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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.

Number of private businesses on the decline in Wisconsin

Business


During the first part of 2009, Wisconsin had 6,700 fewer private businesses than it did during the same period in 2006, a decline of 4.3 percent. That is according to the Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance (WISTAX) that reports, “The 2006-09 drop in private establishments here was somewhat unusual, for Illinois (7.8%), Iowa (2.2%), Minnesota (0.4%), and the nation (6.1%) all experienced increases; and Michigan (-1.7%), surprisingly, was down less than Wisconsin.”

This is a stunning development 
and should serve as a loud wake-up call. Wisconsin must immediately put in place policies that attract and retain businesses and create a climate where the state is attractive to conduct business. Businesspeople have delivered that message quite clearly.It is time to start listening.

Providing wellness program incentives to everyone

Business, Legislation


The state Senate Health Committee that I serve on conducted a public hearing Wednesday, February 24, 2010 about legislation that would exempt wellness programs from unfair trade or marketing practices. Under current Wisconsin law, fully insured and individual health insurance plans are prohibited from providing benefits that are not spelled out in the policy. Therefore, they are prohibited from advertising, marketing, offering or operating a wellness program without violating an unfair trade or marketing practice. Senate Bill 502 that I have co-sponsored would allow health care providers to offer wellness program incentives to all clients without violating unfair trade or marketing practices.

The Wisconsin Legislative Reference Bureau in its analysis of SB 502 writes, “A wellness program is designed to promote health or prevent disease by offering a reward to insured individuals.” Wellness programs include smoking cessation weight loss, stress management, and nutrition improvement.

Meg Christianson, a nurse coach for Humana that provides coverage to more than 400,000 Wisconsinites gave excellent testimony about SB 502.  Meg Christianson told the Senate Health Committee Wisconsin must provide wellness program incentives to everyone and ensure reasonable alternatives for persons with medical conditions that make it medically unadvisable for them to participate or satisfy the program standard.

She reminded committee members current federal nondiscrimination rules under the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPPA) provide protections to ensure wellness programs do not unfairly discriminate on the basis of health factors. The Americans with Disabilities Act requires that wellness program information is treated confidentially, separate from employer personnel files and only accessible to wellness program personnel.

More and more employees are spending time at work, Meg Christianson testified, making the workplace an ideal spot to engage people in wellness programs. Workers that participate in employer-based wellness programs have better on the job decision-making and time management skills and greater loyalty to their company.

Businesses that invest in workplace wellness programs can enjoy savings through lower healthcare costs, decreased absenteeism and decreased workers' compensation claims. A MetLife survey found that more than half, 57 percent, of larger employers, those with 500 or more employees, during 2008 were providing employees with a wellness program, up from 49 percent during 2006.

CNN.com reports, “Employee wellness programs just may be the cure for companies struggling to keep up with rapidly rising health care costs. According to the Kaiser Foundation's Employer Health Benefits 2008 Annual Survey, average premiums for employer-sponsored health insurance for family coverage increased 119 percent between 1999 and 2008. The report, which surveyed randomly selected public and private firms, also found that more employers are turning to employee wellness programs -- more than half of the small and large firms that offered employee health benefits also offered some form of a wellness program.”

I wholeheartedly support SB 502Wisconsin s
hould provide the flexibility businesses need to provide wellness programs that can lead to healthier lifestyles, longer lives, and reduced health care costs.

Wisconsin could suffer California’s high speed rail headaches

Legislation, Taxes


Chuck Devore, a candidate for U.S. Senate in California, is critical of the state’s planned $45 billion high speed rail project from Anaheim to San Francisco. The project will use $2.25 billion in stimulus funding.

California voters approved the high speed rail project, a bonding initiative, during November 2008 by a percentage of 52-48. Devore writes on the website Big Government that supporters promised less expensive travel that would save time. High speed rail, proponents claimed, would offer an alternative to high gas prices, reduce greenhouse gases, and would cost less than expanding freeways and airports.

You can guess what has happened since the November 2008 vote. Cost estimates are increasing with a one-way fare from Los Angeles to San Francisco jumping from $50 to $105. Devore writes, “The doubled cost to riders has tanked train ridership estimates by one-third.”

Estimates of ridership, according to Devore who cites a newspaper report, were based on public employees intentionally holding back final projections to help get the ballot project approved.

Devore adds paying back the bonds will be extremely costly.

If all this sounds familiar, it should.

The Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee quickly approved spending $810 million of federal stimulus money for high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison. The state will need an additional $7.6 million in operating expenses each year to cover the cost of the project. Bonding is being considered.

Specific figures about the cost of fares and ridership are unknown. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that only 55 permanent jobs will be created.

Devore concludes his piece on Big Government with this advice:

“As for the rest of America, look to California and take careful notice: incurring mountains of debt without the ability to reliably repay it comes at a high cost.  Out of control debt encumbers future generations with crushing repayment obligations – essentially subjecting America’s youth to taxation without representation while consigning them to a life with a lower standard of living than their parents and grandparents.”

