Reps in the News: Kitchens Proposes 10-year Renewal of Knowles-Nelson

Representative Joel Kitchens

Rep. Kitchens announced on Earth Day that he has submitted a budget motion request to the Joint Finance Committee that would reauthorize the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for an additional 10 years.

“I have heard from many of my constituents, and their voices have been loud and clear: Gov. Tony Evers’ proposal to renew the vital Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program for only two years simply does not go far enough,” Kitchens said.

The Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program was created by the Wisconsin Legislature in 1989 to preserve natural areas and wildlife habitat, protect water quality and fisheries, and expand opportunities for outdoor recreation. It is set to expire in 2020, and Gov. Evers’ plan provides only an additional two years of funding by using the unspent bonding authority from the current program authorization.

Rep. Kitchens’ budget motion would reauthorize the stewardship program for another 10 years at the current annual funding level of $33.25 million. The amount may be adjusted in each biennial budget.

“We will have the ability to continue to evaluate whether this funding level is adequate and appropriate in the future,” Kitchens said. “I just believe it is important for us to make a long-term commitment now so we can ensure we have the resources to continue with this program that has done so much over the past 30 years to benefit our state’s residents, wildlife, land and water. In addition to advancing our forest industries, the program has also helped Wisconsin with providing world-class recreational opportunities, which have been a significant factor in boosting our state’s tourism.”

Source: Kitchens press release

Governor Tony Evers

Gov. Evers said Tuesday that it was Foxconn that first suggested making changes to its contract with the state of Wisconsin, not the other way around. His comments in a letter to Foxconn Technology Group executive Louis Woo came a week after Evers told reporters he wanted to renegotiate the deal and that the company’s pledge to create 13,000 jobs was “unrealistic.”

In a letter to Woo that Evers’ office shared with reporters, the governor referenced a March meeting during which the two sides met personally.

“At that meeting, you indicated that Foxconn intends to suggest several changes to the existing agreement to better align the terms with the evolving project and global marketplace,” Evers wrote. “To my knowledge, this was the first time either Foxconn or the State of Wisconsin had mentioned amending or changing the agreement approved in 2017.

“I am also aware that you updated Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald later that same day and outlined for them your intention to suggest changes to the agreement with the State of Wisconsin in 2019.”

Vos and Fitzgerald have been outspoken advocates of the Foxconn project and have criticized Evers’ handling of the company so far.

Fitzgerald issued a statement that disputed Evers’ description of the senator’s meeting with Woo.

Wisconsin’s current deal with Foxconn could pay the company more than $4 billion between state and local incentives if it hits a series of capital and job-creation benchmarks. The deal was negotiated by former Republican Gov. Scott Walker and the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, the quasi-private economic-development agency Walker created.

Source: WPR

Senators Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson

Sens. Baldwin and Johnson issued the following statements after introducing bipartisan legislation to rename a Sun Prairie post office after fire captain Cory Barr, who was killed on duty in July 2018:

“Capt. Cory Barr saved countless lives last July by acting decisively and courageously during a gas leak evacuation in Sun Prairie. In working to keep his neighbors and friends safe, he paid the ultimate price – a sacrifice his community will not forget. Renaming this Sun Prairie post office after Capt. Barr is a small but meaningful tribute to his sacrifice,” Johnson said.

“Capt. Cory Barr paid the ultimate sacrifice to protect Sun Prairie residents and save lives,” Baldwin said. “His public service should be honored, and his commitment to the safety of his neighbors and the community will always be remembered.”

The bill would officially change the name of the post office at 1715 Linnerud Dr. in Sun Prairie to the Fire Captain Cory Barr Post Office Building.

In July 2018, Capt. Barr was evacuating people near a gas leak in downtown Sun Prairie when a gas explosion resulted in his death. He is credited with evacuating more than 100 people.

Source: Johnson press release

President Donald Trump

The longest-serving Republican in the Iowa Legislature announced he is switching to the Democratic Party, citing increasing discomfort with Republicans’ stance on many high-profile issues and his unwillingness to support President Trump in the 2020 election.

Rep. Andy McKean said Tuesday that the Capitol is much more partisan than when he was first elected in 1978 and that the Republican Party has changed.

“I think the party has veered very sharply to the right,” McKean said. “And that concerns me. It’s a bit further than I would care to be.”

Source: NPR