State senator seeking input on rural issues 

posted Nov. 14, 2016 9:18 a.m. (CDT)
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As the state senator for the 17th Senate District — one of the most rural districts in the state of Wisconsin, composed of all of Grant, Lafayette, Juneau and Richland counties, and parts of Iowa, Sauk, Green, Monroe and Vernon counties — one of my central legislative goals is to be a champion for all things rural. I am always seeking ways to improve and promote state policies that impact rural life and industries.

The new legislative session will begin in January and I will continue to be a champion for rural Wisconsin. As I am planning my priorities for the new session, I have started a list of all the great, positive aspects of rural life that we need to strengthen and promote in the coming year. This list is just a beginning and I would appreciate your ideas and suggestions.

Safety and security. For the most part, rural Wisconsin is a safe place to live. Our local law enforcement works tirelessly to protect us, our families and our property. We have some challenges such as illegal drugs, drunken driving and domestic violence, but we have given our law enforcement and service providers support and tools to continue to work on these issues. 

Great schools. The schools in our Senate district are terrific. Our children receive world-class education from talented teachers throughout our communities. Our schools create innovative programs that are shared with other schools statewide such as unique charter schools, school gardens, apprenticeship programs and more. Funding for schools is always a primary part of our legislative discussion, especially funding for rural schools with enrollment and transportation challenges. What other educational issues should we discuss this year?

Strong industries. The 17th Senate District is fortunate to have a wide array of industries in our communities. From agriculture to manufacturing to hospitality to service providers, our district has a variety of businesses that rely on talented workers and committed employees. We have worked to encourage investment in rural broadband, removed regulatory barriers and funded business development over the last several years. 

Friendly communities. I am so proud to represent the people of the 17th Senate District. We live in one of the friendliest, kindest, most generous parts of our state. We take care of each other and the places where we live. The Legislature has worked to provide support for local efforts to develop and maintain our communities. Rural cities, towns and villages face unique challenges and I will continue to focus on ways to keep our communities strong and growing into the future.

Natural resources. Driving through the 17th Senate District, it is impossible to ignore the beautiful natural resources and bounty of our part of the state. Whether you are exploring the Driftless Region, meandering along the Blue River, surrounded by cornfields or launching a boat onto Castle Rock Lake, you are surrounded by the resources that make our communities unique. 

Opportunity. Our communities are ripe with opportunity. Whether it’s small businesses reopening on redeveloped main streets, agricultural tourism, homes for sale, great schools, engaged community leaders or traditional events, our communities offer opportunity for anyone to flourish in their own way. 

Again, I am looking forward to continuing to champion rural issues in the next session. I would appreciate your feedback and ideas as I begin to look for ways to enhance and promote life in our communities.

For ideas on any of these topics or others, please contact me at, call 800-978-8008 or send a letter to P.O. Box 7882, Madison, WI 53707.

Sen. Howard Marklein is a state senator representing Wisconsin’s 17th District in southwest Wisconsin. 

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