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Wis Democracy Campaign - Outraged about April 7

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, 11 April 2020
in Wisconsin

vote-47-mb1Well known progressive commentator Matt Rothschild on this week's election.


MADISON - I’ve never been so mad in my life!

The insistence by Robin Vos and Scott Fitzgerald, aided by the rigged Wisconsin Supreme Court and the reactionary U.S. Supreme Court, to go forward with the election on April 7 in the midst of this pandemic was the most despicable thing I’ve ever witnessed in politics.

Here’s what I wrote about it:

Shame! Wisconsin GOP Scrapes Bottom of the Barrel

Now that I’ve told you how I really feel, please let me share another article we posted on the outside spending in the Wisconsin Supreme Court race:

Special Interest Group Spending at $4.4M in Supreme Court Race

And here’s the astonishing amount that Marsy’s Law in Wisconsin spent on the constitutional amendment about victim’s rights, which we opposed:

Group Behind Marsy’s Law Referendum Spent $3.3M+ On Media

As you’ve probably already heard, we had to cancel our 25th anniversary celebration that we were going to hold on April 29, which is a drag because we had some good panels and speakers lined up.

Our next Big Money Bulletin is due out soon after election results are announced next week. All members will be receiving a ballot to elect our board of directors. So please watch for that in the mail.

matt-rothschildAnd if you like what we’ve been doing, please send us a tax-deductible gift by clicking here: https://www.wisdc.org/get-involved/donate.

Thanks for your support.

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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LWV of Wisconsin Outlines April 7 Spring Election Issues

Posted by League of Women Voters WI, Debra Cronmiller
League of Women Voters WI, Debra Cronmiller
League of Women Voters WI, Debra Cronmiller has not set their biography yet
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on Thursday, 09 April 2020
in Wisconsin

gb-vote-47-linesVoters experienced difficulty requesting and receiving absentee ballots, poll worker shortages resulted in long wait times, mixed messages left persons quarantining at home confused on how to vote, and many other discrepancies.


WISCONSIN - Following Tuesday’s Spring election, in which hundreds of thousands of voters experienced ballot shortages, long lines, confusion, and the choice between their health and their constitutional right to vote, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Executive Director Debra Cronmiller issued the following statement:

“As we wait for ballots to be processed and tallied from yesterday’s election, we take stock of this spring election season and all that Wisconsin voters have been through these past weeks. It’s no secret that this election has been plagued with serious—and even dangerous—issues.

robin-vos-is-safe-to-vote“Voters experienced difficulty requesting and receiving absentee ballots, poll worker shortages resulted in long wait times to cast in-person votes despite guidance by WEC to minimize one’s time in the polling place, irregular application of curbside voting practices, mixed messages to persons quarantining at home for their safety regarding how to vote, and many other discrepancies. State election officials’ response to the global pandemic effectively disenfranchised hundreds of thousands of voters, most acutely people of color, people with disabilities, elderly people, students, and people who are transient.

“This is not how democracy is supposed to work. Our system depends on ensured, unabridged access to the ballot, but that is far from the treatment that Wisconsin voters experienced yesterday. In this unprecedented time of pandemic, the advice to voters to use the absentee ballot option was critically important to minimize the demand for in-person polling sites.

“Over two weeks ago, the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin called on the Wisconsin Election Commission to provide every registered voter with an absentee ballot, including the pre-paid return envelope. Throughout the weeks leading up to the election, we continually asked for clarity around the rules for things like the witness signature certification process and the ability to count the unprecedented number of absentee ballots. We asked that additional time be granted to hold the in-person election to ensure that the largest number of people possible could vote via mailed ballot during this public health emergency. Still, voters were not provided the tools they needed so they could cast their ballots safely and confidently. Too many were driven to show up in person at the polls, despite public health recommendations against gathering in large groups.

“It was either show up and risk your health or lose your right to vote. That is the burden that our state’s leaders put on us as constituents. This is unconscionable—a violation of voters’ constitutional rights and the simple humanity that binds us all.

“Wisconsin has more elections in the coming months. Our leaders cannot fail voters like this again. We must begin preparing now so that every voter can safely cast their ballot. We implore our leaders to do better.”

