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Easter traffic delays


I received the following information from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation:

Traffic Advisory   
                             
Wisconsin Department of Transportation

 

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More Frugal Ideas! I Wish I Could Teach A Class On Frugality

I hope my ideas are assisting some of you.  I wish I could teach a class on everything I have learned and done over the years to save money, build up savings, and reduce expenses and debt. 

Over the last two weeks, our electric dryer quit drying and two of our printers started printing poorly.  The dryer is only 3 years old, the black and white laser printer is 15 years old and the color laser printer is 8 years old.  Together, my  husband and I fixed them all and they are working and running as well as the day we purchased them and we didn't spend a dime!  First of all, we went online and googled "how to fix......." and got into a website that bloggers use to help out people who have questions on fixing something that is wrong with an appliance and/or printer or whatever.  We always save the booklets we receive when we purchase an item but this time they did not help us figure out what was wrong.  First of all and most importantly, ALWAYS UNPLUG AN APPLIANCE OR PRINTER OR WHATEVER YOU ARE FIXING WHILE YOU ARE WORKING ON IT! 

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Let Wisconsin speak about the federal health care mandate

Government health care, Legislation


I am renewing my request that the chairman of the state Senate Health Committee, state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) hold a hearing on a proposed state constitutional amendment about the approved federal government health care mandate. Senate Joint Resolution 62 (SJR 62), upon approval of voters statewide “... provides that the people have the right to enter into private contracts with health care providers for health care services and to purchase private health care coverage, and prohibits enactment of any law that requires any person to obtain or maintain health insurance coverage or to participate in any health care system or plan."

This is the single most important bill during the remainder of the legislative session. As the ranking minority member of the state Senate Health Committee, I ask that Wisconsin citizens be given the opportunity to be heard. The thousands upon thousands of individuals in Wisconsin that strongly believe this mandate is wrong and unconstitutional cannot be ignored.

I have officially made my request in a letter to Senator Erpenbach. What could be more bipartisan than to conduct a public hearing on this resolution before the general legislative session ends April 22, 2010.  If people like the federal mandate, they can testify in support. If people do not like the unconstitutional mandate that imposes fines for failing to purchase health insurance, they can testify in opposition to the federal mandate and in support of SJR 62.

My fear is that the quality of health care will deteriorate in Wisconsin under the approved federal health care bill. Wisconsin has some of the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best clinics, and some of the best care in the nation. Our high quality medical care is now in jeopardy and concerned citizens should be given the opportunity to be heard about the future ramifications of the new federal legislation.

Strong signs indicate that the recent proliferation of government health care in Wisconsin causes a crisis. The recent expansion of state BadgerCare government insurance caused an abrupt stoppage of enrollment during October 2009. During January 2010 enrollment was 63,644. The projected enrollment was 24,900. How is Governor Doyle's Department of Health Services paying for health care for 63,644? The answer the legislature got was to create another version of BadgerCare for those that were cut off from enrolling.

In the very same budget that expanded BadgerCare to more population, the Doyle administration's Department of Health Services was directed to reduce medical assistance spending by $600 million. On top of that, the state has been late making Medicaid payments to hundreds of providers of care to the frail elderly and those with serious disabilities. 

The BadgerCare debacle, cutting $600 million in government health care expenditures, and the $955 million Family Care Program are three known medical assistance problems.  Yet, a state audit of Medical Assistance requested by Republican state Senator Rob Cowles and I is being stopped at every turn by Democrats. 

In addition, an audit just released by the Legislative Audit Bureau found a $109 million shortfall in the
Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund, the state’s medical malpractice fund. To balance the 2007-09 state budget, $200 million was raided from the Injured Patients and Families Compensation Fund to balance the 2007-09 state budget.

We all read about the massive fraud in Wisconsin Shares, the childcare program.  There have been major problems with the state’s food stamp program. Where there is smoke, there is fire.  What's next?

