release date:  Nov. 2, 2009

Read more

UPDATE: Should the deer hunting season be extended?

News you can use


The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board is proposing extending the deer gun hunting season from the current 9-day hunt to 16 days. The season would begin one week earlier. 

Several public hearings have been conducted around the state. Today, Tuesday, November 3, 2009  is the deadline to submit written comments to Keith Warnke of the Bureau of Wildlife Management at: keith.warnke@wisconsin.gov

Here is more information about the proposed rule.

Americans fear government health care weakens free enterprise

Government health care


According to the Gallup polling organization, the percentage of Americans believing the co
sts of health care will get worse under government control continues to increase. The percentage of Americans who think the cost will get better under government control stays the same, floundering at 22 percent.

Arthur Brooks, president of the American Enterprise Institute thinks the anger of Americans about the prospect of government health care goes beyond the sticker shock. Brooks makes the argument that the public is concerned about the danger to three areas: individual choice, personal accountability, and rewards for ambition.

Citizens worry at the thought that the choices they now enjoy may someday be gone and transferred to government bureaucrats. Brooks writes choices would be restricted in all phases of care:

“What kind of health insurance citizens can buy, what kind of doctors they can see, what kind of procedures their doctors will perform, what kind of drugs they can take, and what treatment options they may have.”

Many Americans covet the concept of personal responsibility, however the way government health care is designed, Brooks asserts people will balk at purchasing insurance until they need to do so.

Finally, Brooks worries that minus the incentive for medical professionals to earn money because of a series of government rules and regulations, critical medical discoveries of the future may not be achieved.

You can read Brooks’ column in the Wall Street Journal here. 

State Senate calendar for Thursday, November 5, 2009

News you can use



Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Thursday, November 5, 2009 at 11:00 a.m.:

First Order.                  Call of Roll.

Second Order.              Chief clerk's entries.

Third Order.                 Introduction, first reading and reference of proposals.

Fourth Order.               Report of committees.

Fifth Order.                  Petitions and communications.

Sixth Order.                 Referrals and receipt of committee reports concerning proposed administrative rules.

Seventh Order.             Advice and consent of the Senate

QUESTION:            Shall the appointment be confirmed?

Allen, Okie, of Eau Claire, as a member of the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Berceau, Terese, of Madison, as a member of the Council on Domestic Abuse, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2010. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Davis, Danae, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2011. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Drew, John, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2014. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Dueholm, Robert, of Luck, as a member of the Real Estate Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Falbo, Michael, of Franklin, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2015. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Fisher, Thomas, of Wausau, as a member of the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2012. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Gasperetti, Thomas
, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Examining Board of Architects, Landscape Architects, Professional Engineers, Designers and Land Surveyors, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Grignon, John, of New Berlin, as a member of the Dentistry Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation, Ayes 7, Noes 0 recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue)

Hanna, Mark, of Sheboygan, as a member of the Wisconsin Aerospace Authority, to serve for the term ending June 30, 2012. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Henzl, Robert, of Racine, as a member of the Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2011 (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Holley, Bill, of Middleton, as a member of the Prison Industries Board, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2012. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Korabic, Edward, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Moore, Michele
, of West Salem, as a member of the Funeral Directors Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Morales, Joe
, of Racine, as a member of the Public Defender Board, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2012. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Musser, Gene, of Madison, as a member of the Medical Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Nuernberg, Christine, of Mequon, as a member of the Wisconsin Professional Baseball Park District Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2011. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Opgenorth, Kevin, of Platteville, as a member of the Board of Regents, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2010. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Pierce, Dennis, of Kenosha, as a member of the Real Estate Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Pruitt, Chuck, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2016. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Walsh, David, of Madison, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2015. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Wingad, Aaron, of Eau Claire, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2011. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Womack, Betty
, of Milwaukee, as a member of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2014. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Workinger, Marilyn, of Marshfield, as a member of the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2011. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Xiong, Mai
, of Schofield, as a member of the Public Defender Board, to serve for the term ending May 1, 2012. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Zellmer, Peter, of Appleton, as a member of the Hearing and Speech Examining Board, to serve for the term ending July 1, 2013. (Report confirmation recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Eighth Order.              
Messages from the Assembly.


QUESTION:            Shall the amendment be concurred in?

Senate Bill 241. Relating to: modifying the definition of all-terrain vehicle. (FE)  By Senators Holperin, Taylor, Vinehout, Harsdorf, A. Lasee, and Grothman; cosponsored by Representatives Hraychuck, Brooks, Roys, Townsend, Jorgensen, Radcliffe, Suder, Petrowski, Hubler, Gunderson, Tauchen, Murtha, Ballweg, Ripp, and Spanbauer. Assembly Amendment 1 pending

Ninth Order.                 Special Orders.

Tenth Order.                 Consideration of motions, resolutions, and joint resolutions not requiring a third reading.

QUESTION:            Shall the joint resolution be adopted?

Senate Joint Resolution 54. Relating to: commending Mary and Ted Kellner on the occasion of their receiving the Warren P. Knowles Humanitarian Award. 

QUESTION:            Shall the joint resolution be concurred in?

Assembly Joint Resolution 77. Relating to: Pancreatic Cancer Awareness Month. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 85. Relating to: recognizing the work of Wisconsin's coroners and medical examiners. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 88. Relating to: the life and public service of Jay W. Johnson. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 89
. Relating to: declaring October as Co-op Month.  By Representatives Nerison and Vruwink.

