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More reasons to be worried about medical marijuana

Legislation


This news from the Christian Science Monitor is stunning:

“Around the country today, hundreds – perhaps thousands – of high schoolers are bringing pot to school, and they’re doing it legally. Not to get stoned, but as part of prescribed medical treatment. And they don’t have to tell school authorities about it. This is putting teachers and principals in a new and challenging position. In many counties and school districts, there are no clear guidelines – for school officials, students, or parents.”

A 17-year old Oregon student is quoted that this is not surprising:

“Some of them (students) have it for medical reasons, but others are just trying to get free weed and sell it, turn it around,” said Wesley Davis.

Outraged parents might be confused, thinking that federal anti-drug laws supercede state laws on medical marijuana. Not anymore. As the Christian Science Monitor reports, “the Obama administration has reversed that position.”

Even California is beginning to see the light and raise eyebrows about marijuana. The Los Angeles Common Council  has
after many years of debate, finally decided to restrict the number of pot dispensaries and restrict where they can be located. The Council took action to curtail the growth of pot stores that have popped up on Los Angeles’ major boulevards by the hundreds.

As Los Angeles is poised to shut down numerous pot stores, the national debate about the legalization of  marijuana rages on. The Los Angeles Times 
in an opinion piece opposed to the legalization of marijuana writes, “Legalization almost certainly would bring with it additional substance abuse in the state, and the long-term public costs associated with that would vastly exceed the relatively modest amount of new revenue legal weed might bring in….. There’s a reason the federal government classifies marijuana as a Schedule 1 drug with a high potential for abuse. It is the most commonly abused illicit drug in the United States, and more teens are in treatment for marijuana addiction than for alcohol or any other drug. Do we really want this habit-forming drug easier to get, particularly as the nation has made significant strides in reducing illegal drug use?”

As a member of the state Senate Committee on Health, I continue to have very serious concerns about proposed medical marijuana legislation in Wisconsin.

Food safety workshop for produce growers

News you can use

The Buy Local Buy Wisconsin Workshop Roadshow will host three workshops during February titled “Food Safety on the Market Farm.” One of the workshops will be conducted in State Senate District 28 in East Troy on February 10, 2010.

The day long workshop will focus on providing produce growers the latest information about ensuring the safety of products delivered to markets.

Here is a news release and brochure from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection with more information.

"Don't hold your breath"

Economy, State budget


If you believe as many economists do that our recession is over, it will be disheartening to know that our recovery is going to take some time. As I wrote during November 2009, 
“’The recession is officially over’ should be a great headline. However, the good news won’t kick in for months, possibly years later.”

State Legislatures magazine in its February edition concurs with even more grim news reporting that high employment and lower revenues will haunt state governments “well into the next decade” despite some recent glimmer of hope.

The stock market rise continues and the third quarter GDP (gross domestic product) showed growth. However, tax revenues are flat or on the decline, unemployment is high, and demand for state government services also remains high.

Donald J. Boyd, a senior fellow at the Nelson A. Rockefeller Institute of Government, says the timetable to real economic recovery is going to grind and grind. Boyd told State Legislatures magazine, “If you look at the last recession from the point at which the GDP began to recover, it was 17 quarters before employment wages got back to where they were when it started. Consumption is typically highly related to people’s incomes. You expect consumer spending to take a little time to recover. There are reasons to believe it will take a long time.”

NCSL (National Conference of State Legislatures) Executive Director William T. Pound offers analysis I have written about in the past. Pound calls it the “cliff effect,” the sudden end of stimulus funding to the states from Washington D.C.

“The combination of continuing state revenue shortfalls and the decline in federal stimulus funds over the next two years points to a very difficult road ahead for the states,” says Pound.

Rosy proclamations by some economists that the worst is over do not resonate or even matter to the average struggling American. Mitch Bean, director of the House Fiscal Agency in the state of Michigan told State Legislatures magazine, “What’s important to most people is employment. People who are looking for work are not going to recognize the end of a recession because they are either unemployed or underemployed.”

