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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 want to create a Silver Alert System in Wisconsin


Modeled after Wisconsin’s Amber Alert Plan, legislation I have drafted would utilize the Amber Alert system to alert the public about an elderly person wandering or becoming lost. Called the Silver Alert, the system would not increase costs because it uses a service already in operation.

My legislation would also use the current system to notify the public about a sex offender being monitored by Global Positioning System (GPS) either tampers with the GPS device or if the device is not working.

When an Amber Alert is activated, Wisconsin radio and television stations cut into programming to broadcast information about an abducted child using the Emergency Alert System.  Highway message board signs also convey information about confirmed child abduction.

Eight states have instituted a Silver Alert-type system that helps find missing Alzheimer’s or dementia patients. Silver Alert has been successful.  A majority of those reported missing have returned safely.  Stateline.org reports:

“At least 5.2 million Americans suffer from dementia, and research shows that six out of 10 of those will wander. Only 4 percent of those who leave home alone are able to find their way back without help, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. Every year, hundreds of seniors and others with dementia wander away, on foot or driving, and if not found within 24 hours, at least half suffer serious injury or death, according to the Alzheimer’s Association. As baby boomers age, the toll is expected to multiply.”

Getting information out quickly and employing the aid of the public may prevent the tragic death of a senior citizen.

Because of my work during the past several years on sex predator/offender issues, I have included offenders that tamper with GPS devices in my legislation. Tampering with a GPS device is a felony. Wisconsin law also prohibits blocking, diffusing or preventing the transmission of a signal from a GPS device.

Should an offender tamper with GPS or if the monitoring device ceases to function, the state’s current Amber Alert System would be used to notify the public of pertinent information about the offender.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported on May 10, 2008, that Roy Jackson, convicted of first degree sexual assault of a child, cut off his GPS monitoring bracelet on March 6 while on parole. Jackson went into hiding, but was apprehended in New Holstein by a team of Sheboygan County Sheriff’s Deputies, Sheboygan Police Officers and Deputy U.S. Marshals during a special operation in early June. Jackson had been at large for about three months and was hiding under a couch at the time of his arrest.

Sex offenders tampering with GPS pose a risk to families and their children. The public needs to be given as much information as possible in such instances to insure they can better protect themselves and their children.

I will introduce my legislation to add senior citizens that go missing and sex offenders that tamper with GPS to the current Amber Alert System during the next legislative session that begins January 2009.

Here is an analysis of my legislation from the Wisconsin State Legislative Reference Bureau:

"The Department of Justice (DOJ) currently administers the Amber Alert System, under which it works with law enforcement agencies, broadcasters, and others to disseminate information regarding certain missing child cases.

This bill creates a statutory requirement that DOJ administer an alert system to disseminate information regarding missing adults who are cognitively impaired. This bill also provides civil immunity to persons who, as participants in this alert program, disseminate alerts regarding missing adults at risk and to persons who assist an adult at risk who is the subject of an alert.

Under current law, the Department of Corrections (DOC) uses global positioning system tracking devices (GPS devices) to monitor certain sex offenders, and tampering with such GPS devices is a felony. Under this bill, if DOC believes that the GPS device monitoring a sex offender has been tampered with, or is otherwise not working at a risk to public safety, DOC will alert DOJ. DOJ will administer an alert system to disseminate information regarding that sex offender." 

Congratulations to the Muskego Water Bugs Water Ski Show Team!


Last night, I had the honor of presenting a special citation from the Wisconsin State Senate to the Muskego Water Bugs during intermission at another of their outstanding performances.
The Muskego Water Bugs are invited to compete in the 2008 Sino-American Water Ski Competition in China. Family oriented, the Muskego Water Bugs feature parents and children performing on the shores of beautiful Little Muskego Lake at Idle Isle.

You still have two opportunities to see this incredibly talented group of people this year. The next Muskego Water Bugs show will be next Wednesday, August 27 at 6:30 pm.  Arrive at 6:00 PM and see the Futures show featuring new performers in training. Some of the regular fans of the shows call this particular program, giggles.  To reach Idle Isle Park, enter via Hardtke Drive from Martin Road. 

