Labor history added to state curricula

January 3, 2010

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

Season’s greetings! I’m pleased to announce that Dec. 10, Governor Doyle signed into law Assembly Bill 172 (AB 172), the Labor History Instruction Bill. The bill, which I coauthored with Senator Hanson (D-Green Bay) and Representative Jorgensen (D-Fort Atkinson), adds the history of organized labor to Wisconsin’s model academic standards for social studies. This means that soon every student who graduates from a Wisconsin school will know how important the labor movement was in creating some of the most basic workplace rights that Wisconsin families enjoy today.

Current law requires each school board to provide an instructional program designed to give pupils knowledge of state, national, and world history. AB 172 ensures that a unit on labor history be included in these social studies courses.

Any piece of legislation that gets signed into law represents the work of dozens of people both in and outside of the state Legislature. I want to single out one person in particular, Ken Germanson, a resident of a Bay View and the 20th Assembly District. Ken has been working on this bill for more than a decade and was absolutely instrumental in its passage.  »Read more


Puppy mill prohibition law goes to governor

November 24, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

On Oct. 27, the state Assembly unanimously approved Assembly Bill 250 requiring licensure of dog breeders in order to regulate those bad actors selling dogs from what are known as “puppy mills.” The state Senate unanimously agreed and sent AB 250 to Governor Doyle to sign into law.

Finally, after years of thwarted efforts, the state now has a licensing program for dog breeding and selling under the auspices of the Department of Agriculture, Trade & Consumer Protection (DATCP). With certain exceptions, all dog breeders and dealers must now be licensed. Among other important provisions, the law will define a “dog breeder” as a person who sells 25 or more dogs in a year that the person has bred and raised.  »Read more


Adding protection for first responders

October 30, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

Firefighters, police, and correctional officers risk their lives every day to keep us safe. The heroic efforts of those who fought the fire at Patrick Cudahy last Fourth of July weekend are the best example we have-their work saved lives and livelihoods, and served as a widely admired model for disaster response.

As a state legislator and chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, I consider it my responsibility to protect these first responders and their families from liabilities like work discrimination, unsafe working conditions, or undue medical liability. For this reason, Senator Sullivan (D-Wauwatosa) and I are offering a bill that seeks to address this last issue, in terms of illnesses contracted in the line of duty. No police officer or firefighter should be denied benefits should they lose their ability to work because of an infectious disease contracted in the line of duty.  »Read more


Bills to keep an eye on

October 1, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

As the autumn legislative session progresses, I’m optimistic about passage of key bills to aid the economy and position our state to attract businesses. As chair of the Assembly Labor Committee, these are my chief priorities.

I support current efforts to spur growth in industries like sustainable energy development. Senate Bill 185, for example, will bolster wind-powered energy development. By encouraging energy innovation like wind turbine installation, we can reduce carbon emissions and energy bills while creating good jobs. I’m proud of my colleagues for working on this bipartisan bill, which all agree will benefit Wisconsin’s citizens. This bill has passed both the Assembly and Senate, and at time of writing, awaits Governor Doyle’s signature into law.  »Read more


Mayoral takeover of MPS a bad idea

August 27, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

Ah, September. Cool weather, changing leaves, football, and back to school. Before I had the great honor of serving as your state representative, I served on the Milwaukee school board for eight years. Even then, public education was facing challenges: low student achievement, declining attendance, decreasing enrollment, increasing state and federal mandates, and rising costs.

The problems facing public education have been blamed on many sources: unions, lack of parental involvement, the school board. Now, high-level officials are proposing to take over MPS. This proposal would take control out of the hands of you, the voter, and turn it over to a board appointed by the mayor.

For Milwaukee residents, a significant chunk of the property tax bill is levied on behalf of the public schools. Our taxes pay for the facilities, salaries, and attendant costs of operating the state’s largest and most complex school district. As a property tax payer, I oppose the loss of representation that a mayoral takeover of the school district represents.  »Read more


Parks, transit, and the state budget

July 30, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

As most know by now, Governor Doyle vetoed a funding source for parks, transit, and emergency services that Milwaukee legislators fought very hard to insert in his budget. We convinced legislators from outside Milwaukee County to allow our County Board to levy up to a 0.65-percent sales tax for transit and EMS, and we were working tirelessly to add another 0.35 percent for parks to that limit when the budget had to be sent to the floor so it could be enacted by July 1.

So, the 0.65-percent sales tax was included in the budget the Legislature sent to Governor Doyle, who vetoed the provision. In his veto message, the governor stated that the federal government wants a regional approach to bus and rail transit if they are to award funds to southeastern Wisconsin for these purposes. For that reason, he would not approve a sales tax for transit in Milwaukee County alone. (Read more about what he said in his veto message, starting at page iv: http://www.doa.state.wi.us/debf/pdf_files/2009-11VetoMessage.pdf).

In regard to parks, the governor said that the only way he would approve helping Milwaukee County to financially support their park system would be to pass a new law allowing the creation of standalone public parks districts, following the Minnesota and Illinois models. So though our hard-won gains in the 2009-11 budget process did not survive the governor’s veto pen, it is important to remember the fight is not over.

The governor has promised he will soon be forwarding to the Milwaukee, Racine, and Kenosha legislative delegations his new proposal for southeast regional transit. However, if it contains a proposed regional sales tax, the Racine delegation has said they will not support it.

