Friday, June 07, 2013

Sen. Tom Tiffany's E-Update

June 7th, 2013

Joint Committee on Finance Finished with Budget

The Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) finished its review of Governor Walker's proposed budget.  The process began back in February when the governor proposed  his 2013-2015 biennial budget.  The JFC held four hearings throughout the state and accepted letters and emails from all Wisconsinites who wanted to share their opinions on the proposed budget.  The JFC took the concerns and ideas they heard and with them, made revisions.  After many long weeks of rigorous debate, the JFC completed their thorough review and changes on Wednesday morning.  The altered budget will now go before both houses of the Legislature.  Once a budget is agreed upon, it will go to Governor Walker's desk for final review and passage.
Although the budget is not perfect, it does protect taxpayers, families, and our most vulnerable.  Additionally, this budget will improve the business climate and take Wisconsin out of the top ten highest-taxed states.  Some highlights include:
  • $654 million tax cut--one of the largest in state history
  • Additional per pupil increase of $150 in 2013-14 and $150 in 20014-15 ($300 total increase) for K-12 funding
  • Addition of $10 million over the biennium for a new high cost transportation categorical aid program that is critical to Northern districts
  • Two year tuition freeze for UW-System schools
  • Redirection of USDA National Forest payments to schools instead of to municipalities (See below)
  • Expansion of school choice (program capped at 500 students in 2013-14 and 1000 in 2014-15)
It is important to remember that these are just some of the changes in the budget.  It is possible for additional changes as both houses take up the legislation.  Governor Walker also has the ability to use his strong veto pen to make any number of alterations.  We are one step closer, but there is still more work to be done.

Securing Federal Funding for Northern Schools

One of the most common critiques I hear about the school funding formula from constituents is that Northern Wisconsin school districts are large, have long bus routes, and smaller population densities to collect per student funding to properly fund transportation and education requirements.  Unfortunately, a lot of land in Northwoods school districts is national forest.  That property cannot be taxed by local governments.  Instead, the governments receive National Forest Income (NFI), which is 25% of the timber harvest revenues on federal forests in Wisconsin.  Wisconsin is the only state in the nation that sends NFI to town governments instead of schools.  I have been working with Reps. Swearingen and Mursau and the JFC to change this, because local governments also are compensated by the federal government through Payments in Lieu of Taxes (PILTS).  The shift of NFI funds to schools will not adversely affect local governments, because PILTS will rise proportionally.  This is a good motion that will help improve the long term viability of our northern school districts.  Here is a list of school districts that will be affected by this and what their estimated annual payment is:
School District Name
Federal Forest Acreage
Estimated Annual Payment
Antigo Unified
                               $                                          600
 $                                         352,400
Florence County
 $                                         137,700
Goodman-Armstrong Creek
 $                                            17,500
Lac Du Flambeau #1
 $                                               9,700
 $                                         133,700
Northland Pines
 $                                            16,000
 $                                            60,000
                              $                                         1,100
Suring Public
 $                                         132,000
Three Lakes
 $                                            27,100
Wabeno Area
 $                                         276,400
White Lake
 $                                            70,800

Supper Clubs of the Northwoods

Wisconsin-native Ron Faiola recently released a book--Wisconsin Supper Clubs: An Old Fashioned Experience--which showcases some of the finest supper clubs in the state and shows why supper clubs are such a big part of Wisconsin's food culture.  I am very proud to say our district was very well represented:
  • Maiden Lake Supper Club--Mountain
  • Shaffer Park Resort and Supper Club--Crivitz
  • Mama's Supper Club--Minocqua
  • Norwood Pines--Minocqua
  • White Stag Inn--Sugar Camp
  • Marty's Place North--Arbor Vitae
  • Washington Inn Supper Club--Cecil
While this is not a comprehensive list of the many fine supper clubs found in the district, all of them are deserving of being featured in Ron's book.  Congratulations!

Bald Eagle Numbers on the Rise
A report came out of the Rhinelander DNR office this week that aerial surveys are now underway to count how many young bald eagles hatched this spring.  Similar aerial surveys in April suggest a record number of occupied nests in a record number of counties.
The bald eagle has enjoyed a remarkable recovery in Wisconsin and nationwide since being placed on the state and federal endangered species lists in the 1970s. Wisconsin played an important role in that recovery.

Eagles were removed from Wisconsin's endangered list in 1997 and from the federal list in 2007, although the bird and their nests remain protected under the federal Bald and Golden Eagle Protection Act. That law prohibits the killing, possession, sale or import of any bald or golden eagle, alive or dead, including any part, nest, or egg, unless allowed by permit.