Assembly Joint Resolution 90. Relating to: the life and public service of Rev. P. Harvey Stower. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 91. Relating to: declaring October to be Adopt a Shelter Pet Month.

Eleventh Order.            Second reading and amendments of senate joint resolutions and senate bills.

QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Senate Bill 40. Relating to: public financing of campaigns for the office of justice of the supreme court, making appropriations, and providing penalties. (FE)  (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 15, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 15, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 3, Ayes 15, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 4, Ayes 15, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by joint committee on Finance, Ayes 11, Noes 4) Senate Amendments 1, 2, 3 and 4 pending

Senate Bill 66. Relating to: operation of a motor vehicle while under the influence of an intoxicant and providing a penalty. (FE)  Senate Amendments 1 and 2 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Senate Substitute Amendment 1, and Senate Substitute Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 183. Relating to: the provision of support services information to employees who are affected by a business closing or mass layoff and providing a penalty. (FE)   (Report passage recommended by committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 184
. Relating to: licenses and limited X-ray machine operator permits to engage in the practice of radiography, creating a radiography examining board, granting rule-making authority, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. (FE)   (Report passage recommended by joint committee on Finance, Ayes 15, Noes 1)

Senate Bill 204. Relating to: prohibiting discrimination in housing because of domestic abuse victim status and providing a penalty. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 208. Relating to: regulation of persons who sell dogs or operate animal shelters or animal control facilities, granting rule-making authority, making an appropriation, and providing a penalty. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 16, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 16, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by joint committee on Finance, Ayes 16, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1 and Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 223. Relating to: composition of the Board of Regents of the University of Wisconsin System.  (Report passage recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 4, Noes 1) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 236. Relating to: electronic filing of campaign finance reports. (Report passage recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 244. Relating to: specific information signs on certain portions of STH 21. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 7, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 259. Relating to: the homestead exemption and increases in the value of the exemption for various property that is exempt from execution. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 5, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 3, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 4, Noes 1) Senate Amendments 2 and 3 pending

Senate Bill 290. Relating to: changes in the regulation of boxing contests, regulating mixed martial arts fighting contests, granting rule-making authority, making an appropriation, and providing a penalty. (FE)  (Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 3, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs, Ayes 5, Noes 0) Senate Substitute Amendment 3 pending

Senate Bill 292. Relating to: the exemption of State Historical Society books from state printing requirements. (FE)  (Report passage recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 331. Relating to: prohibiting a person who has been convicted or adjudicated delinquent for committing certain serious crimes or who is the subject of a pending criminal charge or delinquency petition for committing a serious crime from being licensed, certified, or contracted with to provide child care, from being employed or contracted as a caregiver of a child care provider, or from being permitted to reside at a premises where child care is provided and making an appropriation. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Amendment 3, Ayes 15, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 3, Ayes 15, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by joint committee on Finance, Ayes 15, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Amendment 3, and Senate Amendment 3 pending

Senate Bill 346. Relating to: required judicial findings and orders when a child is placed outside the home, termination of parental rights warnings, mandatory child abuse or neglect reporters, the confidentiality of social services records, changing from day care to child care the term used to describe care and supervision for children for less than 24 hours a day, and renumbering the definition of neglect. (Report passage recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 349. Relating to: the employment of minors 12 years of age or older by nonprofit organizations in and around the homes of elderly persons and persons with disabilities to perform snow shoveling, lawn mowing, leaf raking, and other similar work usual to those homes. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Labor, Elections and Urban Affairs, Ayes 5, Noes 0)    Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 370. Relating to: grants for improving academic achievement. (Report passage recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 371. Relating to: authorizing the Department of Public Instruction, the University of Wisconsin System, the Technical College System, and the Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities to study each other's education programs, requiring a written agreement concerning such studies, and requiring the establishment of a longitudinal data system of student data. (FE)   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 6, Noes 1) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 372. Relating to: using the results of standardized examinations to evaluate teachers and requiring the development of a teacher evaluation plan to be a mandatory subject of collective bargaining. (FE)  (Report passage recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 6, Noes 1)

Senate Bill 373. Relating to: establishing or contracting for the establishment of a charter school.   (Report passage recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 6, Noes 1)

Twelfth Order.             
Second reading and amendments of assembly joint resolutions and assembly bills.


QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Assembly Bill 138. Relating to: the appointment and term of service of the secretary of natural resources and vacancies on the Natural Resources Board.   (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, concurrence as amended recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 5, Noes 2) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Assembly Bill 164. Relating to: notice of intent to remove a child from the home of a relative and review of decisions or orders involving the placement and care of a child placed in the home of a relative. (FE)  (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 209. Relating to: authorizing a county to provide assistance to a nonprofit organization that provides assistance to certain individuals. (FE)   (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 258. Relating to: the disposal of used automotive engine oil filters and oil absorbent materials and providing a penalty.   (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Environment, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 292. Relating to: recording and filing documents with the register of deeds. (FE)   (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 297. Relating to: child abuse and neglect prevention grants. (FE)   (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Thirteenth Order.          Third reading of joint resolutions and bills.

Fourteenth Order.         Motions may be offered.

Fifteenth Order.            Announcements, adjournment honors, and remarks under special privilege.

