An Update from Wisconsin’s DPW Chair- Martha Laning

As we are trying to keep the people of the Driftless Area up-to-date on the Democratic Party, we will be posting regular correspondence from our State and National parties.  This was an email from Martha Laning, our chairwoman.  Who is Martha Laning? Martha Laning was elected chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin in June 2015. A lifelong Democrat and Wisconsinite, Martha brings to the Party a strong fundraising background, a positive, values-based message, and a history of taking action to make a real difference in communities all over the state.

What does a Democratic Party Chair do?  The role of a party chairman is often quite different from that of a party leader. The duties of the chairman are typically concerned with the party membership as a whole, and the activities of the party organization. Chairmen often play important roles in strategies to recruit and retain members, in campaign fundraising, and in internal party governance, where they may serve as a member of, or even preside over, a governing board or council. They often also have influence in candidate selections, and sometimes in the development and promulgation of party policy.

This is the official communication sent to our county chapter.  Please click on the blue highlighted words to be linked to more information.

Tom Perez and Keith Ellison to Kick Off Democratic Turnaround Tour

The DNC has had a very strong first week under the new leadership of DNC Chair Tom Perez and Deputy Chair Keith Ellison. On the first day of the job, they both spoke with all the new officers to get their ideas on how to get the DNC running on all cylinders heading into 2018.

These two are working side by side, and looking to work side by side with all progressive Americans, giving people a home in the Democratic Party and a seat at the table to heal our wounds from last year and press forward against Republican efforts to drag us all backward.

Perez and Ellison both pledged during the Chair campaign that the DNC had to get back to basics and build from the ground up – not from DC down – with an ‘Every Zip Code’ strategy. A recent example of that vision is the DNC’s assistance to Delaware State Senate Stephanie Hansen. Hansen won her special election and kept the Delaware State Senate in Democratic control. The combined efforts of Democrats in Delaware drove turnout to record levels – this is a seat that was last won by three points, but was won by seventeen points in the recent special election. That’s the model nationwide – that kind of grassroots participation is how we stop Trump from turning the American Dream into an American nightmare.

After a solid first week on the job, last week DNC Secretary Jason Rae announced that Tom and Keith will kick off the Democratic Turnaround Tour starting on March 24. Tom and Keith will make stops in Detroit and Flint, Michigan, followed by stops in New Jersey, Texas, and Virginia. Additional states and locations will be added in the days and weeks to come.

On the tour, Tom and Keith will share a vision for turning around the party and winning elections in 2018. They’ll meet with Democrats and grassroots progressives to discuss local organizing and the need for candidates up and down the ballot to deliver a positive message focused on economic opportunity.

I can’t wait to see these two on the trail talking about our shared values and promoting the grassroots vision we all share. We’d love to have them both in Wisconsin.

Click here to read Secretary Jason Rae’s message.

Congressional Republicans Unveil Disastrous Health Care Bill

As a progressive Democrat, I believe that every American should have access to quality, affordable health care, and that your coverage and medical decisions should be made by you and not by the big insurance companies. I know that Democrats all across Wisconsin will never betray those values and we were all outraged last week when Congressional Republicans finally unveiled their health care bill.

After learning more about their plan it’s clear why they’ve been trying to hide their ideas from the public – their ideas are even worse than we thought. Call it whatever you want Trumpcare, Ryancare, or Republicare, but the fact is that their plan will insure fewer people and coverage will cost more for everyone.

The reality is, their plan is not about improving health care – it’s a major tax cut for the wealthy funded by taking coverage away from and rising the cost of care for working people. The Congressional Budget Office made it clear when they projected the bill would result in 14 million people being uninsured in 2018, rising to 21 million in 2020 and then to 24 million in 2026. Not to mention an increase in average premiums to the tune of 20 percent in 2018 and 2019.

After seven years of Republican attacks on President Obama’s bill that currently insures over 20 million individuals, everyone can see that it was never about creating a better health care plan and all about scoring cheap political points in order to win elections.

Read my full statement on the bill and the Congressional Budget Office score on
Read more about the Congressional Budget Office analysis on

DPW Visits County Chair’s Association Convention

This past weekend, our team traveled up to Wisconsin Rapids to do a joint County Chair’s Association Convention and DPW retreat. Each year, the CCA convenes to hear what party members need to be successful and this year we appreciated the CCA allowing us to do a joint retreat to discuss how we can best help build our grassroots efforts locally.

We had lots of positive discussion about the way forward over the weekend. I feel like we are inching closer and closer to building the long-term political infrastructure we need to win majorities in the state house, take back the governor’s mansion, and show the entire nation that Wisconsin is indeed a blue state in 2020. And the way we win races next year is through long-term party-building strategies.

