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Number of private businesses on the decline in Wisconsin

Business


During the first part of 2009, Wisconsin had 6,700 fewer private businesses than it did during the same period in 2006, a decline of 4.3 percent. That is according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) that reports, “The 2006-09 drop in private establishments here was somewhat unusual, for Illinois (7.8%), Iowa (2.2%), Minnesota (0.4%), and the nation (6.1%) all experienced increases; and Michigan (-1.7%), surprisingly, was down less than Wisconsin.”

This is a stunning development 
and should serve as a loud wake-up call. Wisconsin must immediately put in place policies that attract and retain businesses and create a climate where the state is attractive to conduct business. Businesspeople have delivered that message quite clearly.It is time to start listening.

Providing wellness program incentives to everyone

Business, Legislation


The state Senate Health Committee that I serve on conducted a public hearing Wednesday, February 24, 2010 about legislation that would exempt wellness programs from unfair trade or marketing practices. Under current Wisconsin law, fully insured and individual health insurance plans are prohibited from providing benefits that are not spelled out in the policy. Therefore, they are prohibited from advertising, marketing, offering or operating a wellness program without violating an unfair trade or marketing practice. Senate Bill 502 that I have co-sponsored would allow health care providers to offer wellness program incentives to all clients without violating unfair trade or marketing practices.

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in its analysis of SB 502 writes, “A wellness program is designed to promote health or prevent disease by offering a reward to insured individuals.” Wellness programs include smoking cessation weight loss, stress management, and nutrition improvement.

Meg Christianson, a nurse coach for Humana that provides coverage to more than 400,000 Wisconsinites gave excellent testimony about SB 502.  Meg Christianson told the Senate Health Committee Wisconsin must provide wellness program incentives to everyone and ensure reasonable alternatives for persons with medical conditions that make it medically unadvisable for them to participate or satisfy the program standard.

She reminded committee members current federal nondiscrimination rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) provide protections to ensure wellness programs do not unfairly discriminate on the basis of health factors. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that wellness program information is treated confidentially, separate from employer personnel files and only accessible to wellness program personnel.

More and more employees are spending time at work, Meg Christianson testified, making the workplace an ideal spot to engage people in wellness programs. Workers that participate in employer-based wellness programs have better on the job decision-making and time management skills and greater loyalty to their company.

Businesses that invest in workplace wellness programs can enjoy savings through lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism and decreased workers' compensation claims. A MetLife survey found that more than half, 57 percent, of larger employers, those with 500 or more employees, during 2008 were providing employees with a wellness program, up from 49 percent during 2006.

CNN.com reports, “Employee wellness programs just may be the cure for companies struggling to keep up with rapidly rising health care costs. According to the Kaiser Foundation's Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey, average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance for family coverage increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2008. The report, which surveyed randomly selected public and private firms, also found that more employers are turning to employee wellness programs -- more than half of the small and large firms that offered employee health benefits also offered some form of a wellness program.”

I wholeheartedly support SB 502Wisconsin s
hould provide the flexibility businesses need to provide wellness programs that can lead to healthier lifestyles, longer lives, and reduced health care costs.

Wisconsin could suffer California’s high speed rail headaches

Legislation, Taxes


Chuck Devore, a candidate for U.S. Senate in California, is critical of the state’s planned $45 billion high speed rail project from Anaheim to San Francisco. The project will use $2.25 billion in stimulus funding.

California voters approved the high speed rail project, a bonding initiative, during November 2008 by a percentage of 52-48. Devore writes on the website Big Government that supporters promised less expensive travel that would save time. High speed rail, proponents claimed, would offer an alternative to high gas prices, reduce greenhouse gases, and would cost less than expanding freeways and airports.

You can guess what has happened since the November 2008 vote. Cost estimates are increasing with a one-way fare from Los Angeles to San Francisco jumping from $50 to $105. Devore writes, “The doubled cost to riders has tanked train ridership estimates by one-third.”

Estimates of ridership, according to Devore who cites a newspaper report, were based on public employees intentionally holding back final projections to help get the ballot project approved.

Devore adds paying back the bonds will be extremely costly.

If all this sounds familiar, it should.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee quickly approved spending $810 million of federal stimulus money for high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison. The state will need an additional $7.6 million in operating expenses each year to cover the cost of the project. Bonding is being considered.

Specific figures about the cost of fares and ridership are unknown. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that only 55 permanent jobs will be created.

