Welcome to the latest installment of my chair update.
Legislative Democrats Unveil the Wisconsin Way Forward
Senate and Assembly Democrats unveiled a new, collaborative effort to promote fairness, opportunity, and community through a joint legislative agenda titled the Wisconsin Way Forward. The bold ideas announced by legislative Democrats is a reflection of our shared values and are exactly what our state needs right now.
Innovative ideas and proven solutions to support hard working families are the hallmark of the Democratic agenda. The plan seeks to build an economy that works for everyone so Wisconsinites can find jobs with a family-sustaining wage and enjoy life – instead of struggling to make ends meet. Democrats want to make wise investments that help us build our economy, empower citizens, and strengthen communities and families in Wisconsin.
This is a new step forward for Wisconsin Democrats and represents a unique level of unity among legislative caucuses rarely seen in most states.
Learn more and share the Wisconsin Way Forward online at http://legis.wisconsin.gov/democrats
You can find more agenda details here: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/democrats/media/1421/wi-agenda_draft-31617-1.pdf
And if you haven’t done it already, sign up for the Senate and Assembly Democrats’ brand new weekly update called “Under The Dome.” Their update is packed with information to keep you informed about activity happening at the State Capitol. Sign up and stay updated on how your elected officials are voting on important issues in Madison: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/democrats/connect-with-us/
Worse Than We Thought: Republican Health Care Bill Leaves 14M Uninsured Next Year Alone
After Speaker Paul Ryan’s haphazard rollout of the Republican Health Care Bill last week, which featured no estimates on the cost of their ideas or any details of how many Americans would be covered under the plan, the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) is finally shedding light on the real impacts of the Republican plan.
Every American should have access to quality, affordable health care, but this week’s CBO report shows that Congressional Republicans, led by Speaker Paul Ryan, along with President Trump don’t share that basic belief.
The CBO announced that 14 million Americans will lose health insurance next year with the number of uninsured only growing over time. “In 2026, an estimated 52 million people would be uninsured, compared with 28 million who would lack insurance that year under current law,” the report states.
President Trump has promised that all Americans will have coverage under the Republican plan and Tom Price, Secretary of Health and Human Services, recently said that no one will be worse off financially under the bill. However, the CBO report paints a much different picture.
Speaker Ryan’s bill will make everyday Americans pay more money for fewer benefits, and leave many of his fellow Wisconsinites without any health care at all. I find it appalling that Republicans would want to take us backward to a day when Americans crumble under crushing medical debt, and even worse, die needlessly because they can’t afford care.
After seven years of Republican attacks on President Obama’s bill that currently insures over 20 million individuals, it is clear that Republican lawmakers have no real ideas to provide affordable health care to the people of this country.
President Trump’s Cruel Budget Priorities Poised To Leave Everyday Americans Worse Off
Donald Trump gave lip-service to his commitment to working Americans during his campaign for President last year, but just two months into his tenure it is clear he’s betrayed Main Street and embraced his friends on Wall Street. It’s clear that he is simply another Republican politician, taking money away from regular Americans and giving it to his many wealthy friends.
Just when I think things couldn’t get any worse, Trump pulls another shocking stunt and proves me wrong again. Trump is no friend to working class Americans, so I expected his budget proposal to harm workers and their families, but cutting meals on wheels and housing programs that help our seniors get affordable housing is pathetic and downright mean-spirited. Attacking our most vulnerable citizens just to give huge tax giveaways to the wealthy is an unimaginable low.
The budget outline President Trump released this week is much like his health care plan it makes working people’s lives harder by cutting the basic things we count on to make our lives easier. Trump’s budget cuts things that create jobs, strengthen our economy, help working Americans save money and stay healthy, help our children learn, and help struggling seniors make ends meet. That’s not right and that certainly doesn’t fit our values.
I can’t believe that Trump would make such cruel and mean-spirited budget cuts, but be perfectly content with spending an initial $4 billion of taxpayer’s money on a border wall. Not to mention that his family continues to blow through taxpayer money at an unprecedented pace funding their overseas travel.
Donald Trump’s priorities could not be clearer – or a bigger betrayal of what he promised.
Save The Date: State Budget Public Hearings
The dates for six public hearings on Gov. Scott Walker’s state budget proposal were released Thursday by Joint Finance Committee co-chairs Rep. John Nygren and Sen. Alberta Darling.
