Monday April 19, 2021

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Fend for Yourself Unless Republicans Do Their Jobs

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, 09 December 2020
in Wisconsin

wisconsin-senateThe COVID-19 relief package introduced by Governor Evers to support Wisconsinites through this pandemic was introduced in mid-November, and the Republican-led Legislature still hasn’t acted on it.


MADISON - The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives significantly, killing nearly 4,000 Wisconsinites, devastating our economy and leaving us in a hard place to recover.  After more than 230 days since the State Legislature met, Governor Tony Evers stepped up, once again, to provide relief for Wisconsin families.

On November 17th, Governor Tony Evers released a COVID-19 legislative relief package. Governor Evers’ plan dedicates $466 million to COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, vaccination distribution and support for hospitals. The relief package prohibits foreclosures and evictions through 2021. The proposal also makes necessary improvements to the state’s outdated unemployment insurance system. These changes protect our essential workers and streamline the process to expedite unemployment insurance payments at a time when Wisconsinites need it most.

coronavirus-small-businessWe must pass this COVID-19 relief package. For eight months now, the Republican-led Legislature refused to meet and pass additional COVID-19 relief measures. So far, much of our state response has depended on the federal government. With the federal CARES Act ending on December 31st, Wisconsin can’t afford to waste any more time.

Since Governor Evers was elected, Republican legislative leaders have made it their mission to prevent Governor Evers from getting the job done. The COVID-19 pandemic didn’t do anything to change that. Even from the beginning of the outbreak, Republicans filed lawsuits and supported efforts to make it harder to control the outbreak. Most recently, immediately following the release of the Governor’s proposals, incoming Senate President Chris Kapenga (R – Delafield) said “he didn’t see any reason for the Legislature to act at all.

Last week, Wisconsin had a record number of deaths due to COVID-19. On the same day, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R – Rochester) shared a dangerous assortment of ideas that would hinder our state’s response to COVID-19.

Republicans propose forcing teachers and state workers to work in-person while penalizing school districts for distance learning. The Republicans’ proposal would limit the ability of our local health departments to make decisions to keep their communities safe. Additionally, Republicans propose removing Governor Evers and public health officials’ ability to oversee vaccine distribution and the allocation of federal relief funding. These responsibilities belong to the Governor, but Republicans hope to seize control. Republicans also suggest penalizing Department of Workforce Development employees while they’re trying to process unemployment insurance claims in one of the toughest challenges the agency has faced.

After Assembly Republicans shared these proposals, the incoming Senate Majority Leader, Devin LeMahieu (R – Oostburg) said Senate Republicans have “no plan to immediately meet.” If you feel like we’re headed into our own version of the Hunger Games, you’re not alone. Constituents are left to fend for themselves while the CARES Act deadline is quickly approaching. Even in the middle of a global pandemic, Republicans have demonstrated they’re unwilling to show up for work.

Legislators are still being paid, even though the Legislature hasn’t met for eight months. Republicans demand teachers return to in-person instruction, but they’ve said the Legislature won’t be meeting until next year. While waiting for Republicans to call an extraordinary session, I’ve taken the initiative to hold public conversations on social media, respond to constituents and offer ideas to fix the unemployment crisis and help schools survive through the pandemic.

jeff-smithPartisan gerrymandering put us in this difficult position we find ourselves in today. Republicans manipulated Wisconsin’s maps almost a decade ago during the last redistricting process. The Majority Party created districts that lean so heavily in their favor they’ve stopped listening to you. They’ve ignored pleas to expand Medicaid, implement commonsense gun safety measures, improve broadband access for rural Wisconsin or fix the unemployment insurance system.

Your voice matters; it’s the responsibility of your elected officials to listen and work for you. Earlier this year, Governor Evers established the People’s Maps Commission, a non-partisan redistricting commission, tasked with creating fair districts for Wisconsin. Right now, the People’s Maps Commission is holding public hearings and accepting testimony. Now is your chance to share why fair maps are important to you while the Commission prepares new legislative district maps.

Pay attention and speak up because your future and our democracy are at stake.

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Trump’s Treacherous Moves

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 Saturday, 05 December 2020
in Wisconsin

trump-2020-wdcMADISON - The President of the United States is off his rocker.

