Wednesday July 17, 2019

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Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District

Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District

State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legislative assistant, Erpenbach was elected to represent the 27th Senate District in November of 1998 and was re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Jon’s Senate colleagues elected him Senate Democratic Leader in December 2002. He served in that position until December 2004.
Senator Erpenbach has worked in the Legislature to regulate issue ads since his election in 1998 to the Senate, that includes working on bipartisan proposals to limit outside spending in elections and shed light on who is spending money to influence the outcomes of elections and legislation.
For more information please contact his office at 608-266-66790 or 888-549-0027 or sen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov

Call for Equal Pay Heard Around the World, Inspires a Nation

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 12 July 2019
in Wisconsin

u.s.womens-soccer-teamThe women’s U.S. soccer team makes us all feel more patriotic, says Sen. Erpenbach, and reminds us that enacting equal pay legislation here in Wisconsin is far overdue.


WEST POINT, WI - After Independence Day last week, we are all feeling a little bit more patriotic, not solely because of the stunning fireworks that lit the sky and the celebration of our independence, but because we were all reminded what it means to be an American.

That same weekend the U.S. women’s soccer team won their fourth World Cup Championship, beating the Netherlands 2-0. This amazing accomplishment of an incredible season of breaking records and triumphant victories was complemented by a swift eruption of chants in support of the team, “equal pay, equal pay.”

This chant followed the players back to the states, as fans showed up to express their support for the team, and their support for equal rights in the workplace. Carrying homemade signs, and throwing confetti out windows, women, men, and children alike celebrated the victory together, and continued their call for equal pay.

There is no doubt that the U.S. women’s soccer team made history, in multiple ways, but their ability to inspire a nation, and bring people from all sides of the aisle together is a truly amazing accomplishment.

So what now? Truthfully, it is sad that in 2019, we are still having this discussion. Everyone deserves equal pay for equal work. It doesn’t matter if you are a world-renowned athlete or not - regardless of your profession, everyone deserves to be fairly compensated for their hard work; free from discrimination based on gender.

Wisconsin has always been a leader when it came to women’s rights. In fact, in June 1919, Wisconsin became the first state to officially ratify the 19th amendment granting national suffrage to women, giving them the right to vote. Additionally, in 2009, Wisconsin had passed an Equal Pay Enforcement Act Law, which ensured fair-pay.

However, Republicans repealed the law in 2012. In doing so, Republicans made it more difficult for women to seek missed compensation due to discrimination. Instead of being able to file a complaint with a state agency, they must engage in a long and drawn-out lawsuit in the courts. Women’s rights have been under attack throughout the United States, and it is disappointing that steps towards equality got overturned.

On average, women in Wisconsin earn 80 cents for every dollar a man makes, and that gap is larger for women of color. This pay discrepancy makes it difficult for Wisconsin to have a full and thriving economy. Women make up nearly half of Wisconsin’s workforce, and 1/3 of households are headed by women.

jon-erpenbachThe numbers are clear. If women received equal pay for equal work, it would help grow our economy all over the state. With more disposable income, families would have an easier time making large purchases, such as homes and cars, and would be able to enjoy more time supporting local businesses within our communities.

By not paying women their fair share, we are hurting our state monumentally. In order for our communities to thrive, we need to ensure that everyone has the opportunity to succeed. Knowingly discriminating against workers based on their gender, rather than what they bring to the table, hinders our economy, and our ability to compete in a global market.

The women’s U.S. soccer team made me feel more patriotic because it reminded me of what makes America an amazing place to live. It is our ability to see injustices within society, and to openly fight for what is right. It is the masses who show up to support our teams, and find common ground, even during distressing times.

With all this said, and as we enter the second half of 2019, we know that enacting equal pay legislation is far overdue. It is time for us to end discrimination in the workplace, and endorse equal pay for equal work. As the chant goes, “U.S.A., Equal Pay.”

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Erpenbach Applauds Medical Marijuana Proposal

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 19 February 2019
in Wisconsin

medical-marijuanaWe should legalize medical marijuana, as an ever growing list of organizations and individuals support decriminalization for medical use.


MADISON - Since 2009, I have been the author of legislation to legalize marijuana for medical use. In that time I have heard heartbreaking stories from people across the state who are using marijuana to alleviate serious medical conditions; People breaking the law to get their loved ones a medicine that works.

Legislators have long been behind the public on this issue. Recent polling showed that 59% of Wisconsinites support the legalization of all marijuana, but broken down into medical use the numbers are even higher.

In addition, thirty States and Washington, D.C., both red and blue, have passed effective medical marijuana programs, and no state has ever sought to repeal it. It is time for Wisconsin to join them in passing these regulations.

jon-erpenbachThe bottom line is that seriously ill patients should not have to break the law to access their medication. Marijuana can provide relief to those suffering from cancer, glaucoma, PTSD, ALS, chronic pain and can even help in the fight against opiate addiction. A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association in 2014 found that opioid overdose deaths were reduced by 25% in states with an effective medical marijuana law. This is a common-sense solution to a crisis that impacts both urban and rural areas of our state.

There are a multitude of reasons why we should legalize medical marijuana, and an ever growing list of organizations and individuals that support decriminalization for medical use. This proposal will help individuals seeking to alleviate chronic pain in a safe and legal way, and I applaud Governor Evers for listening to the people of Wisconsin.

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Erpenbach on the Republican Tax Plan

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 07 February 2019
in Wisconsin

wisconsin_senateDemocratic leader says GOP’s plan consumes 80% of the estimated balance before the budget process even begins, and uses one-time funds that would ultimately attribute to a deficit.


