Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Vruwink Introduce “Moving Broadband Forward” Bills

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:CONTACT: Sen. Kathleen Vinehout – 608-266-8546

February 14, 2018CONTACT: Rep. Don Vruwink – 608-266-3790

Sen. Vinehout, Rep. Vruwink Introduce

 “Moving Broadband Forward” Bills

MADISON – State Sen. Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) and State Rep. Don Vruwink (D-Milton) introduced their “Moving Broadband Forward” bills today.

The package of four bills provide $100 million a year in grants for broadband expansion for the next two years. The legislation also removes costly and time-consuming roadblocks when municipalities want to start their own broadband utilities.

Under the bill, municipalities and the state Department of Transportation would be allowed to install empty conduit lines for future fiber optics as part of road and sidewalk projects. This eliminates the need to dig trenches a second time. The “dig-once” policy could save up to ninety percent of the cost of installing future fiber optics.

Also, the bills require that for a service to be called or advertised as “Broadband” it must consistently allow users to download at 25 Mbps (megabytes per second) and upload at 3 Mbps.

“Wisconsin has not been serious about expanding broadband,” Vinehout said. “The Governor returned $23 million in federal stimulus broadband money in 2011. Since 2014, Wisconsin has approved only $3.9 million in broadband expansion grants. Minnesota spent $85 million during that same time.”

The Federal Communications Commission recently reported that thirteen percent of Wisconsinites lack access to at least one broadband service provider. In 2016, according to the tech firm Speedtest, Wisconsin ranked 49th in average internet speed.

“Wisconsin is lagging the nation badly in broadband service, especially compared to Minnesota. We have a lot of catching up to do,” Senator Vinehout said.  “We won’t be able to Move Broadband Forward without a significant investment and a commitment to fixing the problems with current law.”

“The Legislature so far has dropped only pennies into the bank of our broadband infrastructure,” Vruwink said. “In this day and age, high-speed internet is as essential as electricity. It is vital to the economic success of our small towns, villages and cities. Currently, municipalities that want to become internet service providers face too many bureaucratic obstacles. This bill removes the unnecessary obstacles.”

“Broadband expansion today is the rural electrification of the 1930s and ’40s,” Vruwink said. “I’ve heard from many business owners, farmers, and families around the state who do not have access to broadband internet. That puts them at a competitive disadvantage.”

“We must get serious about Moving Broadband Forward,” Sen. Vinehout said. “Real broadband is an essential service for families, for students, and for businesses. It will do far more to keep and attract young people to Wisconsin than an advertising campaign in Chicago.”


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Senator Vinehout Statement on the State of the State

(MADISON) Sen. Kathleen Vinehout - D-Alma, released the following statement prior to the Governor’s State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature.

“The State of the State should be measured by how each of us is doing in our own lives. By that measure, we are not doing well.

“Wages are 18th lowest in the country. We are last in business start-ups. We are third worst for affordable family-based infant childcare, making holding a job difficult and

“Public schools in our communities are getting less from the state in real dollars than ten years ago, forcing many to pass referenda to increase local property taxes to keep schools open. Our student debt per graduate is eighth highest in the country.

“State sales tax revenue is up, but mostly because we are increasing our own consumer debt at an unsustainable rate.

“We need a new vision, one that puts people first. Governor Walker’s focus on tax credits and cash payments to large corporations has not worked. Investing in our human potential, providing the resources people need to be productive, is the surest way to improve the state of the State.”


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Senator Vinehout’s Statement Regarding Public Hearing on SB 634

January 10, 2018

MADISON, WI – Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) offered the following statement regarding the public hearing on SB 634 that takes away local powers related to employment.

“Wisconsin is begging for workers to come here and stay. We should not let political ideology dictate the discussion for solving Wisconsin’s worker shortage. Eliminating workers’ rights is exactly what got us into this mess, why would we do it again?  

“If you want workers to stay, you need to treat them well. Local elected leaders know this. Now some lawmakers want to penalize local elected leaders for treating their workers well. This makes no sense on so many levels.”

