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Blue Jean Nation 'Treasure in sport, rarity in politics'

Posted by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation
Mike McCabe is the founder and president of Blue Jean Nation and author of Blue
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on Monday, 17 April 2017
in Wisconsin

dick-bennettWisconsin's remarkable success in Basketball is based upon Dick Bennett's five pillars: Humility. Passion. Unity. Servanthood. Thankfulness. Qualities in short supply elsewhere in the Capitol these days.


ALTOONA, WI - Any idea which college has won the most NCAA Division 1 men’s basketball tournament games in the past four years?

If you’re guessing North Carolina, guess again. If you think it’s Duke, you’re thinking wrong. Kentucky? Incorrect. Kansas? Wrong again. Villanova? Louisville? UCLA? Gonzaga? Wrong. Wrong. Wrong. Wrong.

The answer is the University of Wisconsin, with 13 tourney wins and four trips to the regional semifinals known as the Sweet Sixteen, two Final Four appearances and one run all the way to the national championship game.

The Badgers have made it to the national tournament the last 19 years straight. That streak started under coach Dick Bennett. The program’s remarkable success is built on a foundation of Bennett’s five pillars: HumilityPassionUnityServanthoodThankfulness. In fact, those five words to live by are literally cemented in the foundation of the arena the Badgers call home.

These pillars are nowhere to be seen at the State Capitol. They are conspicuously missing in the behavior of state lawmakers. Three of the secrets to the Badgers’ sustained success on the hardwood are most noticeably absent in the marble corridors of power — humility, unity and servanthood.

Authentic leadership requires humility. Good leaders give credit and take blame. Today’s politicians routinely do the exact opposite.

Unity is indispensable in any team endeavor. If you picture Wisconsin government as a team, then it currently looks like a dysfunctional one. The team’s captains don’t seek unity, they consciously sow seeds of division instead.

Perhaps the ingredient of success that is most scarce in politics nowadays is servanthood. A true public service ethic has withered away. The aims of those who govern mirror the greed and self-centeredness that dominate American life. Those who hold office are supposed to be servants but act like masters. They rule, they don’t serve.

At least they don’t serve the masses. They scratch the backs of a wealthy and privileged few and get their backs scratched in return. They let a few use as much water as they want, to the point of drying up lakes and streams. And they get rewarded for it. They let others pollute as much as they want, to the point of poisoning countless neighbors. They get rewarded for that too. A thousand other transactions just like those are completed and rewards reaped.

When all is said and done, the qualities that have made the Wisconsin men’s basketball program a powerhouse are in terribly short supply in Wisconsin politics. What makes a successful team also makes a successful state. And it’s nowhere to be found in the Capitol these days. Coaches are fired for managing teams the way our state is being managed. Right there is one way life really should imitate sport.

— Mike McCabe

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Expand Economic Opportunities With Child Care Tax Credits

Posted by Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling, State Senator Dist 32 (B)
Jennifer Shilling lives in La Crosse with her husband and two children. She curr
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on Tuesday, 11 April 2017
in Wisconsin

teacher2_childcarePaying for quality daycare has become a major burden for working families, and a targeted tax credit can ease that burden and help our economy.


LA CROSSE, WI - “It’s like we paid off our mortgage.” That’s how one parent described the feeling when their child grew out of daycare and the family was able to pocket more of their paycheck. The extra cash saved each month was a windfall for these working parents who struggled to afford the cost of child care on top of their home payments, student loans, groceries and monthly bills.

For many families in Wisconsin, the high cost of quality child care is a major burden. While we have some of the highest quality child care providers in the nation, the average cost for infant care is over $1,000 a month. That’s more than tuition at UW Madison.

As Democrats push solutions to help working families, access to quality and affordable child care has become a key focus. With more dual-income households, modern families need workplace policies that will ensure flexibility and enable businesses to be more competitive.

Recently, Democratic leaders including Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced legislation to create a child care income tax credit for working families. As a co-author of this bill, I support the effort to target more relief to working families rather than wealthy special interests and out-of-state corporations.

This issue is particularly important because we know how critical early learning is for a child’s development. Child care providers are highly dedicated and skilled professionals who provide an invaluable service to working families. They’re passionate about their work and often don’t get the credit they deserve.

Parents who work full-time want their children to receive quality care in a safe and loving environment. We should reward quality care providers and find new ways to expand access for working families. By helping families afford the cost of care through a targeted tax credit, we can ease the burden on working families and help businesses retain skilled workers. It’s a win-win proposal for workers, children and employers.

