Monday June 26, 2017

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Blue Jean Nation 'Spreading it thick'

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 Friday, 07 April 2017
in Wisconsin

manure-spreaderThe powerful and privileged have brought on the era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in.


ALTOONA, WI - Our current times will go down in history as the age of bullshit. Unless, of course, the manure spreaders somehow figure out a way to prevent the truth from ever being recorded for posterity.

The powerful and privileged have always found honesty inconvenient. It has this pesky way of interfering with their plans.

Their problem got way bigger in the 20th Century with the advent of radio and then television. Never before in human history could more sources of information reach mass audiences so quickly. The powerful and privileged knew they had to do something.

Step one was doing away with the Fairness Doctrine and weakening other public interest obligations enshrined in the Radio Act of 1927 and the Communications Act of 1934 that for decades ensured everything from coverage of local issues to children’s educational programming.

Step two was methodically demonizing legitimate news reporting and convincing a significant segment of the population to no longer trust what is reported.

Step three was the construction of their own alternative “news” operations. Free of the old requirements to serve the public interest, they could build their own propaganda machine. And they did.

The completion of these three steps brought about this era of fake news and alternative facts we now live in. The age of bullshit. The powerful and privileged succeeded. They may have been too successful for their own good.

At first, they had to be delighted by how efficiently their machine worked. All across the nation, public offices were occupied by people who benefited from the falsehoods the machine spread but at least appeared to understand the truth. But now, a large and growing segment of society clearly embraces the lies and either won’t or can’t distinguish fiction from fact. More and more public offices are being occupied by such people, which has brought us to the point where those who’ve been empowered to govern aren’t governing. Maybe they’ve been entertaining fantasies and scapegoating and demonizing for so long that they’ve forgotten how to govern. Or maybe they never learned how. In any case, they can’t possibly deliver what their propagandized constituents expect them to accomplish. They can’t simultaneously cut taxes, drastically increase military spending, protect Social Security, balance the budget and bring down the national debt. They can’t create a private health insurance system with no government involvement that will cover everyone and cost less. They have no way of bringing back all the lost U.S. factory jobs in heavy manufacturing.

At least one of the minions of the powerful and privileged who helped spread the manure now admits he helped create a monster as he regards a president who “gives every indication that he is as much the gullible tool of liars as he is the liar in chief.” Most just keep spreading.

In 1795, Thomas Jefferson wrote that “light and liberty go together.” By 1816, Jefferson’s thinking on the matter sharpened: “If a nation expects to be ignorant and free in a state of civilization, it expects what never was and never will be.” It sharpened more by 1821, almost as if he could see what was coming: “No nation is permitted to live in ignorance with impunity.”

One can only imagine what Jefferson would have to say in 2017.

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Opioid Treatment Bills Don’t Go Far Enough

Posted by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64
Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64
Representative Peter Barca is a lifelong citizen of Kenosha and Somers. He curre
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on Thursday, 06 April 2017
in Wisconsin

drugaddicts-youngAssembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca speaks out on the bills debated Tuesday aimed at fighting the opioid epidemic.


MADISON - I applaud the bipartisan effort that led to the acknowledgment of this serious epidemic, but these bills could have a much greater impact to positively affect so many lives. In order to help Wisconsinites struggling with opioid addiction, we need to increase funding for treatment programs and expand BadgerCare.

Instead of working with Assembly Democrats, Republicans tried to shut down the debate. It’s time to put people over politics. We need to follow the example of 31 other states and accept the BadgerCare expansion. We need a more complete and aggressive approach to this devastating epidemic.

Medicaid, known as BadgerCare in Wisconsin, is the most significant source of coverage and funding for critical substance abuse and prevention treatment. In the 31 states that have chosen to expand Medicaid, 1.2 million individuals with substance abuse disorders have gained access to coverage. By failing to expand BadgerCare, Wisconsin taxpayers are losing out on access to opioid treatment and resources paid for with federal money.

By June 30, 2019, Wisconsin taxpayers will have lost more than $1 billion. We need to follow the example of every one of our neighboring states— Republican and Democrat—and expand Medicaid. Just this past week, we saw the legislature of Kansas vote on a bipartisan basis to accept the federal Medicaid fund—we’d like Wisconsin Republicans to do the same.