Sixteenth Order.           Adjournment.

Video can help pier owners understand latest rules

News you can use


One of the more contentious and confusing issues in state government in the past five years has been pier regulation.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR), under a state law that went into effect during 2008, “most existing piers meet the size standards and their owners won’t have to do anything. Owners of piers that are larger than the standards have until April 1, 2011, to determine if they qualify to be grandfathered in, and to complete the registration process. A very small number of owners of extremely large existing piers will need to go through the individual permit and review process, but the normal fee permit will be waived.”

The DNR has a special video pier owners can view on the DNR’s pier page to help lakefront property owners understand the latest regulations.

Legislative Republicans want to repeal budget provisions causing insurance hikes

State budget


Last week I released a column discussing the impact of the 2009-11 state budget on auto insurance rates.

My Republican colleagues and I are taking action to repeal changes made in the budget that are now causing auto insurance rates to increase.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports on legislation that I have co-sponsored.


Here is a news release issued by Senate Republican leader Scott Fitzgerald.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: November 9-November 15

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update November 9 –November 15:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY

  

Read more

Congratulations again to Muskego High School!

Good news from Senate District 28



First the Muskego High School boys won the state soccer title. 


Over the weekend, the Muskego High School girls won the state volleyball title. 

Congratulations once again to Muskego High School for another championship!

On final session day of 2009, Democrat priorities are misplaced

Legislation


While thousands of demonstrators marched and rallied in Washington D.C. last Thursday to voice concern about the economy and the huge growth of government, the state Senate took up dozens of bills, none of which addressed the critical need for job creation in Wisconsin.

Thursday was the final scheduled day for the Legislature to be in session during 2009.

The state Senate approved changes to clean up the controversial child welfare program, Wisconsin Shares. However, Democrats killed a series of amendments that I co-sponsored that would have created even stronger safeguards against fraud. The amendments included allowing counties to terminate Shares Benefits to a recipient if they are suspected of fraud and the case has been turned over to the DA, prohibiting a parent that works in a day care facility from receiving a child care subsidy, prohibiting a parent who is a child care provider unless they have been granted a waiver by DCF or licensing municipality from receiving a child care subsidy, and requiring a prospective provider to be fingerprinted by local law enforcement and that fingerprint must be run through a database to determine that the prospective provider has never been convicted of the prohibitions on child care licenses.

Education legislation supported by WEAC was approved that merely sets the state up to receive federal Race to the Top funding. The legislation doesn’t allow a school district to fire or discipline a bad teacher and actually makes the use of student test data in evaluating teachers a mandatory subject of collective bargaining.

On behalf of a school superintendent, I authored amendments that would have allowed school boards to establish and run charter schools and would have allowed a teacher evaluation to a be “a factor” in determining if a teacher is to be suspended or terminated. Both education reform amendments were killed by Senate Democrats.

Drunk driving legislation was approved unanimously that differs slightly from an Assembly version approved earlier this fall. The Legislature could work in the next few weeks to work out differences and vote on a measure before the end of the year. Unclear is the extra costs the legislation could mean for municipalities due to additional court proceedings, prosecutions, and prison and jail incarcerations. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimates the annual cost to the state could be in the millions of dollars.

Taxpayer funding of state Supreme Court races was approved that I voted against. The Senate also approved changing the way the DNR Secretary is chosen. I voted against the legislation.

Those were some of the items scheduled on the final day of the session for the year by Democrats that control the state Senate. The Senate failed to address any legislation relating to the state economy, the state business climate, job creation, job retention, taxes, or spending, clearly the most important issues confronting our state.

Governor Doyle reportedly may call the Legislature into special session to consider the proposed mayoral takeover of Milwaukee Public Schools, a concept that appears to have little support anywhere in Wisconsin. The priorities of the governor and legislative Democrats that control the senate and Assembly are out of whack.

The shocking Pelosi health bill by the numbers


Speaker Nancy Pelosi's is touting her new version of government health care as being less costly. Not so according to the Heritage Foundation that reports:

“The Congressional Budget Office released its preliminary score of the bill and while some in the media have been reporting its net cost of $894 billion, the total cost of health reform legislation is more like $1.5 trillion. So, Speaker Pelosi is essentially right back where she started—with a huge two thousand page plan that carries a hefty price tag.”

 

Read more

Where state and local governments spend their money

Taxes


A new report by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. highlights state and local government spending priorities.Spending is broken down into ten specific categories:

Wisconsin
spent 23.80 percent during FY 2007 on K-12 education. The national average was 23.90 percent.

Wisconsin spent 18.20 percent during FY 2007 on public welfare.  The national average was 16.80 percent.

Wisconsin spent 12.00 percent during FY 2007 on higher education. The national average was 9.10 percent.

Wisconsin spent 8.90 percent during FY 2007 on public safety.  The national average was 9.10 percent.

Wisconsin spent 8.60 percent during FY 2007 on transportation. The national average was 7.60 percent.


Wisconsin spent 7.10 percent during FY 2007 on environment/housing.  The national average was 7.70 percent.

Wisconsin spent 6.70 percent during FY 2007 on hospitals & health. The national average was 8.40 percent.

Wisconsin spent 4.40 percent during FY 2007 on debt interest. The national average was 4.10 percent.

Wisconsin spent 4.30 percent during FY 2007 on government administration.  The national average was 5.30 percent.