If we want families to succeed, we need to focus on policies that will boost our middle class. Ensuring working moms and dads have access to high quality, affordable child care is one way we can strengthen families and expand economic opportunities. Combined with additional Democratic solutions to expand health care coverage, student loan debt relief and paid sick leave, we can modernize our workplace policies to be more cost-effective and worker-friendly.

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Meth A Growing Epidemic in our Neighborhood

Posted by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District
Kathleen Vinehout of Alma is an educator, business woman, and farmer who is now
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 11 April 2017
in Wisconsin

meth-useSen. Vinehout met with county officials and staff who shared stories about the growing problems of meth use and addiction in western Wisconsin. Counties face a financial burden caring for those addicted and their children and she asks her colleagues to include meth as they consider bills on opioid abuse.


ALMA, WI - “We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.”

“Our system just isn’t equipped to deal with the meth problem,” said another social worker.

Recently, more than 400 county supervisors and Health and Human Services staff came to the Capitol. I had visitors from every county in our Senate District. These officials brought me one clear message: Help us deal with the meth problem.

The statistics the county employees shared were staggering. Trempealeau County experienced more than a four-fold increase in child-protection cases in less than two years. Most of these children were living with a meth-addicted parent.

Dunn County officials told me about the increase in people entering treatment. Last September, 35% of those entering treatment were meth addicts and this number steadily grew. By February, 60% of those entering treatment were addicted to meth.

The county staff shared many stories about the impact of meth addiction on children. These children are exposed to the drug because addicts smoke the substance. The drug pollutes the air and surfaces of the home. All workers test children of meth addicts for exposure to meth

“We tested a four-year-old and a one-year-old,” said a social worker. “The two children tested higher than the average meth users.”

The social workers said they are struggling to fill the needs of so many youngsters ravaged by the addiction of their parents. Counties assess the child’s needs but as the county staff explained, it is difficult to tease out what is happening with a child.

Is a child suffering withdrawal symptoms because of second-hand drug exposure or suffering developmentally because of poor nutrition. Has the child experienced emotional or physical trauma? Certainly, the vast majority of children of meth-addicted parents suffer neglect.

A social worker told me that she visited a mom in jail who decided to voluntarily give up her child. The sorrowful mom told the social worker she wished she never did meth, because “it makes you forget you ever had children.”

Helping the large number of suffering children has stretched county budgets thin. The cases are hard. Social workers are difficult to find and often not trained to assist children from drug-troubled homes. Staff turnover is high.

For the addicts themselves, treatment programs are limited. Insurance only pays for a few days of inpatient treatment. To be effective, a meth addict must stay inpatient for at least a month. In my own research, I learned the brain takes at least a year to recover from some damage done by meth. Relapses are common, as is depression and other forms of mental illness.

A few months ago, I first began hearing about meth from law enforcement. Sheriffs told me the combination of mental illness and meth resulted in violence. Community and officer safety was at risk. Treatment options were very limited. Often officers must drive four to six hours one-way to deliver the addict to treatment at one of two state-operated mental health institutions.

Local sheriffs explained how their entire annual budget for transporting the arrested mentally ill person was gone in the first few months of this year because of so many new cases of mental illness and meth-induced violence.

“Opioid users go to the emergency room,” a human services manager told me. “Meth addicts go to jail.”

Lawmakers recently paid much attention to problems associated with heroin and opioid-related drugs. However, the epidemic in western Wisconsin is meth.

Counties need resources to help children who need safe homes. Our region needs treatment and emergency crisis centers. Long-term inpatient treatment is expensive but can be effective. Further, we must help those suffering from mental illness and keep them from turning to addiction instead of mental health treatment.

Lawmakers will soon take up a series of bills to combat heroin. I ask my colleagues to expand their awareness and consider the impacts of meth: on our children, our county budgets, the safety of our communities and the lives of the addicts.

In the spirit of rebirth, Easter and spring, I ask families affected by mental illness or drug addiction to get help. It is not easy. But there is hope.

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Passage of SB 76 ‘Death By 1,000 Straws’ Illustrates Pay-For-Play Legislation in Madison

Posted by Criste Greening
Criste Greening
Small business owner, public school teacher, and now citizens water activist. A
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on Monday, 10 April 2017
in Wisconsin

hicap-longlakeWisconsin State Senators, in a party-line vote, passed SB 76 on April 4th. Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network (SRWN) believes that the passage of SB 76 illustrates the power of the Industrial Agriculture’s lobbying dollars over the Public Trust Doctrine and citizen’s rights to Wisconsin’s water resources.


