Wednesday August 12, 2020

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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

Erpenbach on GOP Emergency Session

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, 01 August 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-mask934 people have lost their lives in Wisconsin and 96% of our state’s population lives in a place with a high level of COVID-19. Blocking real public health plans to keep us safe is reckless.


WEST POINT, WI - People have been struggling to navigate a UI System filled with barriers created by Senator Fitzgerald and his caucus. The pleas for social justice and safe elections have been ringing across the state for months. And yet, the only time we rush back to the floor is to restrict the Governor’s ability to respond to this pandemic.

jon-erpenbachAnd I’m not buying the ‘freedom’ argument or ‘it’s my body and my choice’ argument either. Voting rights have been eroded from people of color, and women have been losing their ability to make their own healthcare decisions for years now.

Almost 600 people have lost their lives in Wisconsin and 96% of our state’s population lives in a place with a high level of COVID-19. Saying no is an easy thing to do. But not having a plan to keep Wisconsinites safe during a pandemic is reckless.

As we’ve seen before, the GOP has NO PLAN for this pandemic, only to say ‘NO’ to the one thing we know will keep Wisconsinites safe.

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New Legislation Would Fix Unemployment Benefits Problems

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 July 2020
in Wisconsin

unemployment-wi-wkowBills would roll back barriers to Unemployment Insurance (UI) imposed during decade of misguided anti-worker legislation.


WEST POINT – Republicans spent years putting in place hurdles that hardworking Wisconsinites have to navigate in order to receive Unemployment Benefits that they have earned. What is worse, during a global pandemic, Republicans have spent more time on political name-calling than acting to address the challenges that the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is facing today, too many of which stem from the obstacles that the GOP have created. Wisconsinites deserve more than empty promises and political games.

With the unprecedented circumstances that our state is facing, the legislature should be working to alleviate some of the pressures on DWD and help them process claims faster. DWD has already increased staffing, added call centers, and streamlined systems, but there is more that we can do. That is why Wisconsin Legislative Democrats announced a package of legislation to remove Republican-implemented restrictions and barriers that will allow DWD to ensure Wisconsinites can access their earned benefits faster.

jon-erpenbachI am happy to be the lead on two bills in the package:

LRB 6254 - The current definition of “suitable work” creates challenges for claimants. This bill reinstates DWD’s authority to determine by administrative rule what constitutes suitable work a claimant must accept if offered, and what labor market conditions to review based on the number of weeks that the claimant has received benefits.

LRB 6256 - Several laws enacted over the last decade have restricted DWD’s ability to increase access to unemployment insurance when appropriate. This bill expands DWD’s authority to promulgate rules that provide waivers for work search and job registration requirements.

I will also be a sponsor of legislation to remove the punitive ban on Unemployment benefits for Wisconsin workers who receive social security disability (SSDI).

These bills are a part of a package that will help Wisconsinites access the resources they need. In the 100+ days since the declared public health emergency started, GOP legislators have only met one time to pass a band aid fix to the problems that our state is facing, while making statements acknowledging that more needs to be done. Now is the time for Republicans to live up to that promise and pass meaningful reform to our unemployment system. I also hope that the Governor will call us into a special session to pass these bills as soon as possible.

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Erpenbach on Nationwide Protests: Black Lives Matter

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, 03 June 2020
in Wisconsin

george-floyd-protest-milwWe must listen to Black Americans, their experiences, acknowledge the hurdles they face, and make bold changes to address these systematic inequities and injustices, says State Senator.


West Point, WI - While many are feeling the pressure of a global pandemic, for many Americans there is another virus that has been running through the veins of our society for centuries - racism. The protests that are taking place throughout our country, and all over the world, reinforce that our society and our leaders need to do much, much better at delivering justice and equity in our communities. No more Black lives should be lost due to hatred and bigotry.

As many of you were, I was sad to witness a woman overtly use her whiteness as a weapon against a Black man, and then I was devastated to learn about the murder of George Floyd. Unfortunately, these were only the most recent tragedies – the lives of Tony Robinson, Breonna Taylor, Ahmaud Arbery, Sandra Bland, and many more have also been senselessly taken.  Black people are dying in Wisconsin, and all over our country while doing the most mundane things that as white people we often take for granted.

jon-erpenbachI will not pretend that I do or will be able to understand the experiences of Black Americans. However, as an elected official, I hope to be a part of the solution to put in place structural changes that will prevent injustices from happening again and again. We cannot stand for leaders in Wisconsin or on the federal level calling for violence against those who are asking to be heard.

These individuals are our friends and neighbors, and we must listen to their experiences, acknowledge the hurdles they face and make bold changes to address these systematic inequities and injustices.

It is not our jobs as white people to tell those who are continuously and systematically oppressed how they can or cannot protest. I know the damage and looting that’s been done has not been from those seeking to put a face on the injustices and giving voice to those who are no longer with us.  Don’t lose sight of the issues at hand. Don’t lose sight of the changes that need to be made.

Change starts with us. It is time to do the work.

Black Lives Matter.

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Erpenbach Calls for Senate to Remove Unemployment Insurance Barriers

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 May 2020
in Wisconsin

unemploymentRepublicans put into place more than a dozen new hurdles in just eight years that Wisconsinites have to jump over in order to receive the benefits they have earned. Time for political games with people's lives is over.