###

The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a grassroots, nonpartisan political organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 20 local Leagues in Wisconsin. More information at lwvwi.org.

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Pandemic Paycheck Protection

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, 08 April 2020
in Wisconsin

small-business-owners-mfSen. Smith writes about state and federal government resources available to support small business owners and Wisconsin workers during this public health crisis and includes links to them and additional information on COVID-19 relief for readers.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - During this unprecedented public health emergency, we have a lot to think about. While keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy, we’re also thinking of ways to maintain our livelihoods and pay the bills. On March 27th, the federal government enacted the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security (CARES) Act to provide immediate and long-term relief for Americans. At the state level, Governor Evers’ administration is working to ensure every household is able to overcome the COVID-19 public health crisis.

The CARES Act includes $2 trillion in funding, which will be allocated to American taxpayers, public health programming, state and local governments, and other areas to provide economic relief from the COVID-19 pandemic. Notably, the CARES Act directs approximately $377 billion to support small business owners.

There’s a lot to learn about the CARES Act and the programs available to support American workers and business owners during this challenging time.

One of the most well-known pieces of the CARES Act includes direct payments back to taxpayers. Most individuals with a gross income of up to $75,000 will receive $1,200. The direct payment amount is reduced for individuals making more than $75,000. The Internal Revenue Service announced that these direct payments will begin in the next couple of weeks and will be distributed automatically, for most people.

The CARES Act also expands Unemployment benefits, known as Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) to provide additional relief to individuals. According to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), PUE will likely help many people, including people who typically don't qualify for unemployment benefits or self-employed people. This program may provide an additional $600 per week to individuals receiving unemployment benefits.

The CARES Act includes several relief measures administered by the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) that will have a major impact on small businesses.

electrical-workersFirst, the Paycheck Protection Program is a loan for small businesses with less than 500 employees, to encourage employers to retain their workforce and apply the loan towards payroll, rent, mortgage or utilities. The application period for small businesses and sole proprietors began April 3rd; independent contractors and self-employed individuals can apply beginning April 10th. There are funding caps, so don’t hesitate – apply quickly.

Second, the SBA oversees the Small Business Debt Relief Program, another tool available to provide further financial assistance for small businesses.

Third, the SBA manages the Economic Injury Disaster Loans Program (EIDL), which can provide small businesses loans of up to $2 million “to help overcome the temporary loss of revenue they are experiencing, according to the SBA.

These are all great programs administered by the federal government; but, the state also has a role to play to support small businesses and Wisconsin’s workforce. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) established the Small Business 20/20 Program to award grants to businesses up to $20 thousand through community development financial institutions.

For more information on the aforementioned small business resources, please visit the SBA website at SBA.gov and the WEDC website at WEDC.org.

During this crisis, there’s more we must do. Governor Evers is limited in what he can do, alone – the legislature must do its part to help. Governor Evers has asked the legislature to act on a number of measures to support families, including the proposal to remove the one week waiting period for individuals to receive Unemployment Insurance benefits.

jeff-smithThere’s been an unprecedented number of unemployment claims in the past couple of weeks. Just last week, there were 1.5 million calls into the DWD – this represents a 6,000% increase in typical call volume. This shows that Wisconsinites are reaching out for support; therefore, we must pass legislation to repeal the one week waiting period to ensure everyone is covered immediately.

If you need to apply for Unemployment benefits or require assistance, please visit DWD.wisconsin.gov.

I hope, that when you read this the legislature has already repealed the one week waiting period. If not, call your legislator, and ask your friends and family to do the same, and tell Republican leaders to do the right thing for Wisconsinites. This is an all hands on deck situation – we need everyone to step up to support Wisconsin families.

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Group Behind Marsy’s Law Referendum Spent $3.3M+ On Media

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 Monday, 06 April 2020
in Wisconsin

marcys-law-ad-wiWisconsin Democracy Campaign's Matt Rothschild gives you the rest of the story behind the proposed amendment to protect victim rights in the constitution.


MADISON - A group behind a proposed amendment to enshrine victim’s rights in the Wisconsin Constitution spent more than $3.3 million on media advertising in the first three months of the year.

Wisconsin residents will vote yeah or nay on the amendment via a referendum in Tuesday’s spring elections.

