Monday April 19, 2021

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What You Need to Know about the COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

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, 27 January 2021
in Wisconsin

covid-19-vaccinationSen. Smith writes about the progress of Wisconsin’s COVID-19 vaccine rollout and shares information from the Department of Health Services on vaccine distribution.


MADISON - It’s been so long since most of us have been in a crowd, but I’m sure we’re all eager for the chance to once again go to a theater, shake hands when meeting someone or dine at our favorite restaurant. My wife and I miss heading down to our local restaurant, which would normally be packed with so many of our neighbors and friends on a Friday night.

The road to returning to our normal routines may seem far off, but it doesn’t have to be. We’ve gained more information and collected tools to help us in our COVID-19 recovery. We learned to slow the spread by staying home, social distancing and wearing masks. Now we have the COVID-19 vaccine, another tool at our disposal in our fight against COVID-19. We can thank scientists, researchers and frontline workers for allowing us to start visualizing an end to this pandemic.

Governor Tony Evers continues to work with the federal government and private partners to get more Wisconsinites vaccinated as quickly as possible. It’s important to know the vaccine roll-out will take time while the vaccine supply increases. This explains why certain populations, like healthcare workers or elderly residents, are prioritized before the general public. While we wait patiently, it’s up to us to remain vigilant and follow safety precautions to keep our communities safe.

On December 14th, Wisconsin received its first shipment of the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine. Wisconsin began receiving the Moderna vaccine one week later. Since then, Wisconsin has vaccinated groups most vulnerable to infection. Phase 1A includes frontline medical personnel and residents of the 57,000 nursing homes and 147,000 long term care facilities in Wisconsin. Phase 1B includes police and fire personnel. Beginning Monday, January 25th Wisconsin began vaccinating more residents aged 65 and older. The State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee is currently making recommendations for other priority populations as vaccine production and distribution continues.

The federal government is responsible for allocating vaccines to each state; the number of vaccines allocated to each state differs depending on the state’s population. In recent weeks, Governor Evers publicly requested more vaccines be sent to Wisconsin.

The Department of Health Services provides a transparent overview of our state’s vaccine distribution process. The agency continues to update the number of vaccines Wisconsin has allocated, ordered, shipped and administered throughout the state.

The pandemic has been challenging for individuals in many ways, but perhaps the biggest hardship has been our inability to spend time with our family. My wife’s parents are over 90 years old and still do quite well in their own home. They’ve kept up with technology, but we help them when needed. Last Wednesday, they called my wife to say they received a message from their healthcare provider informing them they were eligible for a vaccine. My wife helped her parents make an appointment for the very next morning. She picked them up at 6:30 the next day and they received their first dose.

jeff-smithLike so many others, our parents were anxiously wondering how they’d know when they could get vaccinated. Once more vaccine doses become available, more information will be released to explain where someone can get vaccinated among the 1,200 eligible vaccinators in Wisconsin. These vaccinators include healthcare providers, pharmacies, local health departments, places of employment, and mass vaccination clinics.

There isn’t a conspiracy to block or delay the release of the vaccine. Legislators cannot produce more vaccine doses or expedite the process just by demanding it to happen.

A public health crisis shouldn’t be used to advance political agendas; we’ve seen this happen too much during the past year and we’re seeing it play out again with the vaccine roll-out. Don’t let legislative leaders play the blame game and pretend they have the answers to get you vaccinated. We won’t get anywhere if these leaders are more focused on making headlines with disingenuous proposals or raising doubts about the vaccine itself.

While more Wisconsinites get vaccinated, remember to continue following public health precautions to do your part to stop the spread. Our collective efforts will help us overcome the pandemic sooner and safer.

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Wis Democracy Campaign “Let’s Start Afresh”

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 Saturday, 23 January 2021
in Wisconsin

biden-inaugural-addressMADISON - Dear Friend, I hope you’ve had a nice week.

As for me, I’ve been alternating between relief and giddiness since, as you know, I’d been worried about Trump staging a coup for the better part of the last four years.

And I appreciated President Biden’s wise words in his Inaugural Address, as I wrote in an op-ed for the Wisconsin Examiner, which you can see here:

“Let’s start afresh

I was also pleased to publish an op-ed in Urban Milwaukee with Angela Lang, the executive director of BLOC (Black Leaders Organizing in Communities), on why it’s imperative for Wisconsin Republicans to stop repeating the lies about the election and stop inciting the rabble. Here is that column:

A Plea to State Republicans


This week, we kept doing what we do, day in and day out, at the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, and that’s to track the big money in our politics.

