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January 19, 2018
Wisconsin's 12th Senate District contains communities in Florence, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Marinette, Menominee, Oconto, Oneida, Shawano, and Vilas Counties.

Committee Assignments:
  • Joint Committee on Finance
  • Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry Committee (Chair)
  • Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism Committee (Vice-Chair)
  • Revenue, Financial Institutions, and Rural Issues Committee
  • Joint Survey Committee on Tax Exemptions
More Good News!

The state budget is the most important piece of legislation we enact every two years. Just like a family budget, it is important to have the check book balanced. I am very pleased to see that the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau's re-estimate of the budget showed a larger-than-anticipated surplus.

The re-estimate showed a net general fund balance of $385.2 million. This is $137.5 million higher than the projected balance following the enactment of the 2017-19 biennial budget. The main reason for the better projection is due to lower debt service.

If you wish to read the full report compiled by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, please click here.
Gray Wolf Legislation

The Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry held a public hearing on a host of bills including legislation that I co-authored with Representative Adam Jarchow (R-Balsam Lake) related to the state management of wolves. 

Senate Bill 602 would simply make it illegal for law enforcement to enforce state or federal law relating to management of wolves in Wisconsin. It also does not allow the DNR to expend any funds relating to wolf management other than paying claims under the endangered resources program for damage caused by wolves.

In 2011, Idaho Governor Butch Otter issued an executive order stating that the Idaho Department of Fish and Game would no longer monitor wolf populations, investigate illegal wolf killings, or reimburse farmers whose livestock have been killed by wolves. As a result of this executive order, the federal government de-listed the wolf in Idaho.

The Great Lakes gray wolf has a long history in Wisconsin, both within the environment and judicially; having shifted from endangered and back by judges over the past quarter century. The wolf brings both a feeling of optimism and frustration depending on the person.
 
The gray wolf has made a successful comeback in Wisconsin thanks to the efforts of our DNR working in conjunction with the United States Fish and Wildlife Service under the authority of the Endangered Species Act. In the latest estimate, the wolf population has increased to a record 925 animals in the winter of 2016-17, according to the DNR. With numbers that high we are going to continue to see conflicts between humans and wolves, some disastrous.

The gray wolf is no longer at the point of extinction, it has been recovered and it is time to write the final chapter of this success story. It is time to return the wolf to state management and if the Federal government won’t lead, it is time for Wisconsin to give Lady Freedom a nudge in the right direction.
On Tuesday, I had the chance to testify in favor of SB 602 in front of the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining, and Forestry.
Testifying in Favor of Legislation

Two pieces of legislation that I have co-authored received public hearings this week. I had the opportunity to attend the hearings and provide testimony in favor of those bills.

Representative Ed Brooks (R-Reedsburg) and I co-authored Senate Bill 614/Assembly Bill 730 which establishes "rural opportunity zones" that incentivize young people to relocate in rural areas by providing student loan repayment. Under the bill, the State of Wisconsin will repay up to $25,000 or 40% of a new resident's student loans if the individual maintains a full-time job, avoids public assistance programs, and completes a post-secondary degree. In order to qualify, an individual must reside in a county that meets the Federal definition of rural.

Rural Wisconsin's population is declining and growing older. High schools across the 12th Senate District are seeing their enrollment drop, sometimes nearly 30 percent over the last 10 years. This is not a recipe for economic prosperity and it certainly points to the belief that young people are moving elsewhere for employment opportunities. I believe that this legislation makes a good faith effort to begin reversing that trend by incentivizing young people to establish their lives in our communities.

Representative Rob Swearingen (R-Rhinelander) and I co-authored Senate Bill 638/Assembly Bill 754 to address some concerns regarding vehicle weight limits on State Highways in Ashland and Vilas Counties. Within 11 miles of the Michigan-Wisconsin border, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation has the ability to issue a 164,000 lbs. on 11-axle Border Permit to transport raw forest products, lumber, or forestry biomass. Since its creation, the legislature has expanded the Border Permit to five additional trucking routes.

