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Conservatively Speaking

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

Texting while Driving Ban In Effect Today

As of today, Wisconsin’s law banning texting while driving goes into effect. According to the law, no person may compose or send an electronic text or email while driving a motor vehicle. If you are a texter, please keep this in mind.

Read more here.

DATCP: be aware of new gift card rules this year

This week, Wisconsin’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) will release tips for consumers on protecting their identities and their pocketbooks this holiday season.

Today: New Gift Card Rules In Effect This Holiday Season

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Here comes Winter!

To help Wisconsin citizens travel safely, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) has an interactive Winter road conditions map, and tips about staying safe while traveling in the snow and cold.

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DATCP: Know the policies before returning gifts

Today 's Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP)  tip:  Preplanning For Possible Holiday Gift Returns. Know a Business’ Return & Refund Policies before Buying

DATCP offers the following guidelines for hassle-free returns:

  • Leave the price tag on, with the price cut off.
  • Provide a sales slip or gift receipt.
  • Return the item in new condition, unopened and with all original packaging material.
  • Don’t wait too long. Many stores have a limited time frame for returns.
  • Understand the policies for on-sale and clearance items.
  • Policies may differ for purchases made online or by catalog versus in the store.
  • Contact the store manager or customer service if you experience problems.

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Avoid Troubles in Toyland

News you can use

Today 's Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP)  tip:   Put safety first when shopping in the toy section this holiday season

DATCP offers the following guidelines for toy shopping;

  • Avoid infant toys with long strings or ropes. They can pose strangulation hazards to small children. No string should be longer than six inches in length.
  • Look for quality design and construction. Poorly constructed toys or those made from cheap materials may break easily and result in dangerous edges or broken pieces.
  • Select toys with proper safety features and warnings labels.
  • No toy is complete without proper safety gear. Always give appropriate safety gear – helmets, elbow and knee pads, and other protective gear – with sports-related and wheeled toys.
  • Avoid no-name products. A manufacturer name and address is not a guarantee of safety, but it means you can track down a legitimate company to remedy problems.
  • Be cautious of extraordinary bargains. Products that are far less expensive than comparable elsewhere might be defective or counterfeit.
  • Electric toys are for children age 8 and above. Parents and caregivers should always supervise children using electric toys.
  • Even playthings like balloons can cause injuries or death. They are a choking hazard for children under age 3.

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Wisconsin Emergency Management Readies for Our First Winter Storm of the Season

News you can use

Winter Storm to Hit Southern Wisconsin
ReadyWisconsin has tips to keep motorists ready

(MADISON) – The State of Wisconsin is monitoring the first winter storm of the season that will hit southern Wisconsin tonight.   The National Weather Service has issued Winter Storm Warnings and Advisories from Eau Claire to the Milwaukee area.

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Irresponsible Driving Habits

As the texting-while-driving ban goes into effect, does pressure for the next government intervention begin?

The Green Bay Press Gazette reports via editorial:   

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Thanks to the MacIver Institute

Thanks to the MacIver Institute, an independent Wisconsin-based think-tank, we have details about the public employee, union, contracts Governor Doyle and Legislative Democrats want to pass in a lame-duck special session.   

The contracts cover the two-year period that began July 1, 2009, eighteen months ago.  They were agreed to by union and state negotiators.  Public employee unions are currently voting on them.

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Flags at half-staff for Beaver Dam soldier

Governor Doyle’s office released the following executive order earlier today in honor of Private First Class Jacob Gassen, a Beaver Dam soldier killed in Afghanistan:

Relating to a Proclamation that the Flag of the United States and the Flag of the State of Wisconsin be Flown at Half-Staff as a Mark of Respect for Private First Class Jacob Gassen of the United States Army Who Lost His Life While Serving His Country in Operation Enduring Freedom

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Senator Lazich named Chair of Transportation and Elections

Maintaining Wisconsin’s system of highways, protecting taxpayers from an expensive, ill-considered high-speed rail system, restoring integrity to the Wisconsin voting process, and protecting our all-important election process from fraud, State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) is named Chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation and Elections to oversee these major initiatives.

“I’m delighted to serve as Chair of the Senate Transportation and Elections Committee,” Lazich said.  Wisconsin’s businesses and economy depend heavily on  roads and transportation infrastructure.   Improving our economy, creating an environment necessary to create jobs, and protecting and strengthening our election process so that every voter is confident his or her vote counts are priorities for the next legislative session.”

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Registration is Open for 2011 Governor’s Business Plan Contest

The Governor's Business Plan Contest is a competition for "entrepreneurs in the creation, start-up and early-growth stages of high-tech businesses in Wisconsin." Prizes include "seed capital, valuable services that will help them launch their businesses and a Grand Prize worth $50,000."

Registrations and entries for 2011 are being accepted. The deadline for entry is January 31, 2011. Learn more here.

President Obama makes economic sense

President Obama wants Congressional Democrats to go along with his compromise on taxes:

"Raising the direst alarm yet, the Obama administration warned fellow Democrats on Wednesday that if they defeat the big tax-cut compromise detested by many liberals, they could jolt the nation back into recession."

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State Union Contracts

The 2009-2011 union contracts are finally available.  Rumor is the Legislature is expected to meet Wednesday to vote on the contracts. Twelve contracts, totaling nearly 2,000 pages, and less than two full days for review.

The contracts cover the current two years, and expire June.  The contracts set a baseline for future contracts, and may or may not make it more difficult to balance a budget with more that a $3 billion deficit. The Legislature should have more time to review the contracts before casting a vote.

