Senator Kathleen Vinehout's blog

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.

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.

Looking Back on 2016

Kathleen Vinehout
by
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
We settled into a deep freeze this past weekend. After a long glorious autumn, the third week of December brought frigid temperatures not usually felt until mid-January.
 
So I took time out from normal senator and farmer duties to reflect on 2016.
 

Christmas Eve Music and Fun from Our Valley to Your Radio

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Looking for a homegrown Holiday treat for Christmas Eve? Look no further than your radio for a special holiday performance from Wisconsin’s beautiful west coast.
 
Big River Radio Wave’s Christmas Show airs on Wisconsin Public Radio across Wisconsin on Christmas Eve. The show comes straight from our valley to your radio.
 
The show originates at the renovated Big River Theater in Alma, Wisconsin. In fact, the creator and host, Mac Cherry, is my neighbor.

New Transportation Ideas Needed to Handle More Intense Storms

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
Winter came to Buffalo County. The weather turned to snow and then to ice.
 
In our hilly part of the world, rural people are used to finding new ways out of the valleys during bad weather. However, for residents living in Schoepps Valley (pronounced “Sheps”) the usual way out is not an option.
 

The Best Idea for a Bill Comes from You!

Kathleen Vinehout

By Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“Where do you get ideas for bills?” a woman at a café recently asked me.

“The best ideas for bills come from people like you,” I told her 

December begins a brief time of calm in the Capitol. But behind the scenes, lawmakers are working on new legislation. In the next few weeks I will be drafting bills to introduce in January. I am looking for your ideas!

School Budget Proposal Brings Needed Relief

Kathleen Vinehout
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Over the past four years, we have seen an increased reliance on referenda to keep the lights on,” State Superintendent Tony Evers announced as he released his school budget proposal.
 
“Around the state, local communities took the lead on funding reform through the ballot box, but the state has to be a good partner and do our share to help small town schools.”
 
Indeed. This year, Wisconsinites passed a record number of school referenda.
 
In the recent election, 82% of school referenda passed. Over the last four years, citizens in more than half of Wisconsin’s school districts voted to raise their property taxes to pay for schools.
 
Why? Because state spending for public schools this year is less than it was eight years ago, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau. This does not include public spending for the variety of private school options.

Back to the Woods

Kathleen Vinehout
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“See that scrape?” Lisa pointed to a large area of bare dirt. “That’s not made by a tractor tire.”
 
“And look at the branches above,” she said. “They are all broken. The buck was standing here pawing his hooves and tossing his head.”
 
We were on the edge of one of our hay fields, just where the field dropped into a ravine. I could see over several pastures and fields to the northwest and through the woods to my neighbor’s pasture in the southeast – a commanding spot.
 
Lisa and I were tracking a big ten-point buck. I saw him many times - even running after a doe right outside my study window as I wrote last week’s column. He was muscular and alert with wide, heavy antlers – a deer hunter’s dream.

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