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Expanding BadgerCare is the Best Bang for our Buck

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
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on Monday, 15 March 2021
in Wisconsin

badgercare-saveExpanding BadgerCare, as proposed in the budget, would net a $1 billion dollar incentive payment, and a recent Marquette Law Poll shows that 70% of Wisconsin residents approve.


MADISON - Who doesn’t love a good deal? It’s common for folks in Wisconsin to want to make sure they are getting the best bang for their buck.

So why shouldn’t the Wisconsin legislature do the same? For years, Democrats have been pushing to expand BadgerCare because it ensures greater access to affordable, quality coverage, lower premiums and generates millions to be re-invested in programs that benefit all Wisconsinites. More coverage for less, that’s a great deal.

It’s a deal that just got better under the federal American Rescue Plan Act. Under this plan, if Wisconsin were to expand BadgerCare – as proposed in the Governor’s budget – Wisconsin would receive an additional billion dollar incentive payment.

Yes, you read that correctly. ONE BILLION DOLLARS. That’s in addition to the $634 million dollars of general purpose revenue Wisconsin would save and the 1.3 billion federal dollars we would leverage.

For those of you concerned about those big numbers and what that means for Wisconsin’s bottom line, it’s important to remember that Wisconsin would not save any money by choosing not to participate. Instead our tax dollars would go to other states that DO choose to participate. We are only one of twelve states that don’t.

If we have learned anything from the last year it’s the importance of access to affordable and quality healthcare. And once again, Gov. Evers is prioritizing healthcare for Wisconsinites by introducing a budget that makes critical investments in health services while also expanding BadgerCare.

jon-erpenbachWe’re now a full year into the COVID-19 pandemic and the stakes couldn’t be higher for our state’s ability to bounce back. The only thing standing between our state and over a billion dollars are legislative Republicans dead set on sticking it to the Governor.

During the last budget Republicans foolishly rejected BadgerCare expansion and there is absolutely no reason to make the same mistake again. Especially when there is even more money on the line.

There is no way to refute the fact that BadgerCare expansion is good for our state. States that have expanded their own programs saw positive impacts on their economies including: lower premiums, an increase in providers in rural areas, reductions in medical debt, reductions in infant mortality rates, and better reimbursements rates that helps attract and retain medical professionals.

More importantly it’s what you, the people of Wisconsin, want! The most recent Marquette Law Poll shows that 70% of Wisconsin residents approve of expanding BadgerCare.

It is the fiscally smart thing to do and the best deal for Wisconsin. To reject it would be a costly missed opportunity. Republicans have their second chance, and we should all be putting pressure on them to do what is right.

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

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The Climate Change Problem

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 10 March 2021
in Wisconsin

flood-wi-fieldSen. Smith writes about the impact climate change is having on Wisconsin and, more specifically, our rural communities. This is the first in a two-part series about climate change.


MADISON - Cynicism runs rampant in our society and has very dangerous consequences. There are some indisputable facts that we all live with; for instance, we age every day, the earth revolves around the sun and we have 365 days in a year. We all experience this, so there shouldn’t be a debate.

So, why are there doubts about climate change? We experience more extreme weather events more often than ever before. We see it and we feel it. These changes affect our lives in many ways and raise questions about our future.

Governor Tony Evers recently appointed me to the Climate Change Task Force to replace recently-retired Sen. Mark Miller (D – Monona). The Task Force is made up of farmers, business leaders, conservationists, tribal leaders and a bipartisan group of state legislators. Since 2019, the Task Force learned how climate change is impacting Wisconsin. From personal experience and what I’ve learned so far from the Task Force, it’s clear we’re heading further down a dangerous road if we don’t act quickly and boldly enough on the impending climate crisis.

Many can point to the news of the California wildfires or the freezing temperatures in Texas as examples of climate change. But, there is an accelerating pattern of extreme weather events happening here in Wisconsin that calls on us to realize how serious we should be taking climate change.

Flooding, for example, has become much more frequent and destructive in western Wisconsin in recent years. Higher groundwater levels are a result of our climate’s rising temperatures. Rising temperatures in addition to increased rainfall contribute to these flooding disasters. Scientists expect temperatures to get warmer and rainfall events to increase, which will only make flooding more common and more severe in our rural communities.

Extreme weather events caused by climate change have significant economic and public health implications. In the last twenty years, weather disasters cost Wisconsin $100 billion in damages. According to the Wisconsin Hazard Mitigation, there is an estimated $40 billion worth of Wisconsin homes and businesses within a 100-year floodplain. Floods are known to ruin farmers’ livelihoods, displace families and create significant public safety hazards.

flooding-east-river-gb-wbayFloods are the deadliest natural disaster in the United States. Floods also pose dangerous long-term health repercussions. Floods carry contaminated groundwater from nearby CAFOs and expose households to mold contamination, which can lead to upper respiratory infections.