Deer Trustee Report Meeting with Dr. Kroll Tomorrow in Stevens Point
The Department of Natural Resources will be holding a public meeting at UW-Stevens Point tomorrow in order to share updates and provide a forum to answer any questions regarding the ongoing implementation process of the Deer Trustee Report.  The author of the report and deer specialist, Dr. James Kroll, will be in attendance.

The June 8 meeting will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at UW-Stevens Point Dreyfus University Center, 1015 Reserve Street. Action teams will continue to meet in the afternoon until 3 p.m.

The morning portion of the meeting will be webcasted live online here.  Online participants will have the option to submit questions via their computers for panel response throughout the presentations.

The action teams have met four times since March and will continue to meet June 29 and July 20. Rules will be drafted by DNR based on the action team proposals that will be subject to public hearings this fall. The Natural Resources Board will review comments to make decisions on rule adoption in December.

For more information, visit and search keywords, “Deer Trustee Report.”

Department of Transportation Construction Update
Lincoln County

Highway: US 51
Location: Between Lincoln County K (Merrill) and County S (Tomahawk)
June 10 to early September 2013
Description: Crews will resurface the highway; resurface the interchange ramps at County K and County S; perform routine bridge maintenance on the County S overpass and apply an anti-skid surface to the bridge deck; and repave the highway shoulders.
Traffic impacts: During construction, motorists on US 51 can expect to encounter single lane closures and a reduced speed limit to 55 mph in the work zone. Some flagging operations will be necessary at the interchange ramps.

Battle of Midway Commemorated Across the Fleet

RIA Novosti: Russia, Ukraine to Hold Joint Naval Drills on June 19-25

RIA NovostiSu-24 attack aircraftRussia, Ukraine to Hold Joint Naval Drills on June 19-25
08:52 07/06/2013 Some 15 warships and auxiliary vessels will take part in Russian-Ukrainian anti-piracy exercises in the Black Sea on June 19-25, a Russian Black Sea Fleet spokesman has said.>>

MacIverInstitute Exclusive: Speaker Robin Vos and Rep. Dale Kooyenga Want More Tax Cuts in Future Budgets

Thursday, June 06, 2013

Release: Mursau, Swearingen Secure Federal Funding for Northern Schools

June 5, 2013


CONTACT:        Rep. Jeff Mursau (888) 534-0036 http://Mursau.Assembly.Wisconsin.Gov

    Madison … The Wisconsin Joint Finance Committee voted Tuesday to approve a school funding proposal by Representative Jeff Mursau (R – Crivitz) and Representative Rob Swearingen (R – Rhinelander) to provide increased funding for school districts in the Chequamegon-Nicolet national forest. The proposal would annually send 25% of US timber sales in the forest to area schools.
    “Over 1.5 million acres of northern Wisconsin are federal forest and unavailable to fund our schools,” Mursau said. “The least we can do is use timber sale income to educate our kids, keep schools open, and keep local employees close to both their workplace and their kid’s schools.”

    Under current law, Wisconsin sends national forest income to local townships. Under Mursau and Swearingen’s proposal, town governments will be held whole by a proportional increase in federal payments-in-lieu-of-taxes on a per acre basis.
     “Our large northern schools have long bus routes, low population density, less property base and all the same education requirements as the rest of Wisconsin schools,” Swearingen said. “National forest income will give our kids the resources they need to stay academically competitive with the rest of Wisconsin and the nation.”

    The Joint Finance Committee is expected to finalize its deliberations this week. The Wisconsin State Legislature expects to finalize all components of the state biennial budget, including national forest income for schools, before June 30th.

School District Name    Federal Forest Acreage  Estimated Annual Payment       
172,324  $                                         352,400     
Florence County
85,175   $                                         137,700     
Goodman-Armstrong Creek
8,558    $                                            17,500   
Lac Du Flambeau #1     
6,487    $                                               9,700 
65,462   $                                         133,700     
Northland Pines
10,128   $                                            16,000   
37,950   $                                            60,000   
Suring Public  
82,648   $                                         132,000     
Three Lakes    
17,277   $                                            27,100   
Wabeno Area    
147,073  $                                         276,400     
White Lake     
37,378   $                                            70,800   

    Source: Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau


Mining Protesters Vandalize DNR Building | MacIver Institute

Mining Protesters Vandalize DNR Building | MacIver Institute

MacIver News Service | June 6, 2013

[Wausau, Wisc...] Mining protesters stormed and vandalized a DNR facility in Wausau just hours after the conclusion of a "nonviolent" weekend training camp, according to documents obtained by the MacIver News Service through an open records request.

