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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.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 1 - August 9

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update August 1–August 9:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

 

Read more

JFC to meet to spend stimulus money

Taxes, Legislation


The legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will hold a hearing at 10:00 a.m., Tuesday, August 4, 2009 in Room 412 East at the State Capitol to consider the expenditure of millions of dollars of federal stimulus funding.

The JFC agenda for the meeting
 includes this item:

“The Department of Transportation requests approval of the use of $48,000,000 in proceeds from general obligation bonding authorized under s. 20.866(2)(up) for the purchase of two train sets for the Chicago-Milwaukee-Madison rail line under s. 85.061(3)(b).  If market conditions permit, some or all of these bonds will be issued as Build America Bonds pursuant to the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009.”

That would be Governor Doyle’s $48-million dollar rail boondoggle. 

Here is a JFC memo that includes stimulus spending requests from Governor Doyle.

Take a look at the requests and you will note they are government expenditures to perpetuate existing or new government programs. This remains a major flaw with the stimulus concept: the wrong people are spending the money in the wrong places, failing to create sustaining jobs.

DMV centers to close one day in August

News you can use


All Wisconsin Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) customer service centers, phone centers, and central office services will be closed on Friday, August 7, 2009. The closings are part of the furlough process for state employees.

For your convenience, DMV business can be conducted online
here.

Connections 2030

News you can use


A final draft of Wisconsin’s statewide long-range multi-modal transportation plan has been issued by the Wisconsin Department of Transportation. The public is invited to submit written and oral testimony about the draft entitled, “Connections 2030.”

Several public hearings are scheduled during August 2009, including a Milwaukee session:

Tuesday, August 11, 2009
Milwaukee County Downtown Transit Center
Harbor Lights Room - 2nd floor
909 E. Michigan Ave., Milwaukee, WI

For more information about Connections 2030, visit this website.

Wisconsin needs safe youth hunting

News you can use


August 2, 2008, 14-year old Tyler Kales was on Sauk Mountain north of Seattle, Washington when he thought he spotted a bear. The young teenager, hunting with his 16-year old brother fired at his prey. However, Kales didn’t see a bear. He shot and killed a 54-year old woman who was hiking on a trail.

Kales was convicted of second-degree manslaughter with a firearm and was sentenced on July 10, 2009 to 30 days in juvenile detention and 120 hours of community service including four hours of hunting safety education.

The incident prompted MSNBC.com to review whether other states, like Washington, do not have a minimum age for hunting without adult supervision. The news agency found that seven states, Alabama, Arkansas, Indiana, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Vermont and Washington, do not have established minimum age for solo hunting. Kids in Texas are allowed to hunt alone when they are nine. Alaska, Louisiana and Tennessee allow unsupervised hunting for children as young as 10. In Missouri the minimum age is 11 and in nine other states the minimum age is 12.

What about Wisconsin?

According to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), under current Wisconsin law, all hunters must be licensed. No one under the age of 12 may purchase a license or possess a firearm. Children ages 12 and 13 may purchase a license and hunt if accompanied by a parent or guardian at least 18 years of age. Anyone 14 years of age or older, born on or after January 1, 1973, may purchase a license and hunt if in possession of a hunting safety course completion certificate unless privileges are revoked in a court of law.

Current law could be changing soon. This legislative session, Senate Bill 167 was approved by the state Assembly and state Senate and is now being considered by Governor Doyle. Senate Bill 167 allows 10-year olds to hunt if they are accompanied by adult mentors at least 18 years of age. Joint possession of only one firearm would be allowed for the new hunter and mentor, and the new hunter would have to be within arm’s length of the mentor. Conservation groups and the DNR support the legislation.

"The bottom line is that the mentoring program called for in this bill is a highly controlled situation, and will provide the student with a highly safe, quality hunting experience," said Wisconsin Wildlife Federation President and former DNR Secretary George Meyer.

