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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.

GAB wants your voting experience feedback

 

Wisconsin’s Government Accountability Board (GAB) that oversees elections has made improvements to its website. Particular upgrades are in the complaints and comments section. Online forms allow voters to provide and describe details of suspicious activity at or around polling places.

You can see the upgraded GAB website here.

Vote to make your heart healthy

News you can use


Earlier this year, I urged more people learn CPR, writing, “
Less than 1/3 of individuals that suffer cardiac arrest, whether it occurs in the home, at work, or in pubic receive immediate, life-saving CPR from someone nearby.” The American Heart Association (AHA) has embarked on another vital campaign. 

Remindful that 2010 is an election year, AHA wants you to vote for heart health. It’s easy. In just a few minutes, you can learn about the condition of your heart and the steps you can take to improve your health.

AHA has developed Life’s Simple 7, an easy, inexpensive seven-step listing of measures to help live healthier. Their advice is worth taking.
AHA reports, “Heart disease alone is the leading cause of death in Wisconsin, accounting for 5,488 female deaths in 2007.” Heart disease strikes regardless of age, race, gender, or political party.

I am pleased to promote healthy lifestyles and encourage you to cast your heart health ballot by reading about My Life Check/ Live Better With Life’s Simple 7.

Will 2010 be the wake-up call for serious election reform?


After you fill out your ballot and it goes into the machine that accepts your vote, you exit the polling place brimming with pride and confidence that you performed civic duty, assured your vote is tallied.

Ideally, that should be the case. However, during 2010, there are not guarantees.

This year’s elections are marred by reports of voting irregularities, again raising questions about voting integrity and shaking the confidence placed in the election system.

Our neighbor to the south, Illinois experimented for the first time with absentee balloting not requiring an excuse. WLS-TV Chicago reported that a county election official admitted hundreds of thousands of Illinois voters expecting to receive requested ballots in the mail could be disenfranchised.

The station says 404,000 registered Illinois voters received vote-by-mail requests that were sent by the Illinois Democratic Coordinated Campaign (IDCC). Some voters contacted the station after noticing the return address was a PO Box for the IDCC instead of their local electi
on officials. IDCC’s response was it was entering ballot request information into its database before sending the mailings on to election authorities that mail voters their ballots. The process leaves open the possibility of ballots not being counted on time. In many cases, the IDCC entered the wrong birthdates on the registered voter's form.

A headline called the Illinois problems a glitch.   Do you think that might be an understatement? 

Imagine Joyce Ferrara’s surprise upon attempting to vote early at Clark County, Nevada. According to the San Francisco Examiner, Ferrara wanted to vote for U.S. Senate candidate Sharron Angle, a Republican. However, her touch-screen voting machine had the name of Angle’s opponent Democrat Harry Reid already checked. Ferrara's husband had the same experience. So did other voters casting ballots at the same time as the Ferrara’s.

Poll workers at a location in Harris County, Texas reportedly instructed voters they could only vote Democrat at that particular polling place.

Voting machines are imperfect.
During the past decade, millions of dollars have been spent nationwide on new electronic voting systems to improve accuracy and dependability with the intent of eliminating hanging chads and miscounts. Lawrence Norden, a senior counsel for the Brennan Center for Justice at New York University gave a less than reassuring assessment during an interview with National Public Radio.

“These machines run on tens of thousands of lines of code, so inevitably, there are going to be software bugs,” said Norden. “What we haven't done nearly as much as we should be doing is, frankly, keeping track of these problems, following up on them and making sure that they're thoroughly investigated and that word gets out to all election officials when there are real problems. We don't have a federal agency that keeps track of most of the problems on the systems and is empowered to investigate them.”

Norden confirms, “There are all kinds of problems. The most serious problems are problems where voters are disenfranchised, where votes are not totaled correctly, where votes are dropped, where what are called phantom votes show up on the tally service. Whenever something like this happens, I think it, unfortunately, can shake people's faith in their voting systems.”

Generally, Norden believes most voting systems across the country work well with votes being counted accurately. However, the odds are that with so many machines in place, some inevitably break down causing long lines and tense situations in polling places.

Some may downplay the issue of voter fraud, but arrests have been made, prosecutions successful, violators caught on tape, and evidence is mounting in the form of voter registration cards containing false, incorrect, or duplicate information. Add it all up, and voters are angry, skeptical, even scared, scared their votes are being stolen.

A lessening of faith in our coveted election system, the best in the world, is a huge chink in our democracy armor. Voting only works with the system error-proof and honest. Citizens that cast ballots with qualms their votes may not be part of a final count illustrate a process that is broken and in need of repair.