****

Olivia Hwang contributed this story. Rep. Barca spoke about legislation aimed at the opioid epidemic on Facebook Live; the video is available here: https://www.facebook.com/RepPeterBarca/videos/1514005181956851/.

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Update from DPW Chair, Martha Laning April 2

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, 03 April 2017
in Wisconsin

vote-buttonVote April 4, Republican Extremism Reaches A New Low, Wisconsin Budget Process, and more...


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

Make A Plan To Vote For Tony Evers For State Superintendent In Tuesday's Spring Election

If you haven't already, it's time to make a plan to vote in one of the most important races on the ballot: Tony Evers' bid for re-election as State Superintendent of Public Instruction. 

Evers is the only candidate in the race for State Superintendent who is a champion for fairly funding our public schools, increasing graduation rates, and creating pathways to family-sustaining jobs for young adults.  

Make sure you get out to the polls this Tuesday, April 4 and vote for Evers. Then spread the word with your network online. Remind all of your friends and family to cast a ballot today for Tony Evers for State Superintendent of Public Instruction.

Learn more about Tony on his website tonyforwisconsin.com
Learn more about what you need vote on Tuesday at https://myvote.wi.gov/en-us/.

P.S. be sure to watch and share Tony's latest television ad with your online networks. Click the screenshot below to watch the ad on Tony's YouTube page.

tony-evers-campaign

Republican Extremism Reaches A New Low In Wisconsin

Just when I think things can't get more extreme they do. Last week, a joint Assembly and Senate committee held a hearing on a bill to call for a constitutional convention. The last time our country had a constitutional convention was in 1787 - when our country's Founding Fathers wrote the Constitution. Ever since then, our government has used the Congressional process for making specific changes to the U.S. Constitution. There are 27 amendments to the Constitution, but now the Republicans, through shady groups like American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC ), are attempting to circumvent Congress by getting 34 state legislatures to pass bills calling for a constitutional convention - all to include a balanced budget amendment to the Constitution. The proposal introduced in Wisconsin, written by Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield), would make our state the 30th of 34 states required for a constitutional convention to become a reality.

There is a reason why this hasn't been done since 1787 and why even extreme right-wing groups have shunned this proposal: Once a constitutional convention is called our constitution is in jeopardy as convention delegates can totally rewrite the entire Constitution, as it is not clear whether a convention summoned in this way would be legally bound to limit the discussion at the convention to a single issue. Experts suggest that such a convention would have the ability to propose anything it sees fit, which could spell disaster for civil rights, worker's rights, voting rights, women's rights, LGBT rights and all of the other important progress our country has achieved. 

Very few people spoke in favor of the bill at last week's hearing. In fact, people are flabbergasted that Republican legislators are even considering such a frightening idea. Our democracy is young and to have each state writing the rules on who gets to participate is shocking. Furthermore, the Wisconsin call for a constitutional convention has partisan extremism baked right into the legislation as  Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is allowed to select two delegates, the Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald is allowed to select two delegates, the Governor selects one delegate, and one delegate is selected by Sen. Scott Fitzgerald and Rep. Peter Barca. That means nine representatives from Wisconsin would participate in the convention if it was successfully called, but only two of the state's delegates would be Democrats. 

People who value freedom of speech, freedom of religion, equality in all its forms, and so many other issues should be concerned about what could happen at a constitutional convention. Furthermore, big money special interests are already looming over our political process and seek to control every level of power possible. Who knows what kind of back room deals unelected delegates would strike to remain in power and appease those special interests.

Quite frankly, Republicans should be just as concerned because we have seen in the last several months that the Republicans aren't on the same page. I think the Republican Party is lost and the fact they are introducing such a scary bill proves it. 

We are watching what is happening closely and if the bill makes the schedule we will be sending an immediate call to action for all our members.

Learn more about the bill and last week's hearing on StarTribune.com


Wisconsin Budget Process Update

Members of the Joint Finance Committee completed their briefings for each state agency last week. If you have a little time on your hands, you can watch last week's hearings on wiseye.org.