Senate Bill 167 is considered critical to preserving one of Wisconsin’s great rites of passage. 
According to Families Afield, a national hunting organization, “Current data show only 25 percent of youth from hunting households are active in the sport. Over the past quarter-century, the total number of hunters has dropped 23 percent.”

Nationally, for every 100 hunters lost, 69 hunters take their place. A “Hunter Replacement Ratio” is derived by dividing the percentage of youth hunters by the percentage of adult hunters. The lower the ratio, the greater the potential for a decline in hunting. Wisconsin has the tenth worst hunter replacement ratio in the country.

Young hunters in the field supervised by adults are very safe. The Hunter Incident Clearinghouse reports that of the 14.7 million hunters active during 2002, only .0000016 percent were supervised youth involved in an accident.

Hunters who start out early in life are more likely to hunt as adults, maintaining a wonderful family tradition. This storied lifestyle provides a significant economic boost. In Wisconsin, 1.2 million people spend more than $3.1 billion a year on hunting and fishing.  Hunters and anglers pump an incredible $8.6 million a day into Wisconsin’s economy.

An old saying advises, ““Hunt with your kids today, so you don’t have to hunt for them tomorrow.” Senate Bill 167, if signed into law, will create more opportunities for families to hunt together safely and carry on a rich Wisconsin heritage.

Serving up great State Fair roast corn for over 50 years!


Call it a lip-smacking labor of love.


Eating at the Wisconsin State Fair

Bertha Hynek of Allenton is eating an ice cream cone while her grandson, Wesley Priesgen, 10, works on an ear of roasted corn at the Wisconsin State Fair. Photo: www.wisconsinhistory.org.


Lion's Club corn roast by sokref1.

Photo: www.flickr.com

August 6 through August 16, 2009 at the Wisconsin State Fair, dedicated workers at the New Berlin Lions Club stand (shown above) will take picture perfect ears of Wisconsin sweet corn and lovingly dunk them into real, honest to goodness melted Wisconsin butter.

They will perform this mouth-watering ritual over 100,000 times, and the money goes to numerous charities statewide. All the corn dunkers and other workers are volunteers.



Photo

Read more

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 8 - August 16

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update August 8 –August 16:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

 

Read more

$47-million for trains

Taxes, Legislation


The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) voted along party lines last Tuesday to spend over $47-million to purchase train sets for a high-speed rail system. The committee action is outrageous for a number of reasons.

The price tag is obscene given our recession and continuing state deficit.

There was no bidding process.

The plan was hastily put together by the Doyle administration and rushed through the committee.

The company chosen, Talgo, is from Spain. Governor Doyle met with Talgo officials in Spain during February 2009 at the Spanish government’s expense.

The decision is final. The full Legislature will not have any say on the matter.

Most importantly, the need for such a rail system is highly questionable

Read more in the
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and the Wisconsin State Journal.

Congratulations, Anthony Nitz!

Eagle Scouts


Anthony Nitz’s Eagle Scout ceremony was held on Sunday, August 9, 2009.  

My office prepared a state citation that I presented to Anthony Nitz at the special ceremony. It reads:


Whereas, Anthony Charles Nitz is a member of the Boy Scouts of America Troop 83, and through dedication and commitment, attained the rank of Eagle Scout on June 29, 2009; and

 

Read more

Congratulations, Bryce Meyer!

Eagle Scouts


Bryce Meyer’s Eagle Scout ceremony was held on Sunday, August 9, 2009.  

My office prepared a state citation that I presented to Bryce Meyer at the special ceremony. It reads:

 

Read more

Phony grandchildren

News you can use


It is a despicable scam that works.

Grandparents in Wisconsin are being swindled over the telephone by people pretending to be their grandchildren in desperate need of cash. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP) reports one Wisconsin grandparent twice wired money to a fake grandchild and was taken for $19,000.

The department has issued a release about the scammers that contains tips to avoid becoming a victim.

UPDATE: Wisconsin needs safe youth hunting

Legislation


Governor Doyle will sign Senate Bill 167, the youth hunting bill into law during a private ceremony in the Governor’s Office on Thursday, August 13, 2009.