I sincerely wish the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel or any other news outlet would duplicate the Journal Sentinel’s award-winning reporting on the Wisconsin Shares program that led to an audit of the state subsidized child care program. This time, the focus should be on the $6 billion state Medical Assistance program. Imagine the amount of fraud and waste that could be uncovered by investigative reporters.

The State Legislative Audit Bureau published a scope statement for an audit of Medical Assistance.  The co-chairs of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee scheduled two meetings to approve a Medical Assistance audit.  At both meetings Democrats obstructed the audit.  The Joint Legislative Audit Committee that I serve on should, as I have requested, schedule an audit of Medical Assistance to determine the scope of inefficiency in one of the state’s largest programs. A full-blown audit by our outstanding Legislative Audit Bureau would provide clear answers. Ongoing problems with unaffordable programs that the state continues to expand must stop.


Before the current general legislative session expires in late April, I would hope the citizens of Wisconsin would be given the courtesy of addressing the proposed state constitutional amendment, SJR 62. A constitutional amendment requires adoption by two successive legislatures, and approval from voters in a statewide referendum.  A public hearing on SJR 62 would provide some reassurance that Wisconsin state government is not ignorant to the concerns of the vast majority of Wisconsin residents.

I am on WVCY-TV

Mary in the media


I will be Jim Schneider’s guest tonight on In Focus on WVCY-TV from 7-8 p.m. We will discuss important legislative issues.

WVCY is Channel 30, Channel 23 on Time Warner Cable. There is a repeat broadcast tonight at midnight and at 5:00 a.m.Tuesday morning.

REMINDER: Fill out rail questionnaire

Today, April 6, 2010 is the deadline to submit a rail survey to the Department of Transportation.

Congratulations, Mark Gundrum!


I extend my deepest and heartfelt congratulations to my friend and colleague, state Representative Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) for being elected
Waukesha County Circuit Court Branch 2 judge. 

The same values and dedication that make Mark a great State Assembly Representative will make him an outstanding judge!

Mark will be missed at the State Capitol.  However, Mark's continued public service as an officer of the court will be of great benefit to the community, and state of Wisconsin. 

Once again, congratulations!

Can you make a legal U-turn at a controlled intersection?

News you can use


Each month, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) focuses on a specific traffic law. Recently there has been confusion about a U-turn issue in Wisconsin.  The DOT clarifies in
this news release.

New WI license plate features familiar image

News you can use


A new Wisconsin license plate to help fund help fund efforts to protect and save rare wildlife and plants is now on sale. The plate features a badger, the tiger swallowtail butterfly, the eastern Meadowlark and the prairie sunflower.


badger license plate design


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

Do you believe the IRS?

Taxes


Last week at a state Capitol news conference and during several media interviews about my request for a public hearing on Senate Joint Resolution 62,  I referred to penalties for Americans that don’t purchase health care under the approved federal health care legislation.  Citizens that fail to pay taxes go to jail. Is that, I asked, what will happen to those refusing to purchase mandated health insurance?

IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman spoke Monday before the National Press Club in Washington D.C, and attempted to minimize one of the key provisions of the legislation, fines for people shunning health care purchases.

"These are not the kinds of things we send agents out about," Shulman told the audience.  "These are things where you get a letter from us. Congress was very careful to make sure there was nothing too punitive in this bill."

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports, “The new health care fines, which go into full effect in 2016, are attracting quite a bit of attention as states and others challenge the constitutionality of a federal mandate requiring Americans to carry health insurance. Other detractors, however, criticize the penalties as too weak to be effective. The penalties for not carrying insurance could eventually amount to as much as $695 or 2.5% of a person's taxable income. That's far less than what annual insurance premiums could add up to.”

Do you buy IRS Commissioner Shulman’s explanation?
  

The Associated Press reported March 9, 2010, “President Barack Obama said he'll bring in high-tech bounty hunters to help root out health care fraud, grabbing a populist idea with bipartisan backing in his final push to overhaul the system. The bounty hunters in this case would be private auditors armed with sophisticated computer programs to scan Medicare and Medicaid billing data for patterns of bogus claims. The auditors would get to keep part of any funds they recover for the government.”

