Wednesday August 5, 2020

Moving Forward with Facts & Reason

FacebookTwitterYoutube
Newsletter
News Feeds:

Progressive Thinking

Discussion with education and reason.

Subscribe to feed Latest Entries

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
User is currently offline
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

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

State Treasurer Provides COVID-19 Updates & Resources

Posted by Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 02 April 2020
in Wisconsin

utility-shut-offSarah Godlewski outlines emergency orders and actions taken to protect the economic security during this public health crisis. Also resources available through the US Small Business Administration.


MADISON - We know a healthy economy is dependent on the health of its people. As we adapt to the Governor’s essential #SaferAtHome order, my office is working hard to provide the resources and information Wisconsinites and our small business community need.

sarah-godlewskiSince my last email, there have been a number of emergency orders and actions to protect the economic security of individuals and small businesses during this public health crisis. A few notable updates are:

  • Protection from Eviction/Foreclosure. In order to help ensure people are able to stay home and slow the spread of COVID-19, Governor Evers announced a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures for 60 days. This includes both residential properties, as well as businesses. To read the full document, click here.
  • Insurance for Restaurant Delivery Drivers. As many restaurants are adjusting to carry-out and delivery only, the Office of the Insurance Commissioner (OCI) directed the insurance industry to cover delivery services on personal auto insurance policies. They must also offer coverage, if requested, for hired drivers and non-owned vehicles on a restaurant’s general liability service – both at no extra cost to policyholders. More information on this order here.
  • Prevention of Utility Shut-offs. The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) has directed regulated utilities to stop disconnection for nonpayment for all customers, including commercial, industrial, and farm accounts. They have also halted late fees and eased a number of administrative rules to keep homes and businesses supplied with light, heat, and water. For help with utility disconnections, reach out to the PSC directly here.
  • Sales and Use Tax Extensions. Last week, the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) announced that small businesses can immediately request an extension to file sales and use tax returns. This comes along with extending the income tax payment and return due date to July 15th.  DOR has announced a series of steps to ease payment guidelines and postpone audit actions, more information can be found here.

In addition, there have been updates to resources available through the US Small Business Administration (SBA):

  • SBA Express Bridge Loans. This program allows small businesses who have a current relationship with an SBA Express Lender to access up to $25,000 with less paperwork. These loans can help small businesses access capital quickly and can be used to bridge the gap while applying for an SBA Economic Injury Disaster Loan. For a list of Wisconsin SBA Express Lenders, click here.
  • Paycheck Protection Program. This program was rolled out under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act and authorizes $349 billion toward job retention loans. They are specifically designed to help small business keep their workforce employed. If you maintain your workforce, the SBA may forgive the portion of the loan proceeds that are used to cover the first 8 weeks of payroll and certain other expenses following loan origination.

The most current information on eligibility and the application process for all of SBA’s loans can be found at www.sba.gov/coronavirus.

We know that COVID-19 will continue to impact our lives and our community. We are working with our partners to provide the tools and information Wisconsinites need to help navigate this uncertainty. Please feel free to reach out to my office via email at  This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it with questions.

We are in this together.

Stay safe,

Sarah Godlewski, Wisconsin State Treasurer

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Stay Safer at Home

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 01 April 2020
in Wisconsin

work-from-homeSen. Smith writes about public health measures to slow the spread of COVID-19, including the 'Safer at Home' order, and outlines other steps being taken by Governor Evers to address the short-term and long-term impacts of COVID-19.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - Every day, as we learn more about COVID-19 and adjust to the disruptions in our daily routine, we’re being tested on how we, as a community, step up to a challenge and work toward a solution. Throughout the state, people are coming together to help others. I’ve heard so many of my friends ask, “What can I do to help?”

The best way to help right now is by staying home. We all have a role to play to slow the spread of COVID-19. Our collective efforts will only make our communities safer and more resilient. As a state, we’ll get through this public health crisis by staying safer at home.

Since Governor Tony Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin on March 13th, his administration has implemented 16 emergency orders to prevent the spread of COVID-19 while responding to repercussions of the public health crisis. On March 24th, Governor Evers issued the “Safer at Home” order, directing Wisconsinites to stay at home as much as possible, in order to help mitigate the spread of COVID-19.

The COVID-19 virus can spread between people who are in close contact to one another or through respiratory droplets when an infected person coughs or sneezes and another person in close proximity inhales, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. As stated by the World Health Organization, most individuals infected with COVID-19 experience symptoms similar to the common cold; however COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory illness and may lead to death, especially for older adults or individuals with underlying health conditions.

jeff-smithProtective public health measures and policies, like the “Safer at Home” order are imperative to slow the spread of COVID-19. Additionally, these preventative measures are in place to ensure healthcare providers have the capacity to care for the number of individuals infected with COVID-19 and others that are in-need of emergency medical care.

After having conversations with public health experts, business leaders and local elected officials, Governor Evers understood it was in the state’s best interest to implement the “Safer at Home” order.  The “Safer at Home” order requires individuals to stay home, with limited exceptions, and requires non-essential businesses and operations to cease while the order is effective from March 25th to April 24th. The order is enforceable by local law enforcement and county sheriffs.

The “Safer at Home” order clarifies which businesses and operations are deemed essential, which includes, but is not limited to, farming and agricultural production, food banks and shelters, grocery stores and pharmacies, and manufactory industries. The “Safer at Home” order also provides mandatory guidelines on all forms of travel to further reduce the risk of COVID-19 community spread.

The Department of Health Services encourages Wisconsinites to get fresh air and exercise to stay healthy physically and mentally. You can still go out to walk your dog, visit a state park or go for a bike ride, but you should still maintain social distancing of six feet between others in public. Remember to continue following other public health practices to prevent the spread of COVID-19 by regularly washing hands with soap and water, covering coughs and sneezes, and cleaning high-touch surfaces.

The other emergency orders issued by Governor Evers are intended to address other consequences stemming from COVID-19. During the public health emergency, the orders will help expedite food delivery to grocery stores; extend unemployment insurance eligibility and remove the work search requirement; halt admissions to state prisons and juvenile facilities; suspend utility disconnections and waive late fees; and ban evictions and foreclosures.

Most recently, on Saturday March 28th, Governor Evers introduced a comprehensive legislative proposal to alleviate short-term and long-term challenges connected to COVID-19. I’m hopeful that all of my legislative colleagues can get behind these common-sense initiatives to protect our healthcare workers, help citizens practice their civic duty to vote, support Wisconsin workers and assist our local governments during this pandemic.

Every day, there are new updates about COVID-19. Be sure to stay up-to-date on ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and learn about available resources by visiting: govstatus.egov.com/wi-covid-19.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Senator Jeff Smith Says Take COVID-19 Seriously

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 25 March 2020
in Wisconsin

door-county-peopleSenator writes about ways we can slow the spread of COVID-19 by practicing social distancing, self-isolation and other precautionary measures recommended by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - We must take COVID-19 seriously. On March 13th, showing tremendous leadership, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin and has since strengthened precautions. Now it’s our turn to do our part by following the guidance from leaders and medical professionals to slow the spread of COVID-19. Undoubtedly, this is a challenging time for us all as we learn to navigate the changes in our daily routine impacted by this global pandemic. It’s our responsibility as neighbors to keep our communities healthy and safe for all.

