Friday February 26, 2021

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Proven “Pot-ential” for Rural Communities

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 24 February 2021
in Wisconsin

marijuana-hemp-dairy-farmers-wiSen. Jeff Smith writes about Governor Evers’ budget proposal to legalize marijuana in Wisconsin, sharing information about the positive impact it could have on the state’s economy and agricultural industry.


MADISON - Governor Evers’ 2021-23 budget will enable Wisconsinites to bounce back from the pandemic stronger than ever. His budget includes initiatives, like marijuana legalization, that will get our economy back on track and create new opportunities for our rural communities.

My colleague, Senator Agard (D – Madison) often says the most dangerous thing about marijuana is that it’s illegal. I agree; marijuana prohibition does more harm than good. Marijuana legalization will create a safe product for consumers, while opening doors for farmers and entrepreneurs to get involved in a controlled market.

Wisconsin is already lagging behind other states–even our own neighboring states–to legalize medical and recreational marijuana. Thirty-six states already legalized medical marijuana. Fifteen states, including Michigan and Illinois, already legalized recreational marijuana for adults. Minnesota’s top lawmakers and Governor are pushing for legalization too.

Wisconsin should take advantage of the same opportunities our neighbors have by legalizing marijuana. In doing so, we can plant the seeds, so our state can grow to be more equitable and successful. Marijuana legalization will deliver a better future for Wisconsin.

Marijuana legalization would have a positive impact on Wisconsin’s economy and help us recover from COVID-19. Governor Evers’ budget taxes marijuana similar to the way alcohol is taxed. This policy would create new business opportunities and generate an estimated $165 million in revenue. Almost $80 million from marijuana sales would be reinvested throughout the state through the Community Reinvestment Fund. The Fund would even direct $34 million to sparsity aid to support our small, rural schools.

marijuana-wi-presentMarijuana could be a boon to Wisconsin’s agriculture industry. Our greatest weakness in agriculture is the average age of farmers. According to the U.S. Census Bureau, the average age of farmers nationally is 57.5. Young people are saddled with student loan debt, they need broadband to stay connected and raise their families and land prices are through the roof. It’s hard for our kids and grandkids to even consider farming without offering some hope to make a living.

Marijuana legalization offers hope to a beleaguered group of youngsters who want to come home to run the family farm. According to the U.S. Agriculture Census, a small but significant rise in young farmers preceded the 2018 Hemp Bill passage. Young farmers are cultivating hemp and can cultivate marijuana while also milking cows, baling hay or fixing up those old barns throughout the countryside. We need new farmers and marijuana could draw them in.

Our neighboring states are generating new income for farmers. In 2020, Illinois sold $1 billion worth of marijuana and Michigan sold $440 million. Wisconsin farmers can grow high-quality safe products for consumers while accessing a new market of opportunity.

Marijuana legalization has broad support across the state. According to a Marquette Law School Poll done in 2019, 60% of Wisconsinites support marijuana legalization. When it comes to medical marijuana legalization, an overwhelming 83% of Wisconsinites are supportive.

Medical marijuana legalization will ensure there is a safe product available for individuals with chronic pain or other illness. Medical marijuana has shown promising results to manage a variety of debilitating symptoms for diseases, such as Parkinson’s, epilepsy, Crohn’s or cancer. Medical marijuana is considered a great alternative for opiates. In fact, studies have indicated that states that legalized medical marijuana have seen a reduction in opioid-related deaths.

jeff-smithI’ve never had the desire to use marijuana, but I do recognize how it has been vilified for decades, often considered more dangerous than alcohol. Like alcohol prohibition, laws against marijuana possession have led to an overburdened justice system and unregulated market.

There’s much to be said about the ethics of marijuana legalization. Medical marijuana seems like an easy choice to ease others’ suffering. It’s almost certainly safer to regulate the manufacture, distribution and sale of recreational marijuana, than the unknown origins of what many are using now.

Times and attitudes are changing. But still, the most dangerous thing about marijuana right now is that it’s illegal. Wisconsin needs to catch up to our neighboring states and create a safe market for marijuana. This plan makes sense – it’s about time Wisconsin acts on it.