The Central Wisconsin Action Camp, which was held somewhere in the Chequamegon-Nicolet National Forest, concluded Monday morning, May 21st. About 70 people attended that training camp to learn aggressive, yet supposedly nonviolent, protest tactics to utilize against iron mining efforts in northern Wisconsin. Thistle Peterson, a known protester in Madison, was identified in newspaper reports as one of the organizers.

More at:

SecNav Names Multiple Ships

SecNav Names Multiple Ships

From Department of Defense Public Affairs
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus announced today the next three joint high speed vessels (JHSV) will be named USNS Yuma, USNS Bismarck and USNS Burlington, and two littoral combat ships (LCS) will be named USS Billings and USS Tulsa.

"It is my privilege as Secretary of the Navy to name these ships after five great American cities," said Mabus. "Several cities will be represented for the first time in the Navy fleet, establishing a new connection and tradition that forms a bond between a city's residents and the Sailors and Marines who serve in its namesake ship. For decades to come, these ships will sail in the fleet, building partnerships and projecting power around the world."

Joint high speed vessels are named after small American cities and counties. The future USNS Yuma (JHSV 8) honors the city in Arizona and will be the fourth ship to bear this name. USNS Bismarck (JHSV 9) is the first naval vessel to be named in honor of North Dakota's capital city. USNS Burlington (JHSV10) is the first to be named for the city in Vermont.

JHSV are high-speed transport vessels that serve in a variety of roles for the military branches in support of overseas contingency operations, conducting humanitarian assistance and disaster relief and supporting special operations forces.

Austal USA in Mobile, Ala., will build the three new JHSV, which will be 338 feet in length, have a waterline beam of 93.5 feet, displace approximately 2,362 tons, and operate at speeds of approximately 40 knots.

Littoral combat ships are named to recognize cities that are one of the five most-populated communities in a state. USS Billings (LCS 15) is named in honor of Montana's largest city and will be the first ship to bear the name. USS Tulsa (LCS 16) will be the second ship named for Oklahoma's second-largest city.

These ships are designed to defeat growing littoral threats and provide access and dominance in the coastal waters. A fast, agile surface combatant, the LCS provides the required war fighting capabilities and operational flexibility to execute focused missions close to the shore such as mine warfare, anti-submarine warfare and surface warfare.

USS Billings is a Freedom-variant littoral combat ship and will be constructed by Lockheed Martin with Marinette Marine in Marinette, Wis. This ship will be 378 feet long, have a beam length of 57.4 feet and travel at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

USS Tulsa is an Independence-variant littoral combat ship and is being built by Austal USA in Mobile, Ala. It will be 419 feet long and have a beam length of 103.7 feet and be capable of operating at speeds in excess of 40 knots.

Media may direct queries to the Navy Office of Information at 703-697-5342. For more news from Secretary of the Navy public affairs, visit

Additional information about joint high speed vessels is available online at

Additional information about littoral combat ships is available online at:

Not Just Verizon: NSA Pulling Information from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, with DropBox Coming Soon

Not Just Verizon: NSA Pulling Information from Microsoft, Yahoo, Google, Facebook, PalTalk, AOL, Skype, YouTube, and Apple, with DropBox Coming Soon

Rand Paul On IRS Scandal, Samantha Powers, Syria, And Immigration Reform

h/t: Eduardo89rp

Pope Francis: Idolatry is dangerous. God is the one true Lord

Release: Coast Guard Guadalcanal hero laid to rest

News Release

Coast Guard Guadalcanal hero laid to rest

LAKEWOOD, WA – Retired U.S. Coast Guard Cmdr. Ray Evans, 92, was laid to rest June 5, with full military honors.  Evans was the final Coast Guard survivor of a dramatic rescue of a group of Marines pinned down by machine gun fire during the Guadalcanal Campaign, September 1942 where he earned the Navy Cross.
Among those who attended the memorial service was his wife of more than 70 years Dorothy, his children, grandchildren and great-grandchildren and Coast Guard Vice-Commandant Vice Adm. John Currier.

Members of the Marine Corps Security Force Battalion Bangor performed a three-volley salute at the funeral signifying the bond Evans and the Marine Corps have shared since the darkest days of World War II.
Evans joined the Coast Guard alongside Medal of Honor recipient Douglas Munro in September 1939.

