By Brandi Makuski
Gov. Scott Walker was in Stevens Point on Friday to sign into law two bills allowing greater access for disabled residents across the state.
Before signing the bills, Walker spoke to a group of about 30 employees and executives of Ki Mobility inside the company’s new 75,000-square-foot headquarters on Woodward Drive.
“When you’ve got a company that’s growing at 50 percent sales growth in the last over the past four years, and that’s tied in to a massive increase in jobs, that’s serving a niche not just here but across the country and world,” Walker said when asked why he chose Ki Mobility as the location for the bill-signing. “Their client base is people with disabilities, and these bills address people with disabilities so it was a good fit.”
Walker also congratulated Ki Mobility employees for tapping into foreign markets in Canada, Southeast Asia and more recently, South America.
“It’s a great success story,” Walker said of the company’s growth, adding he planned to return for the official ribbon cutting in June.
Senate Bill 275, authored by Sen. Jerry Piotrowski and Rep. Lisa Subeck, allows a taxicab, or other licensed driving service like Uber, to stop in a disabled parking space to pick up or drop off a person who has been issued a disabled parking identification card.
The second bill, Senate Bill 298, requires the Wisconsin Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) to issue a trolling permit free of charge residents who are vision-impaired, provided they can produce a certificate from a licensed physician or optometrist stating that his or her sight is impaired to the degree that he or she cannot read newspaper print with or without glasses. The DNR already issues trolling permits free of charge to amputees or those who have permanent loss of function in one or both arms or hands. The bill was authored by Sen. Duey Stroebel and Rep. Jesse Kremer.
Kremer, who traveled from Milwaukee to observe the bill-signing, said the trolling bill came from a constituent in his senate district, but will likely remain dormant due to a new rule from the DNR allowing for open trolling without a permit.
“But the DNR said if that open trolling goes away again, it would be good to have this one the books,” Kremer said.
Walker also spoke about Wisconsin’s recent decrease in unemployment, which is now at 4.5 percent — below the national average of five percent.
“I think it’s a combination of things; certainly it’s the hard work, ingenuity and risk-taking of the people here in Wisconsin,” Walker said, adding “hundreds of millions of dollars” have been put into worker training and technical school programs.
”The best thing government can do to help job growth, more often than not, is just get out of the way.” Walker said. “Get out of the way, don’t make it difficult for people willing to take that risk and dream big, and provide people with the opportunity.”
Walker said five or six years ago the state was struggling to create job growth.
“Now it’s about finding people to fill those jobs,” he said.
Ki Mobility will hold a ribbon-cutting ceremony to celebrate its new headquarters, located at 5201 Woodward Dr., sometime in June.