This week, the hearings go on the road for six public hearings around the state on Gov. Scott Walker's state budget proposal. The first is this Monday, April 3 at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. The next hearing will be held on Wednesday, April 5 at the State Fair Park outside of Milwaukee and that will be followed by an April 7 hearing at Berlin High School.

Our Communications Department will be sending budget research, talking points, and regional information for all of you planning to attend this week's hearings. And if you can't attend they'll be sending out information to use on social media during this part of the budget process. 

You can follow along with the budget process and learn more about the next steps moving forward at The Budget Process in Wisconsin.

A few weeks ago I told you that I would share information on Democratic budget listening sessions once that information became available. Save the date for the first hearings held on Saturday, April 8 in Green Bay and Eau Claire.  Details of the event are located below.  We'll be sharing more dates as they become available.

Democratic Budget Hearing in Green Bay
Time:                   Saturday, April 8,  10 AM – 2 PM
Location:              UW-Green Bay Christie Theatre (In the Student Union)
2420 Nicolet Dr, Green Bay, WI 54311

Democratic Budget Hearing in Eau Claire
Time:                   Saturday, April 8, 10 AM – 2 PM
Location:              UW-Eau Claire Centennial Hall (Room 1614)
1698 Park Ave, Eau Claire, WI 54701


Glenn Grothman Town Hall On April 10

Congressman Glenn Grothman is holding a town hall on April 10 in Valders. If you can attend, please do so and make your voice heard on President Donald Trump's agenda, the Republican attempt to repeal health care, and other issues that matter the most to you.

Rep. Glenn Grothman Town Hall
Time: Monday, April 10, 2pm - 2pm
Location: 420 N. Liberty St. Valders, WI 54245


Democratic Weekly Radio Address: "We Need a Budget That Works for Everyone"

Rep. Katrina Shankland (D-Stevens Point) gave the Democratic Weekly Radio Address on the Wisconsin budget and the upcoming Joint Finance hearings:

"We need a budget that creates opportunities for everyone to succeed. We need to invest in our shared success: affordable health care, good roads, better broadband, and great schools and universities," said Rep. Shankland. "I encourage you to make your voice heard – Democrats are listening!"

You can find the audio of this week's address here and the video here

A written transcript of the address is below:

"Hi, I’m Rep. Katrina Shankland with this week’s Democratic Radio Address.

"Here in Wisconsin, we’re proud to be such hard-working people. We believe in opportunity, fairness, and community. But for many people across Wisconsin, they feel like no matter how hard they work, they can’t get ahead. From student loan debt to the rising cost of childcare, families are struggling – and it’s time to put them first with an opportunity budget that gives them a fighting chance.

"Yet Governor Walker’s re-election budget demonstrates the failures of his leadership: from refusing to fix our roads long-term to weakly trying to solve a public education crisis he created, the governor’s budget pits community against community, his 'go to' move.

"We need a budget that creates opportunities for everyone to succeed. We need to invest in our shared success: affordable health care, good roads, better broadband and great schools and universities. 

"The next few weeks, as a member of the Joint Finance Committee, I will be traveling the state to listen to the people of Wisconsin on what matters to them when it comes to our budget. I encourage you to make your voice heard – Democrats are listening!"


Get Your Tickets For The 2017 Founder's Day Gala

With our sights set on a victorious 2018 midterm election cycle, Wisconsin Democrats will gather this May to celebrate the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's 2017 Founders Day Gala. 

The evening will focus on rallying Democrats for the important races on the ballot in Wisconsin's 2018 election. Democrats and grassroots activists are excited to work towards another victory for Senator Tammy Baldwin. Sen. Baldwin was elected to the Senate on a promise to fight for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest Americans. In the Senate, she's fought tirelessly for the economic stability for Wisconsinites by introducing measures to strengthen the "Made in Wisconsin" economy by leading the Senate’s Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign to pass legislation to help manufacturers grow and create jobs.