We have learned so much since we first heard about coronavirus and this particular strain, known as COVID-19. Seven other coronavirus strains exist, including one which leads to the common cold. Some skeptics use this fact as reason to scoff at the precautions taken to stop the spread of COVID-19. However, COVID-19 is a new strain and there’s still a lot scientists are trying to learn about it. To say that COVID-19 is no more than “a cold on steroids” is like saying a tiger is no more than an overgrown house cat. Yes, they are members of the same species but one is dangerous and vicious while the other is mild and tame.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), the COVID-19 virus is found in droplets from the throat and nose and can be spread when someone coughs or sneezes. DHS also reports that the virus can also spread when someone touches an object with the virus on it; if that person touches their mouth, face, or eyes the virus can make them sick. There are a range of symptoms associated with a COVID-19 infection, but symptoms can include fever, cough or shortness of breath, according to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC). COVID-19 can cause severe respiratory illnesses, pneumonia and death.

In recent weeks, Wisconsin has seen community spread of COVID-19, which means there are people who have tested positive who have no exposure to a known case nor did they travel to a location where there is community spread. Now it’s even more important, while scientists and medical professionals research and provide care, that we all do our part to slow the spread.

jeff-smithI have to admit that in the past, I haven’t taken the strongest precautions for my own health, like I should. Then I realized that the public health precautions against COVID-19 are not only carried out to protect my personal well-being, but also to protect the health and safety of my loved ones. I’m self-isolating at my home to reduce the risk of community spread to vulnerable populations, like my 95-year-old father or others with compromised immune systems.

Sacrifices need to be made. We all need to follow CDC recommendations and practice social distancing and self-isolation. The CDC also recommends these practices to keep us and others around us healthy: wash your hands often with soap and water for at least 20 seconds; stay home when you’re sick; avoid touching your face; cover your cough or sneeze; and clean and disinfect frequently touched objects and surfaces.

It’s times like this when the greater good of society is more important than going on with business as usual. Although it hurts that schools, restaurants and bars are shut down while social gatherings are limited to 10 people and we practice social distancing, it is a temporary pain that will slow the spread of COVID-19. We are taking these precautions now to prevent a spike in cases, which would overwhelm our healthcare system. Together, we must practice these measures to protect our family and community and support our hardworking healthcare professionals.

Wisconsin is taking COVID-19 very seriously and we all need to take necessary precautions to keep everyone safe. My next column will have more information about the measures being taken by the Legislature to slow the spread and support families affected by COVID-19.

Every day, there are new updates about COVID-19. Be sure to stay up-to-date on ways to keep yourself and your loved ones healthy and learn about ways to cope during this pandemic by visiting: govstatus.egov.com/wi-covid-19.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

COVID-19 resources for Wisconsinites

Posted by Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer
Sarah Godlewski, State Treasurer has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 24 March 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-hand-sanState Treasurer offers helpful information in dealing with the crisis.


MADISON - I know we are facing trying times. COVID-19 is impacting not only the health of our loved ones but people’s livelihood. Yet despite it all, the people of Wisconsin continue to amaze me with their acts of kindness and generosity to those around them.

We are grateful to the health care professionals, the public safety officers, the day care providers and everyone else who are making sacrifices to help others. I know that together, we can make it through this.

sarah-godlewskiI’ve heard from a number of small business leaders from across the state who have shared their personal stories of having to shut down or lay off workers. I’m working with key government partners to provide support for our state businesses and have shared a few of those resources available below.

Beyond businesses, I also want to share some community resources for those in need.

I understand these resources will not help everyone, but they are an important start. I will continue to work to provide additional resources and information for workers and businesses who are navigating this time of uncertainty.

Food Security

  • Stores across the state are starting Senior Shopping Hours, so that those most at risk can shop safely.
  • Hunger Task Force is offering Stock Boxes, featuring cereal, milk, canned veggies and fruits, pasta or rice, protein, fruit juice, canned meats and 2 pounds of cheese, to low income Wisconsinites. If you want to help, donate here.


Resources for Small Businesses

  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation is creating solutions for businesses. WEDC is working to provide $5 million in grants for small businesses of fewer than twenty people. Learn more about it here.
  • The Small Business Administration has approved Governor Evers’ request for loans for small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Apply here.


Mental Health

  • If you are struggling with mental health, support is available. Call the Disaster Distress Helpline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746


Childcare and Resources for Students

  • The Wisconsin Department of Children and Families has information for child care, including requests for assistance.


Volunteer Opportunities

  • No matter where you live in Wisconsin, there are opportunities for people looking to help out. Check out Volunteer Wisconsin for ways to support your community.


I was living near the Pentagon on 9/11. I remember in those hours and days after, that I didn’t know how we would possibly recover as a nation. But then I saw neighbors and friends giving blood, volunteering and helping each other get by, one day at a time.

This pandemic is unlike any crisis we have ever faced as a nation, but I know that, if we follow the safety precautions and continue to work together, we will be successful.

-Sarah

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Vote NO on Marsy’s Law

Posted by Fred Risser, State Senator District 26
Fred Risser, State Senator District 26
Fred Risser, State Senator District 26 has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 20 March 2020
in Wisconsin

marcys-law-ad-wiQuestion on Apr 7 ballot, innocuously seeking expansion of crime victims’ rights, masks an amendment twice as long as the Bill of Rights that will alter protections at the foundation of our criminal justice system, says Senator Fred Risser.


MADISON - Wisconsin’s April ballot contains a so called victims’ rights question that merits a resounding “NO” answer.

The question, innocuously seeking expansion of crime victims’ rights, masks an amendment twice as long as the Bill of Rights that will alter protections at the foundation of our criminal justice system.

Don’t let the question’s statement that the amendment leaves federal rights intact fool you. The proposed amendment will eliminate rights under the state constitution and statutes.

If passed, the amendment would diminish the rights of those accused of crime and chip away at the presumption of innocence. “Victims” are determined prior to any crime even being proved. Those alleged victims could be allowed to withhold evidence that may prove a defendant’s innocence, which could encourage and protect false accusers. Alleged victims could demand attendance at proceedings even when fairness to the defendant requires separation of witnesses. Alleged victims may interfere with the role of the public prosecutor with unlimited conferences and input.

fred-risserIf passed, the amendment could hinder crime-solving and reduce public safety. Under the amendment, an alleged victim may claim a right to privacy that prevents police from disclosing the location of a crime or particular facts that could generate public tips leading to the perpetrators.

If passed, the amendment’s notice provisions will likely increase court administrative costs and delay court proceedings. Courts will need to track down potential victims, provide them with notice, and probably halt proceedings (even trials) if an alleged victim enforces the right to attend but the schedule doesn’t work for him or her. In South Dakota, a similar amendment swamped court staff with paperwork and delayed proceedings.

Not only is this drastic amendment unwise, but it is completely unnecessary in Wisconsin. The language is not tailored to our state. Our state constitution and statutes already provide numerous victims’ rights, including the right to be treated with fairness, dignity, and respect for privacy.

While helping victims is laudable, this amendment is not the way to do it. Victims are better served by provision of additional resources for victims than by altering the balance between an accused and the state.

Fred Risser, State Senator
MADISON

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Fellow Seniors - How is America treating your grandkids?

Posted by Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist
Buzz Davis, Army Veteran & Activist
Buzz Davis, formerly of Stoughton, WI now of Tucson, is a long time progressive
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 19 March 2020
in Wisconsin

student-on-sidewalkLong time progressive activist supports Sen. Bernie Sanders.