Here’s our final tally on the money the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and the Republican Party of Wisconsin hauled in last year:

State Dem Party Raised Nearly 2.5x More Than State GOP in ‘20

And here’s our initial tally on the money being thrown around in the race for school superintendent:

Top Contributors to the Candidates for State School Superintendent

matt-rothschildI hope you have a nice, relaxing weekend after all the turmoil we’ve witnessed and endured over the last four years.

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, where everyone has an equal voice. 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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Saving our Democracy

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, 20 January 2021
in Wisconsin

trump-insurgents-enterWe can bridge a divided nation by reflecting on our own attitudes and behaviors, but it’s also up to elected officials to be truthful and honest and restore trust in our democratic process.


MADISON - Now is the time when our government should be focusing on our COVID-19 recovery. Wisconsin leaders should be fixing the unemployment insurance crisis, working on the COVID-19 vaccination roll-out and expanding broadband access for every rural household. This is what I’d rather spend my time on. Sadly, other issues have overshadowed the essential work that should be happening because our nation is as divided as it’s ever been.

The shocking attack on our nation’s Capitol earlier this month left Americans with all sorts of questions. How did we get to this point? How were we so unprepared on that day, despite all of the warning signs? What can we do differently to bridge the rift we’re experiencing these days? As Americans, we must reflect on these questions and consider what we, personally, can do to be more empathetic and humble listeners. But it’s also up to our country’s leaders to set the right example through their speech and actions.

jeff-smithI know some may react negatively to my call for civility, truth and compromise because I’m a partisan office holder. It’s no secret I take stands on issues and plead with the Majority Party to act on policies I consider important based on views from people in the 31s Senate District. But, my role in advocating for these policies is drastically different than using fear to drive citizens to hijack our democratic process.

What can elected leaders do to change the political climate? We should start by toning down the political rhetoric and admitting when bad actors are misleading citizens. We’ve seen what happens when people are consumed by conspiracy theories and how passion drives them to act violently. As much as I’d like for our politics to change, it can only happen with the cooperation of the Party in charge.

I appealed to my colleagues on the Senate floor last Tuesday by introducing a Senate Resolution condemning the misinformation and violent insurrection at the U.S. Capitol. The Resolution also recognizes our country has a new President and Vice-President and offers condolences to the family of U.S. Capitol Police Officer Brian D. Sicknick who was killed by the violent mob on January 6th.

The Majority Party failed to take a stand against the violence and conspiracy theories. This same attitude led us to the situation we’re in today. During this dark time in our country’s history, our elected officials must lead rather than shrink away. Elected officials have a responsibility to inform their supporters that the election was fair and legitimate.

There may even be some of my legislative colleagues who, themselves, have become convinced conspiracy claims are true. If that’s so, we have a lot more work to do to rebuild relationships in our country, especially considering many of these elected officials were reelected during the 2020 election.

Democracy is built on the assertion that the person with the most votes wins. I’m old enough to remember that Joe Looby won the Assembly District seat I grew up in by a single vote. He was forever known as “landslide Looby” after that. The obligatory recount after the election did nothing to change the final result. In 2010, I lost a close election that also went through a recount, which only verified the initial result. I know the pain of losing, but also know it’s necessary to accept results and find other ways to peacefully advocate for what I believe in.

As elected leaders, we must understand that our constituents rely on us to be truthful and sometimes painfully honest with them. When a leader is silent about misinformation or repeat it without verification, it can be seen as supporting falsehoods and creating a fictitious reality. We must not abuse our platform as leaders; we’ve seen this happen and how dangerous it can be.

Last Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate showed a glimmer of hope by voting on a compromise COVID-19 response bill supported by our Democratic Governor and the Republican Majority leader. I hope we can build on that – it’s the only way this democratic republic will survive.

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Wis Democracy Campaign - 10 Ways to Fend Off the Far Right

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, 15 January 2021
in Wisconsin

trump-insurgency-storm-congressMADISON - Last Saturday, I was invited to speak to the Madison Civics Club. Originally, I was going to talk about how to make democracy work better in Wisconsin. But after the rightwing putsch on Jan. 6, I knew I had to talk about the threat from the far right in our country.