The first hearing will be April 3 at the University of Wisconsin-Platteville. That will be followed by one on April 5 at State Fair Park outside of Milwaukee and April 7 at Berlin High School. The final three hearings will be April 18 at Spooner High School, April 19 at Ellsworth High School and April 21 at Marinette High School.
The committee will hold state agency briefings in Madison prior to the public hearings with votes on the budget are expected to begin in early May.
Plan to attend to have your voice heard. Bring a picture of the people you are fighting for so the Republicans can see the faces of not only those attending, but all the children, seniors, and family members they are hurting.
Stay tuned for details on additional listening sessions on the budget held by Democratic lawmakers in April. When we receive the dates we will share them.
Democratic Weekly Radio Address: “Wisconsin Way Forward”
Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) gave the Democratic Weekly Radio Address on the joint Democratic agenda:
“We’re here today because we believe Wisconsin can do better. We believe in we can have an economy that works for everyone in our state,” said Rep. Barca. “Our Wisconsin Way Forward agenda included a range of innovative, significant ideas and proven solutions to create economic opportunities and help move Wisconsin forward.”
You can find the video of this week’s address here.
A written transcript of the address is below:
“Hello, I’m Representative Peter Barca with this week’s Democratic radio address.
“Today, my Democratic colleagues from the Senate and the Assembly came together to present our joint legislative agenda.
“We’re here today because we believe Wisconsin can do better. We believe in we can have an economy that works for everyone in our state.
“We believe that our public schools, UW campuses, tech colleges and infrastructure are vital drivers of our state economy.
“And we believe that it’s time to empower our citizens to work together to strengthen our communities and families so that everyone can succeed.
“At a time when Republicans are divided on so many key issues, Democrats are coming together to put forward a bold, meaningful agenda. We’re working to dispel the words of Will Rogers that keep me up at night, ‘I am not a member of any organized political party. I am a Democrat.’ This is a great step forward.
“Our Wisconsin Way Forward agenda included a range of innovative, significant ideas and proven solutions to create economic opportunities and help move Wisconsin forward.
“Please, visit our website WisconsinDems.com for more information and to sign up for updates. Thank you.”
Save The Date: 9th Wisconsin Grassroots Festival
On Saturday, March 25th, the Wisconsin Grassroots Network will hold its annual grassroots festival at Wisconsin Heights Middle School in Mazomanie. Registration begins at 8:00 with the actual event running from 9:00 to 4:45.
I’ve attended this festival in the past and it is an incredible day filled with over 20 vendors and progressive organizations from all over Wisconsin and neighboring states. This year there are 21 breakout sessions on grassroots organizing, the environment, strategies to win, fighting for public education, progressive messaging, and more.
Lawyer’s For Good Government’s inaugural conference of Come Together
An amazing gathering has been planned by the Wisconsin Chapter of Lawyers for Good Government, L4GG-Wisconsin, UA. They are holding their inaugural conference of Come Together March 31 – April 1. At Come Together, participants will connect and empower attorneys and other activists as agents of change.
Conference highlights include:
- James H. Hall Jr., Milwaukee attorney and former president of the Milwaukee chapter of the NAACP, current ACLU of Wisconsin board member, and founder of 100 Black Men of Milwaukee, will deliver Come Together’s keynote, All Hands on Deck: A Call to Action, on Friday evening.
- Holly Johnstone of Johnstone Communications will kick off the conference with a workshop on communication strategies for finding common ground among people who disagree politically and for ending the divisiveness prevalent in today’s political discourse.
- Bill Whitford, a UW Law School Professor and lead plaintiff in Whitford v. Gill, the federal lawsuit challenging the Wisconsin GOP’s 2011 voter redistricting, which the state is currently appealing to the U.S. Supreme Court, and Sachin Chheda, director of the Fair Elections Project, will present Political Gerrymandering: Wisconsin Is Ground Zero.
- Rights in Transition: Legal Challenges facing the LGBTQ+ Community, by Lawrence Dupuis of the ACLU.
- Executive Power, by Professor Asifa Quraishi-Landes, UW Law School.
- Robert Kraig, executive director of Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Saturday morning’s plenary presenter, on the future of healthcare.
- Many others including Lisa Graves, Tamara Packard, Kelda Roys, Mario White, and Linda Clifford to address immigration, lobbying, Freedom of Information Act/public records requests, trial advocacy with clients of color, suing the government and ethical issues of activism.
- A non-profit expo to connect groups who are in need of volunteers with people who are ready to dig in and get to work.
