A pair of bills that would make Wisconsin cheese the official state dairy product is another step closer to becoming law. Prompted by fourth grade students from Mineral Point Elementary School, Assembly Bill 73 and Senate Bill 44 have each been approved by the Assembly Agriculture Committee and the Senate Committee on Government Operations during a joint hearing at the State Capitol on Thursday.
Students Ella Kroll, Isabelle Coogan, Matthew Goninen, along with their teacher Livia Doyle, spoke at the hearing in support of the legislation. Mrs. Doyle brought her 57 students to the state house to encourage lawmakers to move forward with the idea.
"At the heart of our curriculum, fourth grade is a year dedicated to learning about Wisconsin," Mrs. Doyle said in her testimony. "As we began to study state symbols, the students started to notice that several state symbols were voted on by children. So, they asked 'why couldn't we do that?'"
Each of the three students addressed the panel with specific facts about the state's dairy industry and its importance to Wisconsin's overall economy.
"There is a lot of value in teaching kids the importance of civil engagement," said Rep. Todd Novak, who is sponsoring the measure on behalf of his young constituents. "These students put in a lot of time and effort into researching their proposal. It has been a privilege to see it through to the next stage of the process."
In 2004, a group of fourth graders from Kenosha County convinced the Legislature and then-Gov. Jim Doyle to make cranberries the state's official fruit.
Novak said it would be great to have the class back to the Capitol to watch the full Senate or Assembly vote on the bill.