TUCSON, AZ - Seniors pay attention to politics and we VOTE. Our votes count heavily. There will be many close races this year.

We’re old and have survived wars, recessions, layoffs, strikes, good times and bad, poor health and deaths of family and friends. We’ve worked with many people and judge good character a bit better than when we were teens.

Our present president has a character problem. Leading government and foreign affairs is very complex. It’s critical to our grandchildren’s’ future to have leaders we can trust - not people who lead us into being killed or trapped.

We seniors know when we’re in trouble.

Because of past failures, we face climate disaster, nuclear war disaster, run-a-way greed and corruption that has led to the greatest wealth inequality in decades and the disaster of ”forever wars” costing trillions and killing millions. When we find 1% of the people controlling twice the wealth of the next 6.9 billion people, we know we’re in trouble and ripe for civil wars.

We seniors are dumping all these disasters on our kids. Corporations, our economy and federal and state governments have created an educational and work world for our kids and grandkids that results in LESS economic security than our parents left us. People can educate themselves, work hard all their lives, play by the rules and still end up in retirement barely living above poverty.

With inflation factored in, the average annual wage for workers has NOT improved much since the 1970’s. Jobs have gone from offering health care and pensions to NOT offering pensions and forcing workers to pay thousands for healthcare – if they get healthcare.

Many have no sick leave so they cannot properly care for ill children.

Many of our parents were in unions and nearly 30% of us were unionists. But unions are now busted. Only 8% of private sector workers are in good paying, union jobs with benefits and pensions.

How can we get out of this fix? Senators Warren and Sanders advocate strong structural “change” in America. Biden fears change’s impacts on special interests.

It’s like America is on the ship Titanic.

The watchman seeing icebergs yells, “Danger Ahead!” The Titanic captain is steering toward that iceberg knowing the Titanic will never sink. Biden says calmly to passengers, with the orchestra playing in the background, “Trust me - just a few policy tweaks, we’ll be OK!” Sanders is racing to the Captain yelling, “Change course Now – damn it!”

Meanwhile Trump is handling your grandkids’ futures between golf games saying, “All that crisis talk is fake news.”

We must vote to build a better world for our grandkids.

If we Don’t change our ways, the America we know Won’t be there for our grandkids.

Until we stop polluting our atmosphere, rising oceans, flooding rivers, violent storms, droughts, fires, high winds, super high temperatures, heavy snows will get worse killing the planet for human habitation.

Scientists tell us nuclear war will create a “nuclear winter” with clouds blocking sunlight prohibiting most crop growth for years - starving hundreds of millions who have lived through the nuclear blasts and months of worldwide fires and radiation.

These existential threats, will destroy our way of life, democracy and earth.

Syrian woman and child

Seniors, the world’s children deserve a chance to live life. They must not pay for our failures with their deaths.

We must vote for massive, progressive change to pull America back from the brink looming disaster.

Sen. Bernie Sanders is the one who provides us with the best plans to solve our problems.

Vote Sanders to give little kids a fighting chance!

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Emergency Preparedness to Build Resilient Communities

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 18 March 2020
in Wisconsin

flood-wi-fieldSen. Smith talks about the importance of emergency preparedness to protect communities from natural disasters or public health emergencies, specifically, the Flood Prevention & Resilience Plan targeted toward flood prevention and relief.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - Emergencies hit communities without notice and threaten our local economies. We are facing an unprecedented public health emergency right now, but we have faced emergencies before and we’ve become stronger from it.

Flooding in western Wisconsin has tested our communities’ responses to emergencies. Public health emergencies and flooding are dramatically different emergencies, but both require us to work together to keep our communities healthy and safe.

We’ve seen political leaders show up for photo opportunities when something dramatic happens, especially after a natural disaster. It’s not bad when leaders show up; it’s important they see firsthand what happened and be an advocate, but there’s more to do.  We need to know how we can prevent disasters in the future and how to support those affected by these events.

jeff-smithThat’s why, just last week, I joined Governor Tony Evers for a visit to the Town of Dodge and the City of Arcadia. Last year, Governor Evers made the same visit when both places were flooded in Trempealeau County. Flooding has become an annual occurrence in these places. What we once called 100-year floods are now considered normal.

Flooding has not occurred yet this season and this was no photo opportunity with any press in Dodge. This visit occurred because Governor Evers hasn’t forgotten last year’s floods. Rather than wait until the next flood happens, the Governor and I want to continue the conversations we had last year with local government officials and introduce planning measures to address conditions that make flooding more frequent and severe in western Wisconsin.

Between 1950 and 2006, communities in every region of Wisconsin, have experienced an increase of average annual rainfall by more than 7 inches, according to the Wisconsin Initiative on Climate Change Impacts. The increase in rainfall, along with destruction of our wetlands and failing infrastructure, directly correlate to the escalating frequency of floods in Wisconsin. Together, these factors threaten our community’s public safety, health and economic security.

In the meetings, residents and local officials voiced concerns that flood prevention measures cost too much. Local town, city and county budgets are already stretched and cannot handle the expensive fixes needed to protect residents from flooding. That’s where the state needs to step up to the plate.

After the tour of Trempealeau County, Governor Evers, myself and several of my legislative colleagues introduced the Flood Prevention & Resilience Plan, a package of 6 bills directly targeted toward flood prevention and relief. This package of bills will:

·         Invest $10 million into the Municipal Flood Control grant program to help municipalities fund flood prevention projects, including flood proofing, riparian restoration, acquisition of vacant land, construction of flood control structures and flood mapping projects.

·         Create a flood mitigation program to proactively address infrastructure that is identified as at-risk and provide local units of government with grant reimbursements to cover 50% of the cost of modifying, replacing, or relocating culverts or bridges.

·         Increase funding for the Soil and Water Resource Management grant program to promote the installation of structural pollution-abatement and conservation practices.

·         Require all emergency work, designated by Federal Emergency Management Agency, be eligible for disaster assistance payments, including debris removal, protective measures for roads and bridges, water control facilities, utilities, and parks. Legislation will also reduce the amount recipients of disaster assistance payments are required to make.

·         Allow individuals to deduct amounts of premiums paid for flood insurance from their taxes.

·         Incentivize local governments to rebuild infrastructure at a higher capacity to withstand flooding by increasing the reimbursement rate paid to local governments.

These flood prevention investments will help local governments rebuild and prepare when the next flood emergency happens. I’m impressed by Governor Evers’ commitment to take proactive steps to help communities susceptible to flooding. Governor Evers didn’t show up for a photo opportunity in a disaster area. He came back when the cameras weren’t rolling to talk with people about how to make their lives better and communities stronger.

Now, it’s up to the Legislature to move forward on these proposals. In the meantime, remember to do everything you can to prepare yourself by getting flood insurance and staying educated by visiting FloodSmart.gov.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Logic behind Healthcare

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 11 March 2020
in Wisconsin

medicaid_checkupOver the past thirty years, Wisconsin has fallen 16 spots in national healthcare outcomes to 23rd. It’s beyond time to give Wisconsinites the care they deserve by expanding Medicaid.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - We’ve been hearing a lot in the news lately about our health. Just last week, I found myself in many conversations with healthcare professionals talking about ways to improve the health of our community – and no, I’m not only talking about keeping our communities safe by preventing the spread of coronavirus.