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

The state and congressional district conventions are quickly approaching and I can't wait to see you all in Madison for our state convention on the 2nd and 3rd of June at the Madison Marriott West. For more information on the State Convention, how to become a delegate, and to pre-register, please visit www.wisdems.org/2017stateconvention

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 at: http://www.wisdems.org/2017-state-convention/volunteer


Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now

Tony Evers: Funding tied to 'Act 10 compliance' could unfairly affect districts
State Superintendent Tony Evers said Thursday he is concerned a proposal from Gov. Scott Walker to tie more than half a billion dollars in new school funding to how much school districts’ staff are paying toward their health care costs could be misapplied to districts that have cut costs. Evers told the state’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee on Thursday that he is afraid a requirement proposed by the governor in his 2017-19 spending plan, which ties the new funding to whether a district is requiring its staff to pay 12 percent toward health care costs, will be arbitrarily applied and affect more than the one or two school districts that actually do not require their staff to meet that threshold.

GOP mega-donor Richard Uihlein backs Kevin Nicholson with $2 million to challenge Tammy Baldwin
Baldwin campaign manager Scott Spector said: "With out-of-state millionaires and super PACs lining up to buy Wisconsin's Senate seat, Wisconsinites never have to worry about whose side Tammy is on. She has never been afraid to stand up to Washington millionaires and special interests when the best interests of Wisconsin are on the line."

Attorney General Brad Schimel settles without fine in 3M pollution case
After years of declining financial penalties for Wisconsin polluters, Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel has settled a case with no fine at all.

Republicans, Democrats in Congress demand Great Lakes funding
Saying the Trump administration's lack of funding for Great Lakes restoration is unacceptable, 63 Republicans and Democrats in the U.S. House on Thursday sent a letter to budget committee heads asking for full funding for the federal program. The letter asks for $300 million for the Great Lakes Restoration Initiative for fiscal year 2018, which starts in October. That's the same amount Congress approved last year. President Donald Trump included nothing in his proposed 2018 budget for Great Lakes restoration.

Democrats in Trump territory in no mood to deal
The 12 Democrats who represent House districts won by Donald Trump were supposed to be easy marks for the deal-making new president. Instead, they’re giving him the stiff-arm. “I do come from a district that did flip to Trump this time, but I don’t think they should be reading that as a slam dunk,” said Rep. Ron Kind (D-Wis.). “I’m not going to support crazy up here.”

Republican lawmakers seek limits on school referendums
School districts would no longer be able to ask voters to raise their taxes permanently and districts would lose some state funding if they exceed their state-imposed limits on raising property taxes through referendums under a package of bills Republican lawmakers are releasing this week. Legislators proposing the bills say the moves are designed to lower property taxes, keep voters from being worn down by multiple referendum campaigns and prevent special elections when turnout is low. But critics say the measures make it harder for public schools to keep up with the rising costs of educating students and could hurt school boards’ ability to ensure adequate cash flow.

Wisconsin panel sees progress, problems at Lincoln Hills youth prison
Lincoln Hills has often been criticized for being a four-hour drive from offenders' homes in urban areas like Milwaukee, but Schraa said he saw some benefit to the setting. "Being in a rural setting I feel like you get an individual out of the environment where they broke the law," Schraa said. Rep. David Bowen (D-Milwaukee) said he disagreed. He noted that the northern Wisconsin facility has just one African-American staff member, even though the majority of its inmates are minorities. He and Goyke have argued for keeping offenders closer to southeastern Wisconsin in smaller facilities, an approach modeled after the one used by Missouri.

Questions about UW System foundations loom over budget deliberations

Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said a budget provision that would let students opt out of paying for certain fees could threaten funding for campus bus lines, potentially increasing costs for students who rely on public transportation. That proposal could also reduce support for student government and other organizations Taylor said provide a valuable service to students. “It really gives you an opportunity to learn budgeting, really run organizations and do so much,” Taylor said of student government.

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Protect the Constitution from a Convention

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
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on Monday, 03 April 2017
in Wisconsin

liberty-bellSome in our Legislature want an Article 5 Constitutional Convention for a "Balanced Budget" amendment, but once opened, those at the convention would not be bound to that proposal and the liberties and freedoms we hold dear, even our system of government, could be changed.


MADISON - 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.

The last time we had a constitutional convention was a long time ago… in 1787 to be exact. At that time, the entire United Stated Constitution was rewritten.

