Thursday May 25, 2017

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Elections, Elected Officials and Political Parties
Update from DPW Chair, Martha Laning PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Martha Laning   
Monday, 27 March 2017 14:10

martha-laningThe GOP WealthCare Plan is defeated, Trump-Russia investigation, Scott Walker gives blank checks to corporate CEOs, and much more...

MADISON - Welcome to the latest installment of my chair update.

The GOP WealthCare Plan Defeated

After an eventful week in Washington, Speaker Paul Ryan and President Donald Trump were forced to pull their horrendous health care plan from even seeing a vote on the House floor. 

paul_ryanThis is a dramatic defeat for President Trump and Speaker Ryan, but a huge victory for everyday Americans who called and emailed their Representatives to make their voices heard. Stopping the GOP WealthCare plan shows that grassroots organizing can be successful in resisting the Trump agenda. 

Now, we prepare for the next fight. Don't let up. Keep the pressure on and keep holding Speaker Ryan and President Trump accountable.

Russia Investigation Runs Deeper

On Monday, we learned from FBI Director James Comey that there is an ongoing investigation into collusion between Trump's team and Russia while Vladimir Putin was helping Donald Trump get elected. The investigation into potential Trump team collusion with Russia began last July and is still ongoing. 

>From there the news kept coming as we learned that former Trump campaign Chairman Paul Manafort – who has long denied doing any work with the Russians – had a multi-year, multi-million dollar consulting job with a Russian billionaire and close Putin confidant to promote Russian policies and undermine Russian opponents.

At this point, it is crystal clear we need both a special prosecutor at the Department of Justice and a 9/11-style commission, to hold people accountable for what has happened and make sure it never happens again. 

This is not about political partisanship - it never is when our national security is at stake. The Republican party needs to do the right thing for the sake our country.

The Problem With Gov. Scott Walker's Haribo Announcement

It's certainly a good thing when new jobs come to our state and the announcement of Haribo adding well-paying jobs to Wisconsin's southeastern corridor is fantastic news to hear. But hidden in the details of their announcement was that Gov. Scott Walker's flagship job creation agency, WEDC, said the state has no current price tag on incentives for the company.

New factories and jobs are good, of course, but a blank check that rewards wealthy CEOs with our tax dollars is completely short-sighted and a clear sign that Gov. Walker is governing solely with re-election in mind. 

Whenever we spend tax dollars we should be getting the biggest bang for our buck. That's why Democrats believe in putting those funds towards better public schools that strengthen communities around our state and prepare future workers for the opportunities available when a new business, like Haribo, comes to town.

As Democrats, we believe anyone who is willing to work hard and play by the rules should have a fair shot at the American Dream. That's how we create an economy that works for all Wisconsinites - not just those at the very top.

Wisconsin Budget Process Update

Members of the Joint Finance Committee are gearing up for briefings by state agency executives beginning next week. You can follow along with the budget process and learn more about the next steps moving forward at The Budget Process in Wisconsin.
Weekly Radio Address: Protect Access to Health Care
Senator Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse) offered the weekely Democratic radio address this week. The audio file of this week's address can be found here:

A written transcript of the address is below: 

Hi, I’m Senator Jennifer Shilling with this week’s Democratic Radio Address.

Making health care more affordable and protecting access for Wisconsin families has been a top priority for Democrats. While the Affordable Care Act wasn’t perfect, it helped to expand coverage and hold down costs, especially for seniors and individuals with pre-existing conditions. Unfortunately, Republicans in Washington D.C. have made it their mission to roll back the progress we’ve made and hand power back to the big insurance companies.

Plans being touted by Speaker Paul Ryan and President Trump would take health care coverage away from thousands of Wisconsin families. Under their proposal, seniors and working families will pay more while millionaires and health insurance executives would get massive tax breaks.

"Residents in rural communities would have fewer choices and less freedom. 24 million Americans will lose coverage.

"Millions more will see higher out-of-pocket costs, and Wisconsin residents would be among those hit hardest by these Republican changes. Instead of going back to the days of massive price hikes and worse coverage, we should protect the progress we’ve made and ensure families have the opportunity to access affordable health care coverage.

As the debate over health care continues, be sure to make your voice heard and help us protect quality health care for those who need it most.

Get Your Tickets For The 2017 Founder's Day Gala

With our sights set on a victorious 2018 midterm election cycle, Wisconsin Democrats will gather this May to celebrate the Democratic Party of Wisconsin's 2017 Founders Day Gala. 

The evening will focus on rallying Democrats for the important races on the ballot in Wisconsin's 2018 election. Democrats and grassroots activists are excited to work towards another victory for Senator Tammy Baldwin. Sen. Baldwin was elected to the Senate on a promise to fight for an economy that works for everyone, not just the wealthiest Americans. In the Senate, she's fought tirelessly for the economic stability for Wisconsinites by introducing measures to strengthen the "Made in Wisconsin" economy by leading the Senate’s Manufacturing Jobs for America campaign to pass legislation to help manufacturers grow and create jobs.

Please join us and your fellow Democrats on May 6, 2017 for our Founder's Day Gala at the Hilton - Milwaukee City Center in Milwaukee. Tickets are going fast, so get yours before they sell out! As always, we have a great event planned so we hope you can make it.

OWN Activism Calendar

In case you missed it, One Wisconsin Now rolled out an online activist calendar this week to help progressive activists speak up and fight back against the extreme Republican agenda at both the state and federal level. 