Throughout my conversations with caregivers, nurses, health professionals and researchers, we identified prominent issues affecting the state of public health in Wisconsin. While discussing issues, from surprise medical bills to the nursing shortage to the opioid epidemic, I started to think about how we’re all connected to these issues in one way or another.

Although we may not be directly impacted by these health challenges in our personal lives, they affect our community in significant ways. Collectively, our state has a role to play for addressing public health challenges and making our communities healthier for all. Our capacity to empathize with others has the ability to save lives.

medicaid-coverage-wiscLast week, I attended the UW Robert La Follette School of Public Affairs Health Policy Forum. The forum highlighted public health challenges facing Wisconsin including the long-term care workforce shortage, patient protections and housing affordability. I had the opportunity to participate as a panelist with three rural health experts to discuss strategies that can help solve the unique healthcare struggles facing rural Wisconsin.

The real value of the panel was listening to the health professionals who live within the communities they serve. Being around incredibly smart people in the medical field could be intimidating, but I found their concerns and potential solutions were similar to what I’ve heard from residents of rural western Wisconsin.

For example, we agreed Wisconsin must join other neighboring states by investing in broadband expansion to advance access to rural clinics and health professionals. This idea is also something I’ve heard many times from residents of western Wisconsin. Broadband expansion has been a boon to our neighboring states’ rural communities in sustaining a strong economy and improving telehealth availability for the elderly or patients who may face difficulties in traveling. It only makes sense.

jeff-smithAfter the panel, I met a physician with years of experience in improving healthcare delivery, continuing his mission to help health systems provide the best care to their patients. During our conversation, he reminded me about Wisconsin’s significant drop in healthcare outcomes. According to the 2019 United Health Foundation’s Annual Report, Wisconsin ranked 7th nationally for healthcare outcomes in 1990. In 2019, we’ve fallen 16 spots to 23rd. By comparison, Minnesota only dropped from 2nd to 7th and Illinois increased their rank from 24th to 29th in the same time period. Republicans have not found the political will to expand Medicaid, while neighboring states have, it’s not a coincidence this has been the result.

We have a responsibility to expand Medicaid in Wisconsin. For each month that Republicans refuse to act, Wisconsin wastes approximately $13 million in state funding to pay for other states’ Medicaid programs. Over the next two years, Wisconsin would save $320 million, while lowering premiums for private insurance holders by 7 to 11 percent.

I’ve noticed lawmakers or individuals in positions of power don’t take action unless they are directly or severely affected. During the public health forum, many healthcare professionals pointed out, more than once, that Wisconsin has a serious opioid addiction problem.

The opioid epidemic, affecting individuals, families and communities across the country, is not new to Wisconsin, but it has become considerably worse in recent years. It wasn’t until legislators personally knew someone or knew a family affected by the opioid epidemic that action was taken. We should never wish such pain on any family, but we ought to develop empathy for others and collaborate to address public health challenges, before we may have to experience it for ourselves.

Let’s think ahead and think about others. We should use our empathy for decision making so we can find our way out of this black hole of inaction. It’s lifesaving.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Expanding Medicaid Would Lead to a Healthier, Happier Wisconsin

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
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 10 March 2020
in Wisconsin

medicaidAn overwhelming 70% of Wisconsinites support accepting the federal funds for Medicaid expansion. It’s time to move forward.


LA CROSSE, WI - With the 2020 presidential election just around the corner, the topic of health care is more hotly-contested than ever. While each candidate has their own opinions on how it should be reformed, there’s one theme that weaves through each debate: our system is broken, and we need to fix it.

While we can’t control what happens at the federal level, there is something we can do right here, at home, in Wisconsin – expand Medicaid.

For eight years, the Walker administration refused to accept federal Medicaid dollars that would extend coverage to tens of thousands of our state’s most vulnerable citizens. Putting politics before the needs of our people, he chose to appeal to the far-right and reject the Affordable Care Act. And in the past year, legislative Republicans have kept up with Walker’s ideological agenda, and removed Medicaid Expansion from Governor Evers’ state budget proposal on the first day of deliberation.

Bottom line, these political games are just irresponsible, and they’re costing taxpayers money. In fact, in this budget cycle alone, accepting the Medicaid funding would’ve saved $324.5 million in state taxpayer money, and brought in over $1.6 billion in additional federal dollars for health care services.

jennifer-shillingWhat’s worse is Wisconsinites are already paying for the expansion, without reaping the benefits. According to the Department of Revenue, without expansion, Wisconsin taxpayers will pay more than $2 billion over the next two years in federal income taxes for other states like Illinois and New Jersey to expand their Medicaid programs.

Why wouldn’t we work to keep those dollars in Wisconsin?

With that money, we could increase affordable and accessible health insurance to 80,000 residents. We could increase provider reimbursement, tackle workforce shortages and provide coverage for additional services and benefits. We could even increase state funding for other priorities, like education and local government. And, perhaps most importantly, we could do the work the people of Wisconsin are asking us to do.

An overwhelming 70% of Wisconsinites support accepting the federal funds for Medicaid expansion – and it’s not too late. Republicans should do their jobs and act on stand-alone legislation introduced by Democrats that would allow us to join the 37 other states that have expanded their programs.

Every person in Wisconsin deserves access to affordable healthcare. Unfortunately, on this issue, Republicans are still stuck in the past. It’s time to move forward and build healthier, happier communities, together.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Coronavirus Outbreak Demonstrates Need For Universal Health Care

Posted by Randall Schumann, Madison
Randall Schumann, Madison
Randall Schumann, Madison has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Friday, 06 March 2020
in Wisconsin

coronavirus-outbreak-asiaMadison man says the worldwide coronavirus outbreak should be a wake-up call to all Americans, regardless of their politics, that they are vulnerable to the disastrous health and financial devastation of the current "Trump/ GOP No Health Care" position.


MADISON - The worldwide coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call to all Americans about the need for Universal Health Care. Whether or not you currently have health insurance, you are 1 emergency room visit and/or 1 hospital visit away from financial ruin thanks to America's current, broken, health care system. Medical/healthcare costs are the leading cause of bankruptcy in the U.S. with 530,000 bankruptcies annually linked to medical costs.

While most Americans do have some level of health insurance, there currently are 27.5 million Americans that do not have health insurance (even though Obamacare since its enactment in 2010 has enabled some 20 million Americans to obtain health insurance). Over the past 2 weeks the worldwide coronavirus outbreak has resulted in several countries taking extreme precautions to slow or prevent outbreaks. And now in the U.S., with deaths as well as confirmed cases beginning to be identified in several states, the American public is becoming extremely worried about being able to afford unexpected medical bills, insurance deductibles and co-pays, as well as prescription drug costs that would occur if they or one or more family members contracted the virus.

critical-illnessAnd all Americans - whether they have health insurance or not - should be worried because of the costs involved if they need emergency medical care. If a person is coughing, wheezing, or having difficulty breathing, a trip to the emergency room to find out if it is the coronavirus can result in $3000 to $5,000 or more in charges (even if the hospital had any of the scarce test kits). And if the person would need a ventilator to enable breathing and thus would have to be hospitalized, the medical costs would go up exponentially.

And for the 27.5 million Americans without health insurance, the cost of that emergency room visit and possible hospitalization would probably bankrupt them - even if it was just one person. And if the situation involved additional family members as well, the result would be even more financially devastating. Furthermore, even for a person / family that has health insurance, just the financial burden of most insurance policy's $2000 to $4000 deductible, plus the 20% insurance copay for treatment of each family member affected, could wipe out much or all of a family's emergency fund and/or savings.