If the administration intends to “bring in”, i.e. hire additional bureaucrats to combat Medicare and Medicaid fraud, it stands to reason it will do the same to find, fine, and punish health insurance scofflaws.

I find it more than unusual that an IRS Commissioner would tell a national audience that his agency is not going to aggressively pursue violators of a specific provision, a statement I cannot recall a head of the IRS ever publically making about any other specific tax law.  Believable?

WI jobs lost to China

Economy


China
is killing the United States

A Washington, D.C. think tank, the Economic Policy Institute reports that since China became a member of the World Trade organization during 2001, at least 2.4 million American jobs have been lost as a result of increased U.S. trade with China. Contributing factors include our ever-growing debt, lost export capacity, and our trade deficit.
Manufacturers of computers, electronic equipment, and parts have been hit especially hard with 627,700 (26 percent) of all jobs lost between 2001 and 2008.

Also to blame  is competition with low-wage workers from less-developed countries that  has  driven down wages for other workers in manufacturing and reduced the wages and bargaining power of similar workers throughout the economy.  Virtually all production workers with less than a four-year college degree, approximately 70 percent of the private-sector workforce, or about 100 million workers have been affected. The Institute reports that for a typical full-time median-wage earner during 2006, these indirect losses totaled approximately $1,400 per worker.

Looking at net jobs lost between 2001 and 2008, Wisconsin ranks number 15 among the states with 52,300 jobs lost. Ranking the states based on net job loss by share of state employment, Wisconsin comes in at number 14 with 52,300 jobs lost representing 1.84 percent of total state employment of 2,849,100.

What can be done?

The Institute report concludes: “The U.S-China trade relationship needs a fundamental change. Addressing the exchange rate policies and labor standards issues in the Chinese economy are important first steps.”

You can read the Institute’s study here. 

Wisconsin taxpayers pay and pay and pay!

Taxes, Economy


You know how hard you work to manage your money, and you know that you turn a sizable chunk of it over to government.  How much do you turn over to the government? 

Numerous tax studies abound annually.   A simple and relatable report is the Tax Freedom Day report compiled by the nonprofit national Tax Foundation at Washington D.C.

Tax Freedom Day is the day Americans earned enough money to pay all federal, state, and local taxes for the year. This year, Tax Freedom Day arrives April 9, meaning average Americans will work over three months to fulfill their tax burden at all government levels.

Each state has its own Tax Freedom Day. National Tax Freedom Day is April 9, 2010; however, Wisconsin’s Tax Freedom Day is later, arriving April 12, 2010. That is over one-third of the calendar year. As Wisconsin residents read this, they have yet to work long enough to pay their tax debt to Uncle Sam, Madison, and the local municipality.

Wisconsin ranks #13 on the list comparing the states’ Tax Freedom Days. Alaska with a very low state-local tax burden and modest incomes has the earliest Tax Freedom Day March 26, 2010, ranking #50. Connecticut‘s Tax Freedom Day April 27, 2010, is the worst at #1.  


At the federal level there have been some tax reductions. President Bush enacted temporary income tax cuts during 2008. President Obama and Congress did the same during 2009 and 2010. The estate tax was repealed during 2010 as were the
Pease and PEP (personal exemption phase-out) provisions of the federal income tax. You probably did not notice. The tax Foundation reports, “Despite all these tax reductions, Americans will pay more taxes in 2010 than they will spend on food, clothing and shelter combined.”

To meet the obligation of meeting the burden of taxes at all government levels, the Tax Foundation calculates the average American will spend 32 days working to pay individual income taxes, 25 days to pay taxes dedicated to funding social programs like Social security and Medicare, 15 days to pay sales and excise taxes, 12 days to pay property taxes, 8 days to pay corporate income taxes, and 6 days to pay miscellaneous taxes like motor vehicle licensee taxes and severance taxes.

