Door County Legislative Days Will Take Place Early 2013

Once the November elections are over and Wisconsin’s political landscape finally settles, it will be time for legislators in Madison to actually get some work done. To make sure the capital keeps Door County in mind, over 100 Door County delegates will flock to Madison in early 2013 as part of the sixth Door County Legislative Days (DCLD).

When the delegates get to the capital, they’ll split up into teams of three or four people and visit with every state legislator or their staff, as well as a number of state departments like the DNR and DOT.

The goal is to educate legislators and department heads about what the issues are in Door County and what actions the state could take to help.

“There’s a criteria for what issues we bring,” said Rob Burke, who works as a member of the DCLD steering committee. “They have to be locally unique to Door County. There are a lot of issues that are statewide or even on an international level; but, there are people lobbying for those already, and we’d just be one more voice.”

In addition to looking for issues unique to the county, DCLD tries to steer away from partisan issues and look for areas where the county has already made an effort but could use a hand finishing the job.

DCLD has scored some major successes in the past. Delegates have lobbied the state to move on issues like the construction of the Maple-Oregon Street Bridge, telecommunications upgrades, beach renovations, the expansion of Highway 57 coming up from Green Bay, combating invasive species, and improving the docks for the Sturgeon Bay shipbuilding cluster.

“The one that stands out to me was mandating that underground propane lines be included in the state registry when we had that explosion in Ellison Bay and two people were killed,” said Mark Nelson, another member of the DCLD steering committee. “Within a year the governor had signed a law. That’s the speed of light in the state capital.”

The steering committee is currently fundraising for its 2013 trip to Madison, asking businesses, governments, and citizens to chip in to keep the cost low for the volunteers travelling to Madison to lobby on Door County’s behalf.

In December, the first letters asking for ideas about what to put on DCLD’s 2013 agenda will begin to circulate.

“Anybody can submit a form. We just ask them to briefly describe the issue, then what’s already been done on the issue, and then what action they’d like to see the state of Wisconsin take on the issue,” said Burke.

Steering committee member Bill Chaudoir said there’s still a list of issues on the docket from previous agendas, such as water quality, broadband access, and invasive species, and he’s sure new issues will turn up as well.

“Anything you read about in the news we’ll usually put it on the agenda and try to talk about it,” said Chaudoir.

But while the Door County delegates will fight hard to keep the county in legislators’ minds, a large part of their job is thanking legislators for what they’ve done for Door County in the past.

As part of the thank you efforts, legislators are often invited to attend entertainment provided by Door County musical and theatre groups, as well as a fish boil held outside the capital.

“It’s important to say thank you when they do something for us too,” said Chaudoir.

To get on-board with next year’s Door County Legislative Days, contact Bill Chaudoir at [email protected] or Rob Burke at [email protected].