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.
Since 2001, more than 80,000 people have called 1-800-QUIT-NOW, the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line. The assistance they have received has helped reduce their risk of premature death and has saved the state millions of dollars in health care-related costs.
Services at the Tobacco Quit Line expanded on January 1, 2008. Dr. Michael Fiore, Director of the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention has informed me that the hotline continues to be successful with more people taking advantage of its lifesaving services than ever before. Dr. Fiore writes:
“In the first six months of this expansion (1/1/08 - 7/1/08), more than 21,000 state residents contacted the Quit Line. It provides confidential, personalized and free coaching and medication for those who want to break their tobacco dependence. It also helps smokers locate quitting resources and programs in their own communities.
2008 Quit Line service rates shatter all previous records. In a typical year, the Wisconsin quit line helps about 9,000 state residents. By and large, this unprecedented interest is a response to the increased cigarette state excise tax, which went into effect on Jan. 1 combined with the expanded Quit Line services. Here is a more detailed breakdown of Quit Line callers:
● 90 percent are tobacco users. The remaining 10 percent are healthcare providers, and people concerned about friends and family.
● 90 percent have requested further assistance from the Quit Line, including science-based coaching to help them quit. More than 12,300 two-week starter kits of nicotine medications have been mailed out.
● Among those who requested these starter kits, 62 percent chose to receive stop-smoking nicotine patches. The remaining 38 percent chose either nicotine gum or lozenges.
● 40 percent have identified themselves as Medicaid enrollees or uninsured.
The Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line is funded by the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services and administered by the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention. It was established in 2001.
Wisconsin Researchers Lead National Effort to Establish New Federal Guidelines on Treating Tobacco Use and Dependence
As the chair of a federal panel convened by the U.S. Public Health Service, I was proud to participate in a May event to release an updated guideline of care for clinicians and healthcare systems to address tobacco dependence and treatment. The event culminated two year’s worth of work that examined more than 8,700 scientific studies. It was hosted by the American Medical Association and featured Dr. C. Everett Koop as a speaker. More than 58 national and international organizations have endorsed the guideline, representing more than 1.2 million clinicians.
The guideline recommends a combination of coaching, counseling and medication to more successfully treat what is a chronic disease - tobacco dependence. We are now working with state and national partners to ensure that every Wisconsin smoker visiting a healthcare setting receives evidence-based assistance in quitting.
Wisconsin Researchers Break the “Kid-Smoking” Genetic Code
Researchers at the University of Wisconsin Center for Tobacco Research and Intervention (UW-CTRI), along with colleagues at the University of Utah published findings that pinpoint the genetic risk of nicotine dependence in children. That risk is mitigated if children don’t smoke on a daily basis prior to age 17. If they do smoke daily prior to turning 17, their risk of addiction increases and it’s likely to be an even more severe addiction than for those who don’t have the genetic predisposition.
This groundbreaking finding is based on a study of 398 participants who came to UW-CTRI clinics in Milwaukee and Madison. Participants from Utah and an extensive national study rounded out the sample.
In Wisconsin, 19.9 percent of high school students and 5.8 percent of middle school students are tobacco users. This new genetic research emphasizes the importance of prevention programs, and specifically prevention programs aimed at youth who are genetically at risk for nicotine dependence.”
Here is the website for the Wisconsin Tobacco Quit Line, information on what to expect when you call, and testimonials from callers about their experience with the hotline
The Appleton Post-Crescent is reporting the state wants to add information about some of Wisconsin’s most dangerous sex offenders to a website by the end of summer. These are offenders who have failed to comply with state registration requirements and are still at large. When found, they face fines, jail, or prison time.
Here’s the Post-Crescent article and the website for Wisconsin’s Most Wanted Noncompliant Registered Sex Offenders.
Women are coerced to have abortions more often than you think. One of the most egregious cases occurred in Georgia. A parent forged a signature on a parental consent form for her son's pregnant girlfriend. The parent, Cindi Cook was recently sentenced.
ABC News has the story. Note the headline. Normally the news media would use the clinical term, fetus. ABC editors, to their credit, used the word baby to headline their story.
Residents of southeast Wisconsin are quite familiar with the federal agency, the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
The EPA has determined the quality of air in our area is hampered by auto emissions. According to the Wisconsin Vehicle Inspection Program (WVIP) Annual Report for 2005-2006, “The U.S. EPA implemented a more stringent ozone standard, the so-called 8-hour ozone standard. In April 2004, several southeastern and eastern Wisconsin counties were designated non-attainment areas under this standard. The WVIP will play an important, ongoing role in the state’s efforts to comply with the standard.”
That means the auto emission program continues in southeast Wisconsin, although there was a change implemented in the program over two weeks ago. As of July 1, 2008, cars and trucks built before 1996 are exempt from undergoing emissions testing.