MADISON - While I am glad that Republicans are taking steps to support Governor Evers’ vision for a tax cut for the middle-class, today’s public hearing on their alternative proposal makes it clear that their spending plan is shortsighted and irresponsible. Once again, Republicans are playing politics, instead of fighting for what is best for Wisconsin, and in doing so, they are putting taxpayers on the hook for a tax cut with no way to pay for it in the future.

jon-erpenbachThe GOP’s plan consumes 80% of the estimated balance before the budget process even begins, and uses one-time funds that would ultimately attribute to a deficit. It leaves no room for Governor Evers or the legislature to work on the priorities of Wisconsinites and to reach across the aisle to find common ground on what matters most to our communities.

The people of Wisconsin have made it clear that they want Governor Evers to expand opportunities, including investing in our schools, rebuilding infrastructure and improving health care. Due to the lack of school aids under Republicans, taxpayers have already had to pass $1.46 billion in local referendums to assist their schools, forcing local communities to approve $300 million in 2018 alone. It is important that we reduce the burden on property taxpayers by properly funding education and making smart investments in our communities.

Governor Evers has a plan that works for Wisconsin’s hardworking families without increasing Wisconsin’s budget deficit. I urge Republicans to work with Governor Evers’ on his proposal that would provide sustainable tax relief and would put the people of Wisconsin first, not support a plan they cannot pay for.

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Disappointing Failure on Rural Economic Development Money

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 07 April 2018
in Wisconsin

farm-familyNo one has been hurt more and slower to recover after the 2008 economic crisis than our rural communities, and a bipartisan bill that granted $50 million a year to help dies in the state Senate.


MADISON - The only silver lining for rural Wisconsin to the Foxconn 4.5 billion in tax dollars was the introduction of a bill that granted $50 million a year to rural Wisconsin communities for economic development. While $50 million seems dwarfed by the billions Foxconn will get, at least it was something.

Somehow after passing the Joint Committee on Finance, which I am a member of, and the State Assembly this bill died in the Senate. Clearly the votes were there. It passed out of the Joint Committee on Finance unanimously and passed out of the Assembly 95 to 0.

jon-erpenbachThe disappointment here is great because the bill planned to allocate a strong amount of flexible funds to rural Wisconsin to improve economic development outcomes. I voted for this bill because I could envision transportation and infrastructure needs, redevelopment of downtowns that have been so hurt by Governor Walker’s opposition to the Historic Tax Credit and creative partnerships to support growing smaller businesses in every corner of the 27th Senate District. I am not sure who supported killing this bill that was authored by Republican Representative Tranel at the request of Governor Walker, but I am sure curious.

No one has been hurt more in this state and been slower to recover after the 2008 economic crisis than our rural communities. Places like Milwaukee have been more successful in their recovery because there is easy access to the high tech and infrastructure needs that businesses need to grow in an emerging market. Communities that are more rural are pounding the pavement every day just trying to get a broadband provider interested in wiring their whole community.  Ten miles out of the Madison metropolitan area are communities without functioning broadband working to rebuild and redevelop just to survive.

I have heard that the Rural Economic Development program may come back next session but with less money. I hope it does come back, but with more money. We need to support our rural communities. Local governments just do not have the means to help with crippling caps on spending from the state. If we can afford $4.5 billion for Foxconn, we can afford $50 million a year for our rural communities.

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For more information on the failure of AB 912 to pass contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027.

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Economy a Challenge for Most of Wisconsin

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 26 January 2018
in Wisconsin

lines-farmsMeasures of the economy are split, with some booming counties and others struggling. We need to use our funds wisely when we invest in schools, roads and economic development.


MADISON - Wisconsin’s economy is recovering in some factors, but in general the measures are split and the divide between the economy of booming counties and struggling counties continues to grow. What does that mean and how can we fix it? That just means that the State of Wisconsin needs to use our funds wisely when we invest in schools, roads and economic development.

The unemployment rate in Wisconsin remains at the low rate of 3% according to December 2017 data. That low number is largely driven by a few high population areas in the state that have the lowest rate of unemployment like the Madison area which is as low as 2.1% unemployment. Whether unemployment rate is a good measure of the economy is certainly an open topic for debate, but it is a fact that Wisconsin’s unemployment rate has consistently trended below the national rate for 30 years. While there are more people working in Wisconsin, more people in the workforce is a reflection of more people in the state, it is that simple.

Our neighbors, Minnesota created new private sector jobs at a faster rate than Wisconsin in 22 of 24 quarters since the 2011 state budget. And over six years, Minnesota added 10.8% new private sector jobs, 23rd in the nation where Wisconsin only created 8.5%, 34th in the nation.

Another measure of the state economy is our poverty rate. Unlike unemployment that simply measures if people are working, the poverty rate measures people that are living below the Federal poverty rate, even if they are working. In 2016, the percentage of people living below the Federal poverty line, less than $24,250 for a family of four, was 11.8% that is 683,867 people. The rate of children living in poverty is higher at 16%. This is just another example of why our investments in education and other supports for children in poverty are essential. Wisconsin deserves equal opportunity for our children regardless of where they live or family income.

School spending is certainly a driving factor behind equal opportunity in Wisconsin and after historic cuts of $1.1 billion in public education funding under the current Governor and majority, the slow crawl to increase funding should be faster. School aids in Wisconsin remain $175 million dollars below even inflationary costs since 2010-2011. That is why we must invest our additional education dollars fairly. This past budget gave a bump to every student in the state, but all schools are simply not funded the same because of the value of local property. Wisconsin deserves schools that are funded fairly regardless of where you live and how expensive the houses in your community are.