We would be wise to pay attention. Wisconsin’s economy is not as horrendous as California’s. However, we are
in the ballpark.

Here is the latest about California high speed rail from the LA Times.

State Senate Calendar for Tuesday, March 2, 2010

News you can use


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Tuesday, March 2, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.:

First Order.                  Call of Roll.

Second Order.             Chief clerk's entries.

Third Order.                 Introduction, first reading and reference of proposals.

Fourth Order.               Report of committees.

Fifth Order.                  Petitions and communications.

Sixth Order.                 Referrals and receipt of committee reports concerning proposed administrative rules.

Seventh Order.             Advice and consent of the Senate

Eighth Order.               Messages from the Assembly.

Ninth Order.                 Special Orders.

Tenth Order.                 Consideration of motions, resolutions, and joint resolutions not requiring a third reading.

Eleventh Order.            Second reading and amendments of senate joint resolutions and senate bills.

QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Senate Bill 44. Relating to: adjudications for involuntary commitment, appointment of a guardian of the person, and protective placement or protective services, background checks for the purchase of handguns, and requiring the exercise of rule-making authority. (Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Judiciary, Corrections, Insurance, Campaign Finance Reform, and Housing, Ayes 5, Noes 0) Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 418. Relating to: disclosure of information by health care providers and insurers and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, and Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 431. Relating to: the use of the terms college, university, state, and Wisconsin in the name of a school; the issuing, manufacture, or use of a false academic credential; the false use of a legitimate academic credential; making an appropriation; and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 5, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Amendment 1, and Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 458. Relating to: the local regulation of ticket selling and providing a penalty. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Ayes 6, Noes 1, passage as amended recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 6, Noes 1) Senate Amendment 1 to Senate Substitute Amendment 1, Senate Substitute Amendment 1, and Senate Substitute Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 517. Relating to: the Interstate Compact for the Placement of Children. (Report passage recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Twelfth Order.              Second reading and amendments of assembly joint resolutions and assembly bills.

QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Assembly Bill 128. Relating to: authorizing a sheriff to depute certain security officers who are employed by the Department of Military Affairs. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology, and Financial Institutions, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 173. Relating to: the method by which the Department of Revenue makes certain calculations regarding tax incremental financing district number 4 in the village of Elmwood. 
(Report concurrence recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 213. Relating to: establishing and changing compensation for city and village elective offices; signing village contracts; bidding procedure for village public construction contracts; officer-of-the-peace status of village officers; publication by the city clerk of fund receipts and disbursements; village and 4th class city regulation of political signs; liability of counties and cities for mob damage; means of providing police and fire protection by cities and villages; holdover status of appointed city and village officers; use of the s. 32.05 procedure in villages for certain housing and urban renewal condemnation; and application of public contract bidder prequalification to 1st class cities. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 230. Relating to: electronic access by law enforcement agencies to photographs on motor vehicle operators licenses and identification cards. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 485. Relating to: required judicial findings and orders when a child is placed outside the home, termination of parental rights warnings, mandatory child abuse or neglect reporters, the confidentiality of social services records, changing from day care to child care the term used to describe care and supervision for children for less than 24 hours a day, and renumbering the definition of neglect. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Children and Families and Workforce Development, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 574. Relating to: lightweight utility vehicles and providing a penalty. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 579. Relating to: special distinguishing registration plates associated with Marquette University. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, Ayes 6, Noes 0)

Thirteenth Order.         Third reading of joint resolutions and bills.

Fourteenth Order.        Motions may be offered.

Fifteenth Order.            Announcements, adjournment honors, and remarks under special privilege.

Sixteenth Order.           Adjournment.

A new generation gets hooked on marijuana

Legislation


Illicit drugs are not being used exclusively by the young. Americans over 50, including many senior citizens are now smoking marijuana.

Retirees say they are resorting to marijuana to ease pain. However health officials warn they could be jeopardizing their health, becoming at risk to falls and heart problems. There are, as I have blogged in the past, other alternatives that are legal.

I am concerned about a growing number of marijuana users that has now extrapolated into the elderly. As a member of the state Senate Health Committee that is considering the issue of medical marijuana. I fear such legislation, if enacted into law, would open Pandora’s Box to even more people experimenting with and getting hooked on marijuana and potentially even more dangerous drugs.

Read more from the Associated Press.  

State Senate approves ticket reselling legislation

Legislation


The state Senate has approved legislation to regulate ticket reselling. Senate Bill 458 (SB 458) allows the Bradley Center, Miller Park, and Summerfest to create ticket resale zones.

A resale zone is defined as property controlled by the aforementioned sports and entertainment venues that is designated as the only area of its property that a ticket may be resold. Under an amendment approved, Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center at the UW-Madison are exempt.

Under SB 458
a municipality would be allowed to prohibit the reselling of tickets at or less than face value within 250 feet of any property on which a resale zone is created if signage is posted notifying the public that reselling of tickets is prohibited in that area. The reselling of tickets to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament event at or less than face value within 250 feet of the Bradley Center would be prohibited.

