Rep. Wittke E-Update


Veteran's Day

When it was first observed, Veteran's Day was known as Armistice Day in recognition of the end of World War I on November 11, 1918. That particular observance occurred on November 11, 1921 at Arlington National Cemetery and was marked by the burial of the Unknown Soldier from World War I. Each year, November 11th is set aside to recognize the service of all veterans, regardless of when or where they may have served. Let us remember the defenders of our freedom that pay an enormous price for us to have the liberty we enjoy today. Let’s recognize those who answered the call to serve our country every day. Thank a Veteran for their service each day!

 

Assembly Session

October's Floor Session focused on addressing our workforce housing shortage and protecting unborn life. The Assembly took up and passed over 70 bills during two days on the floor. I spoke on Senate Bill 454, a bill that replaces the current reading readiness assessment program with a three-tired early literacy screening program. The program would have conducted screenings at an earlier age and created action plans for students who need additional assistance. With nearly 600,000 Wisconsin students not reading to grade level, it is extremely disappointing that Governor Evers vetoed this legislation. During the public hearing on this bill in the Assembly Education Committee, I listened to the testimony of parent after parent who spoke to flaws in the current process which would identify their child to be an "at-risk" reader. It is unconscionable that this governor could ignore these students and parents as he stated in his veto message, “I object to fundamentally overhauling Wisconsin literacy instruction and intervention without evidence…” I have to ask myself, how much more evidence is needed than 600,000 students across Wisconsin who CANNOT read to grade level? Our status quo is unacceptable. Senate Bill 454 certainly isn’t a magic bullet that will solve all our reading problems but it is a first step that will make a difference, as stated by my colleagues Reps. Kitchens and Thiesfeldt. You can listen to my comments during the debate below.

The Assembly was back in session on November 11th to complete our part in the constitutional process of redistricting after the 2020 Census. The Assembly sent two bills to the Governor for his signature.

 

Assembly Bill 270 is Law

I am pleased that Assembly Bill 270 was signed into law. I authored the bill to complete the work of my predecessor, Tom Weatherston. The law encourages marriage and family and an opportunity for a “destination Wisconsin wedding”. The changes made by the bill include:

  • The law will allow an applicant to request a marriage license in any county in Wisconsin

  • Reduces the waiting period

  • Extends the timeframe for which a marriage license is valid from 30 days to 60 days.

I believe that if an individual seeks to marry in Wisconsin, and has identification obtained through customary state or federal channels, then obtaining a marriage license shouldn't be an arduous process.

 

Main Street Bounceback

The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) announced the Main Street Bounceback Grant program this past August, a program that intends to provide $10,000 to new or existing businesses and non-profit organizations moving into vacant properties in Wisconsin’s downtowns and commercial corridors. Funds can be used to pay leases or mortgages, operational expenses, and other business costs related to the newly opened location. The program is open to new or existing businesses opening a new location or expanding operations in a vacant commercial space as of January 1, 2021. Grant funds are available as part of the American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) and will be distributed by WEDC’s regional partners. Businesses must apply through the partner organization for the region in which they are located. Applications opened on August 9 and the program runs through June 30, 2022. Businesses and nonprofits interested in learning more should click here for information.

 

Election Audit Update

Two important pieces in the process to tighten our election laws were presented in the last two weeks. First being an investigation by the Racine County Sheriff's Office, and second being the conclusion of a report by the Legislative Audit Bureau. Sgt. Michael Luell of the Racine County Sheriff's Office testified in the Capitol this week regarding the Department's findings on election irregularities in Racine County. Two weeks ago, Sheriff Schmaling and Sgt. Luell announced eight specific cases where fraudulent ballots were cast at the Ridgewood Care Center, a nursing home, in Mount Pleasant. In addition, the Legislative Audit Bureau released their report which includes 18 recommendations for legislative action to strengthen Wisconsin's elections. I believe that a good foundation has been established for legislation that will be brought forth in the coming months,

 

Things to Do

  • Saturday, November 13 - 2021 Racine Holiday Parade and Tree Lighting

  • Saturday, November 20 - Mocha Lisa Holiday Open House

  • Thursday, November 25 - Racine Turkey Trot 5K

  • Saturday, November 27 - Christmas Carnival of Lights, Jellystone Park

  • Racine County Eye

  • Real Racine