The Muskego Water Bugs is one of the oldest water ski show teams in the country, celebrating their 50th anniversary September 5 and 6, 2008.   September 6, will feature an alumni show at 2:00 pm. The current Water Bugs will perform at 3:00 pm. And you can’t beat this…the price is right: all shows throughout the season and on September 6 are free! 

The performers have been rewarded for their hard work and talent, winning numerous state, national, and international championships. Like our Olympians, the team is comprised of amateur skiers and drivers whose only compensation is the thunderous applause of appreciative fans.  I am truly amazed at the enormous talent and high-quality entertainment Wisconsin has to offer right here in Senate District 28 in Muskego.

I prepared a Senate citation, and I was thrilled to present it at last night’s performance.  The citation reads:

Whereas,, the Muskego Water Bugs are invited to represent the United States at the 2008 Sino-American Water Ski Competition to compete against two top professional Chinese show ski teams; and

Whereas, the Muskego Water Bugs qualified and placed fourth in the Division One National Show Ski Team Competition at the Thirty-Fourth Championships, with additional competition awards to Kelly Neubauer and Kyle Wohler earning fourteenth place doubles, Meghan Moriarty and Marty Campbell earning second place doubles, The Jump Team earning fifth place, and Terry Roslawski earning the Skip Gilkerson Award for best male skier; and

Whereas,  the Muskego Water Bugs will represent the United States of America with 14 participants from Muskego, including Terry Roslawski, Peggy Moriarty, Alyssa Modlinski, Cory Krivitz, Kyle Wohler, Michelle Aird, Meghan Moriarty, Marty Campbell, Kaitlin Moriarty,  Andy Krumrai, Mike O’Dwyer, Allie Krumrai, Craig Planton, and Mark Moriarty and three Wisconsin water skiers, Jeremy Armstrong, Kristin Armstrong, and Geoff Stone joining the Muskego Water Bugs for the China competition; now

Therefore, the members of the Wisconsin State Senate on the motion of Senator Mary Lazich congratulate the Muskego Water Bugs for successfully competing to earn status to represent the United States of America at the China competition.  The Muskego Water Bugs are further commended for earning distinction to represent the United States of America at the China event to better United States/Chinese relations in an environment centered around fun and entertainment.


I wish the Muskego Water Bugs the best of luck at the 2008 Sino-American Water Ski Competition in China! Thank you, Water Bugs, for sharing your gifted talents and for bringing immense pride and joy to our great state! 

Powerball calls them improvements

Gambling


I call them enticements.

Powerball is announcing big changes in its jackpot lottery game. Like a trailer for the next Hollywood box office smash, a lottery press release pulls out all the persuasive stops to lure more players. Powerball promises to “increase the size of the average jackpot,” and make the game “even more exciting,” because Powerball wants to “create lots of millionaires” and wants to “create more winners with better overall odds.”

Here is an example of the spin Powerball is using to attract even more gamblers. Ernie Passailaigue, the Powerball Group Chairman and the Executive Director of the South Carolina Lottery says, “The price of a Powerball ticket remains unchanged at $1.  Even though our players know that the cost of everything else has gone up since Powerball sales commenced over 16 years ago, we didn’t want to raise Powerball’s price in our current economy.”

Isn’t that considerate of Powerball? The people who run the jackpot lottery are so thoughtful, they are going a step further by letting you make the decision to spend even more on your tickets because there will be the option to play for bigger prizes for $2 by using Power Play. “We wanted to give our players the power to choose and with many of our newer member lotteries, more than half of our players have chosen the benefits of the $2 Power Play option,” said Passailaigue.

Changes to the game effective January 2009 include increasing the starting jackpot from $15 million to $20 million, and increasing the average jackpot from an expected average of $95.5 million to $141 million. Powerball promises bigger jackpots that will increase faster. The regular second-highest prize will be $1 million, but players will have to buy the Power Play option for an extra $1 and hit all the numbers except for the Powerball.

Powerball is instituting changes because Florida will become the 33rd state to join Powerball in January.

Currently, the odds of winning Powerball are 1 in 146.1 million. After Florida joins Powerball, the odds increase to 1 in 195.2 million. The long odds are the only sure thing about Powerball. Your chances of winning Powerball are slim to begin with and will become even more difficult.