Undue industry influence drove the fast-tracking and passage of SB 76. According to lobbying reports from the last two legislative sessions, the Wisconsin Potato and Vegetable Growers, Wisconsin Pork Association, Dairy Business Association, Wisconsin Farm Bureau, and Wisconsin Cranberry Growers spent $244,282 in lobbying efforts for high-capacity well legislation (data for the current legislative session is not available until June 2017). Mary Dougherty, president of SRWN, calls the influence of Big Ag’s lobbying dollars and passage of SB 76 “an outright threat to citizens’ right to have certainty that when we turn our faucet, we have water flowing from the tap; that our property values will not be harmed by our wells drying up; and the lakes, rivers and streams we love are not sucked dry by industrial agriculture.”


SB 76 is a solution in search of a problem. Bill supporters frequently cite the need for ‘regulatory certainty’ for high capacity wells (HCW) that need to be replaced, maintained, repaired, or transferred yet DNR records do not support these claims. Adam Freihoefer, DNR Water Use Section Chief, offered the following data about high capacity wells:


  • Since 2011, the department approved an average of approximately six replacement wells per year.

  • In 2016, the department processed approximately 65 property transfers.  On average, we estimate that there are approximately 50 to 100 property transfers per year.

  • High capacity well reconstruction is relatively rare and we are only notified of a few per year.


Freihoefer went on to state, “A replacement high capacity well would constitute an emergency under certain circumstances (e.g. well failure after crop has been planted, cattle need water, etc.). If the applicant can verify that an emergency condition exists and they provide the DNR with the necessary application materials, the Department has typically provided an answer regarding approval within 1-2 days.” Given the 13,000 HCW permits in Wisconsin, the actual transfers, repairs and replacement of HCW are negligible (between .0005 to .008 percent of all HCW) and do not warrant sweeping legislative change.


The progression of SB 76 through the Senate calls Wisconsin’s proud heritage of transparent and honest democratic governance into question. Despite objections from two members of the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform, SB 76 was voted out of committee by paper ballot, a process that does not allow for discussion or introduction of amendments prior to voting among committee members. In addition, Senator Ringhand’s (D-15) two amendments, which were submitted to Senator Nass (R-11) in good order and on time, were not voted on or discussed by committee members because of Nass’ decision to use paper ballots. Finally on April 4th, when Senator Testin (R-24) was asked what environmental groups he consulted with about his amendment, he stated, “There are several organizations...George Kraft, Ken Bradbury and then some of the environmental groups...like Friends of the Central Sands.” However, both George Kraft and Bob Clarke, President of Central Sands, stated that they had never spoken to nor been contacted by Senator Testin.

SRWN asks the Assembly Committee on Agriculture to take the time to properly consider the ramifications of SB 76’s accompanying bill, AB 105, and make appropriate amendments in an executive session. Forest Jahnke, Vice-President of SRWN, wants the Assembly “to make every effort to ensure that Wisconsin citizens are given the opportunity to engage in the democratic process and any discussion and/or voting be done with full transparency.”

AB105 amendments should include:

  • Periodic review of existing high capacity wells.

  • The ability and authority to enable the DNR to adjust reviewed permits to meet current conditions and water balance issues.

  • An expanded study area that will include the entire Central Sands.

  • No Section 4(3)g, which takes away a citizen’s right to contest a DNR decision.

Wisconsin residents deserve fair representation and legislation that ensures surface and groundwater will be here for generations to come. Elected officials are sworn to uphold the Wisconsin state constitution and any legislation, like SB 76, that endangers the Public Trust Doctrine is in direct violation of their oath of office. SRWN expects our representatives in Madison to protect citizen interests over big industry donors who are attempting to buy preferential legislation.


Media Contact

Mary Dougherty | President, Sustain Rural Wisconsin Network
p: 651.253.9352 | e: This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it


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April 9 Update From DPW Chair

Posted by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning
Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning
Martha Laning is the Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin.
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on Monday, 10 April 2017
in Wisconsin

wisdems-groundgameSpring elections success, Joint Committee on Finance's (JFC) public hearings, Democratic radio on Privatizing Public Waters, 2017 State Convention, and more...


MADISON - Welcome to the latest installment of my chair update.

Spring Election Success

Many thanks to all who knocked doors, made phone calls and, of course, cast ballots in last week's Spring elections. Thanks to you we helped make sure that Tony Evers easily won re-election and sent a message that Wisconsin supports investing in public education and providing each and every child in our state with the opportunity to succeed.  

If you haven't already, you can listen to Evers' election night speech on his Facebook page.

In addition, I'm extremely grateful for and proud of the incredible work done by local progressive candidates all across Wisconsin! This spring, our Candidate Services team worked directly with dozens of candidates for school board, city council, and town and village boards from De Pere to Superior, River Falls to La Crosse, and Beloit to Sheboygan.