So if, heaven forbid, there is a disastrous spread of the coronavirus in the U.S. like there currently is in China, potentially resulting in many hundreds of thousands (or even millions ) of Americans going to emergency rooms and having to be tested and/or hospitalized, there will be a horrific number of families facing bankruptcy in the near future.

Consequently, the worldwide coronavirus outbreak is a wake-up call to all Americans about the need for universal health care. Thus, every American, whatever their party affiliation, needs to vote out of office President Trump and every Republican member of Congress and state legislator that has enabled the current, broken situation to exist. A situation where a majority of Americans are vulnerable to the disastrous health and financial devastation of the current "Trump/ GOP No Health Care" position that, in reality, will prove to be a physical and/or financial death sentence for many Americans.

Randall Schumann
Madison, WI

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Sen. Smith: I’m Here, Ready to Listen

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 04 March 2020
in Wisconsin

meeting-crowdOver the next couple of weeks, Sen. Jeff Smith will be hosting a series of listening sessions to hear from the people of the 31st. and hopes you can join them.


EAU CLAIRE, WI - I’ve always said that one of the best parts of my job is listening to others, whether it’s their stories, suggestions or questions. During this time of year, I regularly hear many of the same questions.

What happened? Where did the time go? Why didn’t things get done? What can we expect?

These are all important questions, questions Wisconsinites deserve to ask, especially as the legislative session comes to a close. I hope to have the opportunity to answer these and your other pressing questions during my end-of-session listening sessions.

As always, the best part of listening is learning. I learn a lot from folks who come to the listening sessions, and I hope I’m able to share insightful information for others to learn from as well.

Last week, I held the first end-of-session town hall listening session in Whitehall at Sweet Temptations Cafe. More than a dozen constituents sat with me to ask questions and start a discussion. The topics of conversation ranged from the broken school funding formula, broadband expansion, gerrymandering and the urgency of repairing our crumbling rural roads to Managed Forest Land.

Our conversation on these interesting and important issues could have gone on for hours. Although the topics are relatively different, the answers I come back to are typically the same. When we talk about being unable to expand Medicaid or properly fund our public schools, the conclusion rests on the decisions made by the Majority Party or the consequences of gerrymandered maps.

For example, when Governor Evers presented a plan to provide property tax relief for Wisconsinites while recommitting the state to two-thirds funding of our public schools, Republicans declined to even have a discussion, instead opting for a one-time property tax rebate.

After listening to the hardworking educators in the area, I knew the importance of Governor Evers’ plan. I support Governor Evers’ plan because it’s the plan my constituents have advocated for to support our rural communities in more ways than one. I’m continuing to listen and learn from residents across the state on the best ways to lead and collaborate with my legislative colleagues.

jeff-smithI want to make myself available to learn more from you. In the following weeks, I’m holding these upcoming end-of-session listening sessions:

· March 5 (5:30 PM – 7:00 PM) – Chippewa Valley Technical College Room 101 in the Business Education Center, Eau Claire with Representative Jodi Emerson

· March 10 (5:00 PM – 6:30 PM) – Revolution Coffee, Black River Falls

· March 12 (4:30 PM – 6:00 PM) – The Twisted Oak Coffee House, Prescott

· March 26 (5:30 PM – 7:00 PM) – Roger Marten Community Center, Mondovi

· April 2 (5:30 PM – 7:00 PM) – Cochrane-Fountain City High School, Fountain City

With the last session day happening the last week of March, this is a chance for you to share your thoughts on what the legislature still needs to accomplish and your ideas about what we could be doing better for the next session in 2021.

But don’t think this is the end of my work for 2020. Along with holding scheduled listening sessions like these, I’ll be getting back out on the road for my mobile office hours with my truck and Stop N’ Talk sign.

The conversations and action we take in 2020 will, undoubtedly, have an impact on how we work in 2021. We don’t get any more free passes to complain if we don’t demonstrate our duty to stand up, participate and fight for the best interests of Wisconsinites. Be sure to show up to listening sessions and share your thoughts. Make your voice heard loud and clear.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

How Partisan Gerrymandering Limits Access to Care

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 29 February 2020
in Wisconsin

healthcare-family-drThe GOP majority in Madison, which actually represents a minority of Wisconsinites, is costing us money and lives by adhering to Walker era policy of resistance to Affordable Care, says Senator.


West Point - On February 24, 2020, the Center for American Progress released a report on how gerrymandering has prevented more than 2 million uninsured people from getting covered through the Medicaid expansion. The report analyzes states like Wisconsin that have refused to expand health insurance coverage to low income residents despite a majority of people supporting the idea. Extreme partisan gerrymandering insulates Republican politicians in legislatures like Wisconsin’s from being held accountable for blocking access to coverage for over a hundred thousand people and sending billions of tax dollars to other states.

According to the report, “74% of Americans have a favorable view of Medicaid – including 82% of Democrats and 65% of Republicans.” Here in Wisconsin, that is echoed. According to the Marquette Law Poll, 70% approve of the expansion of Medicaid. Despite its popularity, there are still states where Republican controlled legislatures, who remain in control due to gerrymandered districts, continue to refuse the expansion or are attempting to undermine the coverage with needless barriers.

jon-erpenbach“I’m not sure what it will take to get Wisconsin Republicans to see the error of their ways. All of the reports and studies show the same story,” said Senator Erpenbach. “Wisconsin is among the minority of states that continues to send over a billion federal taxpayer dollars to neighboring states it order to prove a point.”

In the 2018 general election, Wisconsin State Assembly Democratic candidates received 54.2% of the vote, and State Senate Democrats received 49% of the vote, however, Republicans still won a substantial majority in both chambers. Unfortunately, gerrymandering leads to candidates being more extreme and less likely to listen to their constituents once they’re in office, which is the case in Wisconsin. Despite the majority of Wisconsinites wanting expanded health care coverage, the report found that by refusing the expansion Wisconsin has forgone insuring 108,000 people which has resulted in 300 preventable deaths in 2019 alone.

“The Medicaid expansion would make health care more affordable for everyone,” said Senator Erpenbach. “It would reduce the costs of premiums on the individual market, save taxpayers millions of dollars, help keep rural hospitals open, and frankly, save lives. Extreme gerrymandering has held Wisconsin back and has resulted in Wisconsin falling behind neighboring states. It is vital that elected officials work for their constituents and in order for that to happen, voters need to be able to choose their leaders, not the other way around.”

###

View the Report here.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Policymaking by the People, for the People

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 26 February 2020
in Wisconsin

lines-farmsRecently-introduced legislation, which would change Wisconsin’s current livestock siting standards, serves as an important reminder why legislators must listen to constituents and stakeholders when developing new policy says Sen. Smith.


MADISON - Before a bill becomes a law, a process exists to ensure policymakers develop the most effective policy proposal, and with good reason. Decisions made on the state level influence the way folks work and live in all corners of the state. Legislation should be a product of the conversations policymakers have with the stakeholders who will be impacted.

But that’s not what happened when Republicans introduced Senate Bill (SB) 808, a bill which would rewrite livestock siting and expansion standards in Wisconsin. When making significant policy changes, the safety and health of individuals involved must be our first priority. Rather than create hastily-made policy, we need to think critically and develop well-informed policy that will assure Wisconsin’s a better place for all.