This seems odd given that the conventional wisdom is older cars produce dirtier emissions and that newer, cleaner running automobiles that have replaced older cars are cleaner and stay cleaner much longer than their predecessors. If any vehicles should be exempt, it should be the newer and not the older models.
Motorists in southeast Wisconsin are also required to pump and use reformulated gas (RFG) that during the summertime costs much more than gasoline in counties outside our region. How effective is RFG in improving the quality of our air? The Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel recently posed that question to the EPA. The EPA had to admit that it didn’t know.
From jsonline.com, June 30, 2008:
“The Public Investigator Team asked the Environmental Protection Agency exactly how the gas benefits air quality today. The answer: ‘That's the data we don't know now,’ said Paul Machiele, director of the EPA's Fuels Center in Ann Arbor, Mich.”
During May of this year, I signed a letter with other lawmakers asking the EPA to eliminate the RFG requirement. The EPA says it's preparing a response. Remember, southeast Wisconsin consumers have complained mightily about the effect of RFG, wreaking havoc on automobiles and small engines.
That leads to the latest EPA folly. Nick Loris of the Heritage Foundation reports the EPA is considering a rule that would allow the agency to regulate the emissions of your lawnmower.
Loris writes, “This would require the agency to create different regulations and units of emissions requirements for each gadget that pollutes.”
Loris then quotes from the proposed EPA rule:
“[E]ach application could require a different unit of measure tied to the machine’s mission or output– such as grams per kilogram of cuttings from a “standard” lawn for lawnmowers and grams per kilogram-meter of load lift for forklifts.”
Needless to say, these regulations would be far-reaching, cumbersome, and costly.
Here is Loris’ piece.
The EPA is accepting public comment on the proposed rule. You can e-mail your comments to: a-and-rDocket@epa.gov, fax them to 202-566-9744, or mail them to Air and Radiation Docket and Information Center, Environmental Protection Agency, Mailcode: 2822T, 1200 Pennsylvania Ave., NW.,Washington, DC 20460.
The Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) has released its annual audit of the financial statements for the Wisconsin State Fair Park for fiscal year 2006-07. Here are the audit’s key findings.
For the first time since fiscal year 1998-99, State Fair Park annual revenue exceeded expenditures, by $1.3 million. Race track related expenditures declined by $3.8 million. As of June 30, 2007, State Fair Park’s accumulated cash deficit was $9.9 million. The deficit is a concern because less funding is available for other state programs and the deficit prohibits State Fair Park income from turning into investments.
State Fair Park made a license agreement in December 2005 with Milwaukee Mile Holdings to manage racing events at the Fair Park. The agreement was for 18 years and included a license fee of $246,000 the first year increasing to $1.8 million annually thereafter. There have been some amendments to the agreement since, the latest coming in a renegotiation in February of this year that reduced the annual license fee to $1 million beginning in 2008.
The original agreement December 2005 agreement was intended to have the license fee be sufficient to cover annual debt service at State Fair Park. Under the new agreement, the LAB estimates that, “State Fair Park’s financial responsibility for the Milwaukee Mile will increase to nearly $1.2 million in 2008,” meaning more revenue sources must be found. Some possibilities that had been considered review are the development of 5.75 acres at State Fair Park adjacent to I-94 and the construction of a billboard on the grounds. Because of I-94 construction, those options have been postponed.
The audit also examined concerns pertaining to livestock contests at the Wisconsin State Fair. The concerns include the role of the Agriculture Director consulting with advisory committees in establishing contest rules for junior division livestock shows, the responsibility of the Agriculture Director in choosing junior division judges, and changes in the payout procedures for the premier livestock competition of the State Fair, the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Livestock Auction.
The LAB also reports, “Several conflict of interest allegations have also been raised related to the Agriculture Director’s responsibilities to State Fair Park and his participation in an outside business that buys and sells show cattle. For example, the Agriculture Director maintained a financial interest in animals that were exhibited and won championships at the 2005 and 2006 state fairs. State Fair Park officials were aware of this potential conflict but did not reassign the Agriculture Director’s responsibilities because he was not a direct participant in the competitions and was not the sole person responsible for selecting judges. The Agriculture Director has indicated he is transitioning away from his outside business, but we found that he continued to participate as recently as March 2008.”
Here is the way the Milwaukee Journal/Sentinel reported the issue.
The LAB recommends the State Fair Park Board consult with the state’s Government Accountability Board to examine if the Agriculture Director’s outside business interests constitute a conflict of interest with his duties at the State Fair Park.
The LAB also recommends the State Fair Park get more financial information from the company managing racing activities, report back to the Joint Legislative Audit Committee by March 31, 2009 on both the revenue shortfall in the new license agreement with Milwaukee Mile Holdings and the cash deficit, reevaluate the selection of judges for junior livestock competitions, and that the State Fair Park Board’s Agriculture Committee approves competition rules for livestock shows annually.
Here is the entire LAB audit report.
I commend the LAB for their consistently excellent reviews.