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Letter from Rep. Petryk: Joint Finance Committee work continues

The second Executive Session of the powerful Joint Finance Committee took place on Tuesday, April 30th. It was another successful day of debate and votes on various budget provisions contained within the Governor's budget bill, Assembly Bill 40. The Committee remains focused on controlling government spending with the goal of not raising taxes on Wisconsin's taxpayers, altering the way our state government is run through reviewing the Wisconsin tax code and our education system, and reinvesting in our state's future through programs for our most vulnerable citizens while creating a business-friendly climate for better job creation.

During Tuesday's session, the members of the Joint Finance Committee discussed the following areas:

Board on Aging and Long-Term Care

Board for People with Developmental Disabilities

State Fair Park

Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

Budget Management and Compensation Reserves

Historical Society

Transportation -- Transportation Finance (Overview)

Transportation -- Local Transportation Assistance

Transportation -- Motor Vehicles

Transportation -- State Patrol

Transportation - Department-wide

Veterans Affairs - Department-wide, Veterans Programs, and Museums

Last week on day one of the Joint Finance Committee Executive Sessions, there was a $3.1 million reduction in all funds, ($800,000 reduction in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) spending), 33.1 positions were eliminated, and $52 million in state bonding was eliminated. Tuesday, at the second Executive Session, members of the Joint Finance Committee cut $32.6 million in all funds (of that, $7.6 million in GPR spending), 48 full time employment positions were eliminated, and $2.8 million in state bonding was eliminated. Unfortunately, Democrat members of the committee attempted to increase state spending by $30.5 million.

During day two of the Executive Sessions, the Committee made multiple changes to the Governor's budget proposal including deciding not to provide state funding for the Circus World Museum in Baraboo. Currently, the state owns all the assets of the museum, but it is operated through a private foundation. The museum raises revenue through fundraising, donations, admission, and sales in their gift shop. The Committee voted unanimously to reject providing 10 new state employees and $3.7 million in the next biennium.

The Committee voted on an omnibus transportation motion. This motion invests $52 million in freight rail preservation and $15.9 million in harbor assistance programs. Also, the motion deleted 28 new positions for inspectors to monitor and enforce overweight fines for motor carriers.

The Department of Veterans Affairs will receive $5.3 million in GPR for the Veteran's Fund. Also, the Committee approved a reimbursement program for veterans who attend a tribal college as well as a one-time grant of $500,000 to VETranser, Inc.

The next Executive Session is scheduled for Thursday, May 9th. If you would like to watch these proceedings, please view at


Budget Provision: Land Ownership by Foreign Entities

Many of you, my constituents from the 93rd Assembly District, as well as others from around the state have voiced concern regarding the budget provision related to land ownership by nonresident aliens and corporations. Thanks to mine and my colleagues' persistence, we have received word from the Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairs that this provision will not be considered by the Committee during their Executive Sessions.

Currently, Wisconsin, Iowa, Minnesota, Missouri, North Dakota, Oklahoma, and South Dakota restrict foreign ownership of land. If this proposed provision was to remain in the budget and pass, Wisconsin would clearly stand alone in allowing foreign ownership of land. Also, I do not believe that without this legislation Wisconsin is not incompliance with Federal treaties as has been suggested.

Myself, as well as some of my colleagues, collectively sent a budget motion to the Joint Finance Committee requesting that this provision be removed from the budget. Together, we succeeded in getting this provision removed from the state budget.


Open water finally in forecast for 48th Governor's Fishing Opener

If the roads clear in time after more than a foot of snow fell up north, I will be heading to Cable, Wisconsin to attend the Friday evening banquet. Please see the press release below by the Department of Natural Resources regarding the Governor's fishing opener:

News Release Published: April 25, 2013 by the Northern Region

Contact(s): Kevin Harter, DNR Northern Region public affairs manager, 715-635-4242 or 715-416-2230

CABLE, Wis. -- The 48th Governor's Fishing Opener - the official beginning of Wisconsin's big game fishing season - casts off May 4 on Bayfield County's Lake Namekagon, a premier walleye, northern pike, smallmouth bass, musky and panfish lake.