In 2003, the State Legislature passed the Livestock Siting Law, which gave the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) the ability to create standards for local governments regarding the location and expansion of livestock operations which have more than 500 animal units, according to the Wisconsin Farm Bureau.

Before legislation was passed, town boards and their constituents wanted an opportunity to voice their thoughts on growing livestock facilities. These standards were created to ensure neighboring properties were protected from the negative consequences of expanding facilities. For example, a farm wanting to expand from 400 to 4,000 cows would have more manure, which will spread and eventually affect the groundwater.

Livestock siting isn’t a simple process or law. After all, livestock siting affects Wisconsin’s agricultural practices, our environment and public health. When legislators introduced a new bill regarding livestock siting rules, there were many concerns over the changes it would make. Considering the proposed changes SB 808 would have on current livestock siting laws, many of us were shocked with how fast it moved through the legislative process.

Typically, the legislative process for a bill to become a law takes months from the time a legislator drafts the bill, talks through the proposal with subject experts and stakeholders, introduces the bill to the Legislature, has a public hearing and committee vote, passes both houses and is signed by the Governor. The length of this process is imperative for experts and constituents to provide input.

In just under 9 days, Republicans introduced the bill and scheduled the bill for a vote in the Senate and Assembly. The way in which this bill sprinted through the legislative process with very little scrutiny took my breath away. The bill authors skipped consultation with subject experts or professionals at DATCP and the Department of Natural Resources when moving this bill forward. Why wouldn’t you work alongside the two agencies responsible for administering this law?

Although The Livestock Siting Law certainly could use updating, SB 808 went too far. If passed, SB 808 would move siting approval from local governments to DATCP, essentially stripping away local control while eliminating public input on the CAFO permitting process, which threatens our clean drinking water.

SB 808 would also create the Livestock Facility Technical Review Board, a new DATCP board, operating separately from the already established Livestock Facility Siting Review Board. Questions are still unanswered as to the new board’s role and purview, the rulemaking process or the public’s role on the board.

jeff-smithFortunately, SB 808 was pulled at the last minute. I credit the advocacy of citizens who contacted their legislators and demanded an end to this bill.

As a state senator, I believe we need to offer resources to make it easier for town officials to do their job – I’ve heard this from my constituents too. I believe there are improvements to the current livestock siting process that can be made, only with the input of local government leaders and community members.

More importantly, I understand with any change to current law, we must consult constituents and the professionals in the community who truly understand the impact of the proposed policy. Now think about what you can share with your elected official. Be sure to speak out and share your thoughts – we need to hear from you.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Cutting Taxes by Supporting Schools

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 19 February 2020
in Wisconsin

teaching-studentsSen. Smith writes about Wisconsin’s expected budget surplus and how we can use that to invest in our public schools while providing tax relief to homeowners.


MADISON - Every other January the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), a nonpartisan agency, reviews Wisconsin’s general fund and projects an economic forecast for the state. Recently the LFB reported an expected $450 million surplus by the end of this biennium, on June 30, 2021.The question now is what do we do with that surplus?

Governor Tony Evers has a plan. Two weeks after the LFB released their findings, the Governor called for a special session to invest in our public schools and reduce property taxes. He did this because he knows that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. However, Republican leaders rejected Governor Evers’ plan and touted a one-time tax break to property owners in Wisconsin.

Governor Evers’ plan would restore the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of public education costs, invest more in special education and increase mental health services available for school children. Additionally, it would prioritize funding rural schools through sparsity aid.

Schools in the 31st Senate District would see new investments over $3.9 million in general school aid, $880 thousand in sparsity aid and $2.1 million in special education aid. And these are just part of Governor Evers’ recommendations.

The complete package would also fund special education readiness grants, aid for mental health programs and service grants and tribal language revitalization grants. Altogether, the schools in the 31st Senate District would receive more than $12 million.

Properly supporting our public schools at the state level would decrease the burden on homeowners by not requiring school districts to pass referenda just to keep operating. These much needed, overdue contributions would ensure all students have access to a quality education while fulfilling shared goals to provide tax relief. Residents of the 31st Senate District would see more than $7 million in property tax relief under Governor Evers’ proposal.

If there is a way to satisfy both sides, shouldn’t we at least be open to discussing it? We should lay all ideas out on the table and figure out how to use the best ideas of both sides to work for the better good of Wisconsin. I know it can be done and I know there are legislators on BOTH sides who want to work together.

We need long-term solutions to address the challenges our public schools and rural communities are facing. I don’t think tax credits are a long term answer to any subject we try to tackle, especially not critical issues like education. The other side of the aisle is saying the opposite and adds that the governor’s proposal is not the answer either.

jeff-smithAnd just like the call to work together on other fundamental issues from helping our farmers to gun safety; why does it have to be one or the other? The Governor has one package of bills he would like passed and the Republicans have their own. Once again I ask, “Why does it have to be one or the other?” After all, the most common questions I hear from our constituents is “Why can’t you get along and work together?”

I want to believe there is room to agree because we all care about these issues and can collaborate to find a solution. If government worked as it should, we would lay all proposals down side by side and hash it out. This is a great opportunity to prove to citizens that we can work as a shared governance.

This place in history is the perfect opportunity to restore shared governance as it once was. No, we don’t need to bring back the practice of making decisions in “smoke-filled rooms.” However we may benefit from adapting a collaborative spirit and restoring faith and trust in our elected officials. Now is the time to work for everyone and cut taxes by prioritizing Wisconsin’s future.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Americans Cannot Allow a King or an Emperor to be in the White House

Posted by Randall Schumann, Madison
Randall Schumann, Madison
Randall Schumann, Madison has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 12 February 2020
in Wisconsin

donald-trumpWhen America consisted of 13 colonies 244 years ago, the colonists enacted a Declaration of Independence and forcibly in a war, got rid of America's first "King" -- England's King George III.


MADISON, WI - In the 3 years since Donald Trump has been President, he has continually violated his Oath of Office to "uphold the Constitution" which establishes 3 co-equal parts of government. The executive branch (President), the legislative branch (Congress), and the judicial branch. But rather than uphold the constitutionally established separation of powers, Trump has unconstitutionally refused to comply with mandated requirements to provide Congress with lawfully subpoenaed documents, and has vilified Federal court decisions that have determined numerous actions and executive orders of Trump to be unconstitutional.

And most recently during Trump's impeachment (non) trial in the Senate, a Trump defense attorney, Alan Dershowitz, argued that whatever Trump does as President, "if it is something he believed would get him elected in the public interest, he could not be impeached for it."

constitutional-conventionThat arrogant argument essentially says that there are no constitutional limits on a President's power, that the powers of Congress under the Constitution are null and void, and as a consequence, Donald Trump is, in effect, a 'King" who is above the law and cannot be called to account by Congress under the Constitution.

Interestingly, a recent article noted that the same inability to separate the personal interests of a leader (such as Trump) from the country he leads (America) has echoes to ancient Rome. Roughly 2,000 years ago, the Roman Senate over a relatively short period of time, abdicated to their "princeps"/ "first among equals" leader, the Senate's oversight powers over the military, their veto authority over legislation, and also granted any Princep immunity from prosecution. Not surprisingly, the result was that what had been a "first among equals" leader became a series of "Emperors" with sole, unquestioned authority over the Senate and the Roman people. Another result was the notion that the identity of the Emperor was inseparable from the identity of the State, such that any disagreement with the Emperor was an attack against the state itself - and thus arguably "treasonous" subject to the death penalty. The final result of Rome and its Senate/government allowing the creation of Emperors was the fall of the Roman empire.