Jackpots will be bigger and there probably will be more millionaires as a result of the Powerball changes. But there will be a great deal more losers as Florida joins Powerball come January.

If you have ever wanted to dunk a state Senator...


Here’s your chance.

The Muskego Teen Advisory Board is hosting a dunk tank for the community festival at Moorland Park this weekend. Proceeds will be used toward two sand volleyball courts at the park.

I will be the target in the dunk tank this Sunday, August 24, from 2-3 pm.

Please attend the community festival  and try your skills. Dunk yours truly for a very good cause!

Wisconsin taxes remain some of the highest

Taxes


Here is Exhibit A why Wisconsin is a tax hell and why I consistently vote against state budget and budget repair bills that increase taxes and spending.

The non-partisan Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) reports, “Net property taxes in Wisconsin rose 5.7 percent in 2008, the largest increase since 2005, the year before the recent levy limits on municipalities and counties were imposed. The new study notes that 2006 property taxes here were ninth highest nationally and higher than those in all surrounding states.”

School levies increased the most, at 7.4 percent.  County and municipal levy increases were limited to the greater of 3.86% or the increase in property values due to new construction. Due to the slowing real estate market, new construction growth around the state was only 2.5 percent. Even so, municipal property taxes increased by 5.0 percent, and county levies were up 4.5 percent.

Using the most recent figures from the U.S. Census Bureau, WISTAX found that Wisconsin property taxes, at 4.4 percent of personal income, were ninth highest in the nation.

Here is Exhibit B. The Tax Foundation in Washington D.C. has completed its annual report estimating the combined state-local tax burden of residents in all 50 states. It concluded that state-local tax burdens have declined due to income growth surpassing tax growth.

That is not the case, however, in Wisconsin. Every year, the Tax Foundation determines the percentage of income residents in each state pay in state and local taxes. Wisconsin ranks number 9 in the country for state and local tax burdens. Wisconsin’s rank was number 10 in 2007.

According to the Tax Foundation, Wisconsinites pay 10.2 percent of their income in state and local taxes. Wisconsin’s burden isn’t far from New Jersey that ranks number 1 with a state-local tax burden of 11.8 percent.

Surrounding states have lower state-local tax burdens than Wisconsin:

Minnesota: 10.2 percent (#12)

Michigan: 9.4 percent (#27)

Illinois: 9.3 percent (#30)

Iowa:  9.3 percent (#31)

O
ne of the interesting parts of the report is a segment on states where the tax burden rankings have dropped the most:

From 1977 to the present, South Dakota’s tax burden ranking has dropped 25 places from 20th highest to 45th, primarily by maintaining a zero rate on individual and corporate income. The tax burden ranking in Arizona has dropped 24 places from 17th highest to 41st, and the residents there now pay the tenth lowest tax burden. Most of the change came in the wake of a property tax limitation in 1980, and their ranking has changed little since. 

Montana has dropped 22 places, primarily by maintaining a zero rate on general sales.

Colorado has dropped 19 places in the ranking over the last 30 years. It levies every major tax, but the rate on each is among the lowest in the country. Spending discipline in the form of a so-called TABOR (Taxpayer Bill of Rights) has helped the state keep tax rates low.

Two politically liberal states have dropped sharply: Oregon and Massachusetts. Oregon has done so by never enacting a sales tax, dropping 16 ranks from 10th highest to 26th. Massachusetts has dropped 17 places by imposing a property tax limitation and keeping a lid on its personal income tax rate, living down its ‘Taxachusetts’ nickname.”

While other states have found the right formulas, Wisconsin continues down the disastrous path of excessive taxing and spending.

Two months ago, I was skeptical of a Wisconsin State Journal article with a bold headline that proclaimed, “Wisconsin falls from ranks of top 10 highest-taxed states for first time since 1980.” Researchers at WISTAX and the University of Wisconsin said this would be only the second time since 1969 Wisconsin has not been in the top ten in taxes nationwide.

How did this happen? As the newspaper reported, “Wisconsin's taxes actually rose slightly in the fiscal year ended in June 2006 but those of other states rose more quickly.” Translation: You’re still paying high taxes, Wisconsin, and they’re not going down.

Judging from the latest reports on our tax climate, it is time to put the corks back in the champagne.

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