If a person is convicted of violating the requirements of a resale zone, the person is subject to a forfeiture of $10 for the first offense. For a second or any subsequent offense, a person is subject to a forfeiture not to exceed the penalty for a Class C forfeiture, which is a civil penalty with a maximum forfeiture of $500. Court costs may be imposed on a defendant for a second or subsequent offense, but not for a first offense.

I voted against SB 458 that constitutes another example of government intervention where it does not belong. The motivation of the bill to go after the large groups of professional scalpers that reportedly bother and annoy event patrons as they enter a facility is understandable.

However, what about the one-time scenario of a single individual or a small family that wants to either sell or purchase tickets? Why is state government regulating this rather harmless, simple transaction?


It seems there should be some specific, numerical level of ticket-reselling that is deemed  problematic before the state drops a punitive hammer on families or a single sports fan that only want to see a ballgame. On this vote, I side with families and against government intrusion.

SB 458 was approved by the state Senate, 28-3 and advances to the state Assembly.

Important information for crime victims

News you can use


Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is recommending crime victims enroll with the Wisconsin Department of Corrections Office of Victim Services and Programs so they can obtain information about offenders’ custody and supervised release.

Van Hollen says a controversial provision in the 2009-2011 state budget that is now being enforced, the early release of some prison inmates, has changed the dynamic for crime victims wanting and needing accurate information about offenders.

In a news release, Van Hollen says, “Victims heard the sentence handed down by the judge when their case went through court. Now they are hearing that the sentence isn’t necessarily the sentence anymore and they may or may not be told ahead of time if the offender is released early. Enrolling in these programs sooner rather than later ensures victims can be as aware as the law allows and entitles them to be.”

Van Hollen says victims interested in enrolling should call 1-800-947-5777.

Here is more information.

State Senate Calendar for Thursday, March 4, 2010

News you can use


Here is the calendar for the state Senate floor session scheduled for Thursday, March 4, 2010 at 11:00 a.m.:


First Order.                  Call of Roll.

Second Order.             Chief clerk's entries.

Third Order.                 Introduction, first reading and reference of proposals.

Fourth Order.               Report of committees.

Fifth Order.                  Petitions and communications.

Sixth Order.                 Referrals and receipt of committee reports concerning proposed administrative rules.

Seventh Order.            Advice and consent of the Senate

Eighth Order.               Messages from the Assembly.

Ninth Order.                 Special Orders.

Tenth Order.                Consideration of motions, resolutions, and joint resolutions not requiring a third reading.

QUESTION:            Shall the joint resolution be concurred in?

Assembly Joint Resolution 14. Relating to: the life and public service of Frank H. Urban, M.D.

Assembly Joint Resolution 79. Relating to: honoring the life of Terry Wise. 

Assembly Joint Resolution 92. Relating to: recognizing the 20th anniversary of the fall of the Berlin Wall and the symbolic end of the Cold War. 

Eleventh Order.           Second reading and amendments of senate joint resolutions and senate bills.

QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Senate Bill 250. Relating to: accepting pupils under the full-time Open Enrollment Program.
(Report passage recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 286. Relating to: collection agencies. (Report passage recommended by committee on Veterans and Military Affairs, Biotechnology, and Financial Institutions, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Senate Bill 291. Relating to: authorizing the designation of a tax incremental district as distressed and expanding the use of donor tax incremental districts. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)     Senate Amendments 1 and 2 pending

Senate Bill 399. Relating to: authorizing two or more cities, villages, towns, or counties, or a combination of such political subdivisions, to create a commission to issue conduit revenue bonds and exercise eminent domain authority and exempting from taxation interest on such bonds.(Report adoption of Senate Amendment 2, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Economic Development, Ayes 7, Noes 0)
Senate Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 414. Relating to: school nurses and the administration of drugs to pupils. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Education, Ayes 6, Noes 1) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 452. Relating to: a sales and use tax exemption for food sold by child welfare facilities. (Report adoption of Senate Amendment 1, Ayes 7, Noes 0, passage as amended recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0) Senate Amendment 1 pending

Senate Bill 483. Relating to: prohibiting health insurance policies and self-insured health plans from excluding coverage for injuries based on the use of alcohol or controlled substances.  (Report passage recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 4, Noes 3) Senate Amendment 2 pending

Senate Bill 527. Relating to: the agricultural producer security program, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority. (Report passage recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Twelfth Order.             Second reading and amendments of assembly joint resolutions and assembly bills.

QUESTION:            Shall the bill be ordered to a third reading?

Assembly Bill 139. Relating to: littering and providing a penalty. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Environment, Ayes 4, Noes 1) Senate Substitute Amendment 1 pending

Assembly Bill 159. Relating to: the charge-back of refunded or rescinded taxes and of personal property taxes and sharing certain collected taxes.  (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Health, Health Insurance, Privacy, Property Tax Relief, and Revenue, Ayes 7, Noes 0)

Assembly Bill 455. Relating to: the testing of portable scales used for the enforcement of vehicle weight limitations. (Report concurrence recommended by committee on Agriculture and Higher Education, Ayes 5, Noes 0)

Thirteenth Order.         Third reading of joint resolutions and bills.