“(I) Came out of high school and looked for a job all summer in 1939 and it was a very poor time for jobs and went to the Coast Guard and they said they had not taken a recruit in 7 years,”  said Evans in an oral history recorded in 1992.  “They called me back in September and said, ‘Are you still interested?   We've got seven openings.  I said, ‘yes I am’.  And that's how it started, as an Apprentice Seaman at 21 dollars a month.”
After joint assignments that took Evans and Munro from Washington State to New York City, the two shipmates found themselves aboard the U.S. Army transport ship Hunter Liggett. It was during a trip to India, 250 miles south of Cape Town, South Africa on a quiet December morning in 1941, they heard over the radio that bombs had fallen on Pearl Harbor.

In less than a year Evans and Munro were reassigned as coxswain and crew of a Higgins boats that were responsible for transporting Marines to and from Guadalcanal.  In the Second Battle of the Matanikau, part of the Guadalcanal Campaign, after successfully taking Marines from the 1st Battalion 7th Marines 1st Marine Division ashore, the two Coast Guardsmen returned to their previously assigned position.  Almost immediately, they learned that conditions ashore were different than had been anticipated and the Marines were surrounded by enemy Japanese forces on the beachhead.  It was necessary to evacuate the Marines immediately. Both men volunteered for the job and brought their boats to shore under heavy enemy fire, then proceeded to evacuate the men on the beach.

Evans remained at his post during the entire evacuation.  He maintained control of his boat with one hand on the wheel and continued to fire his weapon with the other until the last boat cleared the beach.  For his actions, Evans was awarded the Navy Cross.

Evans’ friend would not fare as well.  When the majority of the Marines were in the boats, complications arose in evacuating the last men, whom Munro realized would be in the greatest danger. He placed himself and his boats in such a way that they would serve as cover for the last men to leave.

“I saw that Doug was facing forward, and I was standing up by the coxswain looking back, I saw this line of waterspouts coming across the water, and I yelled at Doug to get down,” said Evans during his oral history.  “He couldn't hear me over the engine noise, and it hit him.  It was one burst of fire.  And that's how he died.  And that's how it happened.

Munro remained conscious long enough to say four words: "Did they get off?"
“He said ‘did they get off?’ and that's about all he said.  And then he died.  I don't think he ever heard me answer him.  It was very quick fortunately.  Can we talk about something else?” said Evans remembering his friend who had died many years before.

Evans remained humble about his contribution during his service on Guadalcanal.
We just did a job,” said Evans.  “We were asked to take them over there, and we were asked to bring them back off of there, and that’s what we did.  That's what the Coast Guard does.  We do what we're asked to do.”
His humbleness turns to awe as he remembers the Marines and his close association with them so many years ago.

“Got to admire those guys,” said Evans.  “I really feel a great deal of pride that when they received the Presidential Unit Citation for Guadalcanal, First Marine Division, that they gave to all us Coast Guard that were there with 'em.  And that was, that was great.”

In 1962, Evans retired after 23 years of service in the Coast Guard and passed away peacefully in his home May 30, 2013.  And though another chapter of a heroic World War II veteran has closed, his sacrifices will never be forgotten.

For imagery from Cmdr Evans’ memorial service please click here:
For Cmdr Evans’ 1992 oral history, please click here:
For U.S. Coast Guard and Marine Corps during World War II please click here:


USS Constitution: America's Ship of State

D-Day We Remember

We remember and thank all of our D-Day veterans today and as always we thank everyone who has served, is serving, and their families. God bless y'all and our great Republic.

STRATFOR: South Africa's Geographic Challenge

Tuesday, June 04, 2013

U.S. Navy Photo of the Day

ARABIAN GULF (June 3, 2013) The guided-missile cruiser USS Monterey (CG 61) performs high-speed maneuvers in the Arabian Gulf. Monterey is deployed in support of maritime security operations and theater security cooperation efforts in the U.S. 5th Fleet area of responsibility. (U.S. Navy photo by Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Billy Ho/Released)

Dear Speaker Vos: You Don't Need a Deal. You Need To Make Them Blink. - 620 WTMJ - Milwaukee's Source for Local News and Weather

Dear Speaker Vos: You Don't Need a Deal. You Need To Make Them Blink. - 620 WTMJ - Milwaukee's Source for Local News and Weather

USS William P. Lawrence Commemorates Battle of Midway

USS William P. Lawrence Commemorates Battle of Midway

By Mass Communication Specialist 3rd Class Carla Ocampo
U.S. 5TH FLEET AREA OF RESPONSIBILITY (NNS) -- Sailors aboard guided-missile destroyer USS William P. Lawrence (DDG 110) commemorated the 71st anniversary of the Battle of Midway, June 3.

The commemoration included an invocation and a narration of the events leading up to the historic battle.

Cmdr. Jana Vavasseur, commanding officer, spoke during the ceremony and explained how inspiring it is to look back at what Sailors have accomplished.

