Clark won't seek re-election - State Rep. Fred Clark, D-Baraboo, said Thursday he will not seek re-election this fall. (Baraboo News Republic 2/6/2014)
Council opposes mining bill - The Baraboo City Council is on record opposing a bill that would restrict local governments' environmental controls over mining operations. (Baraboo News Republic 1/17/2014)
Bill would let counties handle Medicaid - It's been nearly a year since Gov. Scott Walker announced he would reject federal money to expand a state program that provides health insurance for poor people. (Baraboo News Republic 1/16/2014)
Medical marijuana bills remain stalled, despite unprecedented backing - Despite more support for the legislation than ever before among Wisconsin lawmakers, an ongoing effort to legalize marijuana for medical use in the state appears to be headed nowhere. (Baraboo News Republic 12/26/2013)
Clark, other Dems demand action on CWD - Democrats on the state Assembly's natural resources committee demanded Wednesday that state wildlife officials step up the fight against chronic wasting disease, tearing the scab off a bitter decade-old debate over how best to handle the fatal brain ailment (Baraboo News Republic 12/22/2013)
Little agreement on minimum wage - Democrats in the Wisconsin Legislature are calling on Republicans to hold a public hearing on a bill to increase the minimum wage. (Baraboo News Republic 12/19/2013)
Wisconsin Assembly committee to convene climate science panel behind closed doors - Democratic Rep. Fred Clark says he wants to keep the event low-profile so that Republican lawmakers can gather information without pressure from conservative groups. (Baraboo News Republic 12/10/2013)
Hunters, deer threatened by inaction on CWD - Like every other deer hunter, I'm excited about the opening weekend of the nine-day season and glad to finally see cold weather in the forecast. But underneath one of our greatest outdoor traditions lies the possibility of what my son has called the coming "zombie apocalypse" for whitetail deer. (Baraboo News Republic 11/21/2013)
The 2014 legislative session in Madison is over. If you just read headlines you might think that the only thing legislators do in Madison is attack the other side in press releases. In fact, your state representative has also been at work all year introducing serious policy proposals that address real issues in our state, and I want to report on some of them.
As the ranking member of the Assembly Committee on Jobs, Economy and Mining, I led the efforts to oppose the bill that drastically weakens environmental regulations around iron mining and promotes the construction of the largest open-pit mine in Wisconsin history in the Penokee Hills. I joined Sen. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and Sen. Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, as the lead author of an alternative proposal, AB 46, which reforms mining laws while maintaining our high standards of environmental protection. I've always kept in mind that anything that could happen in the Penokee Hills could happen in the Baraboo Hills, and the story about iron mining in Wisconsin is far from over.
I coauthored Wisconsin's venture capital legislation, AB 181, along with Rep. Mike Kuglitsch, R-New Berlin. AB 181 uses $25 million of state funding to leverage additional private capital to create a venture capital fund to invest in high-growth businesses. We worked hard to craft a bill with accountability and safeguards over taxpayer dollars. This law, and the venture capital fund it creates, is already helping attract more high-growth businesses to Wisconsin.
The fact that we had a cold winter in Wisconsin does not alter the scientific consensus that the world's climate is changing at an increasing rate and that those changes are creating disruptions that will be increasingly costly and threatening to humans everywhere on this planet. Unfortunately, it seems that in order to be accepted as a conservative Republican these days you have to be willing to renounce the very idea of climate change, and reject basic science such as physics, thermodynamics and climatology.
To try to start the long-needed conversation on climate change in the Capitol, I worked last year with my colleague Rep. Jeff Mursau, R-Crivitz, to co-host "Climate Change: What it Means for Wisconsin's Economy and Natural Resources," which we organized with the Wisconsin Academy of Sciences, Arts and Letters. We invited experts from agronomy, forestry, civil engineering, and wildlife ecology to provide perspectives on the real effects of climate change in Wisconsin and what real people are doing to prepare for it.
Since last September I've served as vice-chair of a bipartisan Assembly Task Force on Rural Schools. The 12-member task force toured rural school districts all over Wisconsin and heard from school leaders about the unique challenges in educating kids in our rural communities. I've given credit to the Task Force's Chair, Rep. Rob Swearingen, R-Rhinelander, for his willingness to lead this effort and ask tough questions. Unfortunately, the bipartisan consensus we had hoped would provide real solutions for rural schools does not appear likely. Along with my colleagues Reps. Chris Danou, D-Trempealeau, Mandy Wright, D-Wausau, and Sondy Pope, D-Middleton, we've introduced a package of legislation aimed directly at providing resources and solutions for rural schools, and we'll continue to work hard to advocate for solving real problems in rural communities.
Managed Forest Law
As a member of the Wisconsin Council on Forestry, I worked with a council sub-committee throughout 2013-2014 to develop proposed revisions to our Managed Forest Law, which affects more than 3 million acres of privately owned forest. AB 700, which I coauthored with Rep. Mursau, passed our Assembly Committee on Environment and Forestry with bipartisan support late in the session, but unfortunately did not become law. The Wisconsin Wildlife Federation honored Jeff and me as their Conservation Legislators of the Year at their annual meeting April 12 for our efforts.
I was the lead author of at least 10 other bills this session ranging from allowing the sale of unpasteurized milk through a buyer's clubs, creating front-loaded tax credits for entrepreneurs, strengthening our Main Streets program, requiring the state to prioritize purchasing from Wisconsin-based businesses, and requiring WDNR and WDATCP to work together to address the threats to, and habitat needs of, pollinator insects (that's right the bees!) in Wisconsin.
Feel free to contact my office at (608) 266-7746, or Rep.Clark@legis.wi.gov, for details on these or any other issues. I will report on some of our ongoing local activities in a next installment.
As always, it's an honor to serve as your state representative.
81st Assembly District
April 21, 2014