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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.

State Senator Lazich's Weekly Insight

Investing in Innovative Worker Training Programs
This week the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced the first round of recipients for the Fast Forward grants.   The awards total more than $2.6 million, for 32 projects about equipping workers with manufacturing, customer service, and construction skills.  The projects promote innovative partnerships between industries, organizations, and technical colleges to get individuals demand skills to attain employment or higher wages.

Wisconsin’s Fast Forward program was signed into law during the Spring of 2013 and authorized $15 million grant funding to provide employers with a skilled workforce, and an opportunity for underemployed and unemployed individuals to secure a family supporting job.  The law created a new department at DWD, the Office of Skills and Development to implement the program, and provides additional resources for the Labor Market Information System (LMIS), connecting job creators and job seekers.

DWD announced they are seeking applications for the second round of training grants.  The second round will focus on health care, information technology, transportation and distribution, financial services, manufacturing, and construction.  Visit www.WisconsinFastForward.com, for additional information about grants and applying.

I support Governor Walker’s proposal to make additional investments in Wisconsin’s fast forward program.

Six Confirmed PED Virus Cases in Wisconsin
The Porcine Epidemic Diarrhea (PED) virus causes diarrhea, vomiting, and severe dehydration in hogs.  The disease is not transmissible to humans.  The costly and highly contagious disease was discovered within the United States during April 2013, killing an estimated one to four million swine. To date there are six confirmed PED virus cases in Wisconsin.

To protect Wisconsin’s swine industry, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) banned the usual spring pig weigh-ins that take place in preparation for Wisconsin’s many county fairs.  DATCP recommends cancelling all shows that pigs would return to their farm of origin, also known as non-terminal shows.

Swine farmers are also encouraged to routinely wash trucks and trailers between loads, and regularly wash boots and clothing to minimize their risk of the virus entering their farms.  Additional information is at: datcp.wi.gov.

Affordable Care Act Not Appealing to Young Wisconsin Residents
The newly released federal numbers show 43 percent of the 56,436 Wisconsin residents that enrolled through the online federal exchanges are between the ages of 55 and 64, and only 20 percent are between the ages of 18 and 34.  The large imbalance between older and young enrollees could sky rocket the state’s health insurance rates.

According to U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, nearly 90 percent of Wisconsinites selecting a plan through the exchanges are receiving federal assistance towards their premiums.

Student Data Mining
The Assembly Committee on Education approved Assembly Bill 616 (AB 616) and Assembly Bill 618 (AB 618) Wednesday.  The bill limits student data collection by the Department of Public Instruction and private companies.  AB 616 and AB 618 are available for scheduling for action by the State Assembly.

Public Service Commission Accepting Applications for Broadband Expansion Grants
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin announced it is accepting applications for Broadband Expansion Grants for Fiscal Year 2014.  This is a grant program proposed by Governor Walker for the first time in the recent state budget, 2013 Wisconsin Act 20.  The Commission may award up to $500,000 of grant money during Fiscal Year 2014 to improve broadband communications services within Wisconsin.

The Commission expects the grant program will provide a significant step toward addressing the demand for high speed Internet and IP-enabled telecommunications services in areas of the state that are un-served or have limited Internet provider options.

Applications are due March 21, 2014.

Application instructions and additional information may be found at: http://psc.wi.gov/utilityInfo/tele/broadband/grants/bbGrantJan2014.htm.

The State Senate this Week
The State Senate took action on several bills during Tuesday’s floor session.  Click here, to view Senate floor session actions.

The Senate is scheduled for floor action February 18, 2014.  Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald announced this week the State Senate will wrap up session April 1, 2014.

 As Chair of the Senate Committee on Elections and Urban Affairs, I chaired an executive session Wednesday, February 12, 2014, 1:00 PM.  The committee approved ten bills improving election integrity and administration. 

Click here to view the Schedule of Committee Hearings.  

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