America realizes it has voting problems. Unfortunately,  the locations of the breakdowns are difficult to predict. States must take proper precautionary measures to prevent serious errors. The serious problems of 2010 should serve as more than a wake-up call to once and for all clean up our elections, and clean them up before 2012.

Congratulations Governor-elect Scott Walker!


Congratulations to my friend and colleague for a tremendous victory Tuesday. 

Scott, you face many challenges. I look forward to working with you to fix our economy, create jobs, and make Wisconsin great again!

Congratulations Senate and Assembly Republicans!


Congratulations to my Republican colleagues in the Wisconsin State Senate and Wisconsin State Assembly. Your hard work and dedication earns Republican control in both legislative houses.  


The voters sent a clear message about their wishes for governing our great state.  I look forward to working with my colleagues to implement the Scott Walker agenda, and the many challenges we face.

Photo ID is coming to Wisconsin

Photo ID

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports today:

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald said that a photo ID bill would be the first piece of legislation introduced in the Senate next year.”

It will be an honor to sponsor and vote for photo ID legislation.  I look forward to watching Governor Scott Walker sign the photo ID bill into law.

Here are two of my many articles about photo ID:

Photo ID’s needed to fix broken election system

Photo ID’s are constitutional—What are we waiting for?

State Senate Republicans select leaders


The Senate Republican Caucus chose the following leaders for the upcoming 2011-12 legislative session at a meeting this afternoon:

Senate Majority Leader: Scott Fitzgerald

Senate President: Michael Ellis

President Pro Tem: Joe Leibham

Asst. Majority Leader: Glenn Grothman

 

Read more

Good luck to Franklin’s football team!

Good news from Senate District 28


Some sports observers have called this year’s Franklin High School football team the best in the state. The undefeated Sabers play round three of the state football playoffs this Saturday at South Milwaukee at 5 p.m.

Best of luck, Franklin High!

Good luck Muskego!

Good news from Senate District 28


Muskego
High School
’s girls volleyball team has advanced to the WIAA State Girls Volleyball Tournament. The tournament is being played today and Saturday at the at the Resch Center in Green Bay


Best of luck Muskego High!

Public hearings scheduled about "Pickle Bill" regulations

 

Earlier this year, I blogged Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) adopted an emergency rule allowing certain home-canned foods to be sold without a license. 

Current regulations of sales at farmers' markets and community events have been temporary. DATCP has proposed a permanent rule and will conduct public hearings around the state seeking public input. The rule also expands opportunities for small-scale maple syrup producers to sell without a license.






Locations of the public hearings are outside Senate District 28. However, written and e-mail comments are being accepted.

Here are more details. 

Scott Walker is not alone


The Wall Street Journal reports that newly-elected Republican governors, including Scott Walker will attempt to thwart key portions of enacted federal health care.  The newspaper writes:

While governors can't avoid much of the law, they can throw sand in its gears and keep states out of involvement in a central part of it—new exchanges for selling insurance policies.

Wisconsin's Republican governor-elect, Scott Walker, met with lawmakers Wednesday to discuss how to minimize the state's participation in the law's expansion of Medicaid, the federal-state insurance program for the poor. He also wants to lean on private entities to run the insurance exchanges, where lower earners who qualify for tax credits and small businesses will shop for Mr. Walker is worried that the Medicaid expansion, initially paid for by the federal government, will be too costly once states must begin paying for a portion of it in 2017.”

Read more

October traffic deaths

 

During October 2010, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) reports 55 people died in 49 traffic crashes. Last month was the fifth safest driving month of October since World War II. 

Mindful that winter is on its way, the DOT offers tips for safe winter driving.

Southeast Wisconsin represented in Assembly leadership

Assembly Republicans gathered Monday to elect the leaders to steer the Assembly through the next two years:

Read more

Senate Republicans name Joint Finance members

Majority Leader Senator Scott Fitzgerald named the team that will serve on the Joint Committee on Finance.  They are:

Read more

PSC Wants Public Comment About Future Electrical Supply

The Wisconsin Public Service Commission (PSC) will hold a public hearing about the Commission’s draft Strategic Energy Assessment (SEA) for the years January 1, 2010 through December 31, 2016.

The SEA analyzes the adequacy and reliability of the state’s current and future electrical supply.  Wisconsin’s electric utilities are asked by the PSC to forecast seven years into the future predicted energy demand growth, planned new construction of transmission lines, the need to buy energy from other sources, and the kinds of fuel the utilities expect to use. The PSC uses this information to compile a draft estimating the state’s electrical supply that is disseminated to utilities, interested groups, and the general public for comment. Following comment, a final report is submitted to the state Legislature and public.