Wisconsin spent 6.10 percent during FY 2007 on other costs.  The national average was 7.90 percent.

Read more

A key issue could derail current government health care plan

Government health care


After narrowly getting through the House during a vote on Saturday night, the government health care plan could be in serious trouble in the U.S. Senate.

Opponents of federal government health care have voiced deep concern about the potential for federal subsidies to be used to fund abortions. Some Senators are pushing for tough restrictions in the legislation to radically reform America’s health care system, and that could ruin plans to have government health care passed by the end of 2009.

The House bill approved over the weekend prohibits government health care from covering abortions, with the exceptions of rape, incest, or life of the mother, essentially current federal law. Health plans that receive federal funding could not provide abortion coverage, but could sell separate plans to cover abortion.

The Associated Press (AP) reports that Senate Democrats need the votes of about a half-dozen abortion opponents in their caucus.

They (Senate Democrats) face a grueling debate against Republicans who are unified in their opposition to a sweeping remake of the health care system. It's unclear how the abortion opponents would line up; the pressure on them will intensify once the legislation is on the floor,” the AP reports.

There are plenty of reasons to oppose government health care. It would be just if the most serious concern, federal funding of abortions, was the issue that killed the legislation.

Read the AP article here. 

Is it too early to start thinking about snow on the roads?

News you can use


Barely into November and snow has already pummeled some parts of the country…..




An unidentified truck driver walks along a row of stranded trucks on Interstate 25 in Cheyenne, Wyo.,Thursday, Oct. 29, 2009. Hundreds of truck drivers were stranded because of a fall snow storm in the Wyoming and Colorado region (AP Photo/Wyoming Tribune-Eagle, Michael Smith)


And some parts of the world.



A bicycle is covered with snow on the street of Beijing, China, Sunday, Nov. 1, 2009. The Chinese capital turned white Sunday as it receives first snow of the winter. (AP Photo/Ng Han Guan)


Wisconsin, thank goodness, has escaped the snow, for now. Hopefully, the inclement weather will stay away for awhile, however the State Patrol isn’t waiting. Even though we are about six weeks away from the official start of winter, the State Patrol has issued the following tips for safe winter driving. 

Is Wisconsin in as bad shape as California?


California
receives major media attention for its catastrophic budget woes. However, other states are also in fiscal danger.

The Pew Center for the States has released a report, “Beyond California: States in Fiscal Peril” that outlines 10 states, including Wisconsin that are experiencing the same kinds of problems that drove California into disaster.

The Pew Center report writes:

“The recession has hit Wisconsin harder than it has hit most state governments, especially when it comes to lost tax revenues and the size of the hole that made in its budget. And unemployment is climbing as the state’s largest sector—manufacturing—sputters.

The recession has cost Wisconsin 140,000 jobs and one-eighth of its manufacturing workforce, according to the Center on Wisconsin Strategy, a nonprofit group based at the University of Wisconsin at Madison. Wisconsin’s unemployment rate rose 4.4 percentage points from the second quarter of 2008 to the same point in 2009.


Wisconsin’s state government has struggled for years to keep its promises to pay a higher share of school costs while holding property taxes low. Often, lawmakers shifted money around, taking money from the state’s transportation fund, for example, to pay for day-to-day operations—and then borrowed to cover the transportation budget. Legislators also failed to put money in reserve before the recession hit.”

The future forecast, according to the report, looks grim.

Experts predict Wisconsin could face a $2 billion deficit during the next biennium, which starts July 1, 2011, after the federal stimulus runs out.

Read more in Stateline that contains other related links.

While Wisconsin doesn’t have the magnitude of the problems California is facing, our state has similar problems. The report should be a huge wake-up call for state government.

Wisconsin swine flu update

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Health Services reports widespread swine flu activity with confirmed cases in all but two counties. Even though current activity may be reaching its peak, health officials report widespread activity will probably occur over the next several months.

Here is the latest Wisconsin swine flu report.

Don't forget them, even though Veterans Day has come and gone


Veterans Day is primarily a day to recognize and thank all who served with honor during times of war and peace. We give thanks and show our appreciation to living veterans for performing a great duty for national security. Let’s not forget them the rest of the year.

Thank a World War II veteran while you have the opportunity. World War II utilized the greatest force of soldiers, sailors, Marines and airmen in our country’s history. Last Year, the Associated Press wrote the following about our World War II soldiers:

They were a swashbuckling lot — parachuting behind enemy lines, charging onto sandy beaches as bullets whizzed by, liberating countries from a totalitarian grip. They jitterbugged the nights away, sang about faraway sweethearts and painted the noses of their B-17 bombers with bawdy pinups.”

In his popular book, The Greatest Generation, Tom Brokaw writes World War II soldiers “answered the call to save the world from the two most powerful and ruthless military machines ever assembled. At a time in their lives when their days and nights should have been filled with innocent adventure, love, and the lessons of the workaday world, they were fighting in the most primitive conditions possible across the bloodied landscape of France, Belgium, Italy, Austria, and the coral islands of the Pacific.”

Today, the Department of Veterans Affairs reports estimates. U.S. veterans of World War II are dying at a rate of more than 1,000 a day and now number about 2 million from a force that once stood 16 million strong.