Bean predicts economic conditions will actually get worse before they get better, a sentiment echoed by David Wyss, chief economist at Standard and Poor’s. Wyss says, “Don’t hold your breath. I think we’ve got at least four or five years before we get back to anything approaching normal.”

The time for fiscal restraint is greater now than ever before.

Read more in State Legislatures magazine

The Census is coming, and so are phony Census takers


The process of counting Americans began last week in the Alaskan Eskimo village of Noorvik. A dog sled was used to get to the village.


Most Americans will receive census forms around or after March 1, 2010. According to U.S. Census 2010:

The form package, which will consist of the initial form, a cover letter and a return envelope, will be delivered between March 15 and March 17, 2010, in areas where the United States Postal Service delivers the census forms for the Census Bureau. Census Bureau workers will deliver forms between March 1 and April 30, 2010, in all other areas.


One of the shortest census forms in history, the 2010 Census form asks 10 questions and takes about 10 minutes to complete.

Read more

Cellphone, texting bans have not reduced accidents

Legislation


During the past few months, I have blogged that banning texting while driving is unnecessary 
and that texting bans are essentially ignored.

There is more data shedding doubt on the effectiveness of such laws. In what is being called a shocking report that was highlighted in a front page story in USA TODAY, the Highway Loss Data Institute HLDI) has found that laws banning the use of hand-held devices have not reduced the number of accidents in three states and the nation’s capital.

The HLDI writes, “As state legislators across the United States enact laws that ban phoning and/or texting while driving, a new Highway Loss Data Institute study finds no reductions in crashes after hand-held phone bans take effect.”


"The laws aren't reducing crashes, even though we know that such laws have reduced hand-held phone use, and several studies have established that phoning while driving increases crash risk," says Adrian Lund, president of both the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety and HLDI. "If crash risk increases with phone use and fewer drivers use phones where it's illegal to do so, we would expect to see a decrease in crashes. But we aren't seeing it. Nor do we see collision claim increases before the phone bans took effect. This is surprising, too, given what we know about the growing use of cellphones and the risk of phoning while driving.”

Lund concludes, “This finding doesn't auger well for any safety payoff from all the new laws that ban phone use and texting while driving."

Read more from the USA TODAY  and the HLDI.

Congratulations BuySeasons!

Good news from Senate District 28


More good news from New Berlin-based BuySeasons,
the largest online retailer of costumes and party supplies.

BuySeasons is adding 125 jobs. 

Congratulations Buy Seasons! I am very proud you are in state Senate District 28!

An incredible traffic safety statistic for Wisconsin


The Wisconsin Department of Transportation
(DOT)
 reports, “
January had the lowest number of traffic deaths in Wisconsin of any month on record, going back to 1937 when the state began compiling monthly fatality figures.”

Congratulations, Wisconsin motorists. Let’s keep this pattern moving throughout the rest of 2010.

Green initiatives create jobs……….outside the U.S.

Legislation


As a member of
the Senate Select Committee on Clean Energy, I have deep concerns about proposed global warming legislation now being reviewed by the Legislature.

One of my chief worries is the potential for the legislation to be a jobs killer.The Wisconsin Policy Research Institute reviewed 13 of the governor’s Global Warming Task Force’s recommendations and finds that if enacted would result in a loss of 31,000 jobs over the next 11 years. Toss in cap and trade provisions and the job loss mounts to 49,000.

Where could so-called “green” jobs created end up? Try China.

Bloomberg reports jobs to manufacture components for clean air technology will be shipped overseas where costs are significantly lower. The report opens with this startling news:

President Barack Obama is spending $2.1 million to help Suntech Power Holdings Co. build a solar- panel plant in Arizona. It will hire 70 Americans to assemble components made by Suntech’s 11,000 Chinese workers.”

Bloomberg also reports, “Last year’s $787 billion economic stimulus package included about $80 billion for energy programs and created 200,000 jobs in construction and clean energy.”