There is always room to improve our overall economy for the people of Wisconsin. Focusing across the state whether you live in a rural, urban or suburban economy is essential because wasted human potential is wasted opportunity for our state.

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For more information on state support for working families and the state economy call 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Governor Walker’s Re-election Health Care Plan

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 23 January 2018
in Wisconsin

walker-rejects-fedmoneyGov. Walker has finally decided to join most Americans and support the Affordable Care Act, so now it’s time to bring our Federal taxpayer dollars back.


MADISON - Even though last year he fought for repeal, in his re-election campaign now Governor Walker has finally decided to join most Americans and support the Affordable Care Act. Democrats in Wisconsin have always worked to strengthen our health care system and now Governor Walker finally joins us in that fight. Now it’s time for Governor Walker to bring our Federal taxpayer dollars back to Wisconsin and expand BadgerCare – our state has now lost over $1 billion because of Governor Walker’s refusal to expand BadgerCare.

These newly loved Democratic plans are a drop in the bucket compared to what accepting funds to expand BagerCare could do for the people of this state. Finally, without a CHIP extension, Wisconsin will have a huge hole in our Medicaid budget so maybe this plan should include a Governor Walker guarantee Congress will extend CHIP for the children of this state.

On Reinsurance funds: Reinsurance is a tool that has been used by other states including Minnesota who funded $500 million. Governor Walker’s plan is less than half of what Minnesota invested which begs the question, is it really enough to lower the premium for participants?

On $50 million in Medicaid savings – The Medicaid report just came out and counts on Congress renewing CHIP. I wish Governor Walker could waive his magic wand to make Congress renew CHIP for the children of Wisconsin, where is that promise? Without it we will have a huge hole in our Medicaid budget.

On SeniorCare Medicare Part D exemption permanent – That’s up to the Federal government – the current SeniorCare extension was just filed (down to the wire). Seniors have basically had to beg Governor Walker to renew it for the past ten years. Again – glad he is finally willing to commit to always renewing the SeniorCare waiver – something he has NEVER been willing to do before.

On the preexisting conditions bill – I am curious why Governor Walker did not like this proposal when it was an Erpenbach/Riemer proposal. Clearly coverage for preexisting conditions is – and has always been – a huge concern for the people of Wisconsin. Governor Walker did not speak up when President Donald Trump and Congress tried to repeal ObamaCare – it is interesting that he is speaking up now.

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Time to Work Smarter As We Fight Veteran Suicide

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 06 January 2018
in Wisconsin

veterans_army_medicIn Wisconsin we say we value military service and our veterans, but some of our financially failing services will not survive unless we make smart decisions.


MADISON, WI - Everyone knows the statistic, 22 veterans are victims of suicide each day in our country. The reality that those who have served us risking life and limb are struggling to point of taking their own lives is a failure of our nation. While many policies that address veterans issues, like health care and duty disability are Federal policies, there are many programs and policies administered by the State of Wisconsin that affect veterans. Our goal as we seek to address the crisis of veteran suicide should be meeting the needs of those veterans in crisis in a nimble and effective way.

Spreading the word about existing programs and making sure veterans are receiving all of the support they deserve is our most important first action. After attacks on our County Veterans Service Officers in the recent past, most Legislators now understanding the true value of a face to face connection point in every county of the state. Having an officer at the County Veterans Service Office is invaluable. No one knows more about how to connect veterans to services they need and deserve than a CVSO. Make sure the veterans in your life know they can make connection points, not just for earned service, but also for local organizations and groups that support veterans at their local CVSO.

Protection of programs that are only in Wisconsin that are meeting needs where Federal programs fall short is another essential goal. The Wisconsin GI bill has stronger college support for veterans and their children than the Federal GI. Our universities have worked to understand and support our veteran community better and it shows. The Needy Veterans Program is another Wisconsin specific support that is very valuable to our veteran families in need of medical equipment or emergency financial support. My hope is to expand the Needy Veteran Program to support emergency mental health services for veterans and their families.

Once again this year, I have introduced(with Representative Gordon Hintz) Senate Bill 631 that would expand the use of the Needy Veteran Program to include mental health and substance abuse services. Using an existing program and spending money already set aside to help veterans make this a bill that can be seamlessly adopted now. The bill requires action on the veterans request in 48 hours to meet needs quickly. We know that the average wait time for an initial mental health appointment at the VA is 26 days. Being able to get substance abuse treatment and mental health services as veterans wait for treatment from the VA is the kind of nimble smart support we should be exploring in Wisconsin. I am also drafting a bill to pilot a text message veteran’s crisis line so we can offer an option for counsel and support without having to talk, using texting technology.

Finally, I will continue to work to support the Department of Veterans Affairs with general purpose tax dollars just like most other state agencies. Our financially failing Veterans Fund will not survive unless we make some smart decisions. The people of Wisconsin want to support our veterans and most people think they already do. In Wisconsin we value military service and our veterans.

For more information on proposals affecting veteran’s in Wisconsin contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Trickle Down Policies

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 08 December 2017
in Wisconsin

trump-ryanA guest column from Senate Jon Erpenbach on how Federal policies affect our lives and the state budget bottom line.