The easily-understood concept of Tax Freedom Day would be even worse with the deficit included. Like most tax studies, Tax Freedom Day does not calculate the impact of the deficit. The Tax Foundation emphasizes that due to the recession, government revenues continue to decline. However, government spending remains out of control witnessed by huge stimulus packages, and other new programs bringing the deficit price tag according to the Congressional Budget Office to over $1.3 trillion.

Importantly, if the federal government desired to collect enough revenue to finance all of its spending, the Tax Foundation writes, “It would have to collect about $1.3 trillion more, and Tax Freedom Day would arrive on May 17 instead of April 9 — adding an additional 38 days of work to the nation’s work for government.” For Wisconsinites keeping score, our Tax Freedom Day would then be May 20, 2010. Ouch!   

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State Senate calendar for Tuesday, April 13, 2010


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Tuesday, April 13, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.:

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New School Board Members

I would like to get feedback (your thoughts) on the two new school board members.  Do you feel they will get our city back on track with school spending as well as the needs of the children who need a good education in our schools?  What are your thoughts on the previous school board members?  I've heard things over the years on large raises, etc. and wonder if others heard or know of the same. 

Thank you

From the Burglars

My sister sent me this and I thought it was well worth passing along.

Things Your Burglar Won't tell you!

1. Of course I look familiar - I was here just last week cleaning your carpets,
painting your shutters, or delivering your new refrigerator.

2. Hey, thanks for letting me use the bathroom when I was working in your yard
last week. While I was in there, I unlatched the back window to make
my return a little easier.

3. Love those flowers. That tells me you have taste ... and taste means there
are nice things inside. Those yard toys your kids leave out always make me
wonder what type of gaming system they have.

4. Yes, I really do look for newspapers piled up on the driveway. And I might
leave a pizza flyer in your front door to see how long it takes
you to remove it.

5. If it snows while you're out of town, get a neighbor to create car and foot
tracks into the house. Virgin drifts in the driveway are a dead giveaway.

6. If decorative glass is part of your front entrance, don't let your alarm
company install the control pad where I can see if it's set. That makes it too
easy.

7. A good security company alarms the window over the sink. And the windows on
the second floor, which often access the master bedroom-and your jewelry. It's
not a bad idea to put motion detectors up there too.

8. It's raining, you're fumbling with your umbrella, and you forget to lock your
door-understandable. But understand this: I don't take a day off
because of bad weather..

9. I always knock first. If you answer, I'll ask for directions somewhere or
offer to clean your gutters. (Don't take me up on it.)

10. Do you really think I won't look in your sock drawer? I always check dresser
drawers, the bedside table, and the medicine cabinet.

11. Helpful hint: I almost never go into kids' rooms.

12. You're right: I won't have enough time to break into that safe where you
keep your valuables. But if it's not bolted down, I'll take it with me.

13. A loud TV or radio can be a better deterrent than the best alarm system. If
you're reluctant to leave your TV on while you're out of town,
you can buy a $35 device that works on a timer and simulates the flickering glow
of a real television. (Find it at www.faketv.com. )

14. Sometimes, I carry a clipboard. Sometimes, I dress like a lawn guy and carry
a rake. I do my best to never, ever look like a crook.

15. The two things I hate most: loud dogs and nosey neighbors.

16. I'll break a window to get in, even if it makes a little noise. If your
neighbor hears one loud sound, he'll stop what he's doing and wait to  ear it
again. If he doesn't hear it again, he'll just go back to what he was doing.
It's human nature.

17. I'm not complaining, but why would you pay all that money for a fancy alarm
system and leave your house without setting it?

18. I love looking in your windows. I'm looking for signs that you're home, and
for flat screen TVs or gaming systems I'd like. I'll drive or walk
through your neighborhood at night, before you close the blinds, just to pick my
targets.