This legislation adds two additional trucking routes that apply to portions of State Highway 13 in Ashland County and State Highway 70 in Vilas County. I believe that this legislation continues the spirit of the Border Permit program by creating two additional routes for forest product truckers to use between Michigan and Wisconsin.
Left: Representative Brooks and I testified in favor of SB 614 during a hearing of the Senate Committee on Workforce Development, Military Affairs, and Senior Issues.
Right: During a hearing of the Assembly Committee on Transportation, Representative Swearingen and I testified in favor of AB 754.
Winter Wonderland

This upcoming weekend plays host to two of the winter's most attended events: the World Championship Snowmobile Derby and Free Fishing Weekend.

Last evening, the 55th anniversary of the World Championship Snowmobile Derby kicked off in Eagle River. The annual event is the largest and most coveted snowmobile competition in the sport. Annually, over 40,000 spectators watch more than 500 international racers compete for the championship.

This is a great event for people of all ages to attend and watch. Fans from across the globe come to Eagle River and attend. For more information about the races including where to purchase tickets, please click here.

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources hosts two annual Free Fishing Weekends. The first one of 2018 is this weekend. During this weekend, Wisconsin residents and visitors alike will be able to fish for free.

Aside from spring trout ponds, all of Wisconsin's inland waters, and Wisconsin's side of the Mississippi River and the Great Lakes are open to fish. While you do not need a stamp or license to fish, all other fishing rules including bag and size limits still apply.

If you do not have fishing gear, there are fishing poles and gear located at Tackle Loaner sites at most DNR regional offices or state parks. To locate your nearest loaner site, please click here

In addition to the statewide event, there are many local community and county-wide events being held. The DNR has a listing of those events on their website for you to check out.
Broadband Expansion Grants

The deadline for the second round of Broadband Expansion Grant applications is fast approaching. Governor Walker announced that an additional $7.5 million was available for grant awards during this cycle. Applications are due to the Public Service Commission by Thursday, January 25th.

I was pleased to offer a letter of support for a project coordinated by the Oconto County Economic Development Corporation that will seek to expand fiber optic cable throughout the city of Oconto Falls. I was also pleased to support an additional fiber optic project in the Hollister, Pickerel, Plum Lake, and Land O'Lakes communities.

For more information about the grant application, please click here. If you have any further questions, feel free to reach out to my office.
District 12 Events
Start Date Upcoming Event Location
January 20 SnoDevil's Annual Open House Elcho
January 21 World Championship Snowmobile Derby Eagle River
January 27 Paul Bunyan Snow Fun Day Lakewood
January 27 Great Northern Ice Fishing Tournament Land O' Lakes
January 27 Roberts Memorial Ski Race Florence
January 27-28 Winterfest Sled Dog Race Merrill
January 26-28 Women on Snow Weekend and Tour Eagle River
February 2-3 Radar Run St. Germain
February 3 Bridge Runners Classic Cruise Vintage and Antique Snowmobile Ride Deerbrook
February 3 Ice Fishing Jamboree Conover
February 3 10th Annual Frozen Tozen Boulder Junction
February 3-4 Dog Days of Winter Festival Doty
February 3-4 Three Bear Sled Dog Race Land O' Lakes
February 7-8 Annual Groomer Show St. Germain
February 9-11 13th Annual Labatt Blue Adult Pond Hockey Championship Eagle River
February 10 Keyes Peak Snowmobile Championship Races Florence
February 10 Ice Cold Beer Fest Minocqua
February 10 Plum Lake Ice Fishing Tournament Sayner
February 17 Northwoods Blizzard Blast Conover
February 17 34th Annual Ride with the Champs St. Germain
February 17 Forest Frozen Frenzy Boulder Junction
February 17 Winterfest Redezvous Manitowish Waters
February 17 43rd Annual Red Arrow Fish-a-Ree Townsend
February 24 Fireman's Ball Florence
March 17 Taste of Tomahawk Tomahawk
Contact Me:
Mail: Senator Tom Tiffany, PO Box 7882, Madison, WI, 53707
Phone: (608) 266-2509  Fax: (608) 282-3552
Email: sen.tiffany@legis.wisconsin.gov
As always, if you have any events for our calendar, comments or thoughts regarding the subjects of this newsletter, please feel free to contact me.
Copyright © 2018 Office of State Senator Tom Tiffany, All rights reserved.


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