MADISON - For most of us, Washington DC and the politics of President Donald Trump and a Republican Congress seem a million miles away. But the reality is that our lives, and the lives of those we love, are impacted by the Federal government and decisions made in Washington DC every single day. Whether you drive to work on a road that gets Federal funds, receive or are building social security, qualify for Medicare, have a child in school, receive the child tax credit, eat food from a farm that is subsidized, take medication that is regulated; all of this and countless more daily operations of our lives are impacted by the decisions made in Washington DC.

taxes-The Federal tax bill, which will be reconciled soon between the Senate and the House, spends in deficit. That is an inarguable point because the bill enacts tax cuts that are not paid for. Because the bill has deficit spending, it is regulated by another Federal law that prohibits deficit spending. While tax breaks enacted for corporations and wealthy will remain in place, programs that benefit our elderly or low income individuals will be cut. It will be an automatic action unless Congress passes a bill to reverse their “Pay As You Go” 2010 law. The Medicare the cuts, although immediate, are capped yearly but will still be felt deeply simply because of the number of people that qualify for this Federal health care program for the elderly. For other Federal programs the cuts will simply come without regard for need.

According to the Associated Press, “The program that would be most affected by the automatic cuts is Medicare, whose budget would be slashed by more than $25 billion a year. Other programs that would experience deep cuts include vocational training for individuals with disabilities, block grants for foster care and Meals on Wheels and federal funding for historically black colleges and universities.”

jon-erpenbachThere are consequences for decisions made in Washington DC and sometimes they are not so obvious. If you are lucky enough to make an income three times the Wisconsin median income, the tax plan being decided in Washington DC will likely benefit you. But if you are like the rest of us who are the proven fuel in the US economy, those that spend all the income they receive on cost of living, it will be harder to find a benefit. If you are over 65, disabled, a foster child, a farmer, a construction worker, an addict in recovery, a Meals on Wheels recipient, or living on a fixed income, be ready for cuts to your income, health care and services; not only as the primary action of the tax plan but the mandatory secondary action of current Federal law.

Wisconsin will have lots of tough choices in the upcoming budgets because of less revenue from the Federal government and fewer block grants to support our state budget. I stand ready as a member of the Joint Committee on Finance to help navigate Federal cuts and to work to help make the best decisions we can for the people of the State of Wisconsin given this fiscal shortfall.

You can contact my office at 608-266-6670 or toll free 888-549-0027 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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A Mom’s Reminder: Still More to do in Opioid Crisis

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Monday, 13 November 2017
in Wisconsin

drugaddicts-youngTwo mothers who lost their children to addiction have taken their experience and turned it into advocacy and education.


MADISON, 11/10/2017 - This week two amazing advocates and grieving mothers, Bonnie and Bev, brought Faces of Addiction and Hope a story quilt to the State Capitol during our last session day of the year. It was a stark reminder we still have more work to do in the opioid crisis. Squares on the quilt showed people who have died, those incarcerated because of their addiction and those that are in recovery. It is a beautiful and tragic symbol. Both mom’s lost their children to addiction and have taken their experience and turned it into advocacy and education.

As I spoke with them about the message they hope to share with the quilt, they shared how they wished our criminal justice system could be a better partner with those addicted to drugs and alcohol and how they hope more than anything that people can see the true reality of the disease of addiction. Treatment and care should be available to everyone because we simply cannot afford to lose so many. In 2015, nearly 900 people in Wisconsin died from overdose. That is a 70% increase since 2009.

Unfortunately, where you live in Wisconsin makes a big difference whether or not you have access to treatment programs and whether you have opportunities for care in the community. Medicaid is the single largest payer of substance use disorder services in the nation and pays for one third of the medication assisted treatment programs. Right here in Sauk County we have a program that has been used as a national model for medication assisted wrap-around treatment. Ensuring that people have access to Medicaid or insurance through the Affordable Care Act plays a huge part in their success story.

Recruiting and keeping professionals that can provide treatment to those with addiction and other mental health disorders is also a barrier in many parts of Wisconsin. Increasing the reimbursement rate paid to substance abuse professionals will help make sure we have access to treatment outside of the major metropolitan areas in Wisconsin.

Accepting the BadgerCare expansion allowed in the ACA and covering more people with low cost health insurance in Wisconsin would make a huge difference to those in need of treatment and recovery. Unfortunately, we have been advocating to accept that federal money to no avail in the Wisconsin Legislature for a few years now. Truly only partisan politics stands in the way for Wisconsin to expand BadgerCare and I am hopeful some day we can move past that prideful political barrier.

As this Legislative session is coming to a close, I am also hopeful that the quilt will grow with white squares to show those in recovery and remain committed to legislation that supports our families and communities struggling with addiction and recovery.

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For more information on the Faces of Addiction and Hope quilt contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it . You can see the quilt on my Facebook page.

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Possible Failure for a Successful Program: Historic Tax Credits

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 30 August 2017
in Wisconsin

cedarburgBudget announced by Senator Fitzgerald earlier this summer caps total spending on the Historic Tax Credit at $20 million and limits the funding a project can receive at $5 million.


MADISON - Drive through a quaint renovated small village or town in Wisconsin and you are likely seeing a downtown renovated with Historic Tax Credits. In my opinion the Historic Tax Credit is the most successful rural and small town economic development program administered by Governor Walker’s Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). As the Legislature considers venturing into the great unknown on high tech manufacturing with checks from our taxpayers for 15 years, that same Republican majority is planning to cap the Historic Tax Credit program.

This cap is defended as needed as an austerity measure. But clearly these budget cuts are not needed elsewhere. The Republican compromise budget announced by Senator Fitzgerald earlier this summer caps total spending on the Historic Tax Credit at $20 million and limits the funding a project can receive at $5 million. These limits will have a significant impact on the program’s success.

fond_du_lacIn 2014, 60 percent of the Historic Tax Credit projects renovated buildings that had been vacant for more than 20 years. The return on investment for taxpayer investments in the Historic Tax Credit has been proven to be 8 to 1. Capping the program will jeopardize projects that will revitalize our communities and provide a known payback to taxpayers. I have heard from local leaders from all over the state and the 27th Senate District asking to leave the program alone, so I know other Legislators have received contact as well.

