Keep Hoan Bridge standing

August 27, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

Recent news reports have discussed the Wisconsin Department of Transportation’s (WisDOT) proposal to tear down the Hoan Bridge and replace it with a grade-level parkway and lift bridge. Like many of you, I am adamantly opposed to any plan to tear down the Hoan. I believe we would be best served by resurfacing the current bridge.

I have expressed my concerns with WisDOT Secretary Frank Busalacchi regarding this issue and I have strongly encouraged him to listen to the residents of the area in developing plans for the future of the Hoan.

WisDOT has hired a Madison engineering firm to study options and design alternatives to resurfacing the bridge. Supporters of the “tear-down” option tout opportunities for development in the area under the Hoan, arguing it could be more easily accessed with a grade-level parkway. However, these plans do not account for what currently exists in that area. Significant obstacles to development include the Jones Island salt piles, the Metropolitan Milwaukee Sewage District processing plant, and oil tank storage. The plans also fail to recognize the economic downturn that Milwaukee and the rest of the country are facing. When discussing development of the surrounding area it is important to note that the entire west side of the harbor could be redeveloped without removing the Hoan.  »Read more

Cudahy survives devastating fire

July 30, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

On July 5, a devastating fire broke out at Patrick Cudahy Inc. meat processing plant. The fire caused an estimated $50 million in damages. While portions of the plant saw major damage, much of the complex remains intact, including those structures most vital to production. The smokehouse, dating back over 100 years, and the onsite power plant were spared from damage in the fire. Loss of either of these would have been catastrophic for the company and the community. Most importantly, no lives were lost in the fire, and no one was injured battling the blaze.

Over 1,400 workers are employed at the Patrick Cudahy plant. They come from all over our area; they spend money at our restaurants, bars, gas stations, and drugstores. In short, regardless of where these workers live, they are our neighbors. I want to take this opportunity to thank the residents of the Seventh Senate District who helped our neighbors during this tragedy. Units from 27 area fire departments stepped in to assist the city of Cudahy. Relief organizations including the Red Cross and the Salvation Army were organized at evacuation sites and provided services throughout the emergency. Numerous local businesses donated resources to assist evacuees, and emergency personnel and many citizens volunteered assistance.

I also want to commend Smithfield Foods, Patrick Cudahy’s parent company, who within days of the fire, renewed their commitment to our community by announcing that they planned to rebuild and resume normal operations at the plant. Less than a week after the fire, hundreds of workers returned to work.

I pledge to work with Governor Doyle, Department of Commerce Secretary Richard Leinenkugel, and my colleagues to offer any available assistance to Smithfield Foods and its hard-working employees.

The response to this disaster is another reminder of the great community that we live in. I am proud to represent you and our community in the state Senate.

Jeff Plale is the state senator for Wisconsin’s Seventh Senate District, which spans from Milwaukee’s East Side to Oak Creek, including downtown, the Third Ward, Bay View, St. Francis, Cudahy, and South Milwaukee. He can be reached locally at (414) 744-1444 or in Madison at (800) 361-5487 or

July 8 parks & transit funding listening session hosted by Rep. Richards, Rep. Sinicki, and Senator Plale

July 6, 2009

Dear Neighbor,

Please join me, Representative Chris Sinicki and Senator Jeff Plale at a listening session this Wednesday, July 8, 2009, to discuss regional parks and transit funding. Please find the information below and attached to this email. I hope to see you there!

Listening Session to Discuss Regional Parks and Transit Funding with Representative Jon Richards, Representative Chris Sinicki and Senator Jeff Plale.

South Shore Park Pavilion
2900 South Shore Drive
Wednesday, July 8th
6:00pm – 8:00pm

Please let me know if you have any questions or comments about this or any other issue either by submitting a comment on my website at or by emailing me at . Please stay in touch.


Representative Jon Richards
19th Assembly District

Budget priorities

June 29, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

As I write this column, the state Legislature continues to deliberate over the 2009-11 Wisconsin state budget. As the budget process moves forward, I assure you that I am continuing to work for the priorities of my constituents.