Yesterday, he gave a 46-minute speech that was the scariest I’ve ever read. And the mainstream media downplayed the shocking part: that Trump explicitly said that the election should be overturned. Here’s what I wrote about this, and about calls from Gen. Flynn and others for Trump to declare martial law:

Don’t Ignore Trump’s Psychotic Speech

matt-rothschild-2018I also posted a critique of Trump’s groundless lawsuits right here in Wisconsin, which also seek to overturn the will of the people:

Trump’s Bogus Wisconsin Lawsuits

Trump is taking the country through very treacherous waters right now, and we ignore this threat at our peril.

Thanks for reading these two items, for defending our democracy!

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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Now Is Not the Time to Get Sick

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, 02 December 2020
in Wisconsin

covid-19-n95-maskIn recent weeks, we’ve heard promising news about a COVID-19 vaccine, but it’s still critical we stay alert to protect ourselves and our loved ones.


MADISON - We’re finally reaching the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In recent weeks, scientists released encouraging updates regarding effective COVID-19 vaccines. Reports indicate the potential vaccines have more than 90% efficacy, meaning they get the result they expect from their drug. Time to celebrate? Let’s hope so. Time to give thanks? Absolutely!

Our medical professionals deserve our appreciation for battling this pandemic and working diligently to develop vaccines to save lives. Although we still have more questions to be answered and vaccine doses yet to be produced, we might all breathe a little easier knowing this nightmare may soon be over.

We’ve received promising news, but we must still remember we’re not completely out of the woods. Most of the U.S. population isn’t expected to have access to a vaccine until spring, which means we need to make smart decisions to prevent further spread of COVID-19.

With help on the way it may be natural to convince yourself to relax and take chances. But, as I heard one doctor say following these exciting announcements, “Now is not the time to get sick.” Throughout the upcoming holiday season, we should all know the small sacrifices we make now will be worth it in the long run.

coronavirus-ventilatorCOVID-19 proved to be just as bad as scientists predicted. Since March – in just 9 months – over a quarter million Americans died. At the start of the pandemic in the United States, our country’s east and west coasts faced the brunt of the impact. However, more recently, states in the Midwest have experienced a shocking spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.

In Wisconsin, 65 of our 72 counties have "critically high" COVID-19 activity levels; the other counties still have “very high” activity levels. Our hospitals in western Wisconsin are nearing capacity and our healthcare workers are overwhelmed. Nearly 90% of hospital beds in Wisconsin are in use. This means if someone came to a hospital, even for a reason unrelated to COVID-19, such as a heart attack or car accident, there’s a chance the hospital wouldn’t be able to accept and care for the patient. In Wisconsin, 3,307 people have died due to COVID-19, representing the tragic toll COVID-19 has had on so many families and communities across our state.

For those who have survived COVID-19, some are still suffering prolonged symptoms, affecting one’s quality of life. Scientists and doctors have discovered damage to the lungs, heart, liver and even the brain. Long-term complications from COVID-19 include heart inflammation, lung function abnormalities, depression, difficulty concentrating and more.

This information should remind us to continue staying alert and safe. It’s not worth taking any risks right now. Stay home, unless absolutely necessary. If you have to be out in public, wear a mask and practice social distancing. These simple preventative actions demonstrate our respect for one another, even at a time when this country is so divided. We know our country can heal from divisive politics and injustices by working together to overcome this pandemic.

jeff-smithWe have an opportunity to get through the pandemic stronger than ever. Whether it’s through the international effort to find an effective vaccine or the bipartisan group of Midwestern governors in unison calling for residents to stay safe over Thanksgiving.

Too often, I still hear some people say they’re unafraid of COVID-19 and don’t believe they’ll suffer if they catch it. I hope they’re right, but any of us can pass it to others who may get really sick and have serious complications. We must follow the recommended precautions, not because we fear for our own health, but we’re concerned for the health of others.