We’re seeing climate change in our own backyard, and yet many refuse to believe this reality. I believe those who perpetuate the “climate change is a hoax” myth are motivated by profit, especially the very wealthy fossil fuel energy corporations. They fear losing billions if we move toward making responsible, sustainable energy decisions.

jeff-smithIt reminds me of the way the tobacco industry paid their own researchers to lie about the fact that their products were killing people. It took decades for scientists and doctors to finally convince enough people that tobacco companies were lying about purposely adding addictive, carcinogenic ingredients just so they could get rich.

What could be the possible motive of climate research scientists who warn us about climate change? It isn’t profit. Our public universities, like the University of Wisconsin, house the foremost research facilities and experts in the world. Their motivations are purely professional and driven by science in their discipline. Whether they prove or disprove a theory doesn’t change their wealth or status in society. They’re motivated to make our world a better place.

According to NASA there’s consensus among scientists that climate change is the result of human behavior. Humans are responsible for deforestation and burning fossil fuels at an alarming rate, which have increased CO2 levels and made our planet warmer.

Humans have caused much of the problem, but we’re able to find solutions. It starts with admitting our problem and being accountable. Then it’s up to us to do our part. We must set aside the short-term need for profit and embrace the long-term need for survival.

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Raging Feminists Wrapped in Victim Blankets

Posted by Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert lives in Howard and is a Partner in the Green Bay Progressive. Mem
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on Friday, 05 March 2021
in Wisconsin

laura-raging-femWoman, lifelong proud feminist, comments on where contemporary feminism seems to be going.


GREEN BAY, WI - This post might be particularly interesting to fellow Democrats. It’s part of the reason I’ve chosen to no longer be a member of my local chapter, the Democratic Party of Brown County Wisconsin .

I am proud to have been part of the women’s movement throughout my lifetime. A movement that won women the rights to vote, have credit cards, not be legally raped by their husbands, use birth control and generally be considered people instead of property, among other things.

As a result, issues such as basic inequality, sexual discrimination, the epidemic of domestic violence, sexual harassment, and sexual abuse are now being addressed much differently and many freedoms have been won that had been denied to generations of women before mine.

However, I’m concerned about where contemporary feminism is going, and whether I can be part of it anymore. I’ve gotten old, but I’m still as passionately angry as ever about women being denied abortions, or treated like a piece of meat by lecherous bosses, or beaten up in their homes by husbands. I know what it feels like to have a loaded gun held to my head by an abusive husband, to be propositioned at work, denied a promotion solely because I was a woman. I have suffered my share of inappropriate comments and innuendoes from the opposite sex.

Regardless, I have always considered myself a survivor rather than a victim. I refuse to just assume I need protection from any person who doesn’t have a vagina. Being on guard and becoming enraged at every slight a man makes isn’t the most conducive way to effect change. And often, it turns the offender into he victim.

Outrage is easy to channel, hard to bottle up and at epidemic levels in so many areas of society that it’s difficult to take a step in today’s world without causing controversy. Moral certainty and intolerance are the vices that drag us into the worst of humanity’s sins. They do not provide the path towards a better future. Generalization is the mistake we make every time we set about changing the world by making enemies of those we feel have offended or insulted us in any way, or simply don’t agree with us.

Over the past few years mainstream feminism, like other forms of identity politics, has become obsessed with victimhood, in what I consider a seriously disempowering way. It has begun to feel like a religion, with its own strict rules about what women are permitted to say, do and think. And just as important, about what men are permitted to say or do, or behave.

In this world, a compliment, or a rude joke is harassment. A pat on the back is sexual assault. Asking someone out for a drink is abuse. Let me be clear: A violation of these rules may be unpleasant, but is NOT traumatic. Suggesting otherwise only diminishes the experience of those women who have indeed, suffered trauma.

laura-kiefert-2018For me, being a feminist has always meant supporting women’s freedom to be whoever they want to be, regardless of whether anyone else approves or not. I have come to believe that identity politics, taken to its extremes, is essentially divisive. The emphasis is on difference – what separates us from one another, not what unites us. Why would any confident, strong, capable woman want her identity wrapped up in being a victim?

In the highly competitive race for ultimate victimhood, contemporary feminism is already fractured along lines of class, race, sexual orientation, disability, and more. Women have become so enraged with the oppression they experience that they can’t hear anything but the muffled sound of their voices trying to escape from the victim blanket they have wrapped themselves so tightly in.

So, my advice is to stop raging. Solutions are not found when we are incensed. Instead of living in expectation of the next slight, try imagining that the vast majority of men want the same thing. The dream of a world more female shaped will only be realized using predominantly feminine qualities, such as reason, patience, endurance and emotional sensitivity. For that we need to be calm, rational and ready to listen, not in a state of rage. And, not by assuming the role of victim.