Devore concludes his piece on Big Government with this advice:

“As for the rest of America, look to California and take careful notice: incurring mountains of debt without the ability to reliably repay it comes at a high cost.  Out of control debt encumbers future generations with crushing repayment obligations – essentially subjecting America’s youth to taxation without representation while consigning them to a life with a lower standard of living than their parents and grandparents.”

We would be wise to pay attention. Wisconsin’s economy is not as horrendous as California’s. However, we are
in the ballpark.

Here is the latest about California high speed rail from the LA Times.

State Senate Calendar for Tuesday, March 2, 2010

News you can use


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, 2010 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

Eighth Order.               Messages from the Assembly.

Ninth Order.                 Special Orders.

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

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 44. Relating to: adjudications for involuntary commitment, appointment of a guardian of the person, and protective placement or protective services, background checks for the purchase of handguns, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. (Report adoption of Senate Substitute 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 Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 418. Relating to: disclosure of information by health care providers and insurers and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, and Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 431. Relating to: the use of the terms college, university, state, and Wisconsin in the name of a school; the issuing, manufacture, or use of a false academic credential; the false use of a legitimate academic credential; making an appropriation; and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Amendment 1, and Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 458. Relating to: the local regulation of ticket selling and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 6, Noes 1, passage as amended recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 6, Noes 1) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Senate Substitute Amendment 1, and Senate Substitute Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 517. Relating to: the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. (Report passage recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

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 128. Relating to: authorizing a sheriff to depute certain security officers who are employed by the Department of Military Affairs. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology, and Financial Institutions, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 173. Relating to: the method by which the Department of Revenue makes certain calculations regarding tax incremental financing district number 4 in the village of Elmwood. 
(Report concurrence recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 213. Relating to: establishing and changing compensation for city and village elective offices; signing village contracts; bidding procedure for village public construction contracts; officer-of-the-peace status of village officers; publication by the city clerk of fund receipts and disbursements; village and 4th class city regulation of political signs; liability of counties and cities for mob damage; means of providing police and fire protection by cities and villages; holdover status of appointed city and village officers; use of the s. 32.05 procedure in villages for certain housing and urban renewal condemnation; and application of public contract bidder prequalification to 1st class cities. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 230. Relating to: electronic access by law enforcement agencies to photographs on motor vehicle operators licenses and identification cards. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 485. 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 concurrence recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 574. Relating to: lightweight utility vehicles and providing a penalty. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 579. Relating to: special distinguishing registration plates associated with Marquette University. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 6, 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.

F.A.S.T. Training Opportunity

The Greenfield Police Department is proud to offer Female Awareness and Survival Training (F.A.S.T.), a dynamic, practical self-defense program designed exclusively for women.  FAST will teach women survival concepts as well as techniques to help avoid dangerous situations.

The course  will include:

Read more

A new generation gets hooked on marijuana

Legislation


Illicit drugs are not being used exclusively by the young. Americans over 50, including many senior citizens are now smoking marijuana.

Retirees say they are resorting to marijuana to ease pain. However health officials warn they could be jeopardizing their health, becoming at risk to falls and heart problems. There are, as I have blogged in the past, other alternatives that are legal.

I am concerned about a growing number of marijuana users that has now extrapolated into the elderly. As a member of the state Senate Health Committee that is considering the issue of medical marijuana. I fear such legislation, if enacted into law, would open Pandora’s Box to even more people experimenting with and getting hooked on marijuana and potentially even more dangerous drugs.

Read more from the Associated Press.  

State Senate approves ticket reselling legislation

Legislation


The state Senate has approved legislation to regulate ticket reselling. Senate Bill 458 (SB 458) allows the Bradley Center, Miller Park, and Summerfest to create ticket resale zones.

A resale zone is defined as property controlled by the aforementioned sports and entertainment venues that is designated as the only area of its property that a ticket may be resold. Under an amendment approved, Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center at the UW-Madison are exempt.

Under SB 458
a municipality would be allowed to prohibit the reselling of tickets at or less than face value within 250 feet of any property on which a resale zone is created if signage is posted notifying the public that reselling of tickets is prohibited in that area. The reselling of tickets to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament event at or less than face value within 250 feet of the Bradley Center would be prohibited.

If a person is convicted of violating the requirements of a resale zone, the person is subject to a forfeiture of $10 for the first offense. For a second or any subsequent offense, a person is subject to a forfeiture not to exceed the penalty for a Class C forfeiture, which is a civil penalty with a maximum forfeiture of $500. Court costs may be imposed on a defendant for a second or subsequent offense, but not for a first offense.