This year marks the 56th anniversary of the Korean War Armistice during 1953. The Korean War is often referred to as the Forgotten War because it was waged so close to the battles of World War II. Those who fought in Korea are forgotten no more, thanks to the ongoing construction of the Korean War National Museum. Finally, the six million men and women who served in Korea will have their own place to tell their stories.

Another name was added this year to The Wall, the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. The total number of names listed is now 58,261.

Two Gulf Wars and wars currently being fought in Iraq and Afghanistan remind us of the great sacrifices being made by our brave men and women in uniform. The freedoms Americans enjoy and unfortunately take for granted today are thanks to our outstanding veterans.

Remember our Veterans every day, for sacrifice without remembrance is meaningless. America’s conscience demands that we all be aware of the brave deeds of our armed forces.

If you see or meet a veteran, extend your appreciation. Thank him or her for their service. Pause and reflect upon what our country would be like had it not been for the veterans. Each and every American owes them a debt of gratitude, every day of the year.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: November 16-November 22

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update November 15 –November 22:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

Read more

Congratulations New Berlin United!

Good news from Senate District 28


On Saturday, the New Berlin United Boys volleyball team won the state title, defeating Nicolet. 

Congratulations, boys on an outstanding effort!





New Berlin coach Kurt Derenne hoists the state championship trophy. MyCommunityNOW photo: Peter Zuzga

It appears the city of Milwaukee can be reasonable about water


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel is reporting that Milwaukee could become the first city in the country to offer water for jobs. The newspaper writes:

Milwaukee, which has a lackluster record in luring new industry with tax breaks or subsidies, has a new plan up its sleeve: giving deeply discounted water to new companies that create jobs.

At a time when regions such as metro Atlanta and the Southwest face acute water shortages, the Milwaukee Water Works operates at only a third of its capacity. And it draws off the Great Lakes, which hold a fifth of the world's surface supply of freshwater.

That means the city, which operates the utility, can add new water customers at marginal cost - even if they guzzle prodigious volumes of water.”

The news is encouraging. I am open to any proposals or discussions that would improve Wisconsin’s woeful business climate. 

It is my sincere hope that the city of Milwaukee will extend the same good will in the interest of public health and welfare to its neighbors when it comes to the sale of water. 

Banning texting while driving is unnecessary

Legislation


During an interview with Mike Lowe of Fox 6 News shortly after a state Senate session, I said that no one should be texting while driving. However the issue is not a texting ban. Such a law is unnecessary in Wisconsin. The issue is inattentive driving.

Wisconsin statutes currently allow police to cite for inattentive driving, and that includes use of a cell phone. The law clearly states, “No person while driving a motor vehicle shall be so engaged or occupied as to interfere with the safe driving of such vehicle.” Law enforcement currently has the authority to cite drivers that are texting, using a cell phone, or participating in any other behaviors that are dangerous to other drivers. 

It is never safe to text while driving. The bill approved by the state Senate October 20, 2009, does not change current law about inattentive driving, and thus does not change current law about texting penalties. The fine for inattentive driving is not less than $20 nor more than $400. Under the texting bill, the fine remains the same as the fine for inattentive driving, not less than $20 nor more than $400. The public may believe the bill imposes a special severe penalty for texting, it does not. 

The bill was approved with an amendment to exempt ham radio operators. I voted for the amendment to exempt ham radio operators; however, is an accident caused by an inattentive ham radio operator any different than an accident caused by any other inattentive driver? 

The Legislature could create a special fine for texting while driving, maybe a $2,000 fine or some such.  The Legislature could define certain inattentive driving behaviors and establish fines.  The legislature must determine a value system for each of the behaviors on a laundry list of inattentive driving behaviors.  How much for texting?  How much for reading a map?  How much for eating a hamburger?   How much for reaching for an object?  How much for settling children's disputes?  The list is exhaustive. 

However, with the way the Wisconsin Legislature legislates, the breadth and depth of our law books, the extensive authority Wisconsin government has taken to think for people, and the lack of the current legislature's interest in smaller government, less taxes, and efforts to rebuild the economy, developing a more extensive inattentive driving law would be an excellent example of pure busy work.  Then, I submit with tongue firmly implanted in cheek that law enforcement could study the Legislature's work product and have an excellent source of guidance as they perform their job.  


Law enforcement currently has the authority to act on drivers that are texting, using a cell phone, or participating in any other behaviors that are dangerous to other drivers. Bad driving behaviors are already illegal under existing inattentive driving law. The question is, which behaviors are more dangerous than other behaviors.  

According to a recent Insurance Institute for Highway Safety report, many drivers still use their hand-held phones, even after they are banned, and other drivers switch to hands-free phones.  The crash risk is about the same, regardless of phone type. It is unknown whether bans reduce crashes, and police enforceability is a problem because it is difficult to determine whether a driver is sending a text message or talking on a hands-free phone.  

I am also concerned that a texting ban would endanger privacy. How does a law enforcement officer know what is going on inside a car? Are officers going to confiscate phones? What happens to the contents on the phones?  Proposed legislation to ban texting may sound and feel good. However, it fails to strengthen existing law regarding inattentive driving. The jury is still out about whether such bans are effective in reducing crashes. Driving inattentively is a real safety issue for everyone on the road, and I encourage motorists to contact law enforcement about individuals they may observe.

The texting ban legislation approved by the state Senate is now at the state Assembly.