I cannot figure out why Governor Walker has continually tried to kill this program and why Republican Legislators would consider allowing it to happen. 2016 brought 38 projects into the Historic Tax Credit. Projects all over Wisconsin including Plymouth, Superior, Fon du Lac, Evansville, Platteville, Darlington, Waupaca, Wausau, Prairie du Chien, La Crosse, Manitowoc, Watertown, De Pere, Oshkosh, Neenah and Kenosha. I know of projects in the works in the 27th District as well.

In the last three budgets the Historic Tax Credit destruction has been defeated, but it appears we are at the cusp of a “victory” for Governor Walker limiting the Historic Tax Credit for communities all over Wisconsin in planning phases for redevelopment. I truly hope that the final budget will save the Historic Tax Credit again and deter those that wish to punish communities that are working to redevelop their downtowns.

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Please contact members of the Legislature and ask them to support the Historic Tax Credit as current law in the state budget. The Legislative Hotline is (800) 362-9472 or you can email from the Legislative website: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/

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Looking at the FOXCONN Deal with a Wisconsin Perspective

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 16 August 2017
in Wisconsin

Walker-gouThere is real desperation here, because our job growth has trailed the National average 22 straight quarters, but that doesn’t mean we need to give away the farm. We can do better.


MADISON - Every single elected official is interested and willing to help businesses build and create family supporting jobs here in Wisconsin. That’s because our job growth has trailed the National average 22 straight quarters, every single quarter since Governor Walker created the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). There is real desperation, because there is real need. But that doesn’t mean we need to give away the farm (literally) for the big fish that falls into our lap. We can work hard and build the businesses we have with investments in education and training, infrastructure, and our assets as a state like the environment.

We all love Wisconsin because it is such a beautiful area to live, raise a family, and retire. Every corner of our state has pristine natural areas we all use for recreation, hunting and other leisure activities. Sacrificing those natural areas as a part of the FOXCONN deal is foolish. Directly putting our water, air and environment at risk is bad public policy. The “give away our environment” attitude with this deal also opens the door to exempt future economic development deals from environmental approval rules and is simply unacceptable. We have dozens of examples of Wisconsin businesses that have grown and flourished without dumping waste and diverting streams and sacrificing Great Lakes waters.

Next we need to examine the deal. Is it really the best we could get for our taxpayer investment or does it reflect the political desperation some leaders feel because of their own failures? Any taxpayer funded investment should demonstrate the best return on investment we can get, build family supporting jobs to replace the union living wage manufacturing jobs we have lost, and have real recovery claw backs if the business packs up and moves or if they automate and eliminate jobs in the process. Governor Walker and WEDC do not have an awesome track record with recovery when companies outsource jobs and the potential replacement of supported jobs with automation is a brave new world for all of us.

The deal does have benchmarks before funds are released which is good, but lacks claw backs if jobs are outsourced or automated – the new Assembly version is just the same. Claw backs require businesses to pay back taxpayer costs if the business fails to keep the contract. Wisconsin needs to be able to at least try to take on FOXCONN if they damage our environment and our economy. FOXCONN is not a Wisconsin company building their future here. They are a Taiwanese company looking to avoid President Trump’s tariff threats and we are just the state with the best deal for them.

We cannot let the relentless pursuit of jobs take away what makes Wisconsin our home. We can do better.

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If you would like more information on FOXCONN and special session Senate Bill 1 contact my office at 608-266-6670 or  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Violating Privacy in Search of Fraud is Misplaced Justice

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 14 July 2017
in Wisconsin

trumpPresident Trump's new witch hunt for illegal voters is a waste of time. Voters are not committing fraud in elections. Politicians who pass laws rigging the maps and suppressing voter turnout are the real problem.


MADISON - Regardless of what happens in court or the with the “call back” from President Trump, the Wisconsin Elections Commission will follow Wisconsin law and grant a request to release limited information about our voters as they must under our open records law. Information like name and address of voters as well and when and where they voted will be given to President Trump’s commission if they pay for the records. But the secret ballot, party preference, social security number and date of birth is rightly protected by our laws. There is no other choice because our law on open records is clear.

voter-idHowever violating our voter’s rights in search of fraud is a waste of time and a violation of privacy because the Republican claim of voter fraud has been proven false more than once. This national ploy will show nothing different.

Voters are not the ones committing fraud in elections. Politicians who pass laws rigging the maps so only they can win is the true voter fraud. This fraud is so great a panel of three Federal judges overturned it and demanded new maps be drawn. This fraud is so valid that the US Supreme Court now will hear how fraudulent our maps are, how dirty Wisconsin elections have become under this one party rule.

This should make no one proud. The voter fraud of rigged maps is what needs attention. Taking away the right to one person one vote, without political interference, is the crime.

Voters in this state work hard to access the ballot and that is not something that has been made easier with the elimination of special registration deputies and additional identification at every single election, not just when you register to vote. But these barriers and intimidation will not break the Wisconsin voter spirit. We have fortitude, we have strength, we are stubborn and we won’t let Republican voter intimidation take away our right to vote.

Coming off an election where the party I belong did not perform well this optimism and faith in voters may seem misplaced. But the reality is I believe in the value of the right to vote. Even if people don’t vote for me. The process of clean elections and the value of the right to vote is bigger than any politician, bigger than any party.