Fourteenth Order.        Motions may be offered.

Fifteenth Order.           Announcements, adjournment honors, and remarks under special privilege.

Sixteenth Order.          Adjournment.

Time to buy new hunting, fishing licenses

News you can use


Licenses for hunting, fishing, and trapping in Wisconsin for the 2010-2011 seasons go on sale this month. Here is more information from the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

Wisconsin's Economic Recovery Will Require Patience

Economy, Business


Wisconsin
was hurt less than other states during the recession. However, Wisconsin does not possess a magic formula to rebound quickly. Job growth is coming. Unfortunately, a return to prosperity will take a long time.

Two noted experts shared their economic forecasts at a symposium presented at the state Capitol sponsored by the Wisconsin Legislative Council. Mike Knetter, the Dean of the Wisconsin School of Business at the University of Wisconsin-Madison and Rick Mattoon, Senior Economist and Economic Advisor at the Federal Reserve Bank of Chicago addressed the U.S. economy and its implications for Wisconsin.

The absence of certain factors prevented Wisconsin from suffering a more severe recession. Wisconsin did not experience the level of overbuilding and excessive lending that swept other parts of the country. News that only Iowa outperformed Wisconsin in the Midwest region during the recession and that Wisconsin’s economy is stabilized provides little, if any consolation to struggling families.

Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has not risen as quickly as the nation’s. American job losses have piled up and returning to previous employment levels will be a daunting task. During August 2009, there were 1.3 million fewer jobs in the United States than had existed during 1999. Richard Mattoon of the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago does not foresee job growth for a protracted time in part because businesses are hesitant to bring on new employees until they are confident that the downturn is over.

Mattoon offered the audience what could definitely be classified as a worst-case scenario, a study by Rutgers University. Authors calculated America’s job deficit, i.e., job losses plus lack of new job creation, would total 9.39 million by December 2009.America’s New Post-Recession Employment Arithmetic” reports, “Erasing this deficit will require substantial and sustained employment growth. Even if the nation could add 2.15 million private-sector jobs per year starting in January 2010, it would need to maintain this pace for more than 7 straight years (7.63 years), or until August 2017, to eliminate the jobs deficit!”

So what about Wisconsin? We have our strengths. Remember, we excel in manufacturing, a sector the state has outperformed the rest of the country. Agriculture, higher education, patent counts, research and development, licensing and royalties, and a devoted workforce levels are also huge plusses.

Our weaknesses prevent a faster climb out of our economic abyss. Manufacturing, a longtime Wisconsin trump card, has taken a back seat to a national shift toward knowledge and service economies. Wisconsin has a world class university meaning the state is a high producer of human capital. However, we train these intelligent young people and we export them and their innovations.  Additionally, ideas, products and services created in Wisconsin get commercialized elsewhere due to a culture that is big on modesty and low on willingness to take risks.

UW Business School Dean Michael Knetter contends that because Wisconsin is heavy on manufacturing and light on knowledge and service economies, the state seriously lags the rest of the nation in income and wealth. Richard Mattoon sees Wisconsin’s continuing budget deficits as an issue in need of attention.

Michael Knetter’s outlook and advice for Wisconsin: Unemployment will be nine percent at the end of 2010 meaning there will still be a number of discouraged workers. Wisconsin must defend its strengths and at the same time venture into areas like knowledge and service economies that will garner higher profits and wages. He concludes, “We just need to ride out the recession like everyone else.”

Richard Mattoon’s outlook and advice for Wisconsin: The state Department of Revenue predicts pre-recession job levels will not return here until 2012. Wisconsin needs to boost its production and retention of coveted human capital and stabilize its fiscal condition by creating an environment that makes the state a great place to do business.

Zoo Interchange emergency bridge replacement project update Mar. 8 - Mar. 14

News you can use


Here is an update from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) for the Zoo Interchange emergency bridge replacement project:

MONDAY, MARCH 8

Read more

March means the Padre Serra Tournament


The extremely popular grade school basketball tournament, Padre Serra begins with all games taking place at Mount Mary College.

The annual event debuted during 1959 dubbed, The Catholic Midget League Playoff.  For many years, it was called the Milwaukee Archdiocesan Catholic Grade School Invitational Basketball Tournament until 1985, the name Padre Serra Tournament was adopted. The tournament is named for Padre Junipero Serra.

Last year, the boy’s team from Holy Apostles New Berlin placed fourth among 36 teams.