So I’ll say it again: now is not the time to get sick. We are so close to finally having a solution to battling COVID-19. Let’s see this through together without any more unnecessary deaths from this horrible disease

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Be Thankful for Each Other

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, 25 November 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-nurse-tiredSen. Smith writes about the people in our lives we can be thankful for, and shares tips from the Trempealeau County Health Department for Wisconsinites to have a safe Thanksgiving this year.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - Every year, we gather around our dining room table with our loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner and reflect on the past year. We think about all that we’re thankful for: our family and friends, our job and an excitement for what’s yet to come. This year is different. It’s been an incredibly difficult year for so many of us as we deal with the stress, loss and isolation caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

As we prepare for the Thanksgiving holiday, you might just wonder what there is to be thankful for in this challenging year we’ve been through. Distractions, including politics, the latest weather event or the increasing threat of COVID-19 make it even harder to find a reason to be thankful.

We can still find something to be thankful for despite all of the obstacles we have faced in an unprecedented year. We’ll realize how this past year has revealed all that we have to be thankful for. By celebrating Thanksgiving safely this year, we can look forward to creating more memories and cherishing future holidays spent with our whole family.

Think back to the spring when COVID-19 first came to our state. We all put aside our differences and stepped up to stop the spread of COVID-19. We stayed home, posted encouraging messages on our windows, opted for drive-thru birthday parties and virtual graduation ceremonies or weddings instead of in-person celebrations.

There’s no doubt about it: Wisconsinites have made a lot of sacrifices this year. We’ve made changes to our lifestyle and our day-to-day routine. We’ve gained perspective and it’s helped us realize how grateful we are for the people supporting our communities through this crisis.

Our farmers continued to work hard to grow and harvest the food necessary to sustain our communities. Grocery store clerks, truckers and delivery drivers also provided an essential service to make sure we’re getting fresh, healthy food to feed our families safely.

schools-reopening-2020Our teachers, school staff and faculty went above and beyond to educate children in these unprecedented times. Teachers were determined to teach and support Wisconsin students despite the challenges of virtual learning or the risk of a COVID-19 outbreak in schools.

Poll workers and election officials across our state stepped up and delivered a safe, organized election for voters to participate in even with historic voter turnout.

We are very fortunate to have dedicated public servants to keep us safe during the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 testers, National Guard members and contact tracers have been here to help us better understand the outbreak and control the spread of the disease. We can be very grateful for the scientists responsible for diligently working on a COVID-19 vaccine that we hope to see in the very near future.

In the past several weeks, Wisconsin has seen a dangerous surge of COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations and deaths. Our healthcare workers have been heroes saving lives during this pandemic; they’re still working their hardest to keep more people alive.

jeff-smith-ofcWe can show gratitude to Wisconsin’s healthcare workers by staying home for Thanksgiving. The Trempealeau County Health Department shared great ideas to enjoy your holiday while keeping you and your loved ones safe: Have a classic Thanksgiving dinner with members of your own household. Prepare traditional family recipes and deliver them to your family to avoid contact. Host a virtual dinner and watch the Thanksgiving football games from home.

Generations before us have lived through tumultuous times. They faced starvation, war and complete economic ruin, and yet, Americans still found reasons to be thankful. In those times, folks wondered if they would survive. People came together to feed and look out for each other in those trying times. Now it’s our turn to do the same.

I saw a friend recently post, “This is not the year to get everything you want. This is the year to appreciate everything you have.” As we prepare for Thanksgiving, let’s remember this year has still shown us there is much to be thankful for, even if it’s not obvious at first glance.

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Vos Press Conference Had No New Ideas

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 Friday, 20 November 2020
in Wisconsin

robin-vos-is-safe-to-voteState Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) responds to the Assembly GOP press conference Tuesday announcing the latest Republican 'ideas' on COVID-19 testing and contact tracing.


MADISON - Today we saw a total lack of leadership from Representative Vos, and Senate Republicans were absent altogether. April 15th was the last time we took the floor to address this issue and Robin Vos hasn’t brought a thing to the table since. The latest Republican 'ideas' of testing and contact tracing could have, in fact, should have, been addressed months ago were it not for GOP inaction.

jon-erpenbachEver since Republicans went to court to stop The Evers Administration from combating COVID-19, we've been told by the GOP that they were working on legislation. That was months ago, and still nothing.

Ninety-two people have died since yesterday and Speaker Vos is still trying to blame Governor Evers. As the Governor has been saying over and over again, his door has been open, it's the majority Republicans who continue to say no. And, it's not lost on Wisconsinites that the Republican Speaker of the State Assembly held a press conference today and said nothing.

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