The PSC writes the purposes of the SEA are:

"1. Identify and describe all large electric generating facilities on which an electric utility or merchant plant developer plans to commence construction within seven years.

2. Assess the adequacy and reliability of purchased generation capacity and energy to serve the needs of the public.

Read more

Thank a Veteran Today

News you can use

Veteran’s Day is a solemn occasion to remember and honor those that served our country in the armed forces during times of peace and war. We honor those that never touched a weapon or fired a shot equally with those that gave their life in combat. We honor the nurse and the cook equally with the Ranger and the SEAL. The journalist and truck driver equally with the rifleman and the pilot. No one position more important than the rest. All are brothers and sisters tied together by the service and sacrifice they gave to secure our Liberty and our Freedom. 

No More TWD In Wisconsin

News you can use

The shocking video that has been seen around the world opens with three giggling teenage girls in a car. As the driver texts a message, the car veers into the adjacent lane. A violent crash occurs, seriously injuring the girls and passengers in another car.

Produced for the Gwent Police Department in South Wales, the bloody, graphic video is shown to high school students to demonstrate the horrific consequences of texting while driving. Clips have turned up on You Tube, and the Police Chief in Gwent has received letters from around the world from people claiming they will never text and drive again.

Using nationwide traffic data from the fatality Accident reporting System and texting records from the Federal Communications commission and CTIA, the wireless telecom industry group, researchers at the University of North Texas were able to calculate the death toll from texting while driving. Between 2002 and 2007, 16,141 deaths were caused by texting behind the wheel.

The study also found that the percentage of all traffic deaths caused by distracted driving increased from 11 percent during 1999 to 16 percent during 2008, only one-third of Americans owned a cell phone during 1999 but 91 percent had cell phones by 2008, and the average monthly volume of text messages increased from one million during 2002 to 110 million by 2008.

The Virginia Tech Transportation Institute (VTTI) has completed definitive work about the issue of distracted driving. A July 2009 press release states, “In VTTI’s studies that included light vehicle drivers and truck drivers, manual manipulation of phones such as dialing and texting of the cell phone lead to a substantial increase in the risk of being involved in a safety-critical event (e.g., crash or near crash). However, talking or listening increased risk much less for light vehicles and not at all for trucks. Text messaging on a cell phone was associated with the highest risk of all cell phone related tasks.” VTTI found that the risk of a crash or near crash is 2.8 times as high as non-distracted driving.
 
Nationwide Mutual Insurance conducted a survey during 2008 of 1,500 drivers and found that 81 percent had used cell phones while behind the wheel even though 40 percent or more had been hit or nearly hit by another driver using a cell phone.

December 1, 2010, a Wisconsin law banning texting while driving goes into effect. No person may drive any motor vehicle while composing or sending an electronic text message or an electronic mail.  

The ban will not apply to the operator of an authorized emergency vehicle;  the use of any device whose primary function is transmitting and receiving emergency alert messages and messages related to the operation of the vehicle or an accessory that is integrated into the electrical system of a vehicle, including a global positioning system device; an amateur radio operator that holds a valid amateur radio operator’s license issued by the Federal Communications Commission; and the use of a voice operated or hands free device if the driver does not use his or her hands to operate the device, except to activate or deactivate a feature or function of the device.

Violators could berequired to forfeit between $20 and $400, the same forfeitures for violating the state’s inattentive driving law.

Good Luck Franklin Sabers Football!

Good news from Senate District 28

The undefeated Franklin Sabers Football team plays the undefeated Waunakee Warriors in the WIAA Division 2 State Semi Finals on Saturday at 6:00 PM at Kettle Moraine High School.  The winner will play the Division 2 finals next Friday at Camp Randal, Madison.  Go Sabers!!

Governor-Elect Walker Wants Your Ideas

Governor-Elect Walker unveiled a user friendly website that serves as a resource until he takes the oath of office January 3, 2011.

Congratulations to the Greendale Panthers!

Good news from Senate District 28

The Greendale Panthers capped off an undefeated season by beating the Wauwatosa East Raiders 28 to 17 to become the 2010 All-American Youth Football League Champions.  The Jim Jarecki Trophy winning Panthers are coached by Eric Arndt, Rob Melka, Nick Sibley, and Jeff Pano.