I voted against SB 458 that constitutes another example of government intervention where it does not belong. The motivation of the bill to go after the large groups of professional scalpers that reportedly bother and annoy event patrons as they enter a facility is understandable.

However, what about the one-time scenario of a single individual or a small family that wants to either sell or purchase tickets? Why is state government regulating this rather harmless, simple transaction?


It seems there should be some specific, numerical level of ticket-reselling that is deemed  problematic before the state drops a punitive hammer on families or a single sports fan that only want to see a ballgame. On this vote, I side with families and against government intrusion.

SB 458 was approved by the state Senate, 28-3 and advances to the state Assembly.

Important information for crime victims

News you can use


Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is recommending crime victims enroll with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Office of Victim Services and Programs so they can obtain information about offenders’ custody and supervised release.

Van Hollen says a controversial provision in the 2009-2011 state budget that is now being enforced, the early release of some prison inmates, has changed the dynamic for crime victims wanting and needing accurate information about offenders.

In a news release, Van Hollen says, “Victims heard the sentence handed down by the judge when their case went through court. Now they are hearing that the sentence isn’t necessarily the sentence anymore and they may or may not be told ahead of time if the offender is released early. Enrolling in these programs sooner rather than later ensures victims can be as aware as the law allows and entitles them to be.”

Van Hollen says victims interested in enrolling should call 1-800-947-5777.

Here is more information.

State Senate Calendar for Thursday, March 4, 2010

News you can use


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Thursday, March 4, 2010 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

Eighth Order.               Messages from the Assembly.

Ninth Order.                 Special Orders.

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

QUESTION:            Shall the joint resolution be concurred in?

Assembly Joint Resolution 14. Relating to: the life and public service of Frank H. Urban, M.D.

Assembly Joint Resolution 79. Relating to: honoring the life of Terry Wise. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 92. Relating to: recognizing the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the symbolic end of the Cold War. 

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 250. Relating to: accepting pupils under the full-time Open Enrollment Program.
(Report passage recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 286. Relating to: collection agencies. (Report passage recommended by committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology, and Financial Institutions, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 291. Relating to: authorizing the designation of a tax incremental district as distressed and expanding the use of donor tax incremental districts. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)     Senate Amendments 1 and 2 pending

Senate Bill 399. Relating to: authorizing two or more cities, villages, towns, or counties, or a combination of such political subdivisions, to create a commission to issue conduit revenue bonds and exercise eminent domain authority and exempting from taxation interest on such bonds.(Report adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)
Senate Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 414. Relating to: school nurses and the administration of drugs to pupils. (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 452. Relating to: a sales and use tax exemption for food sold by child welfare facilities. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 483. Relating to: prohibiting health insurance policies and self-insured health plans from excluding coverage for injuries based on the use of alcohol or controlled substances.  (Report passage recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 4, Noes 3) Senate Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 527. Relating to: the agricultural producer security program, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority. (Report passage recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

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 139. Relating to: littering and providing a penalty. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Environment, Ayes 4, Noes 1) Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Assembly Bill 159. Relating to: the charge-back of refunded or rescinded taxes and of personal property taxes and sharing certain collected taxes.  (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 455. Relating to: the testing of portable scales used for the enforcement of vehicle weight limitations. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, 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.

Time to buy new hunting, fishing licenses

News you can use


Licenses for hunting, fishing, and trapping in Wisconsin for the 2010-2011 seasons go on sale this month. Here is more information from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Wisconsin's Economic Recovery Will Require Patience

Economy, Business


Wisconsin
was hurt less than other states during the recession. However, Wisconsin does not possess a magic formula to rebound quickly. Job growth is coming. Unfortunately, a return to prosperity will take a long time.

Two noted experts shared their economic forecasts at a symposium presented at the state Capitol sponsored by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. Mike Knetter, the Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago addressed the U.S. economy and its implications for Wisconsin.

The absence of certain factors prevented Wisconsin from suffering a more severe recession. Wisconsin did not experience the level of overbuilding and excessive lending that swept other parts of the country. News that only Iowa outperformed Wisconsin in the Midwest region during the recession and that Wisconsin’s economy is stabilized provides little, if any consolation to struggling families.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has not risen as quickly as the nation’s. American job losses have piled up and returning to previous employment levels will be a daunting task. During August 2009, there were 1.3 million fewer jobs in the United States than had existed during 1999. Richard Mattoon of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago does not foresee job growth for a protracted time in part because businesses are hesitant to bring on new employees until they are confident that the downturn is over.