One thing is clear, to accomplish our goals, we need to continue to build our party infrastructure this off-year to prepare for the 2018 elections. I look forward to working with everyone all this year to turn our shared vision into a reality.

Assembly Democrats Stand Up for Wisconsin Workers

Wisconsin has one of the most diminished middle classes in the country, and our economy is trailing behind our neighbors. And still, one of the first priorities for Assembly Republicans this session is to repeal Project Labor Agreements (PLA), an attack on Wisconsin workers, Wisconsin businesses and local control. Last week, they passed this bill to make it easier for less qualified, out-of-state workers to undercut workers in our own state on projects funded by taxpayer dollars.

Unable to stop the bill, Assembly Democrats offered several amendments to soften the blow this legislation would deliver to Wisconsin workers, including state hiring preferences for veterans, ensuring safety standards and preferences for minority and woman-owned businesses. Of course, Republicans blocked their efforts every step of the way.

This is just another example of the continuing attacks against workers by the GOP, starting with Act 10, local prevailing wage repeal, and right to work. When the legislature repealed local prevailing wage last budget it opened up the door for cut-rate out of state contractors with low paid, untrained workers to work on local public projects like school district projects.  Eliminating PLA’s blows that door right off the hinges.

I applaud our Democrats in the Assembly for their courage and for showing the state we are the party that believes in legislation that will actually create jobs, increase wages and restore economic opportunity for Wisconsin workers.

In addition, Senate and Assembly Democrats will be providing a brand new weekly update called “Under The Dome” to help keep Wisconsin citizens informed about activity happening at the State Capitol and to stay updated on how your elected officials are voting on important issues in Madison.

To join their mailing list, sign up here:
Democratic Weekly Radio Address: “Redistricting Should Not Be Partisan, Costly or Secretive”

Our outstanding Senator from the Northwoods, Janet Bewley (D-Ashland), offered the weekly Democratic radio address today. The audio file of this week’s address can be found here:

A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hello, this is State Senator Janet Bewley with the weekly Democratic Radio address.

“Last fall I visited the Washburn Elementary School on a day dedicated to inspiring students to support Wisconsin farm products. 

“Today, I’m sad to report that Governor Walker’s proposed state budget eliminates the innovative Farm to School program.  

“Too many Wisconsin students lack a direct connection to the food that graces our dinner tables.  One of the best ways we can support our state, and especially the rural and agricultural workers that are too often overlooked, is to promote and encourage local foods. 

“Few states enjoy the bounty that Wisconsin does, and that’s because few states have the wealth of hard-working families with deep roots in growing, herding, milking, tending and producing excellent food.

“The Farm to School Program introduces students to the benefits of locally grown food while instilling Wisconsin pride that has been hard-earned by generations of families in our state.  The program includes local food in school cafeterias, local food education events, farm visits and school harvests. 

Wisconsin’s rural and agricultural sectors deserve appreciation and respect from everyone in a state that relies so heavily on the hard-working men and women who produce the nation’s best food products. 

Last year’s Farm to School Theme was “One Small Step” to highlight the simple things we can to promote and partake in local, Wisconsin food.  Unfortunately the budget proposal eliminating the program represents One Giant Step Backward in respecting and promoting Wisconsin’s rural and agricultural traditions and products.”

2017 State Convention

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

We are also looking for volunteers to help us make this year’s convention a success. Without the help of volunteer doing things like stuffing bags, registering delegates, working the elections and a whole host of other duties, we could never pull off the two-day event. Please consider giving your fellow Democrats a hand to make this year’s convention one of the best ever. Sign up to volunteer at:

Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now

Sen. Tammy Baldwin opposes GOP health care plan at friendly town hall in Milwaukee
“No family should have to worry that they are one illness or one injury away from bankruptcy,” Baldwin told a crowd of over 100 gathered at Milwaukee Area Technical College’s downtown campus. Admitting that the Affordable Care Act, the signature legislation of Barack Obama’s presidency, was not without its problems, she said the answer is “not to get rid of those guaranteed protections, not to give huge tax breaks to the very wealthiest and to in particular target insurance CEOs for huge breaks, while diminishing the solvency of Medicare, capping and cutting Medicaid, and making it more difficult for those with pre-existing conditions to be able to afford coverage.”

Tammy Baldwin, Democrats, hammer Donald Trump over abandoned buy-America pledge
“I think our workers deserve better,” said U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Wisconsin, in a telephone press conference. “And President Trump so far has shown that he will talk the talk when it comes to buy America, but he won’t walk the walk.”

These women marched against Donald Trump. Now they’re running for office
“This isn’t just, ‘I’m going to get involved in my community,'” Forrest says of why women are flocking to the training. “It’s watching the most qualified person, watching a woman get so close to becoming president, watching what she went through, and losing, to arguably the least qualified person to run for president. [It is] deeply personal.”