Here are teams from schools located in State Senate District 28 that are competing in this year’s Padre Serra Tournament:


BOYS


Holy Apostles, New Berlin

St. Alphonsus, Greendale

St. Joseph, Big Bend

St. Leonard, Muskego



GIRLS

Holy Apostles, New Berlin

St. Mary, Hales Corners

St. Thomas Aquinas, Waterford

St. Leonard, Muskego

Read more

Wisconsin has some of the worst debt in the country

Economy


Wisconsin
has the tenth worst financial condition, number 41, of all states in a ranking compiled by Forbes.com. Wisconsin has a debt per capita of $1,429, unfunded pensions per capita of $16,418, and debt as a percentage of Gross State Product of 22 percent. Our state is classified as a debt disaster.  

Forbes.com makes this observation:

“Of the 10 states in the worst financial condition, eight are among a total of 23 defined by Gallup as ‘solidly Democratic,’ meaning the Democrats enjoy an advantage of 10 percentage points or greater in party affiliation. These states include Illinois, New York, Connecticut, California, and New Jersey, as making up the bottom five, plus Massachusetts, Ohio and Wisconsin.”

Kent Redfield, professor emeritus of political studies and public affairs at the University of Illinois' Center for State Policy and Leadership attributes the state struggles to, as Forbes.com writes, “a larger appetite for public programs,” an assertion I have made about our state government numerous times on my blog.

Daniel Fisher of Forbes Magazine correctly emphasizes that states like Wisconsin face major problems combating debt. Paying debt off is difficult, and Washington is often looked to for assistance. That puts states in direct competition with the federal government for taxpayer funds.

How many warnings and wake-up calls do we need in Wisconsin before we finally put a halt to runaway spending?

Your help is needed to oppose the repeal of local sex offender ordinances

Legislation


The state Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts will hold a public hearing Thursday, March 11, 2010, about legislation proposed to repeal local ordinances that restrict released sex offenders whereabouts and residences. Dozens of communities around the state have ordinances in place.  Many of the communities I represent, including Franklin, Greendale, Greenfield, Muskego, and Waukesha have sex offender ordinances.

Franklin is the leading pioneer about the issue, adopting two ordinances during 2007. The ordinances were challenged by a released sex offender that moved into Franklin after the ordinances were enacted into law.  Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge John Franke during 2008 ruled Franklin’s ordinances to be constitutional. Numerous municipalities around Wisconsin followed suit and adopted similar laws that have been found to be effective in protecting children and families.

I strongly oppose Assembly Bill 759 and I urge concerned citizens to attend Thursday’s public hearing. 

I encourage you to contact family, friends, and acquaintances in other legislative districts and request they contact their State Senator and State Representative opposing the bill. Here is a link to a Wisconsin State Legislature website that assists finding a person's State Senator and State Representative.

The city of Franklin’s web site has more background about this issue.

UPDATE: The room location has been changed for Thursday's public hearing. The hearing will take place in the North Hearing Room (2nd Floor North) of the state Capitol. The time of the public hearing remains the same.

I testified against repeal of local sex offender ordinances


Here is testimony I gave to the state Assembly Committee on Corrections and the Courts today about Assembly Bill 759 and its companion bill in the state Senate, Senate Bill 548:
 

Senator Mary Lazich

Testimony

Read more

Ladies, are you ready for a garage party?

Motorcycles, News you can use


As an avid motorcycle enthusiast,
I am thrilled that Harley-Davidson has proclaimed March 2010 to be National Garage Party Month with special events planned all across the country especially for women. 

Click here to search the list for Wisconsin events.

Legislature takes up ticket scalping

Legislation


The state Senate has approved legislation to regulate ticket reselling. Senate Bill 458 (SB 458) allows the Bradley Center, Miller Park, and Summerfest to create ticket resale zones.

A resale zone is defined as property controlled by the aforementioned sports and entertainment venues that is designated as the only area of its property that a ticket may be resold. Under an amendment approved, Camp Randall Stadium and the Kohl Center at the UW-Madison are exempt.

Under SB 458
a municipality would be allowed to prohibit the reselling of tickets at or less than face value within 250 feet of any property on which a resale zone is created if signage is posted notifying the public that reselling of tickets is prohibited in that area. The reselling of tickets to a National Collegiate Athletic Association (NCAA) tournament event at or less than face value within 250 feet of the Bradley Center would be prohibited.

If a person is convicted of violating the requirements of a resale zone, the person is subject to a forfeiture of $10 for the first offense. For a second or any subsequent offense, a person is subject to a forfeiture not to exceed the penalty for a Class C forfeiture, which is a civil penalty with a maximum forfeiture of $500. Court costs may be imposed on a defendant for a second or subsequent offense, but not for a first offense.

I voted against SB 458 that constitutes another example of government intervention where it does not belong. The motivation of the bill to go after the large groups of professional scalpers that reportedly bother and annoy event patrons as they enter a facility is understandable.

However, what about the one-time scenario of a single individual or a small family that wants to either sell or purchase tickets? Why is state government regulating this rather harmless, simple transaction?


It seems there should be some specific, numerical level of ticket-reselling that is deemed  problematic before the state drops a punitive hammer on families or a single sports fan that only want to see a ballgame. On this vote, I side with families and against government intrusion.

SB 458 was approved by the state Senate, 28-3 and advanced to the state Assembly. The Assembly voted to table the legislation.