They campaigned tirelessly, many in the most conservative parts of the state. They brought the Democratic message of fairness, inclusion, and opportunity to their communities and the reaction was outstanding. 77% of the candidates that our County Party and Candidate Services teams supported won their races!

We're not going to let the momentum from this spring fade. We'll continue to train candidates, develop county parties, and engage voters and activists across our state.


Budget Hearing Update

This week kicked-off the Joint Committee on Finance's (JFC) public hearings on the state budget in Platteville, West Allis, and Berlin. And on Saturday, Democrats held additional public hearings in Green Bay and Eau Claire. 

It's was great to see so many people coming out in droves to advocate for solutions to public school funding, repairing our crumbling transportation infrastructure, and bringing good-paying jobs to our state. Keep up the good work! 

The next official JFC public hearings will begin on April 18 in Spooner at Spooner High School. The committee will then travel to Ellsworth on April 19 for a hearing at Ellsworth High School. The last hearing is in Marinette on April 21 at Marinette High School. 

There will be additional Democratic public hearings as well and I'll be sure to share that information with you all as it becomes available.


Members of Congress Go On Recess This Week

Congressional Recess began April 8th and members of Congress will be in recess until April 23rd. This is a time when many lawmakers return home and meet with their constituents at town halls - a great venue for you to hear directly from your representative and get answers to your concerns and questions.  
Resistance Recess is planning to organize the power of the people and replicate the huge success we saw in February which built the power to stop President Trump and Speaker Ryan from taking health care away for 24 million people. 

As Trump remains under investigation and as Congress continues to push Trump's unconstitutional and dangerous agenda, we must make sure that no one allows the passing of time to normalize this president and his harmful policies.

Find an event near your on resistancerecess.com and make a plan to make your voice heard.  

It isn't just Republicans holding town halls during this recess. Democrats are coming back to speak to their constituents as well. This week, Rep. Mark Pocan will hold a Rock County town hall on Monday, April 10 at Blackhawk Technical College from 5:30 – 6:30 p.m., to discuss his work in Congress, issues important to Rock County residents, and field questions from attendees. If you can't make Rep. Pocan's town hall, his sessions are posted after completion on the office Facebook page at www.facebook.com/repmarkpocan under videos.


Upcoming Democratic Training Opportunities

Spring elections may be over, but there's still a lot of work ahead of us! If you're eager to stay in the fight between election cycles, please look into some of the training opportunities that both the Democratic Party of Wisconsin and our partner organizations will be hosting around Wisconsin. 

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin will be hosting a County Party Development Training in Waukesha on April 29th for any interested party members. This training is designed to highlight the ways that activists can get involved in local campaigns on a deeper level, from serving on a kitchen cabinet to recruiting candidates to organizing volunteers and managing canvasses. Click here to view the agenda for this training. More dates around the state will be announced soon. Click here to register!

Wisconsin Progress is beginning their "Getting Ready to Run" training series, with sessions scheduled in Steven's Point, Chippewa Falls, Richland Center, Oshkosh, Waukesha, and Portage. The training is designed for anyone who is thinking about running for local and state office, and cover topics from how to know if you're ready, to what to do once you decide to jump in! Click here to register!

EMILY's List will be hosting a training on April 22nd in Milwaukee for pro-choice, Democratic women interested in running for office. Click here to register!

The Association of State Democratic Chairs will be putting on their T3 (Train the Trainer) series of webinars from mid-April to mid-May that any party members and activists are welcome to participate in. This program is designed to teach a variety of useful skills, from messaging to social media organizing to recruiting candidates and volunteers. Click here to see the dates and topics of each individual webinar. The webinars are every Monday and Wednesday at 7pm, and begin on Monday, April 17th. Click here to register!


Weekly Democratic radio address: Privatizing Public Waters

Senator Mark Miller (D – Monona) offered the weekly Democratic radio address last week. 

The audio file of  the address can be found here: 
http://media2.legis.wisconsin.gov/multimedia/Sen16/millerradio040517.mp3

A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hello. This is Senator Mark Miller with this week’s democratic radio address.

“This week Senate Republicans passed Senate Bill 76, privatizing Wisconsin water for high capacity well owners. This bill allows high capacity well permits to be issued permanently. Forever.

“A high capacity well permit that lasts forever and can never be changed creates a permanent right to take water that belongs to the people of Wisconsin and use it for private profit.

“This bill ignores the property rights of riparian owners and recreational users when excessive withdrawals lower water levels and reduce stream flows. This bill ignores the access rights of rural households with private drinking water wells when excessive withdrawals dry up their wells.