Mattoon offered the audience what could definitely be classified as a worst-case scenario, a study by Rutgers University. Authors calculated America’s job deficit, i.e., job losses plus lack of new job creation, would total 9.39 million by December 2009.America’s New Post-Recession Employment Arithmetic” reports, “Erasing this deficit will require substantial and sustained employment growth. Even if the nation could add 2.15 million private-sector jobs per year starting in January 2010, it would need to maintain this pace for more than 7 straight years (7.63 years), or until August 2017, to eliminate the jobs deficit!”

So what about Wisconsin? We have our strengths. Remember, we excel in manufacturing, a sector the state has outperformed the rest of the country. Agriculture, higher education, patent counts, research and development, licensing and royalties, and a devoted workforce levels are also huge plusses.

Our weaknesses prevent a faster climb out of our economic abyss. Manufacturing, a longtime Wisconsin trump card, has taken a back seat to a national shift toward knowledge and service economies. Wisconsin has a world class university meaning the state is a high producer of human capital. However, we train these intelligent young people and we export them and their innovations.  Additionally, ideas, products and services created in Wisconsin get commercialized elsewhere due to a culture that is big on modesty and low on willingness to take risks.

UW Business School Dean Michael Knetter contends that because Wisconsin is heavy on manufacturing and light on knowledge and service economies, the state seriously lags the rest of the nation in income and wealth. Richard Mattoon sees Wisconsin’s continuing budget deficits as an issue in need of attention.

Michael Knetter’s outlook and advice for Wisconsin: Unemployment will be nine percent at the end of 2010 meaning there will still be a number of discouraged workers. Wisconsin must defend its strengths and at the same time venture into areas like knowledge and service economies that will garner higher profits and wages. He concludes, “We just need to ride out the recession like everyone else.”

Richard Mattoon’s outlook and advice for Wisconsin: The state Department of Revenue predicts pre-recession job levels will not return here until 2012. Wisconsin needs to boost its production and retention of coveted human capital and stabilize its fiscal condition by creating an environment that makes the state a great place to do business.

Zoo Interchange emergency bridge replacement project update Mar. 8 - Mar. 14

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the Zoo Interchange emergency bridge replacement project:

MONDAY, MARCH 8

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March means the Padre Serra Tournament


The extremely popular grade school basketball tournament, Padre Serra begins with all games taking place at Mount Mary College.

The annual event debuted during 1959 dubbed, The Catholic Midget League Playoff.  For many years, it was called the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Catholic Grade School Invitational Basketball Tournament until 1985, the name Padre Serra Tournament was adopted. The tournament is named for Padre Junipero Serra.

Last year, the boy’s team from Holy Apostles New Berlin placed fourth among 36 teams.

Here are teams from schools located in State Senate District 28 that are competing in this year’s Padre Serra Tournament:


BOYS


Holy Apostles, New Berlin

St. Alphonsus, Greendale

St. Joseph, Big Bend

St. Leonard, Muskego



GIRLS

Holy Apostles, New Berlin

St. Mary, Hales Corners

St. Thomas Aquinas, Waterford

St. Leonard, Muskego

Read more

Wisconsin has some of the worst debt in the country

Economy


Wisconsin
has the tenth worst financial condition, number 41, of all states in a ranking compiled by Forbes.com. Wisconsin has a debt per capita of $1,429, unfunded pensions per capita of $16,418, and debt as a percentage of Gross State Product of 22 percent. Our state is classified as a debt disaster.  

Forbes.com makes this observation:

“Of the 10 states in the worst financial condition, eight are among a total of 23 defined by Gallup as ‘solidly Democratic,’ meaning the Democrats enjoy an advantage of 10 percentage points or greater in party affiliation. These states include Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey, as making up the bottom five, plus Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin.”

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies and public affairs at the University of Illinois' Center for State Policy and Leadership attributes the state struggles to, as Forbes.com writes, “a larger appetite for public programs,” an assertion I have made about our state government numerous times on my blog.

Daniel Fisher of Forbes Magazine correctly emphasizes that states like Wisconsin face major problems combating debt. Paying debt off is difficult, and Washington is often looked to for assistance. That puts states in direct competition with the federal government for taxpayer funds.

How many warnings and wake-up calls do we need in Wisconsin before we finally put a halt to runaway spending?