Some lawmakers are calling for a new constitutional convention. They want the convention to consider a Balanced Budget Amendment. However, there are no guarantees that Congress who calls the convention will limit the call to a Balanced Budget Amendment; or that, once called, the convention will limit itself to a Balanced Budget Amendment. Then what?

As the nonpartisan League of Women Voters testified, a convention “is a particularly dangerous path to take.”

First, let’s consider a bit of background.

Article 5 in the US constitution allows two ways to change our Constitution. The first, and the only way used in the last two hundred and thirty years, is to change the constitution one amendment at a time. The specific language of the amendment must pass both Houses of Congress with two-thirds vote and be ratified by three-fourths of the states.

The second way is for two-thirds of the states (34 states) to call for a convention to propose amendments. When the 34-state threshold is reached, Congress issues the convention call. Delegates are selected by states and those delegates decide on rules governing the convention.

About four years ago lawmakers belonging to the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC) began meeting to discuss how to bring states together for a constitutional convention. Groups supporting the idea targeted 11 states including Wisconsin and Kentucky who are now taking up the issue. If both adopt the proposal, they would be the 30th and 31st states of the required 34.

Last week after a hearing lasting almost eight hours during which dozens of people opposed the idea, our Senate Committee voted to call a convention. My colleague Senator Risser and I were the only “no” votes.

Before the hearing I did some research. Much of what I learned about an Article 5 convention comes from the Congressional Research Service.

Once called, the convention and its delegates write the rules of the convention. They can write any rules upon which they can agree. They can take up any action upon which they can agree. More unsettling, as re-writers of the Constitution, the delegates become the sovereign power of the land. In its analysis, the Congressional Research Service, referred to the doctrine of “constitutional sovereignty” quoting Cyril Brickfield who in 1957 wrote, “… the convention is possessed of sovereign powers and therefore is supreme to all other Government branches or agencies.”

In short, the liberties and freedoms we hold dear, those values that make us uniquely American, even our system of government, could be changed.

Perhaps this is why the conservative John Birch Society (JBS) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) both opposed the bill. Larry Greenley of JBS reminded our committee the last constitutional convention in 1787 not only completely rewrote the Constitution, they also changed the ratification process so that only 9 (not all 13) states had to agree.

Proponents of the Wisconsin efforts say their plan is to only take up a balanced budget amendment. But after repeated questioning from Senator Risser, no one could describe how such amendment might be worded or how, if passed, the amendment might work. We heard, instead, the convention itself would decide the rules and the specific language of any proposals. The safeguard, if one could call it that, was that the states would have to ratify what the convention proposed.

At odds with this reasoning was the history Mr. Greeley pointed to – the 1787 convention invented its own ratification process. The hearing left me agreeing the idea was “a dangerous path to take.”

A more prudent approach, one we have always taken since 1787, is to change the Constitution, when necessary, one specific amendment at a time.

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Rep. Peter Barca on 'Permitless Carry' Bill

Posted by Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64
Peter Barca, Assembly Democratic Leader, District 64
Representative Peter Barca is a lifelong citizen of Kenosha and Somers. He curre
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on Thursday, 30 March 2017
in Wisconsin

guns-stopvAssembly Democratic Leader says allowing individuals to carry firearms without proper safety training, especially on school grounds, goes too far.


MADISON - Wisconsin Republican legislators have proposed a bill to allow individuals to carry firearms without proper safety training.

The authors of the bill put forward extreme provisions that go beyond even constitutional carry by allowing guns in schools, secure mental health facilities and police stations, while placing the burden on these facilities to protect citizens. This will also create confusion and a lack of clarity on where weapons are allowed, which is troubling.

Law enforcement, school administrators, Democrats and Republicans have been long opposed to allowing guns on school grounds, yet this bill changes that safety presumption. Additionally, the authors have some explaining to do as to why they reduce the penalty from a felony to a misdemeanor for illegally carrying in a school zone. This is a serious legal breach that should be treated as such.

Finally, when concealed carry was enacted, there was a clear bipartisan emphasis on proper training to make sure those with a concealed carry permit to understand the gravity and responsibilities of carrying a gun, especially in high risk facilities. Allowing anyone to carry a loaded, concealed firearm without a background check or safety training has implications almost certainly do not fully understand.

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