Legislative Audit Bureau Releases Auditor's Opinion on Employee Trust Funds Financial Statements

Audits

According to an auditor's opinion released today by the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB)  the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), the largest program overseen by the Employee Trust Funds (ETF), reported net assets of $70.0 billion at the end of 2009 and provided benefits totaling $3.8 billion during 2009. After experiencing investment losses and a decrease in net retirement assets of $25.2 billion during 2008, the WRS reported positive investment returns and a net increase in retirement assets of $10.6 billion during 2009. At the end of 2009, the WRS was 88.2 percent funded based on the fair value of its assets and 99.8 percent funded based on standard actuarial measures, which smooth investment returns over a five-year period.  Here is a link to the complete auditor's opinion on Employee Trust Funds Financial Statements.  http://legis.wisconsin.gov/lab/reports/etf09.htm

Breaking News: Congratulations Archbishop Dolan

Today Archbishop Dolan is elected President of the U.S. Bishops Conference.  Our loss of Archbishop Dolan as the Milwaukee Archbishop is our Country's gain.  Our country is fortunate to have a good man and fine leader in the position of President of the Conference

Take Steps to Prevent Carbon Monoxide Poisoning

News you can use

Winter is the time of year nearly half of all accidental carbon monoxide (CO) deaths occur. The Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) is urging people to prevent carbon monoxide poisoning by taking steps both inside the home and during hunting trips. Carbon Monoxide is a colorless, odorless gas that can be generated by improper ventilation of furnaces, gasoline-powered tools, heaters, car exhaust systems and wood-burning stoves. Breathing the gas displaces the oxygen in the blood and can cause death in minutes. Symptoms are flu-like and include headache, fatigue, dizziness, shortness of breath, nausea, and mental confusion.

People may be familiar with the dangers of carbon monoxide poisoning in the home, but may not realize that products used by hunters and outdoors enthusiasts can also create dangerous CO levels. Consumers should never use portable generators, propane or kerosene heaters, unvented furnaces, charcoal or gas grills in an enclosed area, including tents, ice fishing shanties, trailers, cabins, RVs, garages and homes.

Read more

New York Times lets "You fix the budget "

The New York Times has an interactive webpage allowing options to fix 2015 federal deficits of $418 billion, and 2030 federal deficits of nearly $1.4 trillion.

Here is a link to the website.

Read more

A Tradition Good for Wisconsin

It is a Wisconsin tradition as important for family and friends as it is for our state’s wildlife and economy. Wisconsin’s annual nine-day gun deer season begins Saturday November 20, 2010. 

Read more

Wisconsin Deficit Numbers Released Today

State budget, Taxes

The state Department of Administration released the Agency Requests and Revenue Estimates for fiscal year 2012 and 2013.  The report projects a $1.5 billion gap between expected revenue and agency spending requests through mid-2013.  This estimate does not include the $200 million the state has been ordered to return to the Patients Compensation fund.  The payback to the Patient's Compensation fund and a federal Medicaid reduction increases the projected gap to $2.2 billion.

The report projects tax revenue growth of 4.2% in fiscal year 2011-12 and 3.4% in fiscal year 2012-13

Read more

Legislative Audit Bureau: Wisconsin’s pension fund hurt, but strong.

Today the state’s award-winning Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released its annual report about the Wisconsin Investment Board (SWIB).  SWIB's greatest responsibility is the Wisconsin Retirement System (WRS), the pension fund for Wisconsin’s current and retired state and local employees.

Read more

Happy Opening Day!

Good luck to the 600,000 plus hunters in Wisconsin's woods today!

The Wall Street Journal Has It Right!

 Here is a link to a Wall Street Journal article about state lawsuits against ObamaCare. Click here to read the column.

Flags Lowered To Half-Staff On Wednesday For Fallen Franklin Soldier

Flags at Wisconsin National Guard armories, air bases and other facilities across the state will fly at half-staff Wednesday (Nov. 24) in honor of U.S. Army Spc. Scott Nagorski, 27, of Franklin, who lost his life while serving his country in Operation Enduring Freedom.

All Wisconsin state government facilities are covered by the governor’s order and a 2007 amendment to the U.S. Flag Code now requires all federal facilities in Wisconsin to comply. Other government agencies, businesses and private residences with flagpoles may also honor Spc. Scott Nagorski by lowering their U.S. and Wisconsin state flags to half-staff during the daylight hours on Nov. 24.

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Thanksgiving

A time to reflect and be thankful for:

The chance to spend this holiday with family;

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Happy Thanksgiving!

May your Thanksgiving celebration be a happy, festive event with family and friends, and may you be blessed with many successes to be thankful for. 

Assembly Committee Chairs Named

The Assembly Speaker-Elect announced Assembly committee chairs for the 2011-12 legislative session.  Below is a list of the committees and the chairman.

Aging & Long Term Care: Rep. Dan Knodl

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Protect your identity on Cyber Monday

The state’s Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection has advice for cybershoppers on this, the busiest cybershopping day of the year:

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The second day of shopping: DATCP's advice for consumers

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: Price Accuracy: Getting Your Money’s Worth

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