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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

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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Sunshine Week 2016, Reflecting Back on the 2015 Budget Open Records Attack

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, 04 March 2016
in Wisconsin

joint-financeMADISON - The last day of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) state budget work in the summer of 2015 was expected to be a day with some surprises. One surprise no one could have anticipated was the inclusion of page after page of open records changes. Limiting not only nearly every Legislative office record, the changes also would have closed state public agency records and the Governors records as well. Maybe that is why we celebrate “Sunshine Week” every year, to remind us all of the value of open government and the importance of transparency.

To close open records was monumental, epic and dangerous. As JFC Democrats we were given only 15 minutes to talk about the Republican motion that gutted open records. I spent every single second of my time talking about the mistake of the open records change. I remember saying that in the future when these Legislators left office and were looking back, this vote, to gut the open records law, would be their biggest regret because of the damage it would cause the people of Wisconsin.

Not one Republican vote was swayed by that argument and every single Republican on the Committee voted in favor of gutting Wisconsin open records law, including Representative Czaja and Senator Harsdorf. So of course it was a little disappointing that the Wisconsin Newspaper Association honored these two Legislators with awards.

Wisconsin had some of the first open records laws in the country. Decisions making sure records of the government were open for inspection in Wisconsin are almost as old as the state itself. As we are about to embark on Sunshine Week 2016 to celebrate open government, I hope we will all reflect on the 2015 budget open records crisis and remember how quickly the rules can change if we take them for granted.

I have always been a defender of a strong Wisconsin Open Records law, even when I was sued because I would not give out personally indefinable information of constituents who had contacted my office. The ability to make a decision as a custodian of public records and the counter balance of being able to bring suit when you disagree is central to the Wisconsin open records law and I hope it will be for years to come. Let’s celebrate Sunshine Week 2016 with extra vigilance given the summer of 2015 action.

For more information on Wisconsin’s Open Records law contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 888-549-0027.

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Consumers Beware, It’s that Time of Year!

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, 10 December 2015
in Wisconsin

grinchGuest columnist Senator Jon Erpenbach talks about the value of the Wisconsin Consumer Act in consumer credit transactions in Wisconsin.


MADISON - Maybe it is our strong work ethic because Wisconsin consumers expect to get what we pay for. From services and food monitored and regulated by the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to the Consumer Act enforced by the Department of Justice, Wisconsin’s consumer laws are a model for many other states and remain one of the most comprehensive laws in the nation.

Nearly every purchase you make, every service you pay for, the gas we buy, the food we eat, the milk we drink and many more products and services are regulated by the laws of DATCP and the Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) including the Consumer Act. The strong values of our state are the framework of our consumer protection laws. Safety, remedy, inspection and the value of every purchase and monetary agreement in this state are important to the people that live here.

The Wisconsin Consumer Act is the state law that regulates consumer credit transactions and debt collection. Consumer credit transactions are transactions that include a finance charge or are payable in more than four installments. Examples of consumer credit transactions are loans, credit cards, credit sales, second mortgages and leases.

Not all credit transactions are covered by the WCA. Transactions not covered are those that are over $25,000, made to businesses or are secured by first lien real estate mortgages. The WCA also does not cover non-credit issues, such as those involving checking or savings accounts.

Major provisions of the WCA:

  • Require detailed disclosures in credit contracts and advertisements
  • Limit certain interest and non-interest charges assessed in credit transactions
  • Provide a three day right to cancel certain contracts
  • Require judicial process in certain repossessions
  • Prohibit certain collection practices

DATCP also administers the Wisconsin No Call List laws. Every year violations of the “do not call” law top the list of consumer complaints.

If you believe that you have been wronged in a consumer transaction through a faulty product, lack of the service that was promised to you, or unfair practices in general you can file a complaint online at http://datcp.wi.gov/Consumer/Consumer_Complaints/?AspxAutoDetectCookieSupport=1 or you can request a complaint be mailed to you by calling the Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

Good business practices are a core value in Wisconsin and our citizens expect that when they make a purchase or contract for a service they will receive quality. For more information on Wisconsin’s consumer protections law please contact my office at 888-549-0027 or 608-266-6670 or via email at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

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Changing How We Police Politicians Forever

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, 29 October 2015
in Wisconsin

russell-walkerWhen a political crime is committed, politicians should not have special privileges. Exempting politicians from the reach of John Doe investigations, making the GAB partisan and allowing unlimited corporate contributions are not “reforms” to make Wisconsin laws better.


MADISON - For Republicans in office right now, the John Doe 1 and John Doe 2 criminal investigations feel very personal. That’s because they involved their political leader Governor Walker and his former staff and groups that he coordinated campaign activity with. Those are undisputed facts. The reality though is that those investigations were not personal at all. They were not political at all. They were routine action taken against people that were believed to have broken the law. The case was made, by multiple judges, by multiple district attorneys of both parties to take action in these political crime probes.

As a gut reaction to these criminal investigations the Legislature is enacting a set of three bills that will change the rules for every politician forever. District attorney’s in this state have investigated and pursued criminal charges against politicians throughout our history. Recently both Democrats and Republicans were charged and convicted for political criminal activity.

When a political crime is believed to have been committed there should be equal treatment under the law, police, district attorneys and judges. Politicians should not have special privileges.

Exempting politicians from the reach of John Doe investigations, making the Government Accountability Board partisan and allowing unlimited corporate contributions is what the Legislature is enacting into law. It is not political to say that this is a Republican effort; not one Democrat has voted for these changes to the law. These are not “reforms” to make Wisconsin laws better, because if they were they would be bi-partisan. If there were a true interest in reforming the law it would be done with cooperation. People believe we don’t work together on anything, but in reality we do – almost every bill that gets enacted into law has support by both Democrats and Republicans.

It is only bills like these three; the ones that are true partisan agenda items that do not get broad support in the Legislature. Again I would offer I understand the knee jerk reaction to investigations of criminal activity against a leader, I think it is natural to defend someone you follow. But when we change the law, we change it forever. We change it for every politician that will sit on the Senate and Assembly floor in the years that stretch ahead, long after current political leaders are gone. These bills make it easier for political criminals to break the law and harder for district attorney’s to prosecute political crimes. That is simple fact. These bills leave fewer prosecutorial tools in the toolbox, partisan watchdogs rather than non-partisan policing and unlimited corporate contribution made legal.

These changes affect the political and prosecutorial process forever. For more information on any of these bills please contact my office at 608-266-66790 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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