Blogs

School Visit to the “ARCTIC Zone” Prompts Thinking Anew about Education

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Two six-graders recently showed me around their classrooms. Desks were not in straight rows. Students were not waiting their turn with raised hands. I looked around the room. There actually were no desks at all, but tables and different types of chairs.
 
One student was actually writing on a table with a red marker. I must have looked aghast. The table was designed to be written on, teacher Ali McMahon told me. “We use the table as a way to think out complex ideas,” she said. With a white board tabletop everyone sees the ideas and adds to them.
 
I recently visited Northstar Middle School in Eau Claire.

Healthcare Rally in Eau Claire

healthcare rally eau claire

More than 200 attended the health care rally this afternoon in Eau Claire. The rally was organized by the Citizen Action Organizing Co-op of Western Wisconsin. Several people spoke on behalf of maintaining the ACA or an equivalent, including Rep. Dana Wachs. The crowd was spirited and strongly in support of strengthening the ACA rather than eliminating it. This rally was one of many across the nation today in support of affordable and accessible health care for all.

DNR scrubs away climate change

I highly recommend following James Rowen's web site, The Political Environment. He has been following the continuing saga of the state DNR's changes to their web site, in which they have scrubbed the site of mentions of humans causing climate change. The DNR has stated that their mission is to manage state "adaptation" to climate change, rather than actually researching the cause, or -- you know, doing anything about  stopping or slowing it. Most recently it turns out that a northern WI newspaper is taking credit for the change, because they pressured the DNR to stop taking an "activist" role on climate change. This is another part of the continuing state standards in which ideology (and campaign contributions from the fossil fuel industry) is everything, and science is nothing. The Wisconsin I grew up with is quickly disappearing for no good reason, and I expect that the incoming administration in Washington will make it all too easy to justify even worse encroachments on the environment. Solidarity.

New DNR Report: Who Should Pay to Protect and Encourage Fish and Wildlife?

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Wisconsin is number one in hunting! Don’t take it from me. The Department of Natural Resources has studies to back it up.
 
A new DNR report noted Wisconsin had the number one Boone and Crockett Trophy whitetail entries from 2005-2010 and the number one black beer harvest of all states.
 
Wisconsinites hunt deer at nearly three times the US rate and fist at twice the US rate. We lead the nation in world record musky caught and are the reigning world record holder of brown trout.
 
According to the DNR report, which included options to fund wildlife management, Wisconsin is number one in annual revenue from hunting - $2,833 per hunter or $2.5 billion.

What it is like to be a new legislator

Kathleen Vinehout
What it is Like to be a New Legislator
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Good morning, Senator,” said a Capitol staffer. It took me a moment to realize the man was talking to me. That was ten years ago.
 
This week fifteen new lawmakers raised their right hand and swore to uphold the Constitution. They celebrated with a day of family, photos and receptions.
 
I recall how exciting the day was and how that excitement quickly turned to the daunting challenge of adjusting to my new role of Senator.
 
Following Election Day, the new legislators-elect attend orientation sessions, which provide vital information relating to all aspects of the Legislature. I remember thinking there was too much information packed into a few days. I realized, as my new colleagues will, the orientation is simply a glimpse of what they will need to learn over the course of the coming months.
 
Most new legislators come into office with ideas about changes they want to see in state government. Fresh ideas can be a good thing. Wisconsin does face difficult problems that require innovation. However, it’s hard to innovate when, as a rookie legislator, you are just learning the language. There are new acronyms, new processes, and new agencies.
 

Looking forward to the challenges of 2017

Kathleen Vinehout

by

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

The turn of the calendar to 2017 brings us hope for better prospects in our public affairs. I am particularly inspired this season for the many who wrote with solutions to problems facing our state.

 

The many letters from readers gives me optimism for a coming bloom of civic mindedness. Certainly your notes and letters bring a fresh approach to lingering problems.

 

I do see signs on the horizon that our state may be stumbling.

Scotty Walker sends Santa a letter

Walker and Trump

Apparently Scott Walker has gotten word that the old Obama Grinch is about ready to be replaced by a new, happy, Jolly Old St. Nick - and he's written a letter asking for presents. Lots of presents. Presents for Wisconsin. 

Lots of drug tests for people who need a hand because -- well, okay, I have to admit I just don't understand that one at all, but maybe the new Santa in town does. 

Ethics Commissioner Kinney resigns

Only a few months after the creation of the state Ethics Commission, one of the commisioners has resigned, expressing serious concerns about transparency in the behavior of the commission and the ability of the commission to actually enforce ethics on state politicians.

Commissioner Rober Kinney resigned, apparenlty partly due to the inabilit of the commission to take action on an ethics complaint filed by the Democrats against the Republican Assembly Campaing Committee for not filing proper accounting of their fundraising and expenditures. Kinney was also unhappy the the commission could not vote to keep themselves from making political contributions. Many have felt that the splitting of the former GAB into two commissions was a mistake, particularly since it was structured to make it difficult for either of the two new bodies to make decisions. More on this story later.

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