Franklin approves Sacred Heart proposal

Good news from Senate District 28


During July 2009, I wrote a letter to the Franklin Common Council in full support of an outstanding project by The
Priests of the Sacred Heart to build a four-story apartment building across the street from the Sacred Heart School of Theology.

I am very pleased to learn that Tuesday night, the Franklin Common Council approved the proposal.

Congratulations to Franklin for moving forward on a great endeavor that will be of great benefit to the entire community.

The end of the recession is still bad news


The conventional wisdom among the mainstream media and economists is that the recession is over. Technically, the recession isn’t over until the National Bureau of Economic Research makes the official declaration.

The depth of the current recession that began during December 2007 has reached historic proportions. Now lasting for almost 24 months, the recession is the longest since World War II according to Dennis Winters of the Office of Economic Advisors in the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

Winters reports the average recession length since 1945 has been 10 months. The previous recession from March 2001 to November 2001 lasted eight months as did the 1990-91 recession.

Even if the experts proclaim the December 2007 recession to be dead and buried, the economy will be grim for some time. Sales of domestic-made cars and sales of homes are still down. Consumer spending is weak. Unemployment nationally is in double digit percentages.  We have finally reached the bottom in declines in exports, inventories, factory orders, and investments. However, the rebound in those areas has yet to begin.

Any economic optimism is derived from the sense that the recession feeling has been stopped, and not from any substantial growth. 

If the recession truly is over, pending the official word out of Washington, when will Wisconsin finally crawl out of its economic abyss?  Our recovery will probably be awhile.

The DWD’s Winters predicts Wisconsin can expect higher unemployment and more jobs lost in the months ahead because employment gains always lag economic gains. Winters reports that following the 2001 recession, Wisconsin’s seasonally adjusted unemployment peaked 17 months later with 30,000 more workers unemployed. Worse yet, Winters says that after the 2001 recession, it took an alarming 50 months for job levels in Wisconsin to reach the previous seasonally adjusted peak.

Before businesses start hiring new workers, they will first increase hours and overtime. Only when they believe demand has increased will they add to the workforce

Moody’s Economy.com researcher Andrew Gledhill told WUWM Milwaukee Public Radio in an interview during June 2009 that economic recovery among the states will come in three waves. The Northwest will bounce back first thanks to high-tech firms. The second wave will come in the Plains states where the economy, especially the housing market wasn’t impacted as severely. The third wave will be in what reportedly will be a “hodgepodge” of states. Thirty-one states, including Wisconsin will be struggling according to Moody’s until the fall of 2010.

Moody’s Morgan McGowen told WUWM that a serious concern is that as other parts of the country recover much more quickly, Wisconsin will lose people moving to those spots.

 

Read more

Wisconsin's police force about to grow by over half a million


With the start of the annual deer hunting season, the influx of 600,000 hunters into northern Wisconsin woods proves to be invaluable to the  state’s law enforcement.

Read more from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Last minute reminder for deer hunters


Deer hunting season is almost here.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) reminds hunters of changes in effect for this year’s hunt.

Hunters urged to use carbon monoxide detectors


The state Department of Health Services (DHS) is suggesting hunters headed into the woods this weekend for the annual deer hunting season take along carbon monoxide detectors.  DHS says the detectors are a great defense against carbon monoxide poisoning, an overlooked safety issue.

Read more here. 

Swine flu now in all but one Wisconsin county

News you can use


According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the state is experiencing, much like the rest of the country, widespread swine flu activity, though there has been what is being described as a “modest decrease in cases.” Another wave, however, is possible later in the influenza season.

Our supply of vaccines has increased. Even so, DHS is recommending providers treat those most at risk first.


Since September 1, 2009, DHS reports there have been 405 hospitalizations due to H1N1 virus infection in Wisconsin, with approximately 82% of those individuals having underlying medical conditions. Since November 11, 2009, there have been 11 additional confirmed H1N1-related deaths reported, bringing the statewide H1N1-related death total to 31 since spring.

DHS offers this advice:

“Parents are reminded that keeping sick children home from school until 24 hours after they are free of fever (100°F [37.8°C] or greater) without the aid of medication is the safest way to prevent the spread of any illness. DHS is also encouraging parents to have a pre-designated plan for caring for a sick child at home for the duration of a school exclusion period. Wisconsin businesses are also encouraged to adopt similar plans with their employees.”

Read more in the latest H1N1 Situation Report. 

Nominations sought for Ethical Hunter of the Year



The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the La Crosse Tribune are announcing the opening of nominations for the 13th annual Ethical Hunter Award. DNR warden supervisor Steve Dewald is urging hunters, who are all mentors, especially with the state’s new law allowing 10 and 11-year olds to participate in the upcoming deer hunt, to nominate ethical behavior in other hunters when witnessed.

Here are more details about the award from the DNR.

Read about last year’s award recipient, Nick Owens.

I want an audit of BadgerCare

Audits


I have released the following news release about BadgerCare:


 

Read more

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: November 23-November 29

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:


Construction update November 23 –November 29:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY

Monday, NOVEMBER 23

Read more

11 states are in recovery from recession


Wisconsin
is not on the list.

According to economic forecasting firm, Moody’s Economy.com, the 11 states are
Alaska, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Dakota along with Washington, D.C.

Moody’s based its findings on the states’ employment rates, home prices, residential construction and manufacturing production figures. Wisconsin is one of 38 states where the recession is slowing. Nevada remains mired in a deep recession.

