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.

Tips From the DOT For Winter When It Gets Here

Winter has yet to officially arrive in Wisconsin
and we have already had some doses of snow with more on the way.

There are about 17,000 vehicle crashes during winter when roads are covered with ice, snow, or slush according to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT). These inclement weather crashes are responsible for, on average, nearly 80 fatalities and more than 7,000 people being injured.  Speed is often a factor. People are driving too fast for winter conditions.

With winter officially right around the corner, the DOT suggests some tips to remember when driving in bad weather:
  • Stay off roads until they are plowed.
  • If you have to venture out, slow down, leave plenty of room between vehicles, and anticipate stops and turns.
  • Be prepared for the unexpected. Remember: If there's ice and snow, take it slow.
  • Give snowplows plenty of room to work. They're big and hard to see around.
  • Don't pass a working snowplow - they can throw up a cloud of snow that could cause a whiteout and disorient you.
  • Also, it's tough for snowplow drivers to see you. Don't crowd the plow. Make sure you can see the driver's mirrors so he can see you. Remember, it's the law that you stay at least 200 feet behind a working snowplow.
  • And always remember to wear your seatbelt, drive sober, and keep your speed appropriate for the conditions - all essential when winter weather hits.

A Tax Promise Wisconsin Needs To Keep

State budget, Taxes

A provision in the 2005-07 state budget phases out taxes on Social Security income. The taxes will be totally eliminated during tax year 2008.

Given the state’s continuing budget deficit dilemma, this good news story is being spun as a tax break coming at the worst possible time.

The Associated Press (AP) reports, “An estimated 228,000 senior citizens will get average reductions of $518 on income taxes due in April even as lawmakers will likely be deciding to cut services and raise other taxes and fees to balance the budget, according to the Department of Revenue.”

I might add the senior citizens deserve this tax break. It would be dishonest and downright disgusting for the state to go back on its word and commitment to our seniors. Exempting Social security income from taxes might serve to prevent so many of our older, retired residents from packing up and leaving Wisconsin

Former Assembly Speaker John Gard told the AP, “I think the people who this helps need the money more than the government does.” I agree.

You can read the AP article here.


Make Sure The Ice Is Nice and Safe

Ice fishing might be popular, but it can also be dangerous due to the unpredictability of ice. The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) instructs that a minimum of four inches of clear ice is needed before anyone should walk on a frozen body of water. A minimum of six inches is necessary before driving a snowmobile across ice. The ice should be 8 to 10 inches thick before travelling with a car or light truck.

Gary Eddy, the DNR conservation warden who runs the snowmobile and ATV safety programs, offers the following tips to ensure safe ice fishing:

  • Contact local sport shops to ask about ice conditions on the lake or river you want to fish.
  • Do not go out alone, carry a cell phone, and let people know where you are going and when you’ll return home.
  • Wear proper clothing and equipment, including a float coat to help you stay afloat and to help slow body heat loss; take extra mittens or gloves so you always have a dry pair.
  • Wear creepers attached to boots to prevent slipping on clear ice.
  • Carry a spud bar to check the ice while walking to new areas.
  • Carry a couple of spikes and a length of light rope in an easily accessible pocket to help pull yourself – or others – out of the ice.
  • Do not travel in unfamiliar areas or at night.
  • Know if the lake has inlets, outlets or narrows that have current that can thin the ice.
  • Look for clear ice. Clear ice is generally stronger than ice with air bubbles in it or with snow on it.
  • Watch out for pressure ridges or ice heaves. These can be dangerous due to thin ice or may be an obstruction you may hit with a car, truck or snowmobile.

IRS Changes Mileage Rates

The Internal Revenue Service (IRS) has announced the 2009 mileage rates for using vehicles for business, charitable, medical, or moving purposes. The IRS reports:
“Beginning on Jan. 1, 2009, the standard mileage rates for the use of a car (also vans, pickups or panel trucks) will be:
  • 55 cents per mile for business miles driven
  • 24 cents per mile driven for medical or moving purposes
  • 14 cents per mile driven in service of charitable organizations”
 Read more details here.

Is It Smart To Legislate Against Junk Mail?

Apex, North Carolina, a town about the size of Franklin, Wisconsin describes itself as combining a relaxing small-town atmosphere with convenience to big-city amenities. Apex’s Steve Padgett is considered by many townsfolk to be a hero for not doing his job. That’s right, for not doing his job.

The 58-year old Padgett was a mailman who was recently given probation in a federal court for stashing away piles and piles of undelivered junk mail, seven year’s worth to be exact. He even buried flyers and catalogues in his back yard. The judge passed on sending Padgett to prison for five years, telling the mailman, “
Today, you'll get credit for a life well lived."

The U.S. Postal Service did not receive any complaints from anyone on Padgett’s route about undelivered mail. Instead, hundreds contacted local media to praise Padgett, saying he deserves an award.

The lack of a backlash against Padgett illustrates the public’s distaste for junk mail, despised in the same way as telemarketer calls. Do Not Call lists have become so popular that many states have explored Do Not Mail registries.

On the surface, the concept of consumers being afforded the opportunity to sign up for a Do Not Mail lists sounds great. But there are ramifications. Direct mail advertising, as obnoxious as it might be, provides discounts to consumers on various goods and services. The industry also provides jobs, employing about 10 million Americans. Doing away with junk mail sends a lot of people to the unemployment line.

Numerous states have attempted to pass Do Not Mail laws. They have all failed.

Read more about this issue in the Los Angeles Times and the Christian Science Monitor.

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