Think about it: $80 billion for 200,000 jobs. Is $400,000 per job a wise use of taxpayer dollars?

The United States is boosting job creation in China in order to develop a supposed “green” economy and clean earth. This is incredibly ironic given that China is the world’s biggest polluter

If these revelations weren’t so scary, they would be funny.

APAM: Abstinence works

Legislation


“Theory-based abstinence-only interventions may have an important role in preventing adolescent sexual involvement.”

That is the conclusion of a new abstinence study released this week in the Archives of Pediatric and Adolescent Medicine (APAM).

The purpose of the study was to determine the effectiveness of an abstinence-only intervention in preventing sexual behavior by young adolescents. A random trial was conducted in urban public schools with a total of 662 African American students in grades 6 and 7.

Students were split into four different interventions plus a control group during a 24-month period: An 8-hour abstinence-only intervention targeted reduced sexual intercourse; an 8-hour safer sex–only intervention targeted increased condom use; 8-hour and 12-hour comprehensive interventions targeted sexual intercourse and condom use; and an 8-hour health-promotion control intervention targeted health issues unrelated to sexual behavior.

The study measured self-reporting on the part of the participants about their sexual behavior during that time, including intercourse.

Here is the major finding: The abstinence-only intervention reduced by about 33 percent the percentage of students who reported ever having sexual intercourse by the end of the 24-month study period.

Maggie Gallagher, the president of the National Organization for Marriage summed up the results: “The abstinence-only approach, in this one rigorous study, was the only one that ‘worked’.”

In light of this study that Gallgher calls, “the gold standard for intervention research, a bright and shining pinnacle of research design that social science seldom ever reaches,” Gallagher poses the following: “Will President Obama step forward to restore abstinence-only funding?”

Noting that critics of abstinence programs abound, Gallagher writes in the National ReviewSo I would like to propose this as the new minimum standard for government-backed social programs: not one dime unless you can show at least one random-assignment study that demonstrates effectiveness. Oops, there goes Head Start. Oops, there goes, er . . . most of the budget deficit?The standards of science are trotted out only to swat down policies that support sexually conservative ideas. They are almost never applied to progressive ideas. And never to sexually liberal ideas, ever.”

Here in Wisconsin, a state statute I authored about abstinence is in serious jeopardy. Governor Doyle is poised to sign legislation into law making dramatic changes in the way sex education is taught in our public schools. 

Reducing the emphasis on abstinence in our school is inherently risky and will have severe implications for the health and welfare of our youth.

Senate Small Business Committee holds public hearing

Legislation


The state Senate Committee on Small Business, Emergency Preparedness, Technical Colleges, and Consumer Protection that I serve on conducted a public hearing on several bills Wednesday. The legislation considered included soliciting purchases of goods or services using unsolicited checks or money orders and providing a penalty; exempting certain capital expenditures made by a technical college district from the requirement for a referendum; professional employer organizations; and life settlements.


Assembly Bill 261 would prohibit the current practice of companies sending consumers what appears to be a check. The endorsees often fail to notice their signatures obligate them to purchase products or services.

Assembly Bill 509 deals with technical school referenda. Under current law, a technical college school board is required to hold a referendum for a capital expenditure of over $1.5 million. Under this legislation, if the expenditure is financed in part with student housing payments, that portion of the expenditure is subtracted from the total cost for the purpose of deciding whether or not a referendum is needed.


Senate Bill 504 makes changes to regulation of Professional Employer Organizations (PEOs). The changes include the following:

 

  • Explicitly excludes temporary help agencies from the definition of PEO.
  • Changes the name from “limited registration” to “small operations registration” for PEOs located outside Wisconsin.
  • Exempts a PEO located out of state from providing a financial statement to DRL.
  • States that PEO employees will be considered employees of the client for purposes of determining tax credits, etc., offered by local governments.
  • Requires that government-mandated per-employee taxes, benefits, etc., be paid by the client, rather than the PEO, if the employee is doing work for the client.
  • Requires Department of Regulation and Licensing to periodically update its list of PEOs and to make the list available on the internet.