Have you ever been spoofed?

Legislation


Fox 6 reporter Bryan Polcyn did a special investigation on spoofing and I played a key role.

You can watch his special report here:
 

Appointments to be made to MATC Board


I received a letter from Dr. Michael Bonds, the Chair of the District Board Appointment Committee at the Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) informing that three members will be appointed to the MATC District Board.

The three-year terms for all three members are effective July 1, 2010 and expire June 30, 2013.

Two of the appointments will be employee members, defined as any person not an employer and receives earnings as payment for personal services, and includes a person acting in the capacity of officer or agent of a labor organization.

The third appointment is for an additional member, defined as a resident of the District.

A public hearing and meeting of the Appointment Committee is scheduled Saturday, March 27, 2010 at 9:00 a.m. at MATC, Room M616, 1015 North 6th Street, Milwaukee.

I hope the MATC District Board appointment process will be fair.

About a year ago, I blogged about Greg Grambow’s testimony before the WISCONSIN JOBS NOW TASK FORCE in Brown Deer on Monday, March 23, 2009. Grambow had applied for a position on the MATC District Board. I wrote:

“During his testimony, Grambow relayed his experience with MATC, saying he was informed that he was, ‘the wrong sex and color’ for the position. Grambow referred to the response as, ‘institutional bias.’ My office made an inquiry of the Wisconsin Technical College System Policy Advisor about the appointment process for MATC Board members.”

You can read my entire blog on this subject here.

More lessons from Spain about renewable energy

Legislation


Last month, I blogged that Wisconsin, that is considering radical global warming legislation, should learn from what has occurred in green-conscious Spain.


The March 2009 Spanish “Study of the effects on employments of public aid to renewable energy sources” said renewable energy policies implemented in Spain were “terribly economically counterproductive” and that the “green jobs” agenda “in fact kills jobs.” I wrote:

“Here is the most damning point of the study: Spain’s experience pinpointed as a model by President Obama can be expected to result in a loss of 2.2 jobs for every job created, or nearly 9 jobs lost for every four created. Gabriel Calzada, an economics professor at the Universidad Rey Juan Carlos and author of the study reports the premiums paid for solar, biomass, wave and wind power that  are charged to consumers in their bills amounted to a $774,000 cost for each Spanish ‘green job’ created since 2000.

Here is my blog.

Solar power was intended to be an economic boost for Spain. The New York Times reports, “Half the solar power installed globally in 2008 was installed in Spain.”

Then the bubble burst. The newspaper reports, “As low-quality, poorly designed solar plants sprang up on Spain’s plateaus, Spanish officials came to realize that they would have to subsidize many of them indefinitely, and that the industry they had created might never produce efficient green energy on its own.  In September the government abruptly changed course, cutting payments and capping solar construction. Puertollano’s brief boom turned bust. Factories and stores shut, thousands of workers lost jobs, foreign companies and banks abandoned contracts that had already been negotiated.”

Wisconsin would be wise not to travel the same path as Spain. 

State Senate committee to hold hearing on sex offender residency bill

Legislation


The state Senate Judiciary Committee scheduled a public hearing on Senate Bill 548 that would nullify local sex offender ordinances restricting the residences and whereabouts of released sex offenders.

The hearing takes place Tuesday March 23, 2010, 10:05 AM,  Room 411 South, State Capitol at Madison. I urge all concerned citizens to attend the hearing or contact committee members to express opposition to the repeal of these important local ordinances.

UPDATE on 3/19/10:

I am pleased to inform you that Senate Bill 548 (SB 548)  has been removed from the March 23, 2010 state Senate Judiciary calendar by the Committee Chair, state Senator Lena Taylor.

UPDATE: Padre Serra Tournament

Good news from Senate District 28


After last weekend’s play, here are teams still alive in the Padre Serra Tournament from schools located in state Senate District 28:

BOYS

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UPDATE - SB 548 removed from public hearing agenda

Legislation


I am pleased to inform you that Senate Bill 548 (SB 548)  is removed from the March 23, 2010, State Senate Judiciary calendar by the Committee Chair, State Senator Lena Taylor. Senator Taylor removed the bill from the calendar after I spoke with her today.

I reminded Senator Taylor that she had promised to inform me before she was going to schedule SB 548 for a committee public hearing. Senator Taylor agreed that she had not given notice to me that a hearing was being scheduled and promptly agreed to remove the bill from the March 23, 2010 calendar.

I asked Senator Taylor whether she intends to re-schedule SB 548. Senator Taylor said she intends to schedule a public hearing, and has promised to give me advance notice of the public hearing date. I am appreciative that Senator Taylor has kept her commitment and is willing to give the many concerned parties about this important issue enough time to make necessary preparations.