Registration fee includes at least five CLE credits (including 1 ethics), lunch and dinner on Friday, a bloody mary break, after party, and Saturday breakfast. Child care options are available. Learn more at cometogether2017.wordpress.com
2017 State Convention
The state and congressional district conventions are quickly approaching and I can’t wait to see you all in Madison for our state convention on the 2nd and 3rd of June at the Madison Marriott West. For more information on the State Convention, how to become a delegate, and to pre-register, please visit www.wisdems.org/2017stateconvention
We are also looking for volunteers to help us make this year’s convention a success. Without the help of volunteer doing things like stuffing bags, registering delegates, working the elections and a whole host of other duties, we could never pull off the two-day event. Please consider giving your fellow Democrats a hand to make this year’s convention one of the best ever. Sign up to volunteer at: http://www.wisdems.org/2017-state-convention/volunteer
Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now
Every dollar of proposed cutbacks to domestic, diplomatic and international aid programs that Trump makes in the spending plan will go to boost defense and law enforcement funding.
In his first spending blueprint since taking office, Mr. Trump made choices demonstrating that parts of America will be more first than others — and some of the budget losers, it turns out, may be some of the very constituencies that have been most supportive of the new president during his improbable rise to power.
A federal judge in Hawaii issued a nationwide order Wednesday evening blocking President Trump’s ban on travel from parts of the Muslim world, dealing a stinging blow to the White House and signaling that Mr. Trump will have to account in court for his heated rhetoric about Islam.
“House Intelligence Committee Chairman Devin Nunes says he doesn’t believe “there was an actual tap of Trump Tower,” contrary to claims made by President Trump.”
Wisconsin Senator Tammy Baldwin has been a public advocate for health care reform for nearly two decades, and has already come out strongly against the new bill. “As somebody who was uninsured in my childhood because of a preexisting health condition, this is a battle that I’ve taken on for many years,” says Baldwin.
“A hearing on proposed changes to regulations of high-capacity wells in Wisconsin has drawn a large crowd to the state Capitol. Arguments are expected to be heated at the packed joint committee hearing of the Senate and Assembly on Wednesday.”
“Farm interests faced off Wednesday against conservationists, fishing enthusiasts and other users of lakes and streams over proposed legislation to further roll back state regulation of high-capacity wells.”
“But Assembly Speaker Robin Vos was none too pleased that he was kept in the dark on the proposal, which he — like We Energies — considers unconstitutional. Under the bill, state regulators would get the chance every 10 years to review the rate of return for contracts set up under Power the Future, a 2001 law that encouraged Wisconsin power companies to generate more electricity.”
“Candidates for Wisconsin state superintendent are scheduled to meet for a forum less than three weeks from the election.”
“Casting a cloud over Sunshine Week, the annual nationwide celebration of access to public information, the nonprofit Knight Foundation has released a survey that doesn’t bode well for open government. The foundation surveyed about 300 journalists, advocates, record custodians, technology companies, scholars and others.”
“Tommy Thompson told me not once but it seems like a thousand times that his worst day as governor was better than his best day in the cabinet,” Walker said Tuesday at the Rotary Club of Milwaukee.
“According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.”
Enrollment figures released Wednesday by the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services show more than 242,790 people in Wisconsin signed up for health coverage on the federal marketplace.
For the about 250,000 state and local government employees covered by the State of Wisconsin Group Health Insurance program, gender reassignment services, procedures and surgeries are no longer covered.
Amid heavy criticism over a seeming lack of urgency to process 6,000 untested rape kits throughout Wisconsin, the state’s Department of Justice has pursued a goal of collecting and processing all kits while maintaining a survivor-centered approach.
Governor Walker: We respectfully request that you veto 2017 Senate Bill 3, which prohibits governments from requiring project labor agreements (PLAs) that set conditions for public work projects.
Republican lawmakers are reviving a push to restrict research done in Wisconsin that relies on fetal tissue from abortions.
State Senator Jennifer Shilling joined representatives Jill Billings and Steve Doyle in co-authoring new student loan legislation in Wisconsin.
One Wisconsin Now has asked district attorneys in two counties to launch an investigation into Holtz over allegations he did campaign work while being paid by his public school districts.
The key to understanding Ryan’s thinking with regard to health care and every other issue is recognition that the speaker’s authority is not built on popular support. It is built on gerrymandering.
Wisconsin Democrats On Social Media This Week