Download this statement as PDF

Vinehout Proposes Free Tuition for Tech Colleges and Two-Year Campuses

Legislation to make tuition free at the state’s technical colleges and two-year campuses was unveiled Monday by Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, D-Alma.

“Expanding our skilled workforce is the surest way to grow our economy and raise wages which are 18th lowest in the country,” Vinehout said. “Other states that have moved in this direction have seen enrollments  increase.”

Vinehout’s proposal would make tuition free for all Wisconsin residents. It would apply to all students, both full-time and part-time and would not require enrollment in a degree program.

“What I am proposing today is the broadest free tuition program in the country,” Vinehout said. “I want to eliminate any hesitation anyone might have in pursuing their opportunities and dreams.

“I want to make it as easy as possible for someone who is already working or has family obligations, doesn’t have the cash and can’t afford to take time off, to get the education and training they want. I call it ‘Freedom to Learn’”.

Vinehout cited her own experience growing up. “I was on my own after high school, working full time and my only option was the local two-year college.”

The cost of the program is estimated to be between $300 and $350 million. Vinehout proposes to pay for it by repealing the Manufacturing Tax Credit. “One of the common complaints I hear from business leaders is that they can’t find skilled workers to fill the jobs they have. Trading their tax break for a pool of skilled workers seems to me a good exchange, particularly since corporate profits and corporate cash reserves are at an all-time high and wages are stagnant.” 

“Investing in the potential of our own workers will be more productive than trying to lure workers from other states or giving billions to one foreign corporation.”

For Immediate Release:                                                        Contact:

                                                                                                Greg Leaf,  715-381-0123

                                                                                                Cathy Leaf,  651-261-0530

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Comparing Governor Walker’s high-speed rail decision to his Foxconn decision shows it’s time for a change

MADISON - Eight years ago, Governor Walker’s signature issue during his election was his opposition to a bipartisan plan to bring a high-speed rail line to Wisconsin, connecting the Midwest. Eight years later, Scott Walker’s signature issue of his reelection for next fall will be his Foxconn deal. Let’s look at these two deals, and determine what would have been better for Wisconsin:

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Kathleen’s Answers to Questions at the Forum Sponsored by the La Crosse Chapter of Our Wisconsin Revolution

Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) answers questions for the Wisconsin Gubernatorial Candidate Forum hosted by Our Wisconsin Revolution in La Crosse. Topics discussed include the environment, education, healthcare, racial relations, and inspiring voters.

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Senator Vinehout Pleased with Committee Passage of Hemp Bill

“Hemp is an agricultural commodity and should be treated as such in Wisconsin law,” said Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma) commenting on the recent passage of Senate Bill 119 by the Committee on Agriculture, Small Business and Tourism.

Vinehout, as a member of the committee, tried to amend the bill so it would “more properly treat the crop as a commodity under the law.” Vinehout also tried to amend the bill to remove the background check on farmers who apply and receive a license from the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), stating, “farmers don’t have a background check to grow corn or rye.”

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Senator Kathleen Vinehout to Announce Candidacy for Governor

Senator Kathleen Vinehout is announcing she will run for Wisconsin governor on the Democratic ticket during
a “Putting People First” rally in Black River Falls on September 25, 2017.

In her prepared remarks, she will say: “I am running for Governor to turn the state’s priorities upside down. I
am running for Governor to put people first, at the center of state policy and the top priority when it comes to
spending the state’s dollars. My vision for tomorrow is very different from where the state is today.”

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Senator Vinehout to Share Her Vision of Putting People First Sept. 25

Senator Vinehout to Share Her Vision of Putting People First Sept. 25

Senator Kathleen Vinehout will be holding an event to share her vision of “Putting People First” to improve the lives of all Wisconsin residents.

The announcement event will be held in Black River Falls, Wisconsin at 5:30 pm September 25, 2017 at the Comfort Inn​, W10170 State Highway 54 E, Black River Falls, WI 54615. 

Click here to view the location on a map.

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