Your help is needed to oppose the repeal of local sex offender ordinances

Legislation


The state Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts will hold a public hearing Thursday, March 11, 2010, about legislation proposed to repeal local ordinances that restrict released sex offenders whereabouts and residences. Dozens of communities around the state have ordinances in place.  Many of the communities I represent, including Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Muskego, and Waukesha have sex offender ordinances.

Franklin is the leading pioneer about the issue, adopting two ordinances during 2007. The ordinances were challenged by a released sex offender that moved into Franklin after the ordinances were enacted into law.  Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Franke during 2008 ruled Franklin’s ordinances to be constitutional. Numerous municipalities around Wisconsin followed suit and adopted similar laws that have been found to be effective in protecting children and families.

I strongly oppose Assembly Bill 759 and I urge concerned citizens to attend Thursday’s public hearing. 

I encourage you to contact family, friends, and acquaintances in other legislative districts and request they contact their State Senator and State Representative opposing the bill. Here is a link to a Wisconsin State Legislature website that assists finding a person's State Senator and State Representative.

The city of Franklin’s web site has more background about this issue.

UPDATE: The room location has been changed for Thursday's public hearing. The hearing will take place in the North Hearing Room (2nd Floor North) of the state Capitol. The time of the public hearing remains the same.

Employers and Age Discrimination

I am very, very fortunate that I work for a great employer who appreciates good employees and prospective employees no matter what age they are.  However, since my husband lost his position as a Quality Engineer about 14 months ago due to his manufacturing plant closing, he has noticed that, in spite of employers putting IN WRITING that they do not discrimination due to age - THEY DO!  And, it is even more noticeable now with the poor economy and it will continue to get worse.  I know there are employers who are not afraid to hire "experienced" employees but they are becoming few and far between.  I'm from the "old school" and I thought the following meant you would be someone that an employer would appreciate hiring and keeping as an employee:

-Do not abuse the sick day policy

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Checking your Valuables

Last year the Greenfield Police Department 3rd shift officers initiated a Crime Prevention Program to help prevent car break-ins.  The initiative involved officers on foot patrol checking parked vehicles in apartment complexes for valuables that could be the target for thefts.  If an officer found valuables in a car, a letter was sent to the listed car owner explaing the initiative, the time and date the vehicle was checked, and a reminder to secure the valuables in a more secure area.  Some of you may already know this because you received this letter.

This past year there has been a significant decrease in theft from vehicles in Greenfield and I believe this is in part due to the positive response from the citizens who received these letters.  The reminder is simple:  Keep your valuables where they cannot be seen from outside the vehicle and keep your vehicle locked.

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Frugal Ideas and Living Simply

What are you doing to survive in these troubling economic times?  My husband and I started living frugally about 10 years into our marriage and have continued to do so.  Within the past 3 years, we have downsized our home and simplified our lifestyle.  We have no debt.  We have built up our savings to cover any unforeseen circumstances such as the loss of a job - which has happened to us.  I'd like to  see some blogging on how you and your family are doing to survive during this downturn in the economy and if you will continue living this way if and when the economy turns around.  I would like to give some of my ideas in this and future blogs and hope they can help some of you and/or that you can use some of the ideas to help out.  I will also give recommendations on websites and books that I have found useful.  They may or may not work for you.  We still live well and go on  vacations.  We are happy with what we have and have no regrets.

Here are a few suggestions for frugal/simple living that we have followed and it has helped us quite a bit:

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Time to Check Your Smoke Alarms

The time has come and gone when we set our clocks to Daylight Saving Time.  The time change is a good reminder to check your smoke alarms.  According to the National Fire Protection Association, more than 66 percent of home fire deaths that occurred between 2003-2006 were in homes without a working smoke alarm.  A working smoke alarm significantly increases your chances of surviving a deadly home fire. 

A properly installed and maintained smoke alarm is the only thing in your home that can alert you and your family to a fire 24 hours a day, seven days a week.  Whether you're awake or asleep, a working smoke alarm with a dead or missing battery is the same as having no smoke alarm at all, so test your smoke alarm monthly by pushing the "test" button, if it has one.  Smoke alarms are powered by either a battery or are hardwired into your home's electrical system.  Hardwired smoke alarms are usually equipped with a backup battery.  If your smoke alarm is powered by battery, the battery needs to be replaced annually unless it is a long-life battery (check the owner's manual).  All batteries should be maintained and replaced in accordance with manufacturer's guidance. 

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More Frugal Ideas - Hope They Help You Out

Next time you have a desire to spend, take a few minutes to ask yourself the following:

1. Can I afford it?

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