- Born Milwaukee, Wisconsin.
- Graduate Pulaski High School; B.A. University of Wisconsin–Milwaukee; M.A. University of Wisconsin–Madison La Follette Institute.
- Full-time legislator. Lifelong resident of the Third State Senate District.
- Member: Sierra Club; Jackson Park Neighborhood Association; Story Hill Neighborhood Association; Milwaukee VA Soldiers Home Advisory Council; Milwaukee LGBT Community Center; Wisconsin Humane Society.
- Recipient: Wisconsin Professional Police Association Law Enforcement Honor Roll, 2014; Mothers Against Drunk Driving Legislator of the Year, 2015; Wisconsin Public Health Association’s Champion of Public Health, 2008; Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups Russ Feingold Award for Service to Seniors, 2007; Shepherd Express Best State Legislator, 2008; Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters Conservation Champion, 2014, 2008; Shepherd Express Legislator of the Year, 2003; Wisconsin Professional Fire Fighters Legislator of the Year, 2002; Environmental Decade Clean 16 Awards.
- Elected to Assembly 1984–2000. Elected to Senate since 2002. Leadership positions: president pro tempore 2011 (effective 7/17/12), 2007; speaker pro tempore 1993.