Welcome to the latest installment of my chair update.
Senseless Act of Violence in Alexandria, VA
I was completely stunned last Wednesday when I woke up to see the horrible news that a gunman opened fire on Members of Congress while they practiced for their annual Congressional Baseball Game for charity. We are all very grateful for the courage of the Capitol Police officers who were on the scene to prevent an even greater tragedy.
Violence has no place in our society and no place in our politics. No matter how far on the political spectrum we are from one another, violence isn’t the answer to what ails our country today. We cannot let the actions of one person divide us even further.
While I pray that the victims of the shooting will make quick and full recoveries, I also hope that in the wake of this event, we can come together as one nation to show that we aren’t divided as a country, but united in our humanity and as Americans.
ASDC Meeting in Detroit
I’ve been in Detroit this week for the Association of State Democratic Chairs’ summer meetings. It has been a week full of training on messaging, organizing, fundraising, and winning strategies for 2018.
I’ve met so many wonderful and talented people this week. I’m bringing home tons of best practices and good ideas to share with our team and Democrats all across the state.
I’m excited to be taking one more step forward in preparing for victory in 2018!
2017-2019 Budget Update
The Joint Finance Committee met on Thursday to vote on provisions in the governor’s proposed budget.
The committee, on a unanimous and bipartisan basis, rejected Gov. Walker’s plan to self-insure state workers. The committee instead approved a motion requiring the Group Insurance Board (GIB) to find $63.9 million in savings to back-fill the budget hole created by removing the proposal. In addition, the committee approved a 2% general wage adjustments for state employees that were included in the budget bill. Both UW and other state employees will receive a 2% wage adjustment onSeptember 30, 2018, and another 2% adjustment on May 26, 2019.
Unfortunately, Republicans approved Gov. Walker’s plan to eliminate domestic partnership benefits for state employees. Beginning on January 1, 2018, domestic partners will no longer be able to receive health insurance coverage, deferred compensation assets, or long-term care insurance coverage. They also voted to delete the domestic partnership registry under Chapter 770 of the State Statutes, which applies to same-sex couples. This will have even wider implications for families since the domestic partnership registry extends legal rights that include hospital visitation rights, death benefits, power of attorney, victim notification, and more.
Assembly Republicans Pass Constitutional Convention Bill
Shockingly. Wisconsin Republicans have taken a dangerous the growing movement of conservatives pushing for something unprecedented in American history: a state-led constitutional convention to consider a balanced budget amendment.
The stakes are high when you allow people to toy with the Constitution. The convention can amend the U.S. Constitution in any way it sees fit, and can write its own rules. In a hyper-partisan and polarized environment, most convention delegates would be chosen by Republican legislatures.
Lawmakers on both sides of the aisle expressed concerns over a runaway convention that eliminates key constitutional rights and civil protections. I am very disappointed in Assembly Republicans who wrote, sponsored, and supported this bill. Democrats will continue to stand in opposition to calling for a constitutional convention as the bill makes its way through the legislative process.
Presidential and Vice Presidential Visits To Wisconsin
Last Saturday, I joined Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett on a press call ahead of Vice President Mike Pence’s visit to Direct Supply in Milwaukee. The Mayor and I highlighted the disastrous effects of Trumpcare which stands to kick 23 million Americans off their health care insurance over the next decade.
“I’m surprised that the Vice President wants to come to Wisconsin to tout legislation that is designed to deny health carefor 23 million Americans and give tax breaks to the wealthiest people in this nation,” Mayor Tom Barrett said on the call. “It’s notable that he’s not appearing at a place where you’re going to find people between 50-60 who are going to be affected by this adverse – because those are the people that are really going to suffer from this action that is moving through Washington right now.”
For some Americans, Trumpcare will mean bankruptcy. For others, it will be a death sentence. At a time when working families are still struggling to get ahead – this bill will be devastating to both their health and their pocketbooks. That’s why an overwhelming number of Americans disapprove of Trumpcare and would like to strengthen the Affordable Care Act to ensure that every American has access tohealth care.
Just three days later, Assembly Leader Peter Barca, Rep. Katrina Shankland, and AFT Local 212 President Michael Rosen denounced President Trump’s hypocritical visit to tout worker training programs.
“We’re very concerned that President Trump, much like Governor Walker, wants to give tax giveaways to the very wealthy ahead of Wisconsin workers and investing in rural communities,” said Assembly Leader Peter Barca. “Trump, also just like our Governor, is pulling a bait and switch on the American public by saying he cares about workers when in fact his budget is gonna take away desperately needed resources from programs that train manufacturing workers, which we hear from business owners all the time are desperately needed.”
“What we see is real hypocrisy in the photo-op show that’s going on with President Trump and Governor Walker today. In President Trump’s budget, he has proposed a 40% cut in job training—that’s $2 billion cut nationwide in job training funds. If you’re really interested in promoting apprenticeships, you have to invest in that skills training,” said Michael Rosen.
“Trump, just like Walker, is pulling a bait and switch on the American people. He is saying he cares about workers, but in fact his budget takes away money and resources from the very programs that train manufacturers, workers, nurses, the programs that support our small business owners, and that create and spur economic growth, especially in rural communities. It’s time for these cuts to stop.” said Rep. Katrina Shankland.