Photo ID not in GAB's future plans

Photo ID


I am extremely disappointed to learn that a photo ID requirement is not part of the Government Accountability Board’s 2009-2014 Election Administration Plan.  It is a sad day for the overwhelming majority of the public that demands a display of a photo ID before being issued a ballot to vote for persons that will make major governing decisions.  It is a sad day for those that want an assurance of fairness and clean elections. 

Ironically, the Board (GAB) says the following in the Plan:

 “
The new Plan must:

Improve Election Administration

Read more

You lose a lot with government health care

Government health care


Americans would lose valuable freedoms under proposed federal government health care legislation.

CNNMoney.com has the list

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 13


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Traffic Alert I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee , Racine and Kenosha counties

Thursday, AUGUST 13
Milwaukee County

27th Street
bi-directional traffic moved to the new, NB bridge begins originally scheduled to begin on August 13th at 6:00 am has been rescheduled to begin Friday August 14th at 10 am.
Full Closure of I-894/I-43 WB entrance ramp from 27th Street originally scheduled to begin on August 13th at 6:00 am has been rescheduled to begin Friday August 14th at 10 am. The Opening of the 27th St. NB entrance loop ramp to I-894/I-43 WB originally scheduled to begin on August 13th at 6:00 am has been rescheduled to begin Friday August 14th at 10 am.

The Opening of  theI-894/I-43 WB exit ramp to 27th St. originally scheduled to begin on August 13th at 6:00 am has been rescheduled to begin Friday August 14th at 10 am.

Read more

Higher corporate taxes = lower wages

Taxes, Business


There are a number of studies concluding that in other countries, high corporate tax rates tend to depress wages. A new study by the nonpartisan Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. that examined state-local corporate taxes in all 50 states finds the same causal relationship in America.

States with high corporate income taxes see the wages of their workers depressed over time. States with lower corporate taxes enjoy an increase in worker productivity and wages.

The Tax Foundation writes the following in its report, “The Corporate Income Tax and Workers’ Wages: New Evidence from the 50 States” that reviewed state data from 1970 through 2007:

“A one percent drop in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent rise in real wages five years later. In dollar terms, that means wages rise $2.50 for every one dollar reduction in state-local corporate income taxes. The reverse is also true: A one percent hike in the average tax rate leads to a 0.014 percent drop in real wages, or roughly a $2.50 loss in wages for each one-dollar rise

in corporate tax collections.” 

The report estimates that an average state corporate tax rate increase of one percent aggregated over the approximate 145 million American workers would result in a drop of $715 million in wages. The burden of increased corporate taxes, despite conventional wisdom, falls squarely on the workforce. Raising corporate taxes in the guise of tax fairness and progressivity would be unwise public policy.

Read the Tax Foundation report
here.

Cost of Government Day-2009

Taxes


You may find this hard to believe. Then again, you may not given Wisconsin’s tax and spending climate.

As of August 12, 2009, you are no longer working to pay your share of  federal, state and local government costs. Wednesday was Cost of Government Day, a stunning reminder of the depth of government spending at all levels.

Read more from
Americans for Tax Reform.

The DNR wants your views on the deer population

News you can use


Citizen comment is encouraged about recommendations on deer population goals to be considered by the Natural Resources Board during its September 2009 meetings.

Comments can be made online beginning August 15, 2009. Citizens can also attend public hearings on the issue:

August 18, Wausau - Wausau Best Western Midway Hotel, 2901 Hummingbird Road.

August 18, Rhinelander - Rhinelander’s James Williams Middle School, 915 Acacia Lane.

August 19, La Crosse - La Crosse State Office Building, basement conference rooms, 3550 Mormon Coulee Road.

August 19, Green Bay - Northeast Wisconsin Technical College, Room CB 213 A and B, 2740 W. Mason St.

August 27, Ashland - Northern Great Lakes Visitor Center, 29270 County Highway G.