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A Call to Action

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 20 February 2021
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-small-businessWe must have a strong sense of community and watch out for our neighbors to mitigate the spread of COVID-19, says Madison area Senator. Wear a mask to keep our communities safe and schools open.


MADISON - This past year has been tumultuous to say the least. We’ve missed out on time spent with friends and family, community events, festivals, and other social gatherings. It’s been difficult and challenging, but we have been resilient. While the vaccine offers a glimpse of light at the end of the tunnel, we still must work together to avoid more preventable deaths from COVID-19.

That’s the key. Working together as a team to continue wearing masks and social distancing to curb the spread of this virus.

For the last year, Governor Evers and the Department of Health Services have listened to the advice of health and science experts to pragmatically and calmly guide our state through this public health crisis.

What was he met with? Constant Republican obstruction and lawsuits to undermine those efforts. Think about that for a second. Republicans sued the Governor over something that has been scientifically proven to save lives. All while having no plan of their own to protect the health and wellbeing of Wisconsinites.

jon-erpenbach-2021We need to be on the same team when it comes to fighting this virus. But at the end of the day, we have to ask, what team are the Republicans playing for?

Almost a full year later and the Republican led legislature is pushing for legislation that prioritizes political interests rather than protect communities from the virus. Over 6,000 Wisconsinites have died, there’s a more contagious variant of the virus in the state and yet Republicans are fixated on eliminating a safety measure that could save lives.

Their actions will only prolong this crisis and lead to more preventable deaths.

Here in Wisconsin, we have a strong sense of community and watching out for our neighbors and this moment is a call to action. Now more than ever, we can and must wear a mask to keep our communities, schools and businesses a safe place to be and to mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

Let’s all do our part to beat this. Mask up, Wisconsin.

****

Jon Erpenbach represents the 27th Senate District which covers Sauk, Dane, Iowa, Columbia and Green County.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Evers’s Bold Budget

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 19 February 2021
in Wisconsin

tony-eversMADISON - I really liked Gov. Evers’s budget, and the way he talked about it, as I explain here:

Praise for Governor Evers’s Budget

If you liked it too, please write to your legislators and let them know the parts of his budget that are most important to you. Here’s some info on how you contact your legislators:

https://www.wisdc.org/get-involved/contact-your-legislator

Over the past few days, we’ve been busy following some money trails. One involves those bogus GOP “electors” who tried to present themselves as the real Wisconsin electors to the Electoral College. Here are the donations they’ve given to candidates in Wisconsin:

Accused GOP Electors Contributed Nearly $14K to State Candidates

And in a story that we broke at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, Scott Fitzgerald, while he was Majority Leader in the State Senate, reached a settlement with the Wisconsin Ethics Committee for taking in contributions above the legal limit. And another campaign committee that he ran for Wisconsin candidates also had violations that it settled:

Fitzgerald Cited for Campaign Violation But Doesn't Pay Penalty

We also updated all the spending by PACs in last year’s elections. Here’s a handy little table of the spenders, from biggest to smallest:

Independent Expenditure Totals Fall 2020

matt-rothschild-2018As you can see, we’ve been keeping tabs!

I hope you find this information useful, and enjoy the warmer weather this weekend.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

P.S. Donating is easy. Just click here. Or donate the old-fashioned way by sending a check to us at 203 S. Paterson St, Suite 100, Madison WI 53703. We really appreciate it!

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What the Budget Says About Us

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 17 February 2021
in Wisconsin

high-voltage-lines-farmsSen. Smith writes about the budget investments announced by Governor Evers to support communities all across Wisconsin.


MADISON - Budgets are necessary to keep us on track, lay out our priorities and work toward what we want to accomplish. Every two years, the Governor introduces a budget that reflects the values of our state. The state budget is a moral document just as much as it’s a financial map for the years ahead. When state leaders approve the budget, we’re showing the world who we are and what we stand for.