Laura Kiefert
Green Bay Progressive

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Wis Democracy Campaign - Article V Folly

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
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on Friday, 05 March 2021
in Wisconsin

assembly-wi-robin-vosMADISON - This week, Republicans in the State Legislature introduced a bill, as they have before, to call for a Convention of the States, which is often referred to as an “Article V” way to amend the U.S. Constitution.

It’s a bad idea, for several reasons, which I outlined in testimony that I emailed to the Assembly Committee on the Constitution and Ethics:

Wisconsin GOP’s Misguided Move on Amending the Constitution

This week, we noted that Rebecca Kleefisch has been tossing a lot of money around to candidates here, as she prepares to run for governor. You can read about that here:

Former Lt. Gov’s New PAC Doled Out $121K to the State GOP, Legislative Candidates

matt-rothschild-2018And we’re continuing to meet with our partners in the Wisconsin Voting Rights Coalition to call attention to the nasty voter suppression bills that some GOP legislators are circulating. The Cap Times published my article on this, as you can see:

Matthew Rothschild: Say no to voter suppression bills

I hope you enjoy the nice weather this weekend!

Best,

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

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Building Momentum to Vaccinate More Wisconsinites

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 03 March 2021
in Wisconsin

covid-19-vaccination-65Sen. Smith writes about Governor Evers’ Administration’s ongoing efforts to get more Wisconsinites vaccinated.


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected our lives in one way or another now for almost a year. It’s been a tough year for so many reasons; we’ve been disconnected from people in our lives, and sadly many Americans are burdened with grief over the loss of a loved one. In February, we surpassed a grim milestone that many of us never thought was possible just twelve months ago: 500,000 of our fellow Americans are dead from COVID-19.

The staggering number of lives lost to COVID-19 has taken a huge toll on our communities. Here in Wisconsin, we lost more than 6,000 of our neighbors and community members. In contrast to these tragic statistics, the number of vaccines administered thus far provides hope to ending this nightmare.

Last month, Governor Tony Evers announced Wisconsin administered more than one million vaccines since the state began receiving doses in December 2020. The vaccine is a critical tool in our fight against COVID-19. Fortunately, there’s been a downward trend in the number of positive cases, hospitalizations and deaths in Wisconsin since the vaccine became available. Governor Evers’ Administration’s continued efforts in building statewide partnerships and developing public health infrastructure made this vaccine achievement possible.

Wisconsin is currently one of the top-ranked states for administering COVID-19 vaccines to eligible populations. In fact, vaccine providers in Wisconsin’s western region leads the state’s effort to vaccinate the public. More than 50% of Wisconsinites over the age of 65 have been vaccinated. This is incredible progress. As the Federal Drug Administration approves more vaccines and more doses become available, more eligible populations will be able to get vaccinated.

Last week, Governor Evers and the Department of Health Services announced new groups that are eligible to receive the vaccine. On March 1st, vaccine eligibility was extended to education and child care staff, some public-facing essential workers, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings. The groups previously eligible for a vaccine – including frontline health care personnel, long-term care facility residents and adults sixty-five and older – will still be prioritized over this new group.

Now that more populations are becoming eligible to receive the vaccine, DHS launched a COVID-19 scheduling website on March 1st. This website will update residents for knowing when and where they can get vaccinated and how to schedule an appointment.

Last week, Governor Evers made an exciting announcement about the launch of four new community vaccination clinics in the state. Currently Wisconsin has one community vaccination clinic in Rock County to help get shots in people’s arms as quickly as possible. The new community vaccination clinics will be located in La Crosse, Racine, and Marathon Counties, with the last clinic split between Douglas and Barron Counties. These clinics are expected to open within the next two months.

jeff-smithWe’re all anxious to return to our normal lives; it may be frustrating when vaccines aren’t immediately available for everyone. It’s never easy to wait for something so life-changing, like the COVID-19 vaccine. But the only way to ensure safe and proper distribution is through an organized effort like we’re seeing. Imagine the chaos if it wasn’t organized. After all, the goal of vaccinating a nation is immense when you consider the manufacturing, distribution and scheduling of appointments for over 300 million citizens.

When you become eligible, make an appointment. I’m over the age of sixty-five and am scheduled to receive my second shot. But I know life will still not be back to normal until we reach herd immunity. We must still wear masks and follow other public health precautions so we limit our risk of infection and prevent the spread to others. Momentum is building and more vaccines are coming.

Sometimes it takes a calamity, like this pandemic, to make us stronger and pull us together. I appreciate all of you even more. I’ll be so happy to be close once again when we’re all safer thanks to the diligent work of the scientists and frontline healthcare workers who have come through for all of us.

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