August 31, Menomonie - Dunn County Fish and Game Association Clubhouse, 1600 Pine Ave E.

Here is more information from the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources.

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 14 - August 23

News you can use

Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction update August 14 –August 23:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

Read more

Sign up for hunter safety classes before it’s too late

News you can use


The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is urging those wishing to enroll in hunter education courses to do so now rather than waiting until the fall. Classes are underway through October 1, 2009.

Read more from the
DNR.

Watch out for that bicycle

News you can use




Motorists, be aware of a new law that was approved by the Legislature, signed by the Governor, and went into effect during June of this year that created a fine for a vehicle operator that opens a door and causes a collision with a bicyclist.

The new statute reads:

“No person may open any door of a motor vehicle located on a highway without first taking due precaution to ensure that his or her act will not interfere with the
movement of traffic or endanger any other person or vehicle. The operator of a motor vehicle located on a highway may not permit any person under 16 years of age to open any door of the motor vehicle without the operator

first taking due precaution to ensure that opening the door will not interfere with the movement of traffic or endanger any other person or vehicle.”

Violators “may be required to forfeit not less than $20 nor more than $40 for the first offense and not less than $50 nor more than $100 for the 2nd or subsequent conviction within a year. No forfeiture may be assessed for a violation if the violator is less than 16 years of age when the offense occurs.”

The new law also eliminates the requirement that bicyclists allow three feet of space when passing parked vehicles. 

Here is a Legislative Council memo about the new law.


Other states have taken or are considering similar action.

Thank you, Ty and Ethan Clinton!

Good news from Senate District 28


Thank you for your remarkable heroism!

You can be very proud of your life-saving efforts!


Press Release

Read more

Soaking the wealthy

Taxes


The president’s intentions to raise the top two income tax rates will have negative effects on the economy. Forcing wealthier Americans to pay even more will slow the creation of jobs, reduce the stimulation to work, and do nothing to shrink deficits.

The Heritage Foundation has analyzed the flawed logic behind increasing taxes for the wealthy and found seven myths.

Franklin Library needs donations


The Franklin Public Library needs donated books, CD’s, DVD’s and other items for its annual book sale September 11, 2009- September 13, 2009. Please consider helping the library with a donation.  Here are the details:

Used Books, CD’s, DVDs  and Tapes Needed for Annual Book Sale Fundraiser

With the kids back at school are you looking for a place for all those gently used books CDS’s, DVD’s Tapes or Magazines?  Why not donate them to The Friends of the Franklin Public Library Annual Book Sale? 

This popular annual event helps the Friends sponsor numerous events at the Library such as the wonderful cooking classes presented by Staci Joers, quilting classes or the successful Divas and Divine Desserts program. In addition to these great community events, the funds raised by the Friends help support programs that the Library budget simply cannot afford. This past year the Friends donated  $14,000 toward computers for the  children’s department,  $8,000 toward updated books about foreign countries and the 50 states and $4,500 toward the children’s, young adult and adult summer reading program.

Help the Friends continue supporting the Franklin Public Library and to continue to offer these community programs by donating your books and other material to the Library for their sale. Drop off your used books at the Franklin Public Library between the hours of 10 and 8:30 Monday through Thursday and 10 to 5pm on Friday.

The book sale will be held on Friday September 11th  10am - 5pm, Saturday, September 12th  10am - 5pm, and Sunday September 13th 1pm - 4pm.

A special Friends only presale will be held on Thursday September 10th from 6pm to 8:30.  Not currently a Friend of the Franklin Library?  Pick up a Friends’ membership form at the Library  or e-mail the Friends of the Franklin Public Library at FranklinFriends@mcfls.org  The Franklin Public Library is located at:  9151 West Loomis Road, Franklin, WI 53132  Phone (414) 425-8214.

Pregnant New Berlin women invited to participate in major health study

News you can use

 


Waukesha County has been chosen to participate in the National Children’s Study (NCS), the largest, most comprehensive study of children’s health in the history of the United States. The goal is to learn about the relationship between a child’s environment and his or her long-term health by charting the progress of about 100,000 children from birth until age 21.