***

If you would like additional information on voter’s rights and the violation of those rights with the current one party rule in Wisconsin, contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Republican Budget Cuts UW Classrooms

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
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on Saturday, 27 May 2017
in Wisconsin

uw-mdsn-studentsWalker and the Republicans who control the legislature are pushing the biggest budgets in the history of Wisconsin, yet they have cut $800 million from the UW.


MADISON - A budget is all about priorities and Republicans and Governor Walker have made it very clear that the UW is not their priority.

Since elected, Governor Walker’s state budgets have spent nearly $282 billion dollars – over $127 billion in GPR alone. These are the biggest budgets in the history of Wisconsin, yet Governor Walker and Republicans have cut $800 million from the UW in the last few budgets.

The funds are there, but Republicans have chosen not to restore their $800 million cut.

Democrats will not agree to continue this cut to the UW because we value the UW and the economic engine it is. Wisconsin deserves better than another state budget with cuts to our UW classrooms.

Truly the great state of Wisconsin deserves a strong UW system and the educational opportunities a strong investment in our UW schools brings for our people.

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More Accountability Needed for Taxpayer Funds at King Nursing Home

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 17 March 2017
in Wisconsin

veteran-olderFunds provided by families and the federal government for the care of our nursing home residents should be used at the veteran nursing homes first.


MADISON - Caring for our veterans is one of the most sacred duties we work to achieve as a state. We have been entrusted by the Federal government to care for elderly and disabled veterans and their spouses at our veteran nursing homes. These facilities should have the gold standard of care. Unfortunately, like many other operations of the state, infrastructure and maintenance delays and failures have affected the lives of those in our nursing homes, most notable at the Veterans Home at King. This is NOT a money problem. Even when state finances were tight just after the recession, the veteran nursing homes have been building surplus of funds.

While the federal government has decided not to limit how states can spend surplus revenues, we can still make the right choices here in Wisconsin and invest in our veteran care with money that was paid to care for veterans. The first step in that process is taking back control of transfers out of the veteran nursing home surplus fund. Currently about $35 million of revenue sits in this surplus fund. This money can be transferred out of the fund at any time not by the Legislature, but by a political appointee, the Secretary of the Department of Veterans Affairs. The only way the Legislature even knows about the transfers are because of a statutory required annual report to the Legislature on the Veterans Fund.

Why does the veteran’s nursing Home fund have a surplus? These revenues are derived from an exemption from the nursing home bed tax, the federal per diem paid to facilities for the care of veterans, federal service related disability payments made for the care of disabled veterans, the higher state rate for reimbursement for Medicaid, and private payment from veterans and their families.

The 2013 budget included language that allowed for unlimited transfers from the veterans nursing home fund into the Veterans Fund without Legislative approval. The Legislature added JFC passive review, but the Governor vetoed it. DVA can now transfer, at any time, surplus from our state veteran’s nursing homes facilities. Unfortunately, turning back the clock and granting facility upgrade requests is not an option. $18.5 million in facility improvements in the last state budget were zero funded by Governor Walker. Our only choice as a Legislature is to move forward. That is why I am proposing a bill to reestablish Legislative oversight of all funding for the veterans homes. The DVA will transfer a total of $21 million away from the Veterans Nursing Homes just this biennium. Passing the buck on financial oversight is wrong.

A state that supports their veterans spends state money for programs for veterans and does not use money meant for the care and comfort in nursing homes for agency administration and rent. Funds provided by families and the federal government for the care of our nursing home residents should be used at the veteran nursing homes first.

For more information on the Veterans Fund please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027.

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Seasonal Unemployment Changes Hurting Businesses and Communities

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Monday, 13 February 2017
in Wisconsin

construction-workersFor years, people in occupations like the construction trades could get up to 12 weeks of UC wages when laid off seasonally. The rule helped local contractors keep their workforce intact until projects could resume and they were glad to pay for it, but in 2015 the Walker administration ended the practice for what it called cost savings. Sen. Erpenbach is introducing a bill to put it back.


MADISON - One thing you can always count on in Wisconsin is winter. Winter will come and with it for some businesses and employees a time when work simply cannot be done because of the weather. Recognizing that seasonal unemployment is different than getting fired from a job, Wisconsin law has allowed businesses to place a “winter hold” on their employees when the weather makes working impossible.

This hold means not only that businesses can keep the people that they have trained, but is also keeps employees from having to take a job they don’t need just because they are required to accept a job or lose unemployment insurance. I am proposing a fix with colleagues that I hope will receive overwhelming support in the Legislature.

This issue came to my office through a listening session and played out in the real world a bit differently than I would have expected. A constituent from New Glarus works outside construction so every year he is seasonally unemployed. To keep busy and help his community, he volunteers significantly more in winter with the local fire and rescue which is an all-volunteer force. This gives a break to everyone else who puts their lives on hold to save the lives of their neighbors. Turns out he is not alone.

Finding people willing to get up in the middle of the night to pull a neighbor from a burning house, or a car accident, or suffering from a stroke is more and more difficult. The incentives for volunteer fire departments just are not there, and with an aging rural population this is truly an emergency care crisis. Last summer a Legislative Council Study committee worked to address this crisis and has proposed a set of bills to help rural Wisconsin. I will support each and every one of them and I hope my colleagues will too. Missing from that list unfortunately is this bill, which I believe should have been included.