"Today we honor the veterans of the Battle of Midway and we also honor the significance that Midway plays in our Navy's history," said Vavasseur.

Fought in June 1942, the Battle of Midway is widely considered the turning point in the Pacific theater of World War II. During the battle, the U.S. Navy sunk four Japanese aircraft carriers, one Japanese cruiser and destroyed 248 Japanese aircraft while only losing one aircraft carrier, one destroyer and 150 aircraft.

The Battle of Midway is considered a turning point in the Pacific, it was also a pivotal point for information warfare.

"To achieve victory at Midway," said Chief Quarter Master Nicholas Smith, "our cryptological ancestors demonstrated that they were willing to be both persistent and creative when confronted with a challenge."

During the presentation, Sailors took turns quoting someone who had participated in the battle and explained what their role was. The ceremony concluded with the cutting of a cake.

"As we commemorate Midway 71 years later, we consider its legacy and its continuing ability to inspire us," said Smith. "We all should wonder if we will ever serve in such an honorable way, that it leaves a mark that sears itself into the culture of generations of Sailors and their families to come."

For more information about the Battle of Midway visit or use #Midway <> to join the conversation on social media about Navy's most historic victory.

For more news from USS Dwight D. Eisenhower (CVN 69), visit .

DDG 51 Multiyear Procurement Contract Awarded

DDG 51 Multiyear Procurement Contract Awarded

Official U.S. Navy file photo.

From Naval Sea Systems Command Office of Corporate Communication
WASHINGTON (NNS) -- The Navy awarded two contracts for the DDG 51 fiscal years (FY) 2013-2017 multiyear procurement (MYP) for DDG 51 Arleigh Burke-class destroyers June 3.

General Dynamics Bath Iron Works (BIW) is being awarded a $2,843,385,450 fixed-price incentive firm target (FPIF) contract for the design and construction of four DDG 51 class ships, one in FY 2013 and one each in FY 2015-2017. This award also includes a contract option for a fifth ship.

Huntington Ingalls Industries (HII) is being awarded a $3,331,476,001 fixed-price-incentive firm target (FPIF) contract for the design and construction of five DDG 51 class ships, one each in FY 2013-2017.

These multiyear procurement awards are for a total of nine ships, with an option for a tenth ship. The Navy's objective is to procure the tenth ship as part of the planned FY 2013-2017 MYP. The Navy will work with Congress to resolve funding shortfalls resulting from sequestration reductions before contracting for the 10th ship.

"These contract awards represent great value to the taxpayer and will ensure our warfighters have the ships and systems they need to prevail in any situation," said Secretary of the Navy Ray Mabus. "By leveraging competition in the DDG 51 class shipbuilding program, these shipbuilders will continue their proud histories in delivering these highly capable ships to the fleet while meeting critical operational requirements for integrated air and missile defense capability."

A competitive allocation strategy used in the DDG 51 class shipbuilding program since 1996, known as profit related to offers, or PRO, uses FPIF contracts to ensure reasonable prices while maintaining the industrial base. Congressional approval for the use of MYP contracts facilitated program budget savings of more than $1.5 billion while enabling the shipbuilders and equipment manufacturers to more efficiently plan future workloads.

"I am proud of the success of the DDG 51 program and appreciate Congress' continued support and approval of the Navy's multiyear procurement request," said Mabus. "This award enables stability in our industrial base and ensures the Navy and the nation get the most efficient and affordable build plan for these destroyers."

The destroyers are being procured in a Flight IIA configuration, relying on a stable and mature infrastructure while increasing the ship's air and missile defense capabilities through spiral upgrades to the weapons and sensor suites.

The Navy plans to introduce the first DDG 51 Flight III on the second ship in FY 2016. Once Flight III requirements are approved, the new baseline will be implemented as an engineering change proposal. It is anticipated that the Flight III design will replace the Aegis AN/SPY-1D radar with the Air and Missile Defense Radar (AMDR) and provide for more electrical power and cooling capacity, providing the next generation of integrated air and missile defense and joint battle space awareness.

For more news from Naval Sea Systems Command, visit

U.S. publishes details of missile base Israel wanted kept secret | McClatchy

U.S. publishes details of missile base Israel wanted kept secret | McClatchy

Release: Coast Guard restricts traffic on the upper Mississippi River

News Release

Coast Guard restricts traffic on the upper Mississippi River

NEW ORLEANS – The Coast Guard Captain of the Port of St. Louis has restricted traffic on the Mississippi River in response to high water, Monday.

The upper Mississippi River is closed to all traffic from mile marker 179 to mile marker 184 near the St. Louis Harbor. Fleet vessels are permitted to operate in the zone to ensure the safety and integrity of their fleets.