As soon as I am aware of the scheduling of SB 548 by the Senate Judiciary Committee, I will inform you 



Sincerely,


Mary Lazich
Wisconsin State Senator
Sen.lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov
On the internet: www.SenatorLazich.com
Blog: http://www.franklinnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/conserv_speaking.html
Wisconsin State Capitol
Room 109 South
Post Office Box 7882
Madison, Wisconsin 53702
Phone: (608)266-5400
Toll Free: (800)334-1442
Fax: (608)267-6790
Email: Sen.lazich@legis.wisconsin.gov
On the internet: www.SenatorLazich.com
Blog: http://www.franklinnow.com/blogs/communityblogs/conserv_speaking.html

Congratulations Mike Cady!

Good news from Senate District 28


State Representative Jeff Stone and I released the following today:

 

LAZICH, STONE CONGRATULATE FRANKLIN HIGH SCHOOL PRINCIPAL
Mike Cady named 2010 WI High School Principal of the Year

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Wisconsin’s #1 consumer complaint is not a surprise

News you can use


Complaints about Wisconsin’s No-Call Law once again lead the top ten list of consumer complaints according to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection.

Phishing and spoofing nearly made the list for the first time, coming in at #11.  You can read about the entire list of consumer complaints here.

Mooving back to #1

Business


California
has been advertising that it has happy cows. If California’s cows are happy, Wisconsin’s herd must be ecstatic.

The Stevens Point Journal reports the pattern of Wisconsin’s cheese growth continues upward. According to the USDA, Wisconsin’s cheese production outpaces California’s by 0.43 billion pounds.

At one time, California threatened Wisconsin’s proud and long-held reputation as America’s Dairyland. Bob Cropp, UW-Madison professor emeritus says the pendulum has shifted back to Wisconsin.

Cropp believes several factors contribute to Wisconsin’s superior agricultural growth to California. Our weather is best suited to cows, we enjoy diversified dairy systems, strong agribusinesses support the growth of dairy, high competition results in higher and quality production, and the state legislature has been quite supportive of the industry.

Agri-View reports Cropp believes another plus is “the majority of Wisconsin’s milk, as producers well know, goes for cheese. That’s a market growth area in itself, not to mention close to 20 percent of Wisconsin’s cheese is now ‘specialty cheeses’ (some 600 varieties). Wisconsin also turns out wheat proteins for domestic and international markets n another growth area within the dairy industry.”

Wisconsin’s consistent dairy excellence is critical. As Ken Heiman, general manager of Nasonville Dairy Inc. told the Stevens Point Journal, "We need to be No. 1. It's the business of the state. Without agriculture, I don't know where we could draw our strength from."

Here’s to keeping our cows deliriously happy.

Read more in the Stevens Point Journal 
and Agri-View.

UPDATE: Senate Bill 548-Sex Offender Residency Bill


I want to clarify the latest developments about Senate Bill 548 (SB 548).  State Senator Lena Taylor promised me that she would provide advance notice of the scheduling of SB 548 for a public hearing before the state Senate Judiciary Committee.

Earlier this week, state Representative Fred Kessler, the author of the Assembly companion bill to SB 548 leaked to WTMJ Radio News that a hearing on SB 548 would be held March 30, 2010, before the Senate Judiciary Committee.   I immediately contacted Senator Taylor.

After several phone calls with Senator Taylor yesterday and today, she has decided a public hearing for SB 548 will be scheduled for Thursday, April 1, 2010 at 10:00 AM in Room 411 South, State Capitol.  Senator Taylor told me the hearing notice will be released today.

Good luck New Berlin Eisenhower!

Good news from Senate District 28


The New Berlin Eisenhower girl’s basketball team will make its second trip in school history to the WIAA state basketball tournament Friday. The Lions will play Altoona in a Division 2 semifinal game at 3:15 p.m.  The winner advances to the championship game Saturday night against the winner of the Winnecone/ Monroe semifinal game.

Best of luck to head coach Gary Schmidt and the Woodland Conference champion New Berlin Eisenhower Lions at state!

I want a hearing about Senate Joint Resolution 62

March 25, 2010

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URGENT: Traffic alert

News you can use


Due to cracks causing deterioration, the state has closed a bridge on Wisconsin’s busiest interchange that will affect motorists for two months.
Northbound traffic on I-894/45 is being diverted.  Detours will be in place until Memorial Day.

Read more details in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.

Congratulations New Berlin Eisenhower!

Good news from Senate District 28


My enthusiastic congratulations go to the girl’s basketball team at New Berlin Eisenhower that won the WIAA Division 2 state championship Saturday night with a 59-50 win over Winneconne. For the Lions, it’s their first girl’s state title in school history.





New Berlin Eisenhower girls varsity basketball players charge on to the court following the win. Journal Sentinel photo





Sara Potts and her teammates hoist the trophy. Journal Sentinel photo




New Berlin Eisenhower girls varsity basketball players Jenna Hammernik (44), Kali Shandley, center, and Megan Tkachuk hold their teams first place trophy as they react on the court following the teams W.I.A.A. Girls State Basketball Tournament Division 2 championship game against Winneconne in the Kohl Center Saturday, March 27, 2010, in Madison, Wis. Eisenhower won the Division 2 Championship game. Journal Sentinel photo.

