One of the great joys in my life is being a mom and grandma. My three girls have made great lives for themselves and have children of their own. Every time I get a chance to see them, I’m amazed at how much they’ve grown, and like any grandparent, I treasure the photos my daughters share with me.
Often the photos make me long to be able to spend even more time with them. The photos are great, but they only capture one moment. I love the photo of my daughter Eileen and her children with their new puppy that sits on my desk in Madison. It’s a fantastic photo, but it doesn’t tell the whole story.
Another great joy is being able to visit with students across the 25th Senate District. I feel honored to be able to help them understand how our state government works. They often want to know what a typical day is like for me. As I started writing this, I realized that the columns I write to help you understand what I do might not tell the whole story. Most of my columns are about big issues, like the state budget or bills that the legislature has recently voted on. But there is so much more to the work that we do as legislators. The “big stories” however important, are a small part of the story.
Here are some of the things that happened at the Capitol this week. Several years ago, a police officer from Barron, Nathan Emmons, came to me after a high school student made a general threat against the lives of his fellow students and faculty. Under a loophole in current law, any individual making such threats cannot be charged with a crime. On Wednesday, Investigator Emmons and I testified before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety in support of the bill to close this specific loophole. We also got to visit with Investigator Emmons’ K-9 partner, Duke.
On Tuesday, the Senate Committee on Utilities and Housing, which I serve on, met to discuss several bills as well as a number of gubernatorial appointments. One of these appointees, Jeff Skrenes, was nominated to serve on the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority (WHEDA). Jeff recently moved to Superior from the Twin Cities to be the Housing Coordinator for the city. With a background in supporting the growth of low income housing, I’m confident that Jeff will do a great job.
Another committee I serve on, the 19th Amendment Centennial Celebration Committee, also met this week. We’re working on holding events around the state, school curriculum, and a website to house information about the many Wisconsin women and men who helped make Wisconsin the first state in the Union to ratify the 19th Amendment, giving women the right to vote.
It’s easy to get the idea that state government is hopelessly divided. While there are important issues we disagree on, that’s not the full picture. We can find common ground and often pass bipartisan legislation that benefits the people of Wisconsin. I hope you won’t hesitate to share any thoughts and ideas you have to make our state an ever better place.