The Coast Guard encourages mariners to ensure that moored vessels and barges are adequately secured with the anticipation of increased current and high water. Debris may be an increased hazard to navigation and may drag buoys off station.

Exercise caution when dislodging debris from fleeting areas and communicate the same to downstream fleets. South-bound operations are not recommended unless a vessel is 75 feet or more in length and has a minimum of 1,800 horsepower.

All mariners are advised to exercise caution when in close proximity to railways when navigating toward the river bank. The increased level of caution is to ensure the safety of railway systems near the river’s edge.

All concerned mariners may contact Coast Guard Sector Upper Mississippi River at 314-269-2332 or the Coast Guard on VHF-FM radio channel 16.

Monday, June 03, 2013

SECDEF Visits USS Freedom in Singapore

SECDEF Visits USS Freedom in Singapore

Official U.S. Navy file photo.

By Mass Communication Specialist 1st Class Cassandra Thompson, Commander, Task Force 73 Public Affairs
SINGAPORE (NNS) -- Sailors aboard the littoral combat ship USS Freedom (LCS 1) had the unique opportunity of interacting with the nation's highest ranking military advisor when Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel visited the ship, June 2.

Hagel, who was in Singapore for the 2013 Shangri-La Dialogue, made a special detour to Changi Naval Base to tour the Navy's first littoral combat ship and talk to the Freedom's crew about the strategic importance of their maiden deployment to the Asia-Pacific region.

"We're all making history out here, I think you know that," Hagel said, addressing Sailors via the ship's 1MC. "What you represent to our country and our partnerships in the Asia-Pacific region cannot be overstated. You are really defining a new era, a new ship, new capacities and new opportunities. And I wanted to tell you how much we appreciate your good work."

During his tour, he stopped several times to shake hands and talk with enlisted Sailors on the mess decks, hangar, flight deck and boat ramp. Hagel also asked the forward-deployed crew to thank their families, most of which are waiting in San Diego for their Sailors to redeploy, for their support. "When you talk to them, tell them how much we appreciate what they're doing for their country," Hagel said.

"I was really struck by how personal he was with the crew," said Freedom's commanding officer, Cmdr. Timothy Wilke. "He really wanted to meet them, and find out where they were from, what they do and how long they had been in. I'm very excited that he was so impressed with the crew."

Crew members expressed similar excitement at the opportunity to meet Hagel, who was sworn in as the 24th Secretary of Defense, Feb. 27, 2013.

"It was a real honor to meet the first enlisted man ever to attain the rank of Secretary of Defense, and a Vietnam veteran," said Firecontrolman 1st Class Yusuf Kezala. "His experience of getting shrapnel in the chest from a mine is amazing and inspiring."

"He's a people person. He was very personable, and I was really excited to find out that he was from the Midwest," said Aviation Machinist's Mate 1st Class Donald Carngie. "That made him a lot more human to me."

Fast, agile, and mission-focused, LCS platforms are designed to operate in near-shore environments and employ modular mission packages that can be configured for three separate purposes: surface warfare, mine countermeasures, or anti-submarine warfare.

Freedom is initially manned by her "Gold" crew of 91 Sailors to include mission package personnel and an aviation detachment to operate an embarked MH-60 helicopter.

Freedom will remain home-ported in San Diego throughout this rotational deployment to Southeast Asia. Midway through Freedom's deployment, a crew-swap will be conducted with her "Blue" crew.

Cartoon: Don’t fall far

RIA Novosti: Russia’s New Nuclear Sub in Sea Trials

RIA NovostiRussian attack submarine SeverodvinskRussia’s New Nuclear Sub in Sea Trials
19:36 03/06/2013 Russia’s Project 885 Yasen-class attack submarine, the Severodvinsk, has embarked on its latest series of official tests in the White Sea, the manufacturer said Monday.>>

NASA Image of the Day

Sun Over Earth's Horizon

The sun is captured in a "starburst" mode over Earth's horizon by one of the Expedition 36 crew members aboard the International Space Station, as the orbital outpost was above a point in southwestern Minnesota on May 21, 2013.

Image Credit: NASA

Secretary of Defense Visits USS Freedom

Gov. Sean Parnell (R-AK) Delivers GOP Weekly Address On Energy Independence

Common Core: Bad for Teachers, and Students | RedState

Common Core: Bad for Teachers, and Students | RedState

Should We Start Carrying Passports To Travel Within the United States?

Should We Start Carrying Passports To Travel Within the United States?