Weekly Democratic Radio address: Give Veterans the Day Off
Senator Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) offered the weekly Democratic radio address last week. The audio file of last week’s address can be found here: http://media2.legis.wisconsin.gov/multimedia/Sen30/hansenradio061517.mp3
A written transcript of the address is below:
“Hello, this is State Senator Dave Hansen with this week’s Democratic Radio address.
“This week, Senate Bill 113 (SB-113) creating the state holiday of Veterans Day on November 11th was taken up in the State Senate. Its passage will result in the closing of state offices and state workers taking the day off. Those veterans who need to contact a state office for assistance will have to wait a day.
“Supporters of the bill said it was important to pass the bill because Wisconsin is the only state that does not officially recognize Veterans Day by closing state government in observance of the day and those who served our nation. We can all agree that that is a mighty short list that we should not be on.
“Unfortunately when Senate Democrats brought up an amendment to require that all working veterans in the private sector be given the day off, Republicans voted against it.
“It is difficult to imagine any patriotic employer objecting to such a change in the law.
“After all, we are talking about the people who sacrificed so much to protect us. They deserve to have the time on Veterans Day to spend it as they see fit as a reflection of our undying gratitude for their service.
“Unfortunately, when it came time to choose between profits for business or a day off for veterans Senate Republicans chose to side with business. “
Upcoming DPW County Party Development Trainings
The DPW’s Candidate Services Team is continuing to travel the state to empower and train county party members as we gear up for the spring and fall 2018 elections.
Listed below is information on three scheduled trainings, which mainly focus on developing kitchen cabinet members in waiting to support future candidates. For thetrainings, attendees choose between five Kitchen Cabinet Roles: Treasurer training, the VAN, Fundraising, Messaging & Social Media, and Campaign Management. The two most popular topics, are then the focus of that training. If you are interested in attending one of these training sessions, please reach out to your county party chair for more information.
Depending on the needs and interest of the area, trainings can be customized to also include other topics such as contact voters through canvassing and phonebanking, and candidate recruitment.
Upcoming DPW Trainings:
Saturday June 24th – Elkhorn
Saturday July 15th – Richland Center
Saturday July 22nd – Ashland
Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now
Rep. Barca (D-Kenosha): Assembly Democrats move to address workforce, wages, entrepreneurship and jobs growth in Wisconsin.
“Today, Assembly Democrats challenged Republicans to address the creation of good-paying jobs in Wisconsin with a package of legislation aimed at job creation, workforce training, equal pay, and start-ups. Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) and other members of the caucus argued that Assembly Republicans were advocating more for special interests than for Wisconsin families and workers. ”
Reps. Bowen (D-Milwaukee), Billings (D-LaCorsse) & Sen. Larson (D-Milwaukee): Joint statement calling on Governor Walker to have Wisconsin join the US Climate Alliance. Letter.
“Today, 35 State Representatives and 11 State Senators signed onto a letter calling on Governor Walker to have Wisconsin join the US Climate Alliance and commit Wisconsin to developing and implementing a state-based plan to fight climate change and create green jobs. The lead authors, Rep. David Bowen (D–Milwaukee), Sen. Chris Larson (D– Milwaukee), and Rep. Jill Billings (D–LaCrosse), released a joint statement about the letter”
Rep. Spreitzer (D-Beloit): Statement on Article V convention.
“Clearly, an Article V convention is not how we should approach changing the bedrock document that forms our country and guarantees our rights. I strongly oppose an Article V convention.”
Rep. Taylor (D-Madison): Assembly GOP votes to re-write U.S. Constitution.
“Earlier today, Republican legislators voted to blow open the U.S. Constitution by advancing a series of bills that call for a Constitutional Convention. Pushed by out-of-state corporations, billionaires andrightwing groups including the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), this scheme seeks to knee cap the federal government, decimate social safety nets, and roll back environmental and civil rights protections. If passed by the State Senate, Wisconsin would become the 30th state, out of the 34 needed, to call for a constitutional convention.”
Sen. Shilling (D-La Crosse): Veterans denied right to Veterans Day.
“In seeking to designate November 11th as an official state holiday in Wisconsin, Senate Republicans blocked an amendment that would have ensured all veterans, regardless of whether they are a public or private employee, would be granted a paid day off. Democrats argued that veterans should be the ones benefiting from the holiday rather than simply closing government offices. ”
Sen. Erpenbach (D-Middleton): Column: Wisconsin first, not Washington: Protection from Trump and the GOP Congress.
“As the U.S. Senate moves swiftly and quietly to kick 23 million citizens in this country off of existing private market health care, we have to ask ourselves what will be left in Wisconsin when Congress is done?”
Sen. Vinehout (D-Alma): Column: Will Wisconsin’s future children receive an equal education?
“Openly, legislative leaders point to a lack of agreement on public education. They say no progress can happen until they round up necessary votes for the education portion of the budget. Privately, some GOP lawmakers are also angling to spend money on a big change to business personal property taxes. However, changes to taxes could take away money promised to schools.”
Sens. Bewley (D-Ashland), Hansen (D-Green Bay): GOP passes on chance to protect taxpayers and fully address opioid crisis.
“Republican leaders of the Wisconsin State Senate rejected an amendment that could have held pharmaceutical companies answerable for their role in the opioid epidemic that has ravaged Wisconsin families and communities. “