Read more

New record for public health care in America


Here are stunning details about public health care from the Wall Street Journal:

 

  • Government programs next year will account for more than half of all U.S. health-care spending. That is a first for the United States.
  • By 2020, according to the new projections, about one in five dollars spent in the U.S. will go to health care.
  • Medicaid enrollment will increase 5.6 percent this year.
  • Medicaid spending will increase 8.9 percent this year.
  • The number of people with private insurance is dropping.
  • The public portion of health care spending will increase even more because of aging baby boomers.  

Read more

There needs to be an audit of the Medical Assistance program

Audits


Senator Robert Cowles and I have issued the following news release.

Dangerous sex education bill to become law

Legislation


Wisconsin
is poised to gut abstinence education and pave the way for a radical expansion of the kinds of issues that can be discussed in human growth and development classes.

Governor Doyle is prepared to sign approved legislation into law that will require public schools that teach sex education to include instruction about the use of condoms and discussion about sexually transmitted diseases. The new law will be a dramatic departure from current procedures and is sure to anger and upset many parents.

Under current Wisconsin law, local school boards are allowed to determine if and how sex education is taught to students in their school districts. Legislation approved by the state Senate and Assembly that I voted against will eliminate the autonomy local school districts now have to provide the instruction they consider to be the best for their students. School districts will no longer be allowed to teach an abstinence-only curriculum. A wide-ranging sex education curriculum will be established, including non-judgmental instruction on alternative lifestyles and behaviors.

During the 2005 legislative session, I authored legislation that is currently Wisconsin law that requires school boards that choose to provide sex education to present abstinence as the preferred choice of behavior.

I authored the abstinence legislation because there is only one method that is 100 percent effective in preventing unwanted pregnancies and sexually transmitted diseases. It is abstinence. That is indisputable. Health professionals agree that abstinence is the healthiest choice for teens. The abstinence law is a common sense approach to an adolescent health issue

In order to make the choice to be abstinent, teens must have access to abstinence instruction and be equipped with accurate information about the consequences resulting from sexual activity. The legislation Governor Doyle signs will make opportunities for teens to hear this critically important message far less likely.

On behalf of a local school district that requested a positive change in the legislation, I proposed an amendment on the floor of the state Senate that would allow a school district that currently offers a comprehensive sex education curriculum and an abstinence-only curriculum to have the option of choosing an abstinence-only program. The school district asking for the amendment now offers the two options to parents. I found their request to be a reasonable compromise. My amendment was rejected by the state Senate along party lines.

Another troubling provision prohibits school districts from being judgmental or biased against sexually active students. My colleagues and I that oppose the legislation emphasize this is a logical scenario to be judgmental. The emphatic instruction to children is that they should not be having sex, period.

A significant change was made to the legislation under an amendment that requires school boards that provide sex education to instruct students about the criminal penalties for engaging in sexual activities involving a child, and sex offender registration requirements. The amendment passed unanimously and is the only bright spot in a highly risky bill.

The new law will be dangerous because it guts abstinence instruction, mandates the instruction of elements of sex education that will make many parents uncomfortable and angry, and removes local control from local school districts. State government should not be telling local school districts and parents it knows best, especially about an issue as sensitive as sex education.

Deadline coming for nominations to dog sellers advisory committee

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will begin to enforce new rules governing dog breeders. Large scale dog breeders will be brought under regulation and licensing requirements under the new law that will apply to breeders selling more than 25 dogs a year, along with retail facilities that sell animals.

DATCP must develop specific administrative rules. The department wants nominations for a 12-member advisory committee that will oversee the process. DATCP is accepting nomination for the advisory panel through February 10th. The law will take effect on June 1, 2011.

Read more from DATCP

Time to apply for open enrollment is now

News you can use


Wisconsin
’s open enrollment program is now underway through February 19, 2010.