19. Avoid announcing your vacation on your Facebook page. It's easier than you
think to look up your address.

20. To you, leaving that window open just a crack during the day is a way to let
in a little fresh air. To me, it's an invitation.

21. If you don't answer when I knock, I try the door. Occasionally, I hit the
jackpot and walk right in.

Sources: Convicted burglars in North Carolina, Oregon, California, and Kentucky;
security consultant Chris McGoey, who runs crimedoctor.com;
and Richard T. Wright, a criminology professor at the University of Missouri-St.
Louis, who interviewed 105 burglars for his book Burglars
on the Job.

 

Easing up on marijuana is too risky

Legislation


The front page headline in USA TODAY was troubling:

Slowly, states are lessening limits on marijuana”

The newspaper reports that there is “a growing national movement to rethink pot laws. From California, where lawmakers may outright legalize marijuana, to New Jersey, which implemented a medical use law Jan. 19, states are taking unprecedented steps to loosen marijuana restrictions. At least 14 states this year will consider legalizing pot for medical purposes or lessening the penalties for possessing small amounts for personal use.”

As a member of the state Senate Committee on Health, I have serious concerns about this issue. The committee held a public hearing on bill considering legalizing medical marijuana. USA TODAY also reports, “The National Institute on Drug Abuse says marijuana can cause heart irregularities, lung problems and addiction.”  Dismissing the inherent health risks of loosening restrictions on marijuana is very difficult.

Dr. Robert Wallace is a member of the National Education Association and the National Association of High School Administrators and writes a medical column on Creators.com. Wallace recently wrote, “Don't kid yourself that smoking marijuana is harmless. It can cause severe physical ailments.”

Wallace then quotes from a magazine aimed at teen music fans:

“Smoking pot regularly breaks down the immune system, which means the user will be sick more often. Marijuana smoke also messes with the smoker's lungs big time, even worse than cigarettes……There is also medical proof that marijuana users develop what is called A-motivational syndrome which means they become apathetic.”

Read Wallace’s article here.

Too many questions remain making it too risky to ease up on marijuana restrictions.

More lessons from Spain about renewable energy

Legislation


During February 2010, I blogged that Wisconsin, that is considering radical global warming legislation, should learn from what has occurred in green-conscious Spain.


The March 2009 Spanish “Study of the effects on employments of public aid to renewable energy sources” said renewable energy policies implemented in Spain were “terribly economically counterproductive” and that the “green jobs” agenda “in fact kills jobs.” I wrote:

“Here is the most damning point of the study: Spain’s experience pinpointed as a model by President Obama can be expected to result in a loss of 2.2 jobs for every job created, or nearly nine jobs lost for every four created. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and author of the study reports the premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power that  are charged to consumers in their bills amounted to a $774,000 cost for each Spanish ‘green job’ created since 2000.

Here is my blog. 

Solar power was intended to be an economic boost for Spain. The New York Times reports, “Half the solar power installed globally in 2008 was installed in Spain.”

Then the bubble burst. The newspaper reports, “As low-quality, poorly designed solar plants sprang up on Spain’s plateaus, Spanish officials came to realize that they would have to subsidize many of them indefinitely, and that the industry they had created might never produce efficient green energy on its own.  In September the government abruptly changed course, cutting payments and capping solar construction. Puertollano’s brief boom turned bust. Factories and stores shut, thousands of workers lost jobs, foreign companies and banks abandoned contracts that had already been negotiated.”

Wisconsin would be wise not to travel the same path as Spain.

Terrible Accident in Greendale

My heart goes out to the family that lost their five year old daughter while enjoying a walk with her mom on a nice day in Greendale. 

I do not know the circumstances and was not there so I am not going to pass judgment.  I only want to remind EVERYONE how very, very important it is to be aware of your surroundings while driving and walking.  We cannot assume that "the other guy" is as conscientious as we may be.  We always need to be alert and keep our mind on what we are doing and where we are going.  Please watch your speeds and be courteous of others while driving.  Our loved ones want us to come home to them...............