Sen. Lautenberg dead at 89; Gov. Christie to appoint replacement - The Hill's Floor Action

Sen. Lautenberg dead at 89; Gov. Christie to appoint replacement - The Hill's Floor Action

MacIver Institute: Kooyenga Tax Reform Plan Cuts Middle Class Taxes, Allows Increase in Education Funding

DR: It's a lack of leadership that this modest tax cut is considered extreme.

Release: Coast Guard saved and assisted 17 lives off Texas coast

News Release

Coast Guard saved and assisted 17 lives off Texas coast

HOUSTON — Coast Guard crews along the Texas Gulf Coast responded to multiple search and rescue cases Sunday resulting in 17 lives saved or assisted.
In total, 10 search and rescue cases were logged:
  • The Galveston Beach Patrol and Station Galveston rescued a total of 12 boaters from three separate boats after their boats capsized from severe weather
  • Air Station Houston helicopter crews hoisted a fisherman to safety after he fell into the water 11 miles off Galveston
  • Station Freeport rescued a kayaker who was offset by weather off Surfside beach in Freeport
  • A good Samaritan assisted Station Sabine Pass in rescuing three boaters 23 miles southeast of Sabine, after their boat starting taking on water.
"Today we assisted 17 mariners who were first hand witness to the devastating effects of strong winds and heavy rains," said Lt. Matthew J. Walter, a command duty officer at Coast Guard Sector Houston/Galveston. "I strongly urge all mariners to check the weather regularly before departing the dock and while enjoying themselves on the water. Severe weather can arise quickly and take even the most prepared mariners off guard."
The Coast Guard reminds all boaters and mariners to do the following before heading out on the water:

Opinion: France shows United States what not to do on tax policy - The Hill - covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |

Opinion: France shows United States what not to do on tax policy - The Hill - covering Congress, Politics, Political Campaigns and Capitol Hill |

"Conservative" Lawmakers Want to Increase Federal Debt and Accept Medicaid Expansion - MacIver Institute

Sunday, June 02, 2013

Rand Paul Calls For Sustainable Government, Environment at Reagan Library Speech

Rand Paul Calls For Sustainable Government, Environment at Reagan Library Speech

Battle of Midway: USS Midway Museum Ceremony

Sen. Tom Tiffany's E-Update

May 31st, 2013

Voter ID Law Upheld

The District IV Court of Appeals unanimously ruled the voter ID law, 2011 Wisconsin Act 23, did not violate the state constitution, overruling a Dane County judge’s decision.  There are still some legal challenges facing the law, so other injunctions are still in effect.  However, I am confident Wisconsin will ultimately join the thirty states that have laws in place that require voters to show ID at the polls.

Common Core State Standards Implementation Paused

Wisconsin adopted the Common Core State Standards (CCSS) for mathematics and English language arts in 2010. This was done through action taken by the Department of Public Instruction, without legislative review, in an effort to receive a waiver from the No Child Left Behind Act under the Obama Administration. So far these standards have been adopted by 45 other states.

Wisconsin is also participating in a multi-state project to develop new common standards for science. Led by the National Research Council, a framework was developed to guide the writing of science standards. Achieve, Inc. is leading the development of Next Generation Science Standards based on this framework. A final draft version is expected this spring.

Wisconsin has a proud history of strong academic achievement and educational independence. Milwaukee was the first city to offer vouchers to students and for many years, Wisconsin was among the highest scoring states in reading tests. But over the last ten years our scores have stagnated, allowing other states to pass us. While I am still reviewing constituent input from both sides regarding CCSS, we cannot continue to sit by idly while other states make necessary educational reforms.

While I recognize the need for educational reform, this issue has been historically left to individual states to determine how best to educate their students. I believe CCSS, with its ties to waivers from No Child Left Behind and Race to the Top funds, is an intrusion by the Federal government into what has clearly been a state issue. The Joint Committee on Finance decided to take a second look at Wisconsin’s implementation of CCSS. A motion, authored by Representative Dean Knudson, passed with bipartisan support to require the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to conduct at least six public hearings and report back to the legislature its findings on the cost to implement these standards. It also prevents DPI from implementing science and social studies standards until the report is concluded. I support JFC’s decision and am wary of federal government intrusions into state decisions.