Since Governor Doyle introduced his budget in February, I have heard from constituents from every corner of the Seventh Senate District on a broad array of budgetary items. Wisconsin and the entire nation are facing an economic crisis, making these budget deliberations even more important than in years past. My colleagues and I are working diligently to formulate a budget for Wisconsin citizens that balances the wide range of priorities represented within our borders.  »Read more

Summer fun in Wisconsin

May 28, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

As the days get warmer and the school year comes to a close, we are all looking for ways to enjoy the summer season. As vice chair of the Senate Committee on Transportation, Tourism, Forestry, and Natural Resources, I would like to take this opportunity to remind you of all the recreational activities Wisconsin has to offer.

Traveling in Wisconsin this summer can ease family budgets. It also provides a great opportunity to explore different parts of the state and learn the unique stories of our state’s residents past and present.

From Big Bay State Park on Madeline Island to Big Foot Beach State Park on Lake Geneva, Wisconsin is home to 99 state parks, forests, trails, and recreation areas. I encourage you to visit the Department of Natural Resources website at to learn more.  »Read more

Plale and Richards letter supports UWM Freshwater facility at former Pieces of Eight property

May 26, 2009

May 22, 2009

Harbor Commission
Port of Milwaukee
2323 S Lincoln Memorial Drive
Milwaukee, WI 53207

Dear Harbor Commission Members,

We are writing in support of the University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s proposal to build the School of Freshwater Sciences on the lakefront to replace the abandoned Pieces of Eight restaurant. We are dedicated to making Milwaukee a global hub of freshwater science research and industry, and the School of Freshwater Science is an integral part of this plan. This building can capitalize on the existing resources along the waterfront and be the crowning jewel of this hub to draw more industry to our doorstep.

The Freshwater Sciences program at UWM has three projects in the works – the School building on the lakefront, expanded research facilities by the WATER Institute on Milwaukee’s south side and the Neeskay research vessel. The research capacities will be state of the art, and will be used as a draw for freshwater industry to join and supplement the school’s work in the field. The new building will help our efforts to make Milwaukee a premier destination in freshwater studies.

The School of Freshwater Sciences will not be a mundane office building, but instead a draw for all those in Milwaukee and across the globe who are interested in freshwater sciences. In addition to its role as an academic building the School of Freshwater Sciences can host visitors from nonprofit organizations, schools and industry. The School will have meeting rooms, an auditorium and touring exhibition spaces, which will serve as the focal point of Milwaukee’s freshwater science industry.

The proposed site will capitalize on the existing structures and resources already available on the lakefront. Discovery World is already an excellent resource to learn more about Lake Michigan. Thousands of visitors enjoy the scenic space to walk along the lakeshore and enjoy the Milwaukee Art museum, Lakeshore State Park, and the Summerfest grounds. This new facility will improve the aesthetics of the lakefront, making a more appealing destination by replacing the abandoned structure and creating an accessible walkway along the waterfront.

We applaud UWM for working with the Department of Natural Resources to ensure that the new building will meet all the requirements of the Public Trust Doctrine. The new structure will be no taller than two stories and make a better use of the green space. The public will be welcome, along the lakefront and in the building itself. The school will be an enjoyable destination and learning center for anyone wanting to enjoy the beauty of Lake Michigan.

The School of Freshwater Sciences will use its design and the resources it will provide to complement Lake Michigan’s shoreline and draw more industry to Milwaukee, while promoting the city as an international water hub. This is an important field of study that must be nurtured. This building project will bring more investment to the region and put Milwaukee on the global stage of important freshwater sciences research.


Representative Jon Richards & Senator Jeff Plale
District 19 District 7

Governor Doyle
Members of Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee
Mayor Tom Barrett

Legal status of babies at the doorstep

April 28, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

In every politician’s career there are pieces of legislation that stand out because they make positive change in the world. Periodically, I am asked by my constituents which law I have worked on that truly made a difference in people’s lives. One of my proudest achievements as a legislator was the passage of Wisconsin’s safe haven law, which I authored. It was an effort that reached across party lines and political agendas to protect Wisconsin newborns.