Factors helping the eleven states climb out of the recession include relatively stable housing prices, energy production revenues, low business costs, connecting ports to foreign markets, health care centers, military installations, growing medical  and biotech research industries, and agriculture prices that have remained high.

However, I can’t help but notice that many of the states now in recovery have low state-local tax burdens.

According to the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C., here are the national rankings for each of the 11 states and the District of Columbia for state-local tax burdens with a high number being a higher tax burden (#1 is the worst state-local tax burden).

Alaska 50

I
daho 13

Indiana 28

Iowa 31

Mississippi 36

Missouri 32

Montana 40

Nebraska 17

North Dakota 33

South Dakota 45

District of Columbia 38

Wisconsin 9


One could argue that the tax structure in most of the states contributed to their quicker recovery. Elsewhere, most states will lag in their economic rebound.

As I have predicted in previous blogs, Stateline reports, “Most states have dumped billions of federal stimulus dollars into shoring up gaping shortfalls in their 2009 and 2010 budgets, but their recovery could backslide when almost all of the federal money is gone at the end of 2010. Since it takes several years for state budgets to recover from a downturn, it’s likely that states will be grappling with shortfalls even as the overall economy recovers.”

You can read the Stateline report here.

UFO's and kidney stones


Need an excuse for just about anything?

Try global warming.

The Heritage Foundation has compiled a list of 100 news headlines that blame global warming for, well, you name it. Here are a few:


Duller fall foliage in 2007

Severe acne

Global cooling

Beer tastes different

Earth spinning faster

Increase in kidney stones in India

All societal collapses since the beginning of time

Insomnia of children worried about global warming

UFO sightings in the UK

Rise in insurance premiums

Fashion victim: the death of the winter wardrobe


Here
is the Hertitage Foundation’s entire list.

Good news for Thanksgiving travelers

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Transportation reports fewer construction projects will hamper Thanksgiving travel.

Read more here.

The message is clear: Wisconsin unfriendly to business

Business


The headline in the Racine Journal Times reads:

Business people complain: State is a tough place for business”

That sounds all too familiar. Earlier this year, I was part of an effort by legislative Republicans to hear from businesspeople across the state about Wisconsin’s business climate and state policies that affect their ability to compete.

What we heard was extremely troubling.

A similar listening session was held at a Racine County Business Summit. The Racine Journal Times  reports, “Steven Jenkins of accounting firm Jenkins & Vojtisek, said he perceives from clients a less friendly business climate. ‘I have never had so many questions about, ‘How do I move my business, or my home, out of the state. ... I'm not going to retire or expand here,' he said.”

Our job creators, the business community, are speaking out loudly and clearly. It is time to start paying attention and then doing something about it. Wisconsin needs to take dramatic measures to improve its business climate, one of the worst in the nation.

Another great cranberry year

Business


Heading into cranberry season, Wisconsin expects to have another great fall harvest, though it will not match the record 2008 yield. 


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports more berries are being exported overseas where the fruit is considered sexy.

Randy Papadellis, chief executive officer at Ocean Spray says the hot new product this year is Cranergy, an energy drink targeted to on-the-go soccer moms.

Growth in one of Wisconsin’s biggest industries is critical because it helps the entire state’s economy.


Read more

UPDATE: The end of the recession is still bad news


Last week, I blogged that even though economists and the news media were signaling an end to the recession, rough economic times would continue.

Apnews.my.com reports:

"The economy grew at a 2.8 percent pace last quarter, as the recovery got off to a slower start than first thought.

The main factors behind the downgrade: consumers didn't spend as much, commercial construction was weaker and the nation's trade deficit was more of a drag on growth. Businesses also trimmed more of their stockpiles, another restraining factor.

Most say they think the economy will weaken again next year, with growth at a pace of around 1 percent as the impact of the $787 billion stimulus package fades and consumers keep tightening their belts under the strain of high unemployment and hard-to-get credit."

You can read more
here.

UPDATE: Should Wisconsin extend the deer hunting season?

News you can use


The Wisconsin Natural Resources Board held several public hearings around the state to seek public input about a proposal to extend the deer gun hunting season.

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reporting that after heavily attended public hearings, “
A 16-day gun deer hunt starting the Saturday before the Thanksgiving holiday will be the basis of a proposed 2010 deer season framework presented to the Natural Resources Board for consideration at its December 8 meeting in Madison.”

Read more from the DNR here.

Remember the true meaning of Thanksgiving


Amidst the various newspaper sale ads, television offerings, and never-ending assortment of trimmings on the table, please remember the true, and yes, religious significance of Thanksgiving.  As we reflect on our own blessings after a year about war, terrorism, and natural disasters, those blessings certainly seem very clear. Pause and appreciate what we have: family, friends, individual liberties and freedom, and for those truly fortunate, rewarding employment and fine health. The most joyous season we are about to enter should be a reminder to all not to take any of what we enjoy each and every day for granted.

While we take into account what we truly are thankful for, we should take time to also hope that those not as blessed may find whatever it takes to make their lives better and happier.  Far too many in our country and abroad have suffered great hardships this past year.  They should not be forgotten.  They need to be remembered in our thoughts and prayers.

Watch TV. Enjoy all the sports. Eat and eat some more. But carve out some time to gather as a family, ponder your many blessings, and give thanks, for that is the true meaning of this wonderful holiday.