On Wednesday, August 12, 2009, The National Children’s Study began recruiting participants from New Berlin. Expectant mothers living in a randomly selected area near St. Elizabeth Ann Seton Catholic Church are being invited to enroll in the study.

To learn more, read the details in my
April 2, 2009 blog.

Daytime burglaries occurring in New Berlin

News you can use


The New Berlin Police Department reports the New Berlin area is experiencing daytime burglaries and advises residents to inform police of all suspicious activity and vehicles. Here is important information I’ve received from the New Berlin Police Department:

Suspect Description:

The suspect is a white male, medium build and height, short brown hair, mid 20’s.  He has burglarized five homes in New Berlin since 07-17-09, and more homes in surrounding communities.

Read more

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 19

Here is an alert from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the I-94 NORTH-SOUTH freeway project:

Construction activities have scheduled to close I-894/43 EB at Loomis Rd on Wednesday, August 19th from 10 pm to 4:30 am.  Contractors will be removing girders on the 27th St bridge over I-894/43 EB.  Listed below are all associated closures scheduled for Wednesday night.

- I-894/43 EB at Loomis Rd 10 pm - 4:30 am

- I-894/43 EB to I-94 EAST (SB) Freeway Ramp in Mitchell Interchange 10 pm - 4:30 am

Read more

Wisconsin failed to learn from food stamp mess


A Milwaukee Journal Sentinel investigation turned up astounding levels of fraud in the Wisconsin Shares program, a taxpayer-funded benefit meant to help needy families afford child care.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel  was able to identify nearly $750,000 in suspcious child care disbursements.

Since then, the Legislative Audit Bureau has estimated that fraud and errors cost Wisconsin taxpayers $16.7 million to $18.5 million last year alone.  Problems included lack of documentation, payments during periods of ineligibility, illegal immigrants receiving benefits, and child care rings, with friends and family members paid by the state to take turns caring for each others’ children.

The controversy swirling around the Wisconsin Shares child care program should have been noticed long ago, and should not have happened at all.

During 2003, the Legislative Audit Bureau reported that “Wisconsin’s food stamp benefit payment error rate…has been at an historical high of 4.4 percentage points above the national average.  Since FFY 1993-94, the federal government has imposed a total of $10.6 million in sanctions as a result of Wisconsin’s high error rates.” 

They continued:  “Wisconsin had the third-worst error rate in the nation during these two years (FFY 2000-01 and 2001-02).  Only California and Michigan had higher error rates than Wisconsin.” 

The Legislative Audit Bureau further reported that the Department of Health and Family Services (DHFS) was implementing plans to reduce that error rate, and in fact may have already succeeded in doing so, spending $6.2 million to reduce that error rate. Yet just a few years, and millions spent to eliminate fraud, later the Legislative Audit Bureau reported that prison inmates were improperly receiving food stamp benefits while in prison

Granted, food stamps and Wisconsin Shares are not the same program.  However, until July 1, 2008, they were administered by the same department.  Serious errors happened in the food stamp program, followed by fraud in Wisconsin Shares. 

Where else are errors and fraud happening?  Are these isolated occurrences, affecting only food stamps and child care?  Where there is smoke, there is fire.  State agencies must learn from these two lessons.  Why didn’t the department learn from the food stamp lesson and notice red flags in the child care programs?  Why did it take the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel and Legislative Audit Bureau to expose multi-million dollar fraud and abuse?

 And so here we are after the food stamp debacle, wasting millions of dollars of taxpayer money paying for child care scams.  Rather than learning from the mistakes of the past, our state government became even more lackadaisical. A great deal of light is shining on the Wisconsin Shares program now.  I have little doubt that some improvements will be made. 

The Legislative Audit Bureau has a fraud, waste, and mismanagement hotline that citizens may call.  The number is 1-877-372-8317. 