Wisconsin’s safe haven law was passed in 2001 and received broad support throughout the legislature. At that time, there were increasing instances of babies being abandoned in unsafe places. I worked with my colleagues to come up with a sensible solution to protect abandoned newborns. Under this law, a parent can surrender an unharmed baby within 72 hours of birth to medical or law enforcement personnel without fear of legal prosecution. Law enforcement is prohibited from attempting to ascertain the identity of parents who relinquish their child in accordance with the safe haven law. By invoking this law, parental rights are surrendered in the eyes of the court and the child becomes a ward of the state. The child is then eligible for adoption.  »Read more

Public Hearing, State Senate Committee on Environment

April 7, 2009

The committee will hold a public hearon on the follwoing items at the time specified below:

Tuesday, April 14, 2009 
10 am 
ROOM 300 Southeast 
State Capitol 
Madison, Wisconsin

Senate Bill 126

Relating to: changes to and extension of the Environmental Results Program, extension of the Environmental Improvement Program and the length of a compliance schedule under that program, and reporting requirements for certain environmental programs.

By Senators Miller, Kedzie, Harsdorf, Holperin, Cowles, Lehman, Risser, Plale, Taylor, Schultz, Erpenbach, Olsen and Lassa; cosponsored by Representatives Clark, Tauchen, Hebl, Berceau, Roys, Smith, Townsend, A. Ott, Molepske Jr., Richards, Pope-Roberts, Sinicki, Lothian, Bernard Schaber, Jorgensen, Ripp and Parisi.

Senate Bill 107

Relating to: the sale, disposal, collection, and recycling of electronic devices, granting rule-making authority, making an appropriation, and providing penalties.

By Senators Miller, Jauch, Hansen, Robson, Erpenbach, Wirch, Lehman, Risser and Taylor; cosponsored by Representatives Bernard Schaber, Black, Hebl, Sherman, Milroy, Shilling, Parisi, Berceau, Benedict, Molepske Jr., Pope-Roberts, Richards, A. Ott, Clark, Smith, Hintz, Dexter, A. Williams and Hubler.

Senate Bill 123

Relating to: regulating the transportation of aquatic plants and aquatic animals, the administration of federal funds for the control and eradication of noxious weeds, the placement of vehicles, seaplanes, watercraft, and other objects in navigable waters, the regulation of noxious weeds by municipalities, the disposal of invasive species, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, requiring the exercise of rule-making authority, and providing a penalty.

By Senators Jauch, Holperin, Lassa, Lehman, Plale, Risser and Sullivan; cosponsored by Representatives Milroy, Pocan, A. Ott, Fields, Hraychuck, Hubler, Richards, Seidel, Sherman, Sinicki, Spanbauer, Staskunas and Steinbrink.

Senators Sullivan and Plale oppose expansion of welfare benefits

April 4, 2009

Senators Jim Sullivan (D- Wauwatosa) and Jeff Plale (D- South Milwaukee) issued the following statement today regarding changes to the W-2 program included in Governor Doyle’s 2009-11 Budget:

We oppose the proposed revisions to the W-2 program included in Governor Doyle’s 2009-11 Budget, and pledge to work to remove the benefit expansions from the budget.  We’re in the midst of a difficult fiscal crisis, and we must focus on maintaining existing benefits before we can even begin discussing the expansion of any benefits.

The Governor’s budget proposal extends benefits for the W-2 population from 2 years to 5 years, and it extends maternity benefits to six months for W-2 recipients, something many private employers, and even the State of Wisconsin, do not offer. 

The proposal would allow recipients to count more education and technical school training towards their weekly work requirement, an initiative we have long supported.  However, as with the other W-2 expansions in the Governor’s budget, we believe this provision requires separate debate. 

This very week, Wisconsin veterans were reduced to pleading with the legislature to rescue the Veterans Trust Fund, which funds grants for education, job training, health care aid, and subsistence aid to the state’s veteran population.  Our veterans are being told there is no money for them beyond the proposed budget and its across the board cuts, and yet here we are talking about an expansion of benefits for the W-2 population.  While we understand the importance of the W-2 program and support its goal of self-sufficiency, now is not the time to expand any W-2 benefits when we cannot even maintain benefits for other vulnerable populations, especially our veterans.