If that description of what happened with the creation of Emperors in Rome 2000 years ago sounds familiar, that is because it also describes Trump's defense attorney Dershowitz's argument referenced above in Trump's Impeachment (non) trial in the Senate.

The bottom line: America forcibly got rid of its first "King" 244 years ago. Americans now need to learn from both Roman history 2000+ years ago, and from our own Revolutionary War, and act in little more than 244 Days to vote out of office and get rid of, a President who sees himself as, and acts as, a King /Emperor in violation of his oath to uphold our Constitution.

 

Randy Schumann
Madison, WI

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Pay Attention Before Your Car is Towed

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 12 February 2020
in Wisconsin

car-repoRecently, Senate Bill 613, legislation that could devastate the life of someone who relies on their vehicle to drive to work or take their children to school, was quietly introduced under the radar in Madison.


MADISON - Every day, we consume so much new information. While watching TV, reading the local paper or scrolling through social media, we may even feel overwhelmed by all the news available to us.

I start feeling the same way when I think about the legislation introduced this session. There have been more than 800 bills introduced in the Senate, alone. Most likely, you’ve learned about some legislative proposals; however, there are some policies quietly introduced or adopted under the radar that have huge implications for Wisconsinites.

Despite everything that’s going on in our lives and the news everywhere around us, it’s important to pay attention and be aware of the policies affecting our future.

jeff-smithRecently, I joined my colleagues on the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection for a public hearing. Public hearings serve a useful purpose for legislators. Once a bill is introduced, it’s assigned to a committee and the committee Chair can decide whether to hold a public hearing on the proposal. During a public hearing, legislators can learn a lot about the bill, its background and the potential consequences of the policy before taking a vote.

During the recent hearing, we learned about Senate Bill 613, a seemingly simple bill that could have a huge impact on the lives of Wisconsin residents, like in the following scenario.

If a lessee missed payments on a car loan, the lender may employ someone to repossess the vehicle right out of the lessee’s driveway. Of course, the lender has the legal right to do so if the lessee truly missed payments. If the lender believes a lessee missed payments, the lender will send a letter notifying the lessee of the overdue fees.

If the lender hasn’t heard back in 15 days, they may contact a repossessor. The next day, the tow truck pulls up and the driver begins to hook up the vehicle. However, the lessee may not have received the letter, their payment may have come in after the repossession order was made or the lender may have mistakenly given the repossessor the wrong vehicle identification number. The lessee comes outside, insisting the repossessor stops the towing process.

Currently, the lessee has the ability to stop the repossession temporarily through this “breach of peace” until the lender can prove they deserve repossession to a court. Situations like these have the capacity to escalate. The “breach of peace” policy is in place to protect everyone involved and prevent escalation and potential violence.

Senate Bill 613 redefines “breach of peace” which, consequently, weakens the rights of consumers and holds the repossessor harmless from charges even if they took the lessee’s vehicle. During the executive session, I proudly voted against this bill.

The passage of this bill on the Senate floor could be devastating to someone who relies on their vehicle to drive to work or take their children to school, but mistakenly had this vehicle taken. This could cause the individual to miss work and lose pay to support their family, which could continue to snowball causing great harm to the family. Yet, there still would be no repercussions for the lender or repossessor.

This bill is so tilted against the consumer, it’s ironic that the bill was assigned to the Committee tasked to protect consumers. It’s shameful, but unfortunately, not surprising.

Over the last decade, Republicans have turned their back on consumers at the request of an industry. This proposal adds one more weight in the scales of justice against Wisconsin families. The same shift in the scales occurred in the relationship between tenants and landlords, which has greatly contributed to the affordable housing crisis Wisconsin is facing.

As session continues and some proposals move forward to public hearings, I’m committed to protecting families from harmful policies, like Senate Bill 613. Consumers and families working to make ends meet are overdue for attention to their needs. Let’s find solutions for those dealing with debt, rather than doubling down on their despair.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Connect Wisconsin with Better Broadband

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 05 February 2020
in Wisconsin

broadband-map-northwoodsLast week, Sen. Smith introduced the “Better Broadband” package, 6 bills to expand broadband and better connect our communities. Today he covers accessing high speed broadband to guarantee rural prosperity for our future.


MADISON - Governor Tony Evers shined a bright light on the urgency of strengthening our rural communities by calling a special session to take up agriculture bills, creating the Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity and establishing the Office of Rural Prosperity. In western Wisconsin, we have an opportunity to step up and continue leading the way.

We should think of rural prosperity as a jigsaw puzzle.  Rural prosperity relies on our agricultural industry, job security, entrepreneurial opportunity, tourism, quality schools, community spaces and more. Each individual piece contributing to rural prosperity has a purpose and need. However, these pieces don’t create an image and illustrate rural prosperity unless all the pieces are connected.

internet-ruralAccess to reliable broadband matters for the many Wisconsinites who want to continue enjoying rural life or for those who want to settle down in a new community. These connections will only strengthen rural prosperity in Wisconsin.  Investments in broadband reliability and connectivity correlate to investments in our rural communities – let’s make it happen.

While there may be plenty of good reasons to live in a metropolitan area, I find it hard to believe that most people who grow up in the beauty of rural Wisconsin wouldn’t continue living here if they had access to a job or entertainment for themselves or their family.

Reliable internet access would help farmers connect to UW-Extension, potential dealers and markets, loan offices, mental health resources and more. Small town businesses must also be able to connect to the rest of the world to compete and offer the same level of services as any large city business.

Every household and business should be connected, period. In this ever changing world of technology, it’s increasingly more possible for employees to work from home and for students to study at home, only IF they’re connected to true high speed internet. We must expand broadband to offer the same opportunities in our rural areas to what’s available in our metropolitan areas.

Last week, I introduced the “Better Broadband” bill package, 6 important bills to connect communities and help our state attain real rural prosperity. The “Better Broadband” package will:

·         Increase funding for broadband expansion grants to $100 million annually in 2020-21, improve broadband mapping and require internet service providers to disclose to the Public Service Commission which properties have service and their minimum average speed.

·         Prioritize grant funding for projects to expand fiber optics to farms.

·         Protect consumers by prohibiting companies from advertising their service as “broadband” unless it’s capable of providing minimum download speeds.

·         Allow a city, village, town, county or the Department of Transportation to require installation of empty conduit lines for future fiber optics expansion.

·         Give municipalities the authority to use broadband expansion grant money for project planning purposes and encourage municipalities to create and expand municipal-owned broadband networks.

·         Require grant recipients to provide broadband speeds that are at least 25 Mbps (megabits per second) while downloading and 3 Mbps while uploading, or the speed set by FCC if higher than 25/3.

jeff-smithThese proposals seem so logical that many may wonder why we’d need to pass legislation for the proposals to go into effect. But, just like routing electrical power into rural America, government leaders have a responsibility to connect all homes, businesses and communities. While private Internet Service Providers are driven by profit margin, government is driven by the public good.

In today’s world, we need high speed broadband to guarantee rural prosperity for our future. Let’s put all our best resources, both private and public, into expanding broadband for Wisconsin. We need to make Wisconsin a state that works for all of us. After all, when rural Wisconsin thrives, all of Wisconsin thrives.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

Economic Growth Not Felt By Everyone

Posted by Jan Koch, Shawano
Jan Koch, Shawano
Jan Koch, Shawano has not set their biography yet
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 04 February 2020
in Wisconsin

donald-trump-deficitBe careful when Trump uses the term “the economy”, it all depends who you are talking about and where they live, says northeastern Wisconsin resident.