The Department of Public Instruction (DPI) reports, “Parents have an opportunity to apply to send their children to any public school district in the state during Wisconsin’s three-week open enrollment application period for the 2010-11 school year. The open enrollment application period is the only tuition-free opportunity for most parents to apply for their children to attend public school in a school district other than the one in which they live.”

this is very important. The DPI says, “Application deadlines are firm. Early and late applications are not accepted.”

You are encouraged to apply on-line. You can apply and also read more details here.

"Snow means slow"


Every month, the state Department of Transportation (DOT) focuses on a particular traffic law to garner greater public awareness. This month’s featured law is driving too fast for conditions.

The DOT reminds that
driving at speeds that exceed what is appropriate for road conditions could result in a citation costing $213.10 and four demerit points.

Read more details from the DOT

How will school districts respond to new sex ed law?

Legislation


Wisconsin Governor Doyle is expected to sign a bill that will dramatically change the way sex education is taught in our public schools. I called the legislation “dangerous.” 

Physicians for Life, quoting data from the U.S. National Institutes of Health (NIH), reports condoms do not prevent most STDs (sexually transmitted diseases), and that there are 15 million new STD cases in the U.S. every year.

It also reports, “An estimated 20 million Americans are currently infected with genital HPV, making it the most common STD. HPV is the cause of nearly all cervical cancer and has also been linked to prostate, anal and oral cancer. While not everyone infected with HPV will develop cancer, every year 15,000 cases of cervical cancer are diagnosed and 5,000 U.S. women die from the disease. Hundreds of thousands of other women will be diagnosed and treated for pre-cancerous conditions which some researchers estimate are about four times more common than invasive cervical cancer.”

The above data is from July 2001. However, given that cases and rates of STDs have risen statewide ever since, the STD crisis has only gotten worse. That is why legislation about be signed into law in Wisconsin is, to say the least, extremely risky.

The Capital Times reports there could be ramifications with school districts refusing to accept the new guidelines. The newspaper reports:

“Opponents of a controversial sex ed bill passed by Wisconsin legislators warn that if Gov. Jim Doyle signs the bill into law as he has promised, some local school districts will stage a revolt against the measure by ignoring it or dropping their human growth and development curriculum entirely.

‘Did the state in its zeal to impose its own way even think about the consequences? Because a lot of districts are just going to just walk,’ predicts Matt Sande, director of legislation at Pro-Life Wisconsin.”

Read the entire article here. 

Obama-itis

Economy, Legislation


Maybe we should call it Obama-itis, an affliction caused by either a desire to inflate or an inability to honestly project job creation numbers.

The president and his administration sold America a bill of goods on jobs supposedly created by the massive stimulus expenditures. 

Obama-itis has trickled down to the state level.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “Construction of a planned high-speed rail line between Wisconsin's two largest cities will employ a maximum of 4,732 people at its peak in 2012, state figures show, despite earlier claims from Gov. Jim Doyle's administration that the project would create some 13,000 jobs. The difference between the figures is a reflection of how state and federal officials count jobs created with federal stimulus dollars, a process that has drawn criticism for double-counting jobs that continue over time.”

The governor’s office is also trying to sell controversial global warming legislation by promising on his web site 
the creation of 15,000 jobs. An economic study by the Wisconsin Policy Research Institute (WPRI) found that adopting the governor’s proposed polices would result in more than 43,000 lost jobs statewide.

Place me squarely in the skeptic column. I am very leery of any rosy job creation figures flowing out of Washington or Madison. We need to proceed slowly and cautiously before enacting any legislation that sounds far too good to be true that may cost taxpayers their wallets and their jobs in the future.

Global warming bill could shut off a major source of Wisconsin’s energy

Legislation


Proposed global warming legislation being considered in the state Legislature could affect Wisconsin’s relationship with one of its major sources of foreign oil, Canada. A Canadian government official delivered a friendly, diplomatic message to the Senate Select Committee on Clean Energy that I serve that serious thought be given to legislation that could do harm to the benefits Wisconsin receives from Canadian energy.