“This bill picks winners and losers. Supposedly high capacity well owners just want “certainty.” But what this bill provides is certainty that their use is guaranteed over others, and that is unconstitutional.

“This should not a partisan issue, this is a fairness issue. Water belongs to everyone, not just the chosen few.”


Get Your Tickets For The 2017 Founder's Day Gala Featuring Congressman Keith Ellison

Last week, we announced Congressman Keith Ellison as our featured speaker for this year's Founders Day Gala in Milwaukee. Not only has Keith been a great friend to our Party here in Wisconsin, his leadership at the local and national level is incredibly inspiring and just what we need to see as we gear up for 2018. I look forward to a great Founders Day and the opportunity to have Congressman Ellison energize Democrats here at home. 

Please join us and your fellow Democrats on May 6,2017 for our Founder's Day Gala at the Hilton - Milwaukee City Center in Milwaukee. Tickets are going fast, so get yours before they sell out! As always, we have a great event planned so we hope you can make it.


2017 State Convention

We are also looking for volunteers to help us make this year's convention a success. Without the help of volunteer doing things like stuffing bags, registering delegates, working the elections and a whole host of other duties, we could never pull off the two-day event. Please consider giving your fellow Democrats a hand to make this year's convention one of the best ever. Sign up to volunteer: www.wisdems.org/2017stateconvention


Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now

It’s time for Trump to strengthen Obamacare, not destroy it
Democrats are proud of the work President Barack Obama did to expand access to affordable health care and Democrats are ready and willing to strengthen Obamacare and give even more Americans the quality care they need and deserve. Democrats have already introduced many bills to try and do so. If President Trump wants to work with us, we’re ready. The question is whether President Trump and Congressional Republicans are ready to do the work of the people instead of play politics.

How Average Citizens Saved Obamacare
There was one major reason that their plan failed that has gotten very little attention: people organized and made their voices heard. Now, you can organize demonstrations to make your voice heard and turn out large numbers of people and see few results, but when it is strategically done, it can have a very major impact; that’s what happened with the health care fight.

Baldwin raises $2.2 million in first quarter of 2017
Baldwin's campaign raised $2.2 million in the first three months of this year, in advance of her re-election bid in 2018. Her campaign said Wednesday that she has $2.4 million cash on hand. 

Editorial: Mark Pocan's right: Donald Trump trade orders are talk, not action
Pocan, the Wisconsin Democrat who has emerged as one of the most serious advocates for trade policies that respect workers, the environment and human rights, saw through Trump’s smoke and mirrors.

Paul Ryan on tax plan: ‘White House hasn’t nailed it down’
A comment from U.S. House of Representatives Speaker Paul Ryan may have helped to trigger one of the biggest reversals in stocks in more than a year, a down move that could continue Thursday.

Paul Ryan: Health care bill will take time, as GOP learns to govern
A new push to pass a GOP health care bill will take weeks, not days, House Speaker Paul Ryan indicated Wednesday, as the latest talks among Republicans produced no apparent breakthrough.

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin Cosponsors Legislation to Strengthen Existing Buy America Standards and Create More Jobs at Home
Top House Democrats on Monday called on the Republican chairman of the House Intelligence Committee to recuse himself from the panel’s investigation into Russian meddling in the 2016 presidential election, thrusting the entire inquiry into jeopardy amid what they described as mounting evidence he was too close to President Trump to be impartial.

Mason-led Great Lakes group pushes against proposed funding cuts
A group of Great Lakes legislators, led by Racine state Rep. Cory Mason, has added its voice to a bipartisan push against proposed cuts to Great Lakes funding.

Vinehout: Protect the Constitution from a convention
What do the League of Women Voters, the American Civil Liberties Union and the John Birch Society have in common? They all think legislation calling for a federal constitutional convention is a bad idea. A very bad idea.

Kind calls on Walker to expand Medicaid
In light of the House GOP's health care bill failure, Rep. Ron Kind is calling on Gov. Scott Walker to expand Medicaid. Wisconsin is one of 19 states whohave chosen not to expand under the Affordable Care Act.

Wisconsin voters continue to approve more school referendums as $700 million OK'd this week
Of the 65 questions before voters Tuesday, 40, or 62% passed, including a near-record $181.3 million sought for the burgeoning Verona Area School District in Dane County.

Dozens of Wisconsin dairy farms could be forced out of business because of international trade dispute
Dairy farms in Wisconsin and other states could be forced out of business as early as May because of a trade dispute that has halted the export of their milk to Canada.

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