West Point – In December 2014 an audit was performed on the Wisconsin Unemployment System. The audit found that in FY 2013-2014, 1.7 million calls to the call centers, which was 60.2% of the total calls, were blocked because the queue was full. The audit showed significant issues and vulnerabilities in the process, which should have sounded the alarm for Republican leadership, but they took no action to modernize the system.

Fast forward to 2020, during a global pandemic that has resulted in historic unemployment levels, and Wisconsinites are now forced to pay the price for Republican inaction. Unfortunately, instead of taking steps to modernize the system – that was not built to handle the challenges we are facing today - Republicans have spent the last decade doing everything possible to make it harder to get unemployment benefits. The non-partisan Legislative Council compiled a list of changes to Unemployment under Republican control. It shows that instead of working to improve access to benefits that Wisconsinites have earned, Republicans would rather assume fraud and create tripwires for Wisconsinites who work for a living.

scott-fitzgeraldl-stands-behind-walkerRepublicans put into place more than a dozen new hurdles in just eight years that Wisconsinites have to jump over in order to receive the benefits they have earned. One wrong step, and the claimant has to go down a long road of investigations, eligibility questions and fact finding, which only prolongs the process. These excessive policies have resulted in frustration and delays for too many Wisconsin workers.

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is facing enormous challenges and have done everything in their power to navigate these unprecedented times. They have been fielding millions of calls a week, are continuing to increase their capacity and hours to keep up with demand, have blocked attempted identity-fraud, and are doing everything within their power to provide service to Wisconsinites during this public health emergency. The Department has proactively worked to improve the system while navigating patchwork laws and are working around the clock to get Wisconsinites the benefits they deserve.

Meanwhile, my colleagues across the aisle have resorted to finger pointing and blaming a Department that informed them of the challenges they were facing years ago. Today at 11:00am the Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform will hold an informational hearing on the unemployment system to discuss the challenges of the program, difficulties people are experiencing, how DWD has responded and how to move forward. I ask my Republican colleagues to take this time to turn the mirror on themselves and to work to remove legislative barriers that are hindering DWD from more effectively doing their job.

jon-erpenbach-radioWe have work to do — it’s time both sides of the aisle to come together and pass meaningful legislation that will provide long-term relief to workers, students, families, and seniors. It’s likely that today’s hearing will go longer than Republican leaders have allowed the Senate to work since this pandemic started. Their delay has already cost Wisconsin $25 million of our federal dollars, and their legislation did far too little to remove the legislative tripwires that are preventing Wisconsinites from receiving the benefits they have earned.

I have been listening to my constituents who are looking for help with their unemployment and I believe our jobs as legislators should go beyond giving input from afar. Getting these benefits can be the difference between being able to afford groceries, pay rent, and survive during this pandemic. Now is the time to come together and get work done.

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How Partisan Gerrymandering Limits Access to Care

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, 29 February 2020
in Wisconsin

healthcare-family-drThe GOP majority in Madison, which actually represents a minority of Wisconsinites, is costing us money and lives by adhering to Walker era policy of resistance to Affordable Care, says Senator.


West Point - On February 24, 2020, the Center for American Progress released a report on how gerrymandering has prevented more than 2 million uninsured people from getting covered through the Medicaid expansion. The report analyzes states like Wisconsin that have refused to expand health insurance coverage to low income residents despite a majority of people supporting the idea. Extreme partisan gerrymandering insulates Republican politicians in legislatures like Wisconsin’s from being held accountable for blocking access to coverage for over a hundred thousand people and sending billions of tax dollars to other states.

According to the report, “74% of Americans have a favorable view of Medicaid – including 82% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans.” Here in Wisconsin, that is echoed. According to the Marquette Law Poll, 70% approve of the expansion of Medicaid. Despite its popularity, there are still states where Republican controlled legislatures, who remain in control due to gerrymandered districts, continue to refuse the expansion or are attempting to undermine the coverage with needless barriers.

jon-erpenbach“I’m not sure what it will take to get Wisconsin Republicans to see the error of their ways. All of the reports and studies show the same story,” said Senator Erpenbach. “Wisconsin is among the minority of states that continues to send over a billion federal taxpayer dollars to neighboring states it order to prove a point.”

In the 2018 general election, Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic candidates received 54.2% of the vote, and State Senate Democrats received 49% of the vote, however, Republicans still won a substantial majority in both chambers. Unfortunately, gerrymandering leads to candidates being more extreme and less likely to listen to their constituents once they’re in office, which is the case in Wisconsin. Despite the majority of Wisconsinites wanting expanded health care coverage, the report found that by refusing the expansion Wisconsin has forgone insuring 108,000 people which has resulted in 300 preventable deaths in 2019 alone.

“The Medicaid expansion would make health care more affordable for everyone,” said Senator Erpenbach. “It would reduce the costs of premiums on the individual market, save taxpayers millions of dollars, help keep rural hospitals open, and frankly, save lives. Extreme gerrymandering has held Wisconsin back and has resulted in Wisconsin falling behind neighboring states. It is vital that elected officials work for their constituents and in order for that to happen, voters need to be able to choose their leaders, not the other way around.”

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View the Report here.

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