This issue is not just about volunteer emergency crews in rural Wisconsin, it is also about each and every business in rural and urban Wisconsin that wants to keep their employees they have trained and invested in. The change to prohibit a “winter hold” on employees was not made by the Legislature; it was made by the Department of Workforce Development and the Governor Walker administration. In 2015 this rule changed and we have heard from businesses and employers ever since how bad it is for business in Wisconsin.

Despite our advocacy to have the rule changed and outrage at the unemployment advisory council, the administration has failed to change this rule. That means we will have to try a law change again this year. I am hopeful other Legislators that represent rural areas will step up and cross party lines to support their local businesses and communities and support this change. Contact your state Legislators and ask them to support allowing a “winter hold” on employees to help your community and the businesses that keep it working.

****

For more information on seasonal unemployment changes and what they have meant for businesses, employees and emergency medical services contact my office at 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

This issue is being discussed by the Unemployment Insurance Advisory Council (UIAC). For more information about it and it's work, go HERE.

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Wisconsin Roads Desperate for Leadership

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 03 February 2017
in Wisconsin

road-closed-delayState highway Projects have cost $3 billion more than projected, and the quality of Wisconsin roads have deteriorated in just five years. What's wrong, and what can we do better?


MADISON - The Department of Transportation audit announcement felt like a sucker punch to the gut. Projects in the works for our state roads have cost $3 billion more than projected. $3 billion more than the Legislature planned for. This is simply unbelievable. Wisconsin roads have gone from 53% “good” to 41% “good” in just five years.

How do our roads deteriorate that much in just five years? Complete lack of adequate funding. The 2011 state budget cut road funding by delaying projects, postponing large projects and cutting funds to rural roads in Wisconsin. Each and every budget since then has done the same thing. The Transportation Fund has been in crisis mode since the Legislature repealed the indexing of the gas tax and there have been no true solutions put forth by the majority party.

Before the last biennial budget, this crisis was truly recognized statewide by all Legislators and the Governor. Governor Walker even asked his Transportation Secretary to come up with possible solutions to this economic crisis. A group of experts met and they came up with many different options for ensuring that our immediate road needs and our long term funding crisis could be addressed. Governor Walker and the Republican majority rejected each and every idea this group of experts put forth. Instead, they chose to borrow once again for our roads and delayed projects, postponed large projects, and cut funding to rural roads. It is like ground hogs day with an increasingly bumpy road.

Why is funding for roads so important? First and foremost is the safety of all of us going where we need to go. Hazardous roads equal unsafe roads for our families. Second is the economy. How can we expect our lagging economy to improve if we don’t have the infrastructure to support the businesses that work here? How can we expect new businesses to move into a state that has 41% “poor” roads? From farms to factories, road travel is still the cheapest and fastest way for businesses to move products and supplies. We will never catch up to our neighboring states if we do not invest in our roads.

Delaying and bonding and backfilling have been used time and time again to fund our roads and it simply is not working. Over 20 cents on every dollar we are spending now to build our roads is going to financing of yesterday’s projects. This credit card, funding scheme has to stop.

I stand ready, as I have for the last six years, willing to work with any Legislator with the strength to find a short term and long term solution for transportation funding. Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans need to put their money where their mouths are and help this state. No more excuses.

******

For more information on the Legislative Audit of the Department of Transportation or the Transportation Financing crisis contact my office at 608-266-6670 or 888-549-0027 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Illegal Coordination Highlighted in Guardian Story

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 14 September 2016
in Wisconsin

scott-walker-sworeinSenate Republicans knew they were blowing our campaign finance laws to pieces for their own personal benefit. That is the true crime in all of this.


MADISON, WI - Last November, the Wisconsin Senate Republicans made changes to Wisconsin election laws that they knew would allow collusion and coordination between political candidates and dark money issue ads in elections. This move was needed because they had been breaking the law, most notable in the recall elections as highlighted in The Guardian leak of thousands of pages of a John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker.

Wisconsin courts have found that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value. AB 387 changed that and made collusion and coordination legal, even when candidates coordinate with ’issue advocacy’ groups.

Issue ads claim they are NOT campaigning because they are just educating voters, not trying to influence the outcome of an election. But coordination with a candidate is the definition of campaigning. We argued all day on the Senate floor and every single Senate Republican knew they were blowing our campaign finance laws to pieces for their own personal benefit. That is the true crime in all of this. Politicians voting to benefits themselves.

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Services Best Delivered in Counties with Direct Veteran-to-Veteran Support

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 28 July 2016
in Wisconsin

iraq-warCounty Veterans Service Officers are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin, but the State DVA has targeted them and it needs to stop. Why this relentless attack on CVSO officers and veterans by the Wisconsin DVA?


MIDDLETON, WI - Veterans in Wisconsin need only to travel within their own county to have personal contact with another veteran helping navigate access to services. That office is the County Veterans Service Office by statute a “bricks and mortar” office where a veteran can receive support and assistance from another veteran.

CVSO’s are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin. Why are they under attack from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary John Scocos? I have no idea, but I want it to stop.

CVSO’s should have easier access to direct service connections with state and federal benefits, but instead, the Wisconsin DVA has been making it harder for CVSO’s to help veterans. From limiting access to benefits programs to blocking grants without proper legal authority, the DVA has targeted CVSO’s and it needs to stop.

There is no reason Wisconsin government should be trying to consolidate veterans services and make veterans travel farther for help, but that is exactly what the DVA is peddling in the Legislature.

I support expanding the role of CVSO’s to help veterans; that is not only logical but good public policy. We have a public health crisis with delayed mental health services for veterans and their families and we should expand CVSO offices to help with this crisis.

Why this relentless attack on CVSO officers and veterans by the Wisconsin DVA?