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New Holdshelf IDs

holdshelf, circulation

As a cost and labor saving measure, all items being picked up from the library's self-service holds shelf are no longer being wrapped with a sheet of paper.  In order to protect your privacy, your name will be abbreviated in a new holdshelf ID.

Your holdshelf ID will consist of the first two letters of your last name, the first two letters of your first name, followed by the last two digits of your library card number.

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Know what you Have

 Detective Monson-Dupuis,  who handles much of the financial crimes that occur in Greenfield, sent  me this information. 

Good info for all of us...
 
Not A Joke!!   Even If you dislike attorneys..You will love them for these tips.Read this and make a copy for your files in case you need to refer to it someday. Maybe we should all take some of his advice! A corporate attorney sent the following out to the employees in his company: 

1.... 
Do not sign  the back of your credit cards. Instead, put 'PHOTO ID REQUIRED
.'  

2. When you are writing checks to pay on your credit card accounts, 
DO  NOT put the complete  account number on the 'For' line. Instead, just put the  last four numbers
. The credit card company knows the rest of the number, and anyone who might be handling your check as it passes through all the check processing channels won't have access to it. 

3. Put your work phone # on your checks instead of your home phone. If you have a PO Box use that instead of your home address. If you do not have a PO Box, use your work address. 
Never  have your  SS# 
printed on your checks. (DUH!) You can add it if it is necessary. But if you have It printed, anyone can get it. 

4. Place the 
contents of your wallet on a photocopy machine
. Do both sides of each license, credit card, etc. You will know what you had in your wallet and all of the account numbers and phone numbers to call and cancel.... Keep the photocopy in a safe place.  
I also carry a photocopy of my passport when I travel either here or abroad. We've all heard horror stories about fraud that's committed on us in stealing a Name, address, Social Security number, credit cards. 

Unfortunately, I, an attorney, have first hand knowledge because my wallet was stolen last month... Within a week, the thieves ordered an expensive monthly cell phone package, applied for a VISA credit card, had a credit line approved to buy a Gateway computer, received a PIN number from DMV to change my driving record information online, and more.  
But here's some critical 
information to limit the damage  
in case this happens to you or someone you know: 

5.. We have been told we should  
cancel our  credit cards 
immediately. But the key is having the toll free numbers and your card numbers handy so you know whom to call. Keep those where you can find them. 

6.  
File a  police report 
immediately in the jurisdiction where your credit cards, etc., were stolen. This proves to credit providers you were diligent, and this is a first step toward an investigation (if there ever is one). 

But here's what is perhaps  
most important of all
: (I never even thought to do this.)  
7. 
Call  the  3 national credit reporting organizations  immediately to place a fraud alert on your name and also call the Social Security fraud line number. I had never heard of doing that until advised by a bank that called to tell me an application for credit was made over the internet in my name.  


The alert means any company that checks your credit knows your information was stolen, and they have to contact you by phone to authorize new credit. 

By the time I was advised to do this, almost two weeks after the theft, all the damage had been done. The re are records of all the credit checks initiated by the thieves' purchases, none of which I knew about before placing the alert. Since then, no additional damage has been done, and the thieves threw my wallet away this weekend (someone turned it in). It seems to have stopped them dead in their tracks.. 

Now, here are the numbers you always need to contact about your wallet, if it has been stolen: 

1.) Equifax: 1-800-525-6285  

2.) Experian (formerly TRW): 1-888-397-3742 

3.) Trans Union : 1-800-680 7289 

4.) Social Security Administration (fraud line):  
1-800-269-0271
 

We pass along jokes on the Internet; we pass along just about everything. 

If you are willing to pass this information along, it could really help someone that you care about

Loomis & Coldspring Area

Has anyone heard what is going to happen with the so-called blighted area near Loomis & Coldspring near the Park and Ride and the area heading south?  I've heard lots of different things; pro and con.  What are you thoughts and what have you heard?  Thanks.

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