We will work to remove this proposal from the state budget, and focus on maintaining benefits we have already committed to before considering any expansion of benefits.



More tax tips

March 31, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

As April 15 approaches, I would like to take this opportunity to share some useful information for those of you who still need to file your 2008 income taxes.

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) suggests filing your state and federal tax returns early to ensure they are processed in a timely manner. By e-filing you can further expedite the process and get any expected refund more quickly. DOR provides helpful information on e-filing at their website, You can also check the status of your return and avoid long wait times by visiting their website.

The Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) program and Taxpayer Counseling for the Elderly (TCE) provide free tax advice and assistance in filing basic income tax returns. Additionally, taxpayer assistance is available in certain public libraries. To find a location in your area, you may visit the DOR website or contact them by phone at (608) 266-2772. See the sidebar for details of a state sponsored VITA/TCE site in Milwaukee that is open now through April 15. »Read more

Plale and Richards announce $240 million for UWM clears first hurdle

March 20, 2009

State Senator Jeff Plale (D-South Milwaukee) and State Representative Jon Richards
(D-Milwaukee) announced today that key funding for University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee’s
Growth Initiative was approved by the State Building Commission’s Higher Education
Subcommittee. The six-year plan for bonding authority and gifts totaling $240 million passed the
Subcommittee on a 3-1 vote.

“I applaud Chairman Hintz and the rest of the Subcommittee for their action today,” said Plale,
who is chair of the State Building Commission’s Administrative Affairs Subcommittee, and a
member of the full commission. “This funding will reaffirm UWM’s standing as a top-notch
research institution. I am particularly pleased that the School of Freshwater Science and the
School of Public Heath were included in the Governor’s Capital Budget for 2009-11.”

“The research funding approved by the Subcommittee today will create jobs in the Milwaukee
area,” said Richards. “Specifically, the creation of a School of Freshwater Sciences is an
essential ingredient in growing the water-based economy that offers so much promise for our
region. Business, academic, and government leaders have already drawn the roadmap for making
our region the Silicon Valley of freshwater science. We can set the table for businesses and
educational institutions to collaborate, innovate and create wealth.”

Earlier this week, Governor Doyle announced that he included the $240 million in bonding
authority and gifts over six years for UWM in his 2009-11 Capital Budget recommendations to
the State Building Commission. Today’s vote is the first step in the approval process for the
2009-11 Capital Budget. The Higher Education and Administrative Affairs portions of the
Capital Budget go before the full State Building Commission for approval on March 30.

Highlights of the Milwaukee Master Plan Initiative include:
• School of Freshwater Science Facility – This project will help address the space needs
of the newly created School of Freshwater Science. The new facilities and new research
vessel will fulfill the research needs of the program and help expand Milwaukee’s
business interests in the field of freshwater sciences.

• School of Public Heath – This funding will allow UWM to move forward with its plans
to establish a School of Public Heath in the City of Milwaukee. This new school will help
Milwaukee address the growing prevalence of asthma, diabetes and other chronic
illnesses in the Milwaukee area.

Targeting drunk drivers

February 26, 2009

By Jeff Plale, 7th District State Senator

In recent months, I have heard from many constituents about the need to reform Wisconsin’s drunk driving laws. In response to these concerns, a number of my colleagues and I have drafted comprehensive legislation to address this growing problem. Our proposal targets drunk drivers on numerous fronts in order to effectively prosecute offenders and protect Wisconsin citizens.

If our proposal becomes law, it is likely that thousands of repeat offenders will be in jail or prison instead of behind the wheel.

Under current Wisconsin law, the fifth OWI offense results in a felony. Our proposal will make most third and all fourth OWI offenses felonies. Therefore, if our proposal becomes law, it is likely that thousands of repeat offenders will be in jail or prison instead of behind the wheel.  »Read more

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