Happy Thanksgiving!

Public comment urged about early voting plans

Photo ID

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) has issued its Final Draft Report and recommendations on Early Voting procedures for the state and is inviting public comment.

You can see the Final Draft Report here.


The GAB will take up the report and recommendations  at its December 14, 2009 meeting. Election officials, voters and the public are encouraged to read the report and send comments by November 30, 2009.  Written comments may be submitted by e-mail to: GABPublicComment@wi.gov.

Comments can be submitted through regular mail to:

Early Voting Comments
Government Accountability Board
PO Box 7984
Madison, WI 53707

Comments can be faxed to: 608-267-0500.

Here are previous blogs I have written about early voting:

Proceed cautiously with early voting 

Photo ID not in GAB's future plans

UW profs claim early voting reduces turnout



UW-Madison political science professors collaborating with the state’s Government Accountability Board have studied states that allow voters to cast their ballots on Election Day or through an early voting system. They have found early voting procedures lower turnout.

The Daily Herald
 quotes Barry Burden, UW-Madison political science professor:

“It probably does help some people get to the polls that would not otherwise vote, but on net, we think it lowers turnout. It certainly doesn’t increase it. If you have everyone voting on Election Day, it is an exciting, stimulating event that brings everyone out to the polls.”

Here is more from the UW.  

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) has issued its Final Draft Report and recommendations on Early Voting procedures for the state and is inviting public comment. You can see the Final Draft Report here. 

The GAB will take up the report and recommendations  at its December 14, 2009 meeting. Election officials, voters and the public are encouraged to read the report and send comments by November 30, 2009.

Written comments may be submitted by e-mail to:
GABPublicComment@wi.gov.

Comments can be submitted through regular mail to:

Early Voting Comments
Government Accountability Board
PO Box 7984
Madison, WI 53707

Comments can be faxed to: 608-267-0500.

Stupid budget tricks

State budget


The November issue of Governing magazine examines stupid budget tricks employed by some state legislatures to balance their books this year. Getting most of the attention from Governing was a bill signed into law in Arizona to sell state buildings, including the state Capitol with the hope of leasing the buildings back.

Wisconsin did catch Governing magazine’s attention. Read about the budget provision that warranted a mention.

The QEO goes away….

State budget, Taxes


I have blogged several warnings about the negative ramifications for Wisconsin taxpayers if the Qualified Economic Offer (QEO) was to be repealed. 

One of the major provisions in the 2009-2011 state budget put together and approved by Governor Doyle and legislative Democrats was the immediate elimination of the QEO. The result is devastating for taxpayers, especially as we remain trapped in the throes of a recession.


The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “Wisconsin school districts' property tax levies will rise an average of 7.16% statewide for the current school year, according to new information from the state Department of Public Instruction.”

The news media is focusing on reduction in state aid.  However, it is undeniable the QEO has kept property taxes from being even worse in Wisconsin. The loss of the QEO meant increased costs had to be paid somehow. You will find out how next month in your mailbox.

Monday is the deadline to sign up for Wisconsin No Call List

News you can use


Here are details from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: November 30-December 6

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update November 30 –December 6:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties


All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

MILWAUKEE COUNTY

Monday, NOVEMBER 30

Full Closure of EB Layton entrance loop ramp to I-94 WEST (NB) 7am - 12/7 at 7pm

Read more

UPDATE: I trust this could never happen in Wisconsin

State budget

 

On September 15, 2009, I blogged,Arizona Governor Jan Brewer signed a bill allowing the sale of state buildings to address the state’s huge budget shortfall.  The state is now contemplating which buildings to sell with the hope of leasing the buildings back later, a prospect that would only cost taxpayers more in the long run.”

Stateline has an update, quoting
Scott Pattison, executive director of National Association of State Budget Officers:

“This is an exceptionally unusual thing for states to do. But we have gotten in such a significantly difficult financial period that I’m not surprised states are doing this."

Read more from
Stateline.

UPDATE: Legislative Republicans want to repeal budget provisions causing insurance hikes

State budget, Legislation


Earlier this month, I wrote that, “
My Republican colleagues and I are taking action to repeal changes made in the (2009-2011 state) budget that are now causing auto insurance rates to increase”

WISC –TV reports, “
The Democratic chair of the committee said this Republican bill will not get a vote and the hearing (last week) was just for informational purposes. But there have been some discussions of amendments that could move it forward.”

Here is more from WISC-TV.

Congratulations, Jeremy Dejno!

Good news from Senate District 28

Photo of Jeremy Dejno

Jeremy Dejno of New Berlin Eisenhower has been named state volleyball player of the year by the volleyball coaches association and Milwaukee Journal Sentinel area player of the year.

Congratulations, Jeremy on an outstanding senior season!

8_28_09_usa_team_photo

The U.S. Boys' Youth National Team poses for a team photo. Jeremy is in the front row, wearing #7.




8_28_09_dejno_hit_vs_iran

Jeremy Dejno of the U.S. Boys' Youth National Team hits against Iran.

The U.S. Boys’ Youth National Team opened the 2009 FIVB Boys’ Youth (U-19) World Championship with a 3-1 (25-20, 13-25, 25-22, 25-23) pool play upset of defending champion Iran on Aug. 28, 2009 in Jesolo, Italy. Photos: http://volleyball.teamusa.org/

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