Not so happy Cost of Government Day

Taxes


One national website used this blaring headline to describe the occasion:

“Taxpayers in America’s Dairyland get Milked

August 12, 2009 was Cost of Government Day, not to be confused with Tax Freedom Day.

Tax Freedom Day is the day Americans will have earned enough money to pay this year’s tax obligations at the federal, state and local levels. In Wisconsin, Tax Freedom Day fell on April 13, 2009 compared to last year’s Tax Freedom Day of April 21, 2008. Wisconsin’s 2008 Tax Freedom Day was the 14th worst in the country. This year’s Tax Freedom Day is the 12th worst of all the states.

Tax Freedom Day is bad enough. Cost of Government Day is even worse.

Cost of Government Day is the date of the calendar year on which the average American worker has earned enough gross income to pay off his or her share of spending and regulatory burdens imposed by all levels of government, federal, state and local. Wisconsin’s Cost of Government Day fell on August 12, 2009,  the eleventh worst Cost of Government Day among all 50 states

Let’s put Cost of Government Day in perspective. During 2009, you had to work 224 out of the 365 days in the year (61.3 percent) just to earn enough to pay for spending and regulations at the federal, state, and local levels of government, 26 days longer than 2008.

Clearly spending and regulatory costs for all levels of government are increasing at a faster pace than income, creating a heavier burden on working taxpayers. The recession caused by the economic downturn has shrunk income making it far more difficult to pay for continued government taxing and spending

At the federal level, the Emergency Economic Stabilization Act (EESA) that created the Troubled Asset Relief Program (TARP) and the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act of 2009 (ARRA), designed to stimulate the economy and create self-sustaining jobs have failed miserably. The stimulus packages have only served to greatly expand federal spending. According to Americans for Tax Reform, the 2010 budget proposed by President Obama and approved by the Democrat-controlled Congress comprises a record 28.5 percent of the Gross Domestic Product (GDP).

At the state level, the 2009-11 budget signed into law by Governor Doyle
spends 9.4 percent more, according to the nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX). The Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB) reports that under the 2009-2011 state budget, property taxes on a median-valued Wisconsin home will increase $93 this year and an additional $123 next year. The very moment Governor Doyle signed the 2009-2011 state budget into law, it created a gigantic hole of $899 million going into 2010-11 and $1.15 billion the year after.

Locally, municipalities and school districts are considering property tax levy increases, some in double digits.

 

Read more

I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 22 - August 30

News you can use


Here is an update from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) about the I-94 North-South project:

Construction update August 22 –August 30:
I-94 North-South Freeway Project update for Milwaukee, Racine and Kenosha counties

All closures are weather-dependent and subject to change.
New long-term closures are BOLD.

Read more

I repeat: Use stimulus money to clean up Lake Michigan

Taxes


During March 2009, I wrote an op-ed piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that a better use of Wisconsin’s share of federal stimulus funds would be on infrastructure. I wrote, in part:

If we cannot use the stimulus money in ways that would actually stimulate the economy, then it should be used on infrastructure. The stimulus money should be used for one-time projects or on projects with a life long enough that they are almost one-time. Here is an example: Wastewater, raw sewage, problems in Lake Michigan and elsewhere in Wisconsin.

Our water in various areas of the state is questionably unsafe. Uncontrollable contamination of Lake Michigan is profoundly reckless. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on May 29, 2004: ‘The sewerage district dumped an unprecedented 4.6 billion gallons of raw sewage in May - exceeding any annual dumping tally since the deep tunnel system opened in late 1993. To visualize how much sewage was dumped by the district, consider these calculations: The 4.6 billion gallons would fill Miller Park 15 times over, from its base to its retractable roof. The sewage spill would also fill the U.S. Bank office tower on the lakefront 41 times.’

How about using the stimulus money to keep raw sewage out of Lake Michigan?”

You can read my column here. 