Meanwhile, we are reviewing legislative options regarding parks in response to the governor’s statement, and will be providing information about our ideas soon. Rest assured both parks and transit remain priorities for me as well as for many area residents and other Milwaukee legislators. We will continue to work with Governor Doyle and our colleagues on both sides of the aisle to create consensus about the best way to fund and govern regional transit, and to ensure long-term funding stability for Milwaukee parks.

Chris Sinicki is the state representative for Wisconsin’s 20th state Assembly District, which includes southern Bay View, St. Francis, Cudahy, the airport, and other parts of the south side. Her website is chrissinicki.net and she can be reached at (888) 534-0020 or rep.sinicki@legis.wi.gov.


Representative Chris Sinicki’s statement about the Patrick Cudahy plant fire

July 7, 2009

Source: Rep. Christine Sinicki

“We want the Patrick Cudahy workers to know that we will do everything in our power to assist them in this time of need.  We are committed to working with Mayor McCue and Smithfield Foods to return this plant to operation.  For over 112 years, Patrick Cudahy has been the backbone of Cudahy , and we will not let this tragedy change that.”

“We cannot commend highly enough the Mayor of Cudahy, Ryan McCue, the Chiefs and crews of the Cudahy Fire and Police Departments, as well as their Public Health Department, and their colleagues in police, fire and public health departments from 14 surrounding communities including St. Francis and the entire South Shore, and Milwaukee County. Their heroic efforts have saved lives and prevented further damage.

“In addition, we’d like to thank  South Milwaukee High School , the Red Cross, the Salvation Army, all of the local businesses that offered comfort and aid and the hundreds of volunteers who have helped provide relief to the emergency workers and to Cudahy residents who were forced to evacuate.

“We also extend our thanks and praise to the management of Patrick Cudahy and their HazMat and other staff who stood with fire and police responders in finding the smartest ways possible to fight this fire for the safety of Cudahy residents and emergency personnel.


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 www.jonrichards.org or by emailing me at Rep.Richards@legis.wi.gov . Please stay in touch.

Sincerely,

Representative Jon Richards
19th Assembly District


Illinois could benefit from federally stimulated Wisconsin construction

May 28, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

On the one hand, there’s no money to be had (state budget). On the other, it’s hard to see where some of the money’s going, it’s flowing so fast (stimulus money from Washington).

A recent example of the latter was the letting of state Department of Transportation (DOT) contracts end of April. The biggest contract up for bid was for the reconstruction of Interstate 94 from the state line five miles north.

On the face of it, this looked like one of the first great opportunities for the state to use federal stimulus money to do what we all understand to be the point of that money: create jobs for Wisconsin residents. As it turned out, to the great disappointment of a great many of us, jobs will be created, but not all will go to Wisconsinites.  »Read more


The Census is coming to town

April 28, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

The 2010 Census is just around the corner and preparations in Milwaukee have already begun. A new field office has opened, and canvassers are out on the streets. You may have even talked to one yourself, and you’re probably wondering what all the fuss is about. The U.S. Constitution requires the government to count the entire population-every man, woman, and child, regardless of citizenship or immigration status-every 10 years. As you can imagine, it takes a lot of work to count more than 300 million people.

The government needs an accurate count of the population for two reasons. The data are primarily used to redraw district lines for state legislatures and the U.S. House of Representatives. But beyond its use in redistricting, an accurate population count is necessary because spending on many state and federal programs for communities is based on population. In fact, that’s also why the census questionnaire asks for personal data like race, age, income, and so on. Programs that help seniors, for example, need to know how many people over 65 live in a particular area. Answering your census questionnaire will help Milwaukee, Cudahy, and St. Francis get their fair share of state and federal tax dollars.  »Read more


Energy-saving home-improvement tax credits

March 31, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

The federal government recently passed the American Reinvestment and Recovery Act (ARRA). ARRA includes energy-related provisions for Wisconsin residents. The ARRA law is making energy-saving home improvements more affordable and accessible than ever before. It’s important for every area resident, especially homeowners, to review these new energy-related home-improvement tax credits. These tax incentives will encourage people to invest in their homes while reducing their energy bills-and Wisconsin’s carbon footprint. Conserving power also means freeing up more power in our communities and reducing the price tag on kilowatt-hours.

In existing homes, these new federal tax credits will cover 30 percent of the cost up to $1,500 for windows and doors, insulation, roofing (metal and asphalt), HVAC, water heaters (non-solar), and biomass stoves. In addition, tax credits are available for existing or new homes up to 30 percent of the cost-with no upper limit through 2016-for geothermal heat pumps, solar panels, solar water heaters, small wind energy systems, and fuel cells.  »Read more


Unemployment Insurance Fund update

February 26, 2009

By Chris Sinicki, 20th District State Representative

Many communities, including ours, have seen long-standing employers slash facilities and positions once thought immune to the broader economic downturn. As a result, our state’s Unemployment Insurance (UI) Fund also has been seriously strained. The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has received record numbers of UI claims in recent months.

The state’s UI Fund, created during the Great Depression, was the first in the nation. It has been in decline since the nation started slipping towards recession in 2000. Last month, it dipped low enough to qualify for federal cash to fund extra unemployment compensation benefits.  »Read more


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