Free DNR Weekend Across the State

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is offering a free weekend of activities across the state.  This is sort of a "free sample" to showcase the fun summer activities available to Wisconsinites and visitors alike.  Here is a list of some of the free activities:
Free Fishing June 1-2
  • Wisconsin residents and visitors can fish anywhere for free in Wisconsin. No license is needed -- this includes inland trout and Great Lakes trout and salmon fishing. (Fishing rules such as limits, size, and species of fish that you can keep do apply during free fishing weekend.)
  • Free fishing clinics hosted around the state.
  • Free fishing equipment for loan at 50 state parks, DNR offices, and partner organizations.
Free Trails June 1-2
  • All state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived.
  • Cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees.
  • State Parks Open House Day is on June 2.
Free ATV/UTV June 1-2
  • On June 1 & 2, ATV/UTV owners can ride free; you do not need to have your machine registered in Wisconsin.
  • Nonresident ATV/UTV owners do not need to have a trail pass on these days.
  • Find organized rides and events here and on the Wisconsin ATV Association's Registration-Free Weekend webpage.
  • All other rules apply -- safety education certification is required for all UTV and ATV operators who were born on or after Jan. 1, 1988.
State Parks Open House Day June 2
  • On June 2, all state park vehicle admission fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived.
  • All state trail pass fees on all DNR-owned properties are waived.
  • Cooperatively-run state trails also may waive fees.
If you have any questions or desire more information, check out the DNR's website.

Joint Committee on Finance Update
  1. Representative Kooyenga came out with a simplified tax system proposal this past week that he is hoping to include in the budget.  Together with Senators Grothman and Gudex, I released my thoughts on this proposal.
  2. The Joint Committee on Finance has just about wrapped up its review of Governor Walker's proposed budget.  There are a handful of topics to be discussed next week, the most notable being funding for public schools and the proposed voucher expansion.  If you want to tune in to watch the discussion, it will be taking place on Tuesday, June 4th at 10 a.m.  You can also stream it online through Wisconsin Eye.

Deer Trustee Report Meeting with Dr. Kroll
The Department of Natural Resources will be holding a public meeting at UW-Stevens Point next weekend in order to share updates and provide a forum to answer any questions regarding the ongoing implementation process of the Deer Trustee Report.  The author of the report and deer specialist, Dr. James Kroll, will be in attendance.

The June 8 meeting will take place from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. at UW-Stevens Point Dreyfus University Center, 1015 Reserve Street. Action teams will continue to meet in the afternoon until 3 p.m.

The morning portion of the meeting will be webcasted live online here.  Online participants will have the option to submit questions via their computers for panel response throughout the presentations.

Four action teams were formed and have been hard at work building the framework for implementation, incorporating multiple viewpoints to pull together proposals on how the 62 recommendations in the Deer Trustee Report should be put into action.  This meeting is an opportunity to incorporate any concerns or suggestions from the public on the implementation proposals the action teams have developed thus far before they work to complete the process. It’s all part of the effort to ensure this is a public-driven process with diverse input.

The action teams have met four times since March and will continue to meet June 29 and July 20. Rules will be drafted by DNR based on the action team proposals that will be subject to public hearings this fall. The Natural Resources Board will review comments to make decisions on rule adoption in December.

For more information, visit and search keywords, “Deer Trustee Report.”

DATCP Warning on Traveling "Construction Crews"
Wisconsin’s deep freeze has given way to warm, sunny days, and history tells us that this break in the weather will bring traveling construction crews to the state. This year is no exception. Reports of such workers in Wisconsin have already started coming in to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP), and the agency is asking consumers to be aware of fly-by-night contractors and their questionable claims of quality home repairs.                                   
Blacktop is big business for traveling work crews, and they often offer consumers a great price to seal-coat driveways based on a story about having leftover materials from a job at a neighbor’s property. They may also offer to do siding, roofing or paint work, particularly after a major storm. A number of outcomes are possible if you agree to their services:
  • The contractors may ask you to pay upfront for work that is never completed.
  • They may agree to a set price for a job with a homeowner, but continually up the price as the project progresses. If a homeowner protests, a crew member may “cut a deal” by splitting the difference – but the end price will still be above the original set fee.
  • If a project is completed, the quality of the job and the material used is often suspect.
  • They may offer you a “free inspection” of your home, but actually plan to steal your valuables.
Consumer Protection offers the following tips if you are visited by traveling contractors:
  •  Do not answer your door if they knock.
  •  Do not give into their high-pressure tactics.
  •  NEVER let them in your home. They are experts at finding and taking valuables.
  •  Determine the make and model of their vehicles and get license plate numbers. Alert local law enforcement.
  •  Call the police immediately if they begin a job without your authorization.
Home repair contractors are required to register with the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS). Make sure that any contractor you consider hiring shows you their state registration card.  Contact DATCP if you have questions about contractors – they can tell you if the state has received complaints about the business in question. DATCP can be found online at, and can be contacted via e-mail at or toll-free at 1-800-422-7128.