I was very pleased to read Lynn Broaddus’ piece in the Crossroads section of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Sunday reacting to the results of a three-year study about discharges into Lake Michigan. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported, “Human sewage is flowing out of municipal storm sewers and into local waterways and Lake Michigan on rainy days without sanitary sewer overflows to blame for the load, and even during periods of dry weather, a three-year study has concluded. Human fecal pollution is found at several beaches and rivers throughout the Milwaukee area, creating an unseen though serious public health risk for anyone in the water, said Sandra McLellan, associate scientist at the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee's Great Lakes WATER Institute and the study's lead researcher.”

Broaddus, a local environmentalist responded in her Sunday column, “As in times past, today we again need our leaders to lay the path to safe, sanitary water. There are a number of funding streams, including stimulus dollars, that should be strategically targeted to rebuilding our infrastructure in a way that gives us clean water while hopefully also improving the energy efficiency and resiliency of our water and sanitation systems.”

I wholeheartedly concur. Cleaning up our water systems would be the best use of stimulus dollars, and going after the low hanging fruit by beginning to separate some of the combined sewers using stimulus money is by far the best way to begin addressing safe, sanitary conditions and reduce pollution going into Lake Michigan.

You can read Broaddus’ column
here.

Time is running out to register for the No Call list

News you can use


Wisconsin
 residents wishing to stop incoming telemarketing phone calls have until the end of this month to register for the upcoming Wisconsin No Call phone list. The new list goes into effect October 1, 2009.

Registering is free.

Here are details from the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).  

You can register here.

Does the Compact backfire on the Great Lakes?

Great Lakes


My votes against the Great Lakes Compact are well-documented.  I offered my explanations here and here.

Because the Compact contained too many pages of broad and vague language that could keep lawyers tied up in federal court, among other troubling aspects, my hopes for a much stronger document were never satisfied.

Dave Dempsey also has some concerns with the Compact that was approved last year. Dempsey is the senior policy adviser for the Michigan Environmental Council and the author of "Great Lakes for Sale: From Whitecaps and Bottlecaps."

In a guest editorial in the Detroit News, Dempsey emphasizes that the Compact doesn’t eliminate diversions from the Great Lakes and makes reference to New Berlin and Waukesha without naming the communities.

However, Dempsey sees an even greater problem with the Compact. He believes the document may have bestowed “legal recognition” to Great Lakes water as a product, enabling it to be purchased and sold. The sale of Great Lakes water gets around the tighter controls on diversions because of an exemption for water in products, according to Dempsey who writes:

The exemption sets up the strange paradox that exporting freighters full of water is illegal under the compact, while exporting freighters full of bottles of water with the same total volume is lawful.

This is an anti-democratic change. A new law that explicitly condones trade in Great Lakes water would never get past the people of the region. But that's exactly what the compact does. It sets up private water barons foreign and domestic to make a bid for ownership through export of Great Lakes water -- and to sue for billions of dollars in taxpayer compensation if they're denied. In a century of worldwide water scarcity, there are mammoth profits to be made in capturing and selling the public's water to customers wherever they are. Making that possible may be the most foolish and self-destructive policy the Great Lakes states have ever approved.”


Worries about what Dempsey calls a “gap in the compact” are being “brushed aside.” That sounds quite familiar.

Dempsey is backing a resolution by Michigan Congressman Bart Stupak that seeks clarification.

You can read Dempsey’s column
here.

10 reasons why Obamacare is wrong

Government health care


The Heritage Foundation has probably conducted a more thorough analysis of the government health care plan being pushed by President Obama and Congressional Democrats than any other group or organization.

Here is their list of the top ten reasons why the legislation is wrong for America.

Government health care talk: positive, negative

Government health care


During recent speeches about government health care, how often did President Obama use positive and negative terms?

Does the proposed government health care legislation contain more positive or more negative words?

Does the rhetoric about government health care match the language in the bill?

The National Taxpayers Union (NTU) crunched the numbers. Earlier, the NTU conducted an analysis of the Democrats’ government health care plan to determine how frequently certain words  were used. 

Their latest study found similar results, summarized in this one-pager. 

