Lose Local Government and you will Lose America

“Lose local government and you will lose America,” warns the banner on the Wisconsin Towns Association website. The head of this organization has recently spent a lot of time at the Capitol.

Rick Stadelman, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Towns Association, is the smartest man I know working the Capitol. He hasn’t slowed down a bit since he announced his upcoming retirement. He’s working very hard to let folks know about a bill that would strip local powers to protect health and safety.

The bill, introduced by Senator Tiffany, is reportedly aimed at standardizing rules for sand mines. But the bill would stop any local protection of water, air or the use of explosives. In addition, a complex new process would make it very difficult for locals to be reimbursed for damage done to local roads.

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Vinehout: “Why Should Politicians in Madison Control our Communities?”

Senator Kathleen Vinehout’s statement on release of a sand mine bill that rolls back local powers:

“Why should politicians in Madison control our communities? They don’t live here.”

“Senator Tiffany’s bill takes away people’s ability to protect against a health threat or an extreme nuisance. Should mining companies blast on Sunday? Should they be able to tear up the road driving 400 trucks a day past the school? Should people have local protection so their wells don’t dry up?

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Property Taxes: Are the “Tools” working?

Perhaps the Governor’s tools aren’t working.

A recently announced infusion of $100 million into schools won’t mean any more money for children. But it will help stem an expected rise in property taxes.

State school spending and property taxes are tied at the hip.

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Does Wisconsin Want Out-of-State Companies Running Schools with Public Dollars?

Do we want to encourage out-of-state companies to run local schools with tax dollars? This is the objective of a bill before the Senate Education Committee.

Katy Venskus of San Jose based Rocketship Education recently explained the objective of a bill to expand charter schools was “attracting high quality national operators.”

Folks often think of charter schools as a kind of magnet school – a specialized school the local school board creates to serve students with a special interest. For example a Montessori School uses a certain approach to teach young children. The school is created by the school board and operates under a contract or charter.

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New Health Insurance Marketplace: Sign-up Now!

Now is the time to sign-up for health insurance! If you buy your own insurance or are uninsured, you will want to know about the Health Insurance Marketplace.

If you or someone you know receives coverage through the state’s high-risk pool (HIRSP) you will now need to sign-up for coverage through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

If you or someone you know recently lost coverage through BadgerCare you will need to sign-up through the Health Insurance Marketplace.

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Who is a Renter going to call?

Bill takes away Local Protections for Renters

When a renter calls the city for help, local officials might have their hands tied under a bill that recently passed the Senate. The bill would not allow a local ordinance to govern renters and landlords.

Local officials are the first called in a dispute. This bill creates a situation where locals would not be able to resolve local problems.

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Report Cards for Voucher Schools? Yes!

Report cards are coming out. Not for the children, but for schools.

These report cards help us know how our schools are doing and how schools can improve to help all students learn.

Should private schools that operate with tax dollars have the same report cards? What if that school is funded 100% or near that with tax dollars?

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Forum Explores Challenges Facing Public Schools

Public education started down the statewide voucher path with the start of the school year across Wisconsin. While things might not look different on the outside, big changes are happening in the state’s public education system.
One of the biggest changes is the expenditure this state budget makes in taxpayer-funded vouchers for private schools. At the same time, over half of public schools will see no increase in state aid. Many of our rural schools will see the maximum cut – a bit above 15%. But private school parents around the state are looking forward to two infusions of public money into private schools.
For the first time in state history, private schools statewide are eligible for public dollars through vouchers. The program starts small: 500 students statewide in the first year and 1,000 students in the second year. But people on both sides of this debate predict the cap will be temporary. In addition, private school tuition will be a tax deduction for parents, costing Wisconsin taxpayers an estimated $30 million over the state’s two year budget.
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Health Insurance: Big Changes Happening

“What am I going to do about health insurance?” the woman at the picnic recently asked me. She had no health insurance and had several health problems.

In the next several weeks big changes are happening related to health insurance. Open enrollment will begin October 1st for a new competitive Health Insurance Marketplace for small businesses and those who buy insurance on their own. Health plans will go into effect in January 2014.

Those who have insurance through HIRSP, the state’s high risk pool, will be required to transition to private coverage through the Marketplace. 

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Wisconsin Must Invest in Ending Addiction

“You need to read this book,” the judge told me. “Then you need to get every other Legislator to read the book before you take another vote.”

The book was Clean written by David Sheff.

“Addiction is a preventable, treatable disease, not a moral failing. As with other illnesses, the approaches most likely to work are based on science – not faith, tradition, contrition, or wishful thinking,” writes Sheff.

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