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Reflecting on the Positive

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, 06 April 2022 in Wisconsin

wisconsin-senateJeff Smith writes about some of the most memorable highlights from the many committees he's served on during his first term as state senator.


MADISON - There are times when it’s a good idea to take a breath and reflect on your accomplishments. Now, that the legislative session has ended I’ve had a chance to do just that. Oftentimes, it’s easy to dwell on the challenges and disappointments we experience, but I know my first term as your state senator has been rewarding.

Holding this office has created opportunities to learn so much about so many things. I’m sure it isn’t for everyone, but I really enjoyed the time spent with a farmer educating me on soil science or ABATE motorcycle enthusiasts explaining to me how policies passed in Madison affect their rides.

Some of the most memorable highlights over the last few years have come from serving on the many committees I have the good fortune to be a part of.

lacrosseharborTake the Mississippi River Parkway Commission, for starters. Little did I know how much this group of good people do for the preservation of and enhancement of the Great River Road. If anyone needs an emotional lift, take a drive along State Highway 35, and know how hard volunteers have worked to maintain the beautiful landscape. We take so much for granted but nothing happens in a vacuum.

Studying the ins and outs of broadband access has been enlightening. Access to high-speed broadband was a priority from the get-go, but it became even clearer during the pandemic. It’s been rewarding to take the lead on this issue especially when it became clear how critical it is to be connected. My assertive approach to broadband led me to being appointed to the Broadband Stakeholders group coordinated by the Public Service Commission.

My staff may not always appreciate it, but whenever there’s an opening on a task force or committee I’m eager to step forward. This has led to a very diverse portfolio for my office. I’ve always enjoyed learning how things work and this job really allows that to happen.

When the Governor’s Task Force on Climate Change needed senate representation I was eager to fill that vacancy. It’s obvious that this is an issue that’s going to be confronting us for a long time and it’s exciting to learn from experts what can be done to protect Wisconsin’s natural resources.

drugaddicts-youngServing on the State Council on Alcohol and Other Drug Abuse (SCAODA) has been eye opening. It is here that we’re presented with statistics that only verify what most of us already know: substance abuse is a serious issue in Wisconsin. SCAODA helped me understand potential legislative proposals that, if adopted, could save lives and make serious positive impacts on Wisconsin families.

Speaking of where we can save lives, the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force does incredibly valuable work. Formed by Attorney General Josh Kaul, the people serving on this task force are miraculous. I have learned so much I did not understand before. I am hopeful we will bring forth important life-saving legislation from this work.

jeff-smithAs a legislator it can seem fairly useless at times to introduce legislation since the majority Party refuses to consider any bills drafted by the minority Party. Despite this obstacle, I’ve introduced 120 bills during my first term to protect Wisconsinites’ right to vote, support students and local schools, ensure clean drinking water and more. Feeling ignored can be discouraging, but representing west central Wisconsin definitely has its highlights that make it worthwhile.

There’s so much more to be thankful for in my first term and there is just not enough space here to elaborate. But I do want to express gratitude to my team. When faced with a once-in-a-lifetime pandemic, we managed to help more than 350 constituents with their unemployment insurance claims. That was simply an amazing demonstration of dedication and compassion when people needed us the most.

Whew! There really is much to be proud of.

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