Frmr. Sen. Judy Robson: ‘Put the welfare of country first’
“However, because of recent information regarding the involvement of the Russian dictator Vladimir Putin with our President and the presidential campaign, you need to reset and refocus your priorities and put the security of our country first. Many of my friends in Beloit and Janesville are very concerned about this link and the welfare of our country. While Congress is distracted are we experiencing a quiet coup? ”

Leaders in the fight against gerrymandering visit the Northwoods
“A political group, the Northwoods Progressives, invited two people involved in an upcoming Supreme Court case about gerrymandering to Woodruff Saturday. “This case has gotten a lot of nationwide attention,” said Bill Whitford, a retired University of Wisconsin law professor. Whitford is the lead plaintiff in a federal lawsuit challenging Wisconsin’s district maps. He and one of his lawyers, Doug Poland, visited the Northwoods to talk about the case. ”

Trump’s ‘Muslim Ban 2.0’ is still the same flawed, un-American mess
“Trump and his Muslim ban still have a huge uphill battle waiting for him simply because truth, reality, facts, his own quotes, and a country who yearns to uphold American values, are not on his side.”

Editorial: Don’t slash funding for the Great Lakes
“Cutting Great Lakes funding from $300 million to $10 million, as the Trump administration reportedly is considering, is unacceptable. And Congress, led by representatives from the Great Lakes states — especially House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) — needs to send a strong message that it won’t stand for such a measure and will restore any money that is cut.”

Editorial: Investigate ugly threats targeting Jewish centers
“But the president has a greater obligation: He should order the Department of Justice to initiate a civil rights investigation into the wave of bomb threats and other violence and threats since he took office. And he should create an interagency task force to fight hate crimes, chaired by his attorney general. These actions, in addition to the FBI’s probe, would show resolve by bringing the full force of the federal government to the cause of combating hate.”

UW-Madison wins, UW-Milwaukee and Parkside lose under Scott Walker’s performance funding plan
“The University of Wisconsin-Madison would win big and UW-Milwaukee and UW-Parkside would be the biggest losers if performance measures proposed by Gov. Scott Walker to divvy up $42.5 million in new state funding for UW System campuses over the next biennium are approved by the Legislature, according to a new analysis from a higher education policy expert.”

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker tepid on Paul Ryan’s Obamacare repeal plan
“Gov. Scott Walker would not say Wednesday whether he supports House Speaker Paul Ryan’s plan to replace Obamacare in its current form, calling it “a work in progress.”

Wisconsin investigators wrongly said Lincoln Hills probe had ended
“Criminal investigators told the Department of Corrections they had completed a probe of Wisconsin’s troubled juvenile prison in the summer of 2015, even though it was far from over, state records show.”

Racine Journal Times: Keep court oversight free of bias, conflict
“Independent oversight of Wisconsin’s judges and court commissioners is at risk in Gov. Scott Walker’s proposed state budget. The governor, citing potential but unspecified “administrative efficiencies,” has asked the state Legislature to remove the independent standing of the Wisconsin Judicial Commission and instead put it, and its budget, under the jurisdiction of the state Supreme Court.”

Rep. Melissa Sargent: Wisconsin’s lead crisis demands leadership
“Late last week there was an article in the Wisconsin State Journal announcing that lead testing conducted in the Madison Metropolitan School District revealed that six schools in Madison have lead levels higher than the national standard, including East High School, Sherman Middle School, and Lapham and Lowell elementary schools. The other two of the schools listed in the article — Blackhawk Middle School and Gompers Elementary School — are not only located in the heart of my 48th Assembly District, they are where all of my kids have gone to school.”

G.O.P. Repeal Bill Would Cut Funding for Poor and Taxes on Rich
“The bill even does away with a provision meant to tax incomes of insurance executives that top $500,000.”

The Conservative Uprising Against the Republican Healthcare Bill
“House Speaker Paul Ryan has told Republicans he wants to pass the healthcare bill within three weeks, but whether it ever makes it to a floor vote is an open question.”

House corporate tax shift leaves some Wisconsin Republicans, businesses uncertain
“From Gov. Scott Walker to a state business lobby, Wisconsin Republicans don’t know quite what to say about the House GOP proposal to replace the nation’s corporate income tax with a brand new system.”

ObamaCare repeal bill would defund Planned Parenthood
“The ObamaCare repeal bill unveiled by the House Monday includes language that would defund Planned Parenthood for a year.”

Paul Ryan raised $5 million during Texas swing
“U.S. House Speaker Paul Ryan raised big money – $5 million – for House Republicans during a recent barnstorm of Texas.”

Our Views: GOP plan toxic for women’s health
“Women deserve better than the health care proposal being advanced by House Speaker Paul Ryan and his Republican delegation.’

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