The answer to that question really doesn’t matter. No state agency should stand in the way of community driven services for veteran-to-veteran counseling and benefit support.

If the DVA needs to cut their budget they should look to their own agency overhead rather than the small grants that CVSO’s get from the state. Recent articles have cited that the DVA spends two dollars on administration costs for every dollar they spend on services; that certainly can be improved.

This should not be a war between the DVA and veterans receiving services in the community through their local CVSO office. Making it a war is a huge mistake for Wisconsin’s veterans. I am hopeful Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans see through the bad public policies the DVA is putting forward trying to consolidate CVSO offices regionally, making veterans drive even further to receive help.

Regardless of the DVA’s poor decisions, there are Legislators just like me committed to supporting county based veteran-to-veteran benefits support and counseling. But we need your advocacy help working together to stop this ridiculous policy push right now.

***

For more information on CVSO offices and how to get in touch with your Legislators contact my office at 888-549-0027 or 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information on CVSO officers, check here.

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Federal Bill Gives WI Another Chance to Capitalize

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 May 2016
in Wisconsin

aca-workingWisconsin taxpayers have missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal government as a part of the Affordable Care Act implementation, but now there's a chance to push the “reset” button.


MADISON - That fact that Wisconsin taxpayers have missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal government as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA-ObamaCare) implementation is not new news. One of the few states that to say “no thanks we don’t want our own tax dollars back, please send it to Illinois or Texas” has been a painful decision to watch as students cannot graduate because classes are cut, potholes get bigger and another school referendum hits property taxpayer’s pocketbook. Well the good news is that this bad decision by Governor Walker and the Republican majority in the Legislature can be reversed at any time. We could come in session tomorrow and get this done.

Now that no one from Wisconsin is running for President and we have seen the unnecessary struggle that the choice to refuse $320 million just this biennium has had on our state economy, we can come back to the table and accept Federal dollars and give access to affordable health care. Not taking Federal funds does not mean that our tax dollars are squirreled away and saved for a rainy day by Congress. It just means they send our money to another state, to help them balance their budgets and help their citizens with health insurance.

Excellent new news from the Federal government is the introduction of the SAME Act by Senator Tammy Baldwin and others. This bill would push the “reset” button for Wisconsin. We could choose to accept our tax dollars back as a part of ACA and start at the same full reimbursement rate that we could have had in the first place; 100% reimbursement from the Federal government for expansion of our current BadgerCare Plus program. Under SAME, for four years we would be at 100% reimbursement, phasing down to 90% reimbursement after another three years. Still a lot better than where we are now, which is zero. This could be a huge windfall for our state budget.

What people don’t understand is general purpose revenue (GPR) was used to backfill Medicaid expenses for Wisconsin this budget. That means dollars that should have gone to our schools, roads and UW schools were diverted because of the political decisions of the Legislature. Republicans can even accept the Federal funds for a year and then change their mind the next year. The flexibility and sheer amount of tax dollars makes this decision a no brainer.

It is time for the Legislature to put politics aside and accept Federal BadgerCare expansion funds so our financial house can improve. The SAME Act from US Senator Baldwin will provide Wisconsin a unique opportunity to hit the “reset” button for our taxpayers and citizens. It simply is time to put more than $320 million in our coffers without raising taxes and without cuts.

For more information on the BadgerCare Plus expansion dollars or the Federal SAME Act please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 888-549-0027 or 608-266-6670

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There Are Difficulties for Some to Obtain an ID to Vote

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 15 April 2016
in Wisconsin

voter-idWhile it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Voting is a right for every eligible person, and no political party should place barriers in front of those who want to vote.


MADISON - The decision by the US Appeals Court to send a recent voter ID case back to the Federal District Court (lower court) acknowledges that for some, obtaining an ID to vote is so burdensome that they may not be able to vote in violation of the state and federal law.

The Appeals Court directed the lower court to find a way to allow some voters to vote without a photo ID because they cannot receive one the way the law currently stands.

This is not a surprise to those of us that did not support passage of this proposal.

Voting is a right for every eligible person in Wisconsin and it is simply not the job of any political party to place barriers in front of those that want to vote. The illusion that voter fraud is a reality has been shattered many times. Attorney Generals, Judges and District Attorneys have found no voter fraud.

It is this simple, voting is just not a high benefit crime for criminals and the outlier in our 5 million person state who votes more than once is found out and prosecuted like the case against republican Robert Monroe.

To sum up the decision, while the court said it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Some people can even be put into classes, or groups of individuals who cannot obtain a valid ID that qualifies under the Wisconsin law. While three groups are a part of this action by the court, some may say there are other groups that have exceptional difficulty obtaining a valid ID to vote. This ruling opens the door.

Homeless and those that move frequently for a variety of reasons often have no valid ID because they live on the streets, in shelters or on a friends couch. Being transient does not make an individual ineligible to vote. In Wisconsin, the number of people experiencing homelessness has increased every year since 2008 with the numbers reaching at least 25,000 in Wisconsin.

In this decision the court acknowledged that for some groups of individuals who want to vote obtaining a valid photo ID is an exceptional challenge. My hope is that through this decision and what happens next in the lower court there will be a clear path for the right to vote for all.

The absence of Legislative remedy is not a reason for the court to be blind to the realized and actual shortcomings of the law. The courts job under the Constitution in the balance of the powers doctrine is to interpret the law. The Republican Legislature passed this law and said over and over “not one voter would be displaced by this law.” It is the job of the courts to make sure that is a reality.

For more information on this recent court decision or voter ID laws in general please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 888-549-0027.

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