A campaign finance report filed last week by the group, Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin LLC, showed it spent a total of nearly $3.5 million on its operations since the beginning of the year. The bulk of its spending, $3.33 million, was for TV ads, radio, online advertising, and media consulting. The group’s television ad features television actor Kelsey Grammer.

In addition to the $3.5 million the referendum group spent on media ads, earlier, a lobbying group of the same name doled out $1.6 million between late 2016 through June 2019 to get the referendum passed by two different sessions of the legislature and placed on Tuesday’s ballot.

Marsy’s Law for Wisconsin LLC was funded entirely by Marsy’s Law for All Foundation in Aliso Viejo, Calif. Mary's Law for All was launched by  Henry Nicholas, the billionaire co-founder of Broadcom, whose sister, Marsy, was shot and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983 in California.

Across the country, the group has spent about $102 million in the 12 states where Marsy’s law ballot measures were approved between 2008 and 2018, according to Ballotpedia. Nicholas shelled out about $99 million of those contributions.

matt-rothschild-2018The amendment generally duplicates existing victim protections found in state law, but goes further in several areas. If approved by voters, victims would have the right to be heard at court proceedings, to refuse defense attorneys' requests for interviews, depositions or discovery, and to attend all proceedings in their cases.

Supporters of the amendment, which include law enforcement organizations, say it's important to protect victim rights in the constitution and not just in state statutes.

But opponents claim Marsy’s Law is dangerous because it could reduce the rights of accused people before they have been convicted of a crime, and that Wisconsin already protects victim rights in the state’s laws and constitution.

For the record, the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign opposed the proposed amendment and testified against it.

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What COVID-19 has revealed

Posted by Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor
Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor
Mandela Barnes, Lt. Governor has not set their biography yet
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on Saturday, 04 April 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-ventilatorLt. Governor Mandela Barnes shares his thoughts on the pandemic.


MADISON - As we grapple with the COVID-19 pandemic and its implications, I would like to share my thoughts on what this crisis has revealed about our state and nation.

First, this crisis has exposed a glaring inequality that exists in our society. It begs the question: What does it really mean to live in the richest country on earth if we're unable to adequately care for people in need during an emergency?

While wealth continues to concentrate at the very top, working class people are struggling to get by, much less save for an emergency. And until healthcare is a universal right, people will die because of how expensive it can be to live when you're poor and facing a medical crisis.

This is why we must continue the fight for structural change - so that the needs of the many are prioritized above the interests of the few. Let's take this opportunity to reimagine society, our communities, and what quality of life actually means.

President Trump’s absence of leadership and racist rhetoric - referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese-virus" - has hurt our ability to mitigate COVID-19 and unite as a nation.

The best response to a pandemic is prevention, and our failure to act decisively is the result of failed presidential leadership. President Trump's decision to dismantle a National Security Council directorate at the White House in 2018 charged with preparing for when another pandemic would hit the nation - and his cuts to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's (CDC) budget has seriously hampered our ability to respond to this pandemic.

We must also reject referring to COVID-19 as the "Chinese-virus." At a time when we should be setting aside differences and coming together, President Trump seeks to divide. Here in Wisconsin, we have already seen the harmful effects of this racist language: Milwaukee’s own Lucky Lui’s chinese restaurant has announced they will be closed indefinitely after workers received xenophobic and verbal attacks from customers. COVID-19 doesn’t discriminate based on race, and neither should we.

Despite everything, Wisconsinites are sacrificing for their fellow neighbor and displaying heartwarming generosity each and every day. Here are just a few examples of ways local businesses are helping out during these difficult times:

  • Central Standard Distillery, based out of Walkers Point in Milwaukee, has pledged to turn their focus to producing free disinfectant and sanitizing products with their supply of distilled alcohol
  • The Machinist Union (IAM) Local 1406, at GE Datex-Ohmeda in Madison, is fighting to produce much needed ventilators
  • Monterey Mills, a Janesville-based textile mill and supplier of fabrics, and Oak Creek-based Eder Flag, have teamed up to take on the demand for respirator masks

Our greatest opportunities exist in our greatest challenges. We are going to come out of this stronger and together.

Thank you for doing everything you can to keep Wisconsin safe and healthy.

-- Mandela

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