Here’s the video of my talk, which lasts for the first 20 minutes or so. Then there are a few questions and answers, and then Rep. Mark Pocan adds his own insights and his personal experience. The whole thing runs about an hour. I hope you like it:

Madison Civics Club - Rothschild/Pocan

On Monday, I decided to condense my advice, so here’s what I posted:

10 Things You Can Do to Fend Off the Far Right

Please feel free to share these with your friends, who I’m sure are as worried about the fate of our country as you and I are.

matt-rothschild-2018We also posted an item on how the Republican Attorneys General Association, which gets financial support from big Wisconsin companies, urged people to go to Washington for the “Stop the Steal” event. See which companies those were:

Wisconsin Backers of GOP Group That Promoted January 6 Event

I hope you like this week’s offerings.

Best,

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

****

P.S. You can count on us to stand up for democracy and to expose those who are intent on destroying it. If you appreciate the urgent work we’re doing, please send us a tax-deductible gift today by clicking here.

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New Session, Same Story

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, 13 January 2021
in Wisconsin

wi-senate-swearing-inSen. Smith writes about the beginning of the 2021-22 legislative session and the lack of compromise we’ve seen from Republican leaders thus far on COVID-19 relief.


MADISON - Last Monday, on January 4th, the Wisconsin State Legislature began the 2021-22 legislative session. New members were sworn in and all elected officials looked ahead to the new session.

Inauguration Day is an important reminder that the Legislature includes elected representatives from many walks of life. Our job is to listen to professionals and ensure they have what they need to do their jobs the best they can.

Every session, elected officials bring their unique experience and expertise forward to introduce new policy proposals. Although we may not always immediately agree, our collective differences can help us change and improve a proposal. When there are two proposals to address one problem, it’s logical to compare the differences. We can identify some points of agreement for compromise even if the differences are vast. In some negotiations, both parties look for agreement and accept certain parts they might otherwise not have put in their own plan.

jeff-smithNearly everyone I hear from would be pleased if their elected officials compromised more. Compromise can be the difference between making real progress and doing nothing. That’s exactly where we find ourselves today with leaders spoiled by unchallenged power through Wisconsin’s gerrymandered maps. Unfortunately this unwillingness to compromise and leave behind political ambitions for the greater good couldn’t be more evident than it is right now.

Just once, most people would think petty politics could be set aside for all the hardships families are facing during this pandemic. But it doesn’t seem to be possible in this political environment we live in. Initially, we passed a bipartisan COVID-19 Response Bill in April with the expectation we’d meet again soon. However, once it passed, the Republican Majority Party opted for a 270 day vacation instead of holding another extraordinary session to pass additional COVID-19 relief, fix the unemployment crisis and help schools continue educating students.

Governor Evers introduced two bills–including a compromise proposal–to the Legislature on December 22nd after waiting months for Republican legislative leaders to act. Governor Evers held meetings with Republican leaders, listened to their ideas and even stripped out parts of his initial proposal before settling on provisions they agreed on. The Governor’s COVID-19 compromise bill includes measures to clear the unemployment insurance backlog; covers COVID-19 testing; makes infrastructure available to improve broadband access and more.

robin-vos-is-safe-to-voteAssembly Speaker Vos (R – Rochester) introduced a radically different bill despite the Governor’s plea for sensible compromise. Assembly Bill 1 makes it more difficult for schools to move to virtual classes; protects negligent employers if employees contract COVID-19 in the workplace, takes away the Governor’s oversight of federal COVID-19 funds; and inhibits local health officers from effectively responding to public health emergencies. Assembly Bill 1 allows more people to get sick, limits our state’s response to COVID-19 and fails to protect employees.

Assembly Bill 1 is now on the fast track through the Legislature, despite much public opposition. It’s beyond the pale to take advantage of a public health crisis to advance radical changes in our state. It’s also truly outrageous to distrust the judgement of local elected school boards and the professional training of local public health officials.

To top it off, the Republican Majority passed a Joint Resolution–after returning from a 270-day vacation–to open the state Capitol to the public without masks, social distancing or other health protocols. It’s shameful to play politics while we try to find consensus for COVID-19 relief.

A COVID-19 relief package should include the input of all elected officials and the constituencies they represent, not just the Republican leaders. More importantly, COVID-19 relief legislation should address the unemployment crisis and the lack of internet access, while providing support to our frontline healthcare workers. Demand better from us.

I want to report we opened a new session with renewed hope for a working legislature, but the first week did not instill that confidence. As session continues, I hope there’ll be more opportunities to compromise and work together on behalf of Wisconsinites.

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