Gary Mar, the Minister-Counselor in Washington D.C. for the province of Alberta, Canada provided written testimony to the Select Committee at a public hearing today. Mar could not attend because he was snowbound in Washington D.C.

Gary Mar’s incredibly important testimony should be a wake-up call to the entire state about current climate control legislation, Senate Bill 450.  Mar writes in his testimony to committee members:

“My purpose is to ensure you are aware of the contribution that Alberta makes to your energy supply and your economy.

Section 285.795 of the bill opens the door for the State of Wisconsin to adopt a Low Carbon Fuel Standard -or LCFS- as recommended by the Midwest Governors’ Association.

Alberta recently co-hosted a visit of the Midwest Governors’ Association LCFS advisory group. We discussed with the group the discriminatory nature of the California LCFS, and how similar legislation could further harm international relations, trade and energy security.

In your consideration of this bill we do ask that you seriously consider how any actions you might take could either purposefully or inadvertently do harm to the benefits we both receive from the energy sector and other trade between our two jurisdictions.

The annual value of trade between Alberta and Wisconsin is $1.5 billion. More than 140,000 Wisconsin jobs are supported by Canada-Wisconsin trade.

Alberta currently supplies you with almost 14,000 barrels of oil a day, and 76.4 billion cubic feet of natural gas per year.

Wisconsin receives much of its refined oil products from Illinois and Minnesota and other mid-western states. It should be no surprise to you that Alberta is the main oil supplier to the United States.

And…Alberta is the safe and reliable energy supplier to the United States.

While it is America’s goal to reduce oil imports, we think it is beneficial to ensure a continued and growing supply from Canada and Alberta.”


Gary Mar concludes with a critical question about the proposed legislation:

“Will this result in Wisconsin becoming more dependent on oil from Saudi Arabia, Iraq and Venezuela, because we have cut off supply from our northern neighbors- our friends and allies?”

Indeed, why would we want to shut down our energy pipeline from a great neighbor and damage our relations? The proposed legislation imposes great pressure on Canada that could result in a large increase in the cost of our fuel.

Gary Mar’s testimony was read to the committee by Georges Rioux,
Consul General of Canada. I asked Rioux how much the cost of Wisconsin gasoline would increase if Wisconsin lost its Canadian fuel supply. Rioux did not answer directly. His response was that if Canada was unable to supply fuel to Wisconsin, it would and could simply sell it somewhere else.

David Podratz of Murphy Oil USA in Superior, Wisconsin also mentioned Canada in his testimony saying the legislation has unintended consequences.

Podratz testified that Canadian oil makes some of the best asphalt in the world:

“Heavy Canadian crude oil is used to manufacture paving asphalt. Over a third of the crude oil processed at Superior is done so specifically for asphalt production. The Superior Refinery produces a significant amount of the Midwest region’s asphalt. If fuel derived from heavy oil (being processed to produce asphalt) is unable to meet the undefined and unknown LCFS, then Superior would not be able to produce asphalt, jeopardizing the continued operation of the refinery, which would lead to supply problems in the Midwest.

Canada is a friendly neighbor. Canadian oil is plentiful and secure. The infrastructure to bring Canadian oil to market is already in place in Wisconsin and the Midwest. Forcing the region to use other sources of oil (e.g. Mideast, Venezuela, Russia) is not good policy.”

Today’s testimony about the severe ramifications of global warming legislation on international relations, trade, energy and our state economy is the biggest red flag thus far. Canada’s friendly but firm warning needs to be taken very seriously.

City of Greenfield Assessments/Taxes

I would like to start a discussion and/or get feedback from other homeowners/business owners in Greenfield regarding the Assessments and Taxes in our city.  What are your thoughts on the overall assessment of your property and how the assessments were arrived at.  Did you make any attempts at having your assessment reduced?  How far did you get with your request for a reduction?  Thanks!

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