The fishing opener has only been relocated once due to weather, which was 1996 when it was moved from this year's host lake a few miles south to Eau Claire Chain of Lakes.

The angling event is held at various locations in western and northern Wisconsin each year and is sponsored by the Wisconsin Indian Head Country Tourism group. This event is by invitation only to media and state and local government officials.

The Department of Natural Resources and Indian Head Country met Wednesday and determined that with 60- to 70-degree days in the forecast, Lake Namekagon will have enough open water to fish, which seemed unlikely at the start of the week.

Opening day of the 2013 regular inland fishing season follows the coldest March on record and is shaping up as the polar opposite of the 2012 season opener, which followed the hottest March on record.

As of April 25, many lakes are still ice-covered in northern Wisconsin and water levels are higher than normal on many rivers, according to U.S. Geological Survey's WaterWatch (exit DNR) website for current stream flows and flood watch conditions.

Anglers can find information about fish populations in specific waters in the 2013 Wisconsin Fishing Report. Forecasts are arranged by fish species.

Longtime DNR fish biologists and technicians share their predictions for the opener and their tips for catching fish given the low water temperatures and late spawning. A few excerpts are featured below and more tips for fishing when spring is late arriving [PDF] can be found by searching the DNR website for "Fishing Wisconsin."

The 2013 hook-and-line game fish season opens May 4 on inland waters for walleye, sauger, and northern pike statewide.

The largemouth and smallmouth bass southern zone opens May 4, while the northern bass zone opens for catch and release only from May 4 through June 14, with the harvest season opening June 15. Statewide, the harvest seasons for bass have a minimum length limit of 14 inches with a daily bag limit of five fish in total.

Musky season opens May 4 in the southern zone and May 25 in the northern zone. The northern zone is the area north of highways 77, 64 and 29, with Highway 10 as the dividing line.

Regulations haven't changed from last year; find the "2013-2014 Guide to Wisconsin Hook and Line Fishing Regulations" and "Inland trout regulations" by searching the DNR website for "fishing regulations." Opening day bag limits for the Ceded Territory are also available online on the regulations web page and anglers are encouraged to check back frequently for any updates or to sign up for free fishing regulations updates.

For the second year, anglers who have never purchased a fishing license -- or who haven't purchased one in 10 years -- can get a discounted "first time buyers" license. The discounts are automatically applied when the license is purchased. Residents' discounted license is $5 and non-residents' is $25.75 for the annual licenses.

Anglers who recruit new people into the sport can get rewarded for their efforts. Wisconsin residents who have been designated as a recruiter three or more times within one license year are eligible for a discount on the license of their choice the next year.

Anglers can buy a one-day fishing license that allows them to take someone out to try fishing, and if they like it, the purchase price of that one-day license will be credited toward purchase of an annual license. The one day license is $8 for residents and $10 for nonresidents.

Buying a license is easy and convenient over the Internet through the Online Licensing Center on the DNR website at all authorized sales locations, or by calling toll-free 1-877-LICENSE (1-877-945-4236).

Wisconsin residents and nonresidents 16 years old or older need a fishing license to fish in any waters of the state. Residents born before Jan. 1, 1927, do not need a license and resident members of the U.S. Armed Forces on active duty are entitled to obtain a free fishing license when on furlough or leave.


Upcoming Events in the 93rd Assembly District

Thursday, May 9th: Ellsworth Rod and Gun Club Chicken Feed. For more information, please visit

Saturday, May 11th: The Boys and Girls Club of the Greater Chippewa Valley will only a "Evening of Wine and Cheese" fundraiser. The even starts at 7:00 p.m. For more information, please visit

Saturday, May 11th: The Durand Fire Dept. will be celebrating their 125th Anniversary with a Charcoal Chicken Dinner from 1-7pm. A Polka Band will play from 2-6 p.m. and the Midnight Special band will play in the evening from 7:30-12:30 a.m. There will be raffles, a silent auction of a lot of great items, and even a live auction. The trucks will be on display out back of the station.