URGENT NOTICE: Speak up about Wisconsin rail

News you can use


Rail continues to be a hot topic in Wisconsin.   You have until April 5, 2010, to inform the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) via 
this website about your desires for spending your tax dollars on rail.

One of the most controversial news items of the year thus far
occurred as the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee hastily approved spending $810 million of federal stimulus money for high speed rail between Milwaukee and Madison. The state will need an additional $7.6 million in operating expenses each year to cover the cost of the project. Bonding is being considered.

Specific figures about the cost of fares and ridership are unknown. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel has reported that only 55 permanent jobs will be created.
Publicly, I have taken the position that the state should avoid the rush to rail. The cost of the Milwaukee-Madison high speed rail line is equivalent to two Miller Parks. Subsidizing this massive project will jeopardize current and future Wisconsin projects across the state that have been put on hold due to the state Transportation Fund deficit that is exacerbated by Governor Doyle’s numerous Transportation Fund raids. Service on the new rail line could begin during January, 2013. Most of the feedback I am receiving about the rail line is negative.

The DOT website explains the department “is developing a statewide rail plan that will provide a vision for freight rail, intercity passenger rail and commuter rail over the next 20 years. The DOT wants public input about the future of rail and has developed a 15-part online questionnaire.  The DOT claims: “We will use the results to help define the future direction of freight, passenger, and commuter rail in Wisconsin.”  I filled out the online survey, and I strongly urge residents to take this survey and provide specific concerns and direction to DOT.

You will be asked to indicate the following:   

  • Your level of support for public investment in rail and rail service in Wisconsin.
  • The most important Passenger Rail ISSUES that WisDOT should consider through 2030.
  • The most important Passenger Rail NEEDS facing Wisconsin through 2030.
  • The most POSITIVE ASPECTS of Passenger Rail transportation in Wisconsin.
  • The biggest CONCERNS with Passenger Rail transportation in Wisconsin
  • The Freight Rail NEEDS facing Wisconsin that should get the most attention through 2030.
  • The most important Freight Rail ISSUES that WisDOT should consider through 2030.
  • The most POSITIVE ASPECTS of Freight Rail transportation in Wisconsin.
  • The biggest CONCERNS with Freight Rail transportation in Wisconsin.
  • The most important Commuter Rail ISSUES that WisDOT should consider through 2030.
  • Any additional feedback you have regarding rail transportation in Wisconsin through 2030.

Options are included for each question along with a separate box to write additional information.   The boxes allowing additional information allowed me to write in the words, stop spending money on commuter and passenger rail. 

Do not delay. The online questionnaire must be submitted by April 5, 2010. The survey is available here.

Rail is the primary focus of this questionnaire.  You may want to also submit views to the DOT about other issues including raiding of transportation funds for non-transportation expenditures, roundabouts, and ramp meters.

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I want a public hearing on health care mandate

Legislation, Government health care


I issued the following news release today:

LAZICH, GOP COLLEAGUES WANT HEARING ON HEALTH CARE MANDATE
SJR 62 denies government attempt to force purchase of health care on WI citizens

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE                                           CONTACT: Sen. Lazich
WEDNESDAY, MARCH 31, 2010                                    PHONE: (608) 266-5400

(MADISON)-
State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) is renewing her request that the chairman of the state Senate Health Committee, state Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) hold a hearing on a proposed state constitutional amendment about the approved federal government health care mandate. Senate Joint Resolution 62 (SJR 62) provides that Wisconsin residents have the right to enter into private contracts with health care providers for health care services and prohibits enactment of any law that requires any person to obtain or maintain health insurance coverage.

“This is the single most important bill of the legislative session,” said Lazich, the ranking minority member of the state Senate Health Committee. “Wisconsin citizens want to and deserve to be heard. The thousands upon thousands of individuals in Wisconsin that strongly believe that this mandate is wrong and unconstitutional cannot be ignored.”

Lazich appeared at a state Capitol news conference with SJR 62 author, state Senator Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), and co-author, state Representative Robin Vos (R-Racine) to urge the Joint Resolution be scheduled for a public hearing. During the news conference, Lazich held up a letter she sent to Senator Erpenbach, requesting a public hearing.

“What could be more bipartisan than to conduct a public hearing on this resolution before the legislative session runs out,” said Lazich. “If people like the federal mandate, they can testify in support. If people do not like the mandate that imposes fines for failing to purchase insurance, they can testify in opposition.”

Lazich said the quality of health care is likely to deteriorate in Wisconsin under the approved federal health care bill.

Wisconsin has some of the best doctors, the best hospitals, the best clinics, and some of the best care in the nation,” said Lazich. “Our high quality medical care is now in jeopardy and concerned citizens should be given the opportunity to be heard.”

Dozens of citizens from all across Wisconsin in support of SJR 62 appeared at the news conference and marched to Senator Erpenbach’s office to request a public hearing. A constitutional amendment requires adoption by two successive legislatures, and approval from voters in a statewide referendum.


Watch coverage from the MacIver Institute:


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