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Paul Ryan: We Have a Choice

Representative Paul Ryan's article in Sunday’s Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  includes: 

“The deficit debate is not merely an exercise in arithmetic; it is also a conversation about the role and purpose of government. Do we wish to accept a cradle-to-grave welfare state, in which more Americans depend on the government than on themselves, or do we want to promote an opportunity society that promotes human flourishing, connecting effort with reward?

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Informational Highway 83 meetings tomorrow, December 15, 2010

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) will hold two information meetings about the reconstruction of Highway 83.

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Toys for Tots deadline approaching!

Just a reminder: donations for Toys for Tots can be dropped off at the Ament Industrial Truck office, 2140 South Calhoun Road, New Berlin, until 4:30 pm Wednesday, December 15.

If you can not drop your donation off, please call them at 262-785-9890 and ask them to pick it up.

Great news: UW's Madison Surgery Center will not perform second-trimester abortions

Today's Madison Capitol Times reports:  

"The Madison Surgery Center will not offer second-trimester abortions after all, according to a news release issued late Monday by UW Health."

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State Contracts

The Wisconsin State Senate refused to ratify 17 state union contracts last night.  All votes were 16-16 with two Democratic Senators joining the Republican minority.   Departing Senator Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and the departing Senate Majority Leader, Senator Decker (D-Wausau) voted no.

The Senate finished voting after shortly after 10:00 PM last night. The official tallies, according to The Wheeler Report are:

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UPS to require photo ID

Another item on the growing list of activities that require a photo ID.  According to the La Crosse Tribune:

"NEW YORK — UPS will require photo identification from customers shipping packages at retail locations around the world…"

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Wisconsin To Keep Its Eight Congressional Seats

Today at 10:00 AM the United States Census Bureau released the 2010 United States Census data.  The good news is that Wisconsin will be keeping all eight of its United States Congressional seats.  The bad news is that many other Midwestern states will be losing congressional seats.  Here is a link to a map of the states number of Congressional seats:  http://2010.census.gov/news/img/apport_chart4_appttot.jpg

Here is a link to other census information released today:  http://2010.census.gov/news/press-kits/apportionment/apport.html

Senate Republican Committee Assignments Announced

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today announced Senate Republican committee assignments for the 2011- 2012 Legislative Session.  I am pleased to be named Senate Chair of the Joint Legislative Council, Vice Chair of the Public Health, Human Services, and Revenue Committee, and member of the Labor, Public Safety, and Urban Affairs Committee, and member of the Joint Legislative Audit Committee.  These committee assignments are in addition to chairing the Senate Committee on Transportation and Education announced earlier during the month. 
 
Here is a listing of all Senate Committees and their Republican members.  The Senate Democrats have yet to name their members of the committees.

·         Agriculture, Forestry and Higher Education. Sen. Kapanke, Harsdorf, Kedzie, Moulton.

·         Economic Development, Veterans and Military Affairs. Sen. Hopper, Zipperer, Darling, Wanggaard.

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Inauguration Day Less Than a Week Away

It is hard to believe that Inauguration is less than one week away.  January 3, 2011, will be a very busy day at the Capitol, with Governor-Elect Scott Walker's inauguration beginning at noon inside the Capitol Rotunda.  Public viewing of the Governor Elect's oath of office ceremony is on a first-come basis.  However, some reserved tickets are available by calling the Transition office at (608) 261-9200.   Governor-Elect Walker announced his inauguration will be followed by a reception open to the public at the Governor's Conference Room located on the first floor, east wing of the State Capitol.

The State Senate and State Assembly will be meeting at 2:00 PM for members to take the oath of office and transfer leadership of both chambers January 3, 2011.  

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Wisconsin deer hunters: "eighth-largest army in the world"

An interesting Federalist Paupers blog post compares the annual deer hunt to an army. 

“The state of Wisconsin has gone an entire deer hunting season without someone getting killed. That’s great. There were over 600,000 hunters.

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Senate Scholars Program Accepting Applications

The Senate Scholar Program is week-long educational program offered by the Wisconsin State Senate for Wisconsin high school juniors and seniors.  Each Senate Scholar receives a hands-on, up-close view of the Legislature’s role in our democracy.   Senate Scholars gain experience in areas of policy development, constituent relations, and processing legislation by working with Senators, legislative staff and University of Wisconsin faculty. 

Applications and more information about the program is available at this link.

Wisconsin's pitch to retirees: at least we're not Illinois!

Wisconsin is the seventh worst state in the nation for retirees, according to a study reported by Market Watch:

“Wisconsin, as noted, is doubly cursed in these rankings as a high-tax state with cold weather. Plus, it has high property taxes. The only good news, at least for those to whom it applies, is that the Badger State doesn't tax military pensions.”

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Does Brain Thickness Determine Political Leaning

Scientists at University College, London researched a correlation between brain dimension and political views. Thus far, there are interesting results.
http://www.smh.com.au/technology/sci-tech/brain-thickness-determines-political-leaning-study-20101229-199hk.html

Further study, discussion, and comment should be, at the least, entertaining.

Happy New Year!

During this holiday season as we bask in the afterglow of a Merry Christmas with family, and celebrate the New Year with family and friends, remember safety first on our Wisconsin roads, and a moment of thought and prayer for United States troops away from home.    As we shout Happy New Year and share hugs, remember our troops giving us the secure pleasure of freedom, and enabling our celebrations.

I wish you a very safe, healthy, prosperous, Happy New Year! 

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