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This week in Legislative Affairs

March 6, 2012

The Legislative Affairs committee met this Monday, March 6th and focused mainly on Lobby Day and its training as it was the day following the meeting from 8 AM to 5 PM..  The main issues to be lobbied tomorrow are Wisconsin higher education grants, financial aid, and budget cuts in addition to other areas related to the rising cost of higher education in Wisconsin. Students from throughout the UW system will be speaking about these issues, and participants will meet with legislators to lobby in favor of maintaining the quality of higher education in Wisconsin.

It is important for as many students to get involved as possible, for without active participation the collective student voice will not receive the attention it deserves. For students who cannot make it to the briefing at 9:30, The Legislative Affairs Committee encourages people to come to the North Hearing Room any time before 2:30 PM to participate in the event.

Following discussion about Lobby Day, the Legislative Affairs interns updated the committee on their projects.  The intern program through ASM is a wonderful platform for engaged students to work on a focused area as a project that affects the university as a whole.  One of the projects, in fact, is Lobby Day which will include a video testimonial about the budget cuts and how they are affecting students. This video project will be started today (March 6th) at the capitol.

Another intern is planning an event for the Madison Vote Coalition where their goal will be to register a high amount of students to be able to vote in the presidential election come fall. The event will probably be a concert or performance of some sort, and will take place beginning of next school year in Fall of 2012. The other intern’s project is getting a policy similar to  UW Madison’s Responsible Action Policy into a state law.  This policy allows someone who has been underage drinking to safely seek medical attention for someone or report a violent crime, without being penalized for underage drinking. The Legislative Affairs Committee is in the process of forwarding the bill. Currently, the responsible action bill is being drafted by the legislative reference bureau but it wont be introduced until next session, which is in January.

In the fall, ASM sponsored a Housing Fair, which had several landlords along with tenant resources. There were about 1,400 responses, which is wonderful.  92% of respondents said that they did not attend the fair, which indicates a need for more marketing leading up to next year’s fair. Most helpful would be to send a campus-wide email, as this year’s email regarding the fair was sent only to freshman. Also, it might be helpful to hold the Fair earlier next year, as by second semester many students have already found housing for the coming year. This was indicated by the survey results, where 21% of respondents chose not to attend the fair because they had already signed a lease for next year.

Lastly, the April 3rd election is approaching. This election is the Republican primary for the presidential election, along with various local elections. If you are not registered, you need to register by next Wednesday, March 14th. If you are registered for the Madison area, but will be gone over spring break, you should request an absentee ballot. The Vote Coalition will be tabling all over campus this week to help and answer any questions. They will be at Memorial Union from 12-2, Union South 12-2 and Gordon Commons 6-8 daily.  

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