At a time when America was building back after the social and economic crisis of the Great Depression, President Franklin Roosevelt famously said, “The test of our progress is not whether we add more to the abundance of those who have much; it is whether we provide enough for those who have too little.” I consider these words as the golden rule for our state’s budgeting responsibility.

Governor Evers appears to already be following the golden rule set by President Roosevelt. Governor Evers introduced his 2021-23 budget this week, but he set some impressive goals in previous weeks that should make Wisconsinites proud. The Governor’s budget will go a long way toward supporting our small businesses and critical industries, making healthcare more affordable and helping communities across our state recover from the pandemic.

The budget aims to address many of the issues that were apparent long before the pandemic but were made even more visible in the past year, including Wisconsin’s agricultural crisis. The Governor prioritized rural prosperity efforts last year and is, once again, committed to strengthening Wisconsin’s essential industry. His budget proposal invests $43 million to support our farmers, provide additional mental health resources and create partnerships throughout the food supply industry. More than $28 million of this investment will go toward expanding agricultural market opportunities, supporting new and innovating farming practices and strengthening our agricultural workforce.

marijuana-farmer-jobsGovernor Evers’ budget supports our rural communities in many other ways. He proposed legalizing medical and recreational marijuana, which would generate an estimated $165 million in revenue for our state. This would go a long way to boost our economy and even help our rural schools with additional sparsity aid. Marijuana legalization would provide greater oversight over producers, processors and distributors. The evidence available also shows states that already legalized marijuana experienced a reduction in opioid-related deaths.

Governor Evers’ budget focuses on making health care more affordable for Wisconsinites across the state. He adopted policies in his budget to lower prescription drug costs and provide greater access to mental health resources. Specifically, the Governor proposed capping insulin co-pays at $50 and providing more oversight over the pharmaceutical supply chain. In addition, Governor Evers directed more than $150 million in the budget to improve Wisconsinites’ access to quality mental and behavioral health services and treatment.

The Governor understands the importance of investing in the industries and workforce that care for Wisconsinites from an early to old age. In the 2021-23 budget, Governor Evers directed $140 million in his budget toward a new initiative to address quality, affordability, access, and equity for childcare in the state. Additionally, Governor Evers targeted more than $600 million to strengthen Wisconsin’s long-term care infrastructure and support the direct care workforce and family caregivers.

jeff-smith-ofcBefore Governor Evers introduced the budget, he declared 2021 the Year of Broadband Access and announced $200 million toward rural broadband expansion investments. This last year really showed us how every household relies on being connected to their workplace, school and healthcare provider. I hope we really can make this the year of broadband access.

Governor Evers’ budget reflects the priorities of the People. These priorities must echo our state’s motto, “Forward.” They must uphold the ideals our country was founded on, asserting we’re all equal under the law and that we have the same access to opportunity. The budget must help us create a more equitable state by removing racial and socioeconomic barriers and systems that deny success.

The budget will represent who we are as a state, whether we’re a state looking out for one another or whether we’re a state leaving too many behind. I choose the former and I hope you do too.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - $ in Superintendent Race

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 12 February 2021
in Wisconsin

schoolsMADISON - Next Tuesday, we have an election for state school superintendent, and we’ve examined the money that’s been flowing into the race.

Here’s our report on the biggest individual contributors to the candidates:

Top Contributors in 2021 to the Candidates for State School Superintendent

And here’s our report on the special interest groups that are throwing around in that contest and in the special elections:

Special Interest Group Spending Tops $300K in Spring Races

This week, we also came up with a final tally on the record-breaking amount of money that was spent in the legislative races here in Wisconsin last year:

2020 Legislative Races Cost Record-Smashing $53.9M+

matt-rothschild-2018Today, my colleague Beverly Speer and I met with State Sen. Melissa Agard (formerly Sargent) to work on bills to limit this big money in our politics and to empower everyday Wisconsinites.

We all need to have an equal voice in our democracy!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

*****

P.S. I hope you’ll support the urgent work we do here for a full democracy. Donating is easy. Just click here.
Or donate the old-fashioned way by sending a check to us at
203 S Paterson St, Ste 100, Madison WI 53703. We really appreciate it!

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