The government health care rhetoric fails to meet reality.

Women love motorcycles

Motorcycles


Because I am a Harley-Davidson rider and enthusiast, I have blogged often about motorcycles.
 
 A beautiful summer day and leisurely riding the back roads of Wisconsin is something I enjoy more and more every time I ride.   This summer I had to cancel out of a planned one week organized ride to New Hampshire because of a change to the senate floor schedule, and I missed the Scott Walker ride because of the senate schedule.  However, family gatherings allowed a ride to Eagle River and a ride to Wautoma and the weather was excellent. 
Female riders are no longer a novelty.

Marc Lachapelle has written a piece for MSN Autos about the growing phenomenon of women and motorcycles. Lachapelle writes:

Women now own 12.3 percent of all motorcycles in the country, up from 9.6 percent in 2003. That’s a 28 percent increase in five years. To put these numbers in perspective, ownership levels were 8.2 percent in 1998 and 6.4 percent in 1990. Women also make up close to 23 percent of the entire population of motorcyclists, which was estimated at 25 million total riders nationwide for 2008. The proportion was 18 percent in 2003, for an impressive gain of about 27 percent in five years.”

Why the rise in popularity?

More than ever before, there is a wide range of motorcycles for women to choose from including various levels of size, comfort and luxury.

A greater availability of riding gear that looks and feels good is also creating a wider appeal.

Harley-Davidson has especially made an outreach to women with female-only events and workshops. The company devotes a website just for women. 

You can read more in Lachapelle’s article. Lachapelle has a keen interest in this topic.

Audit Bureau continues project on School Choice Program

Audits


State law requires that the Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) review test scores of pupils enrolled in the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program. Privately funded researchers working on a five-year study of Choice and Milwaukee Public Schools supplied the data to the LAB.

 

Read more

Property taxes continue to go up

Taxes


The nonpartisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) reports property taxes across the state increased 3.3 percent during 2008. Local governments levied property tax increases of 4.5 percent.

WISTAX also reports, “Technical college levies were up 5.0% in 2009. Since 1999, property taxes for the state’s 16 technical colleges have risen the most, climbing an average of 6.1% per year.”

Un-elected technical college boards impose property tax increases. Board members have no accountability and taxpayers have no recourse.

Read the latest from
WISTAX.  

New youth hunting program set to begin


Wisconsin
’s new law creating the Mentored Hunting program goes into effect Tuesday, September 1, 2009.

Here are more details from the Department of Natural Resources
(DNR).

Another big cranberry year

Business


Wisconsin
will have a strong cranberry harvest during 2009 according to the Wisconsin State Cranberry Growers Association (WSCGA).  The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Agricultural Statistics Service (NASS) is forecasting a cranberry crop of four million barrels during the upcoming fall harvest.

Though Wisconsin will not repeat its record 2008 cranberry yield, this year’s harvest is good enough to make Wisconsin the national cranberry leader.

Read more from the WSCGA. 

Late last year, I applauded an agreement that was reached between cranberry growers and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources and the U.S. Army Corp of Engineers to quicken the permitting process for cranberry bogs. The agreement has helped one of the state’s largest industries expand.

Newborn babies save lives

News you can use


During the 2005 legislative session, I co-sponsored Assembly Bill 270 (AB 270) that promotes the donation of umbilical cord blood. Under the bill that was approved by the Legislature and signed into law, the primary prenatal health care provider of a pregnant woman is required to offer her information, before her 35th week of pregnancy, on options to donate blood extracted from the umbilical cord of her newborn child. The options include donating to an accredited cord blood bank, blood bank, blood center, or plasma center.


In a 2004 news release about a study confirming stem cells from the umbilical cords of newborn babies are a viable and effective transplant source for leukemia patients, the Medical College of Wisconsin wrote, “As a stem cell source, umbilical cord blood is not controversial and readily available.”

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I-94 NORTH-SOUTH update: August 31

 

Here is an update from the state Department of Transportation (DOT) about the I-94 North-South project:

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