SHAWANO, WI - “It’s the economy, stupid.” This now infamous phrase has been used to point out how a country is doing financially. Saying that “the economy” in the United States is booming is ignoring what is really going on.

Yes, the unemployment rate is at an historic low. However, that does not take into account the millions of laborers who are “underemployed”. Many are working part-time hours when they are in desperate need of full-time, salaried work. Also existing are a large number of Americans so depressed over their economic situation that they have not applied for a job in a year or longer.

Yes, it looks like the United States has most of its work force employed but since the crash of 2008 seventy-five percent of new jobs pay less than $50,000 a year. Wages might be rising slightly nationally but In Wisconsin a large percentage barely pay above the $7.25 minimum wage, which is one of the lowest in the nation.

Today millions of people fall under the degrading classification of “working poor”. In contrast, the top 1 percent of earners take home eighty-five percent of income.

The unemployment number means nothing. The stock market’s advances mean nothing either.

The richest 10 percent of Americans own 84 percent of stocks. The bottom half of households don’t own stocks. The daily rise and fall of Wall Street has no effect on most Americans. It won’t have very much influence on the waitress at the diner, the family farmer, or the home health care worker helping an elderly diabetic inject his insulin—a drug he could not afford if he were not on Medicare.

For most Americans “The economy” does not exist. What do all the economic forecasts mean for the 58 percent of who have less than $1000 in savings, or the 28 percent who have no savings at all? One misfortune could bring them to bankruptcy.

Whether “the economy” grows by 3 percent of 3.5 percent next quarter will have no relevance in the lives of those who are juggling thousands in credit-card debt and student-loan payments, along with the rising healthcare costs and the expenses of living.

There is no “economy” for most poor and work-class Americans. There is only everyday life. Because they don’t have adequate healthcare, they pray that their children don’t get sick. Unfortunately, paid family leave is not given to low-income wage earners. They pray their car doesn’t break down and they can’t get to work. Job security is fragile in low-income jobs. They pray their landlord does not raise the rent. It is difficult to find affordable housing for families.

When Donald Trump became president, the nation had a major economic recovery going on according to a new study at the Harvard Business School on U.S. competitiveness. Co-author Michael Porter said it could have given us the chance to take some significant resources and devote them to some of our well-known challenges, like infrastructure or health care. But very little of that happened.

The overwhelming majority of business leaders surveyed in the report said lobbying primarily advanced company interests, sometimes at the expense of the public interests. Those surveyed said businesses’ overall engagement worsened the political system by advancing policies that benefited special interests.

Even though candidate Trump promised to reduce the deficit, his 2017 tax cuts and increased government spending have increased the treasury’s deficit which is expected to grow to a trillion dollars this year.

Donald Trump’s massive tax cut only made the wealthy richer. It has proven to be nothing more than a handout for the largest corporations. Companies have given even bigger bonuses to their executives instead of increasing the number of good paying jobs and bringing back jobs which were shipped overseas.

trump-tariffsDue to President Trump’s trade war Wisconsin’s manufacturing sector is in a recession. Companies have had to slow their business growth, putting expansions on hold and laying off workers to ensure their businesses can survive. Some estimates show Trump’s trade war could result in Wisconsin losing 37,344 jobs. The tariffs have cost the state nearly a billion dollars.

Even though we just lived through a seemingly prosperous decade, the bulk of Americans don’t have enough money in their retirement accounts to retire on. Moreover, some people who retired and thought they would live on their fixed income have had to take a job because they found out their income wasn’t enough.

For Wisconsin’s growing elderly population there is a glimmer of hope. Governor Tony Evers has set up a Retirement Security Task Force. It’s not that Wisconsin’s workers don’t want to save, it’s that the have been living under economic conditions that have made saving either impossible or inaccessible. A recent AARP of Wisconsin study revealed that 1 in 7 registered voters have no way to save for retirement at work. The Governor and StateTreasurer Sarah Godlewski believe hard-working individuals deserve to have peace of mind and feel secure when they retire.

When the term “the economy” is being used, be cautious. Using it as a measure of success shows a clear absence of any long-term strategy which lies outside the next election cycle. Focusing on what is happening in people’s real lives makes for a more intelligent conversation. It could also make for a better country.

Jan Koch,
Shawano

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes

It’s Time to Stand Up for our Agricultural and Rural Communities

Posted by Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 31 January 2020
in Wisconsin

door-county-peopleState Senator says family farms are Wisconsin’s legacy and makes proposals to better address the real issues that our rural communities are facing.


West Point - The story is starting to become cliché. Wisconsinites overwhelmingly support a proposal that benefits our state, Republican leadership cries “partisanship”, and blocks action until an undetermined future date. We saw this happen with funding to combat homelessness, which still has seven pending proposals awaiting Republican action, and now we are watching this happen with Governor Evers’ call for a special session to help our agricultural and rural communities.

During the State of the State Address, Governor Evers announced that he will be prioritizing Wisconsin’s farmers, and called for a special session to take up proposals to help alleviate the strain on our rural communities. The special session was scheduled for Tuesday, and unfortunately, the day came and passed with no discussion, no debate, and no progress. In fact, Republicans chose instead to ignore our farm crisis and hold a partisan political rally of their own.

Democrats stand ready to take up a plethora of proposals, from passing the Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports (WIDE) to providing grants to small dairy processing plants and increasing support for farmer mental health. Unfortunately, Republicans were nowhere to be found. For generations, farmers have served as the backbone for our state, and it is time that we step up and support our agricultural industries and rural communities.

Wisconsin unfortunately leads the nation in farm bankruptcies, with an average of 2 dairy farms closing per day. Whether it is effects of global warming wiping out crops, bad federal policies disrupting trade or slapping on unnecessary tariffs, or massive corporate farms shutting down their competition, each day these challenges stack up and get harder to address. These challenges are outside of the control of Wisconsin farmers, and it will take legislative action to keep our state alive.

jon-erpenbachThe truth is, agricultural diversity is one of Wisconsin’s greatest strengths. That’s one reason why it’s vital we do everything we can to maintain our smaller family farms. Agriculture contributes nearly $105 billion to our state’s economy and thousands of jobs. From vegetables, to cranberries to leading the nation in cheese production, our agricultural industry should not be taken for granted.

Thankfully, Governor Evers did more than call a special session, he also signed an Executive Order to create the Governor’s Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity. The commission is tasked with going out into our communities to listen to the issues that are affecting farmers, the agricultural industry and rural businesses. The commission will create recommendations based on the information they gather and report back to the Governor, so that we can better address the real issues that our rural communities are facing.

Additionally, the Governor announced his plan to work with the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) to establish the Office of Rural Prosperity. This action will help to ensure that our farmers, agriculture, and rural communities are a part of Wisconsin’s economic development strategy.

Wisconsin depends on our farmers, so this crisis is not their burden to carry alone. It is the food that comes to our tables, the farmer’s markets that bring people together, the businesses that depend on access to locally grown food, and the communities that keep our state afloat. Our farms are Wisconsin’s legacy. The least we can do is show up to the discussion.

Tags: Untagged
Rate this blog entry
0 votes
Copyright © 2020. Green Bay Progressive. Designed by Shape5.com