We've seen an incredible amount of energy from grassroots activists this year and the addition of an online calendar is another helpful tool to bring progressives together. The calendar allows individuals to post information about events around the state and allows them to RSVP online by simply filling out an online form.  

The calendar is available online at I encourage you all to bookmark this page. I already have!

Sign Up For Message Monday

Our communications department is doing everything it can to equip progressive Democrats with the tools they need to amplify our message on issues happening at both the state and federal level. 

I've heard from many of you that one of our best efforts has been the Message Monday program where we send out the most up to date talking points and data sets with regards to the news driving the week. 

If you'd like to be included in the Message Monday group, please contact Communications Director, Brandon Weathersby, at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to be added immediately.

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

Wisconsin Hospital Association critical of health care bill
Democratic state Rep. Jimmy Anderson, who was paralyzed after a car crash that killed his parents and younger brother, said the current law was his only "glimmer of hope" when facing insurmountable medical bills after the 2010 accident.

Fiscal bureau: Scott Walker's budget leaves $1.1 billion hole starting in 2019
Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal for the state’s next budget creates a larger structural deficit than previously thought, nearly $1.1 billion, in the ensuing budget cycle beginning in 2019, the state’s nonpartisan fiscal office said Thursday.

Critics say GOP skipping debate on bill deregulating wells linked to shrinking lakes
State Senate Republicans plan to vote next week without a public committee meeting or debate on a controversial bill that would further loosen regulation of high-capacity wells that are linked to low water levels in lakes and streams. After the plan for Labor and Regulatory Reform Committee members to vote by submitting paper ballots was announced Thursday, Democrats accused the GOP majority of trying to duck public discussion of the bill, which is favored by the agriculture industry, but unpopular with recreational users of lakes and streams.

Hebl reintroduces fair courts package
Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie) recently announced his reintroduction of a comprehensive reform package that will help protect the impartiality of Wisconsin’s judicial system. Hebl said these proposals will begin to rebuild the public’s trust in the impartiality and fairness of our state’s justice system, which has been greatly undermined in recent years.

Bipartisan lobbying bill ends special treatment for ex-lawmakers
State lawmakers would stop getting special treatment under a bipartisan bill introduced this week that would bar them from becoming lobbyists immediately after leaving office. Versions of the measure have been introduced in past sessions, as a string of lawmakers have left public service to take lucrative posts lobbying their former colleagues.

Wisconsin discrimination claims would be harder to pursue under Gov. Scott Walker's budget
Some victims of job discrimination would not be able to recover their legal costs from their bosses under the state budget proposed by Gov. Scott Walker. Under another budget provision, those who failed to prove they faced workplace discrimination could be forced to pay their employer’s attorney fees.

Balanced Budget Amendment & Constitutional Convention Are Dangerous Propositions PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Thursday, 23 March 2017 16:00

georgetown-cryerMany are concerned about rising federal debt levels, but amending U.S. Constitution is the wrong way to deal with it say the non-partisan League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

MADISON – The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin opposes any proposal seeking to convene a Constitutional Convention for the purpose of adding a balanced budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution. We respect people’s concerns about rising federal debt levels, but amending U.S. Constitution is the wrong way to deal with that problem. Moreover, a Constitutional amendments convention is a particularly dangerous path to take.

senateYet a joint committee of the Wisconsin legislature next week will consider legislation calling for such a convention, and the proposal could be on the fast track.

A Constitutional amendments (Article V) convention could go in many different directions, regardless of the efforts of Wisconsin lawmakers to restrict the role of our own state’s delegates. It would put at risk every citizen right that is currently protected in the Constitution.

Furthermore, inserting a balanced budget requirement into the Constitution could have drastic economic consequences. It would put the federal government in a position where it could not respond to an economic recession or a national disaster or emergency without increasing tax revenue. In an emergency, our nation would have to raise taxes just to meet the needs of its citizens.

“Congress would have to agree on a tax increase, just at a time when fewer people might be working because of a disaster or recession. That’s when a tax increase would hurt the most! This is no way for the United States of America to be prepared for emergencies,” said Andrea Kaminski, executive director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin.

Calling for a Constitutional Convention to pass a balanced federal budget is a reckless proposal, and it should be rejected.


The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin is a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. The League welcomes women and men across the state as members. The League never endorses any political party or candidate, but it does take positions on key policy issues. There are 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.

Last Updated on Friday, 24 March 2017 09:53
Underage Voting Shows Need To Invest In Voter Education PDF Print E-mail
Elections, Elected Officials, Political Parties
Written by League Women Voters WI, Andrea Kaminski   
Tuesday, 21 March 2017 11:08

univ-student-voteWhile there have been many unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud in Wisconsin, about seventy 17-year-olds did vote illegally here in the 2016 Presidential Primary. Social media posts may have mislead the teens, but we should not let this incident discourage young citizens by adding further restrictions on voting.

MADISON – It is unfortunate that about seventy 17-year-olds in almost 30 counties illegally voted in the Wisconsin Presidential Preference Primary last April based on misinformation. In our state 17-year-olds may register if they will be 18 by the next election. Unlike in some other states, you have to be at least 18 to vote in Wisconsin. These young citizens could be charged with a felony, but it appears the district attorneys in most counties have elected not to do so.

Since news of the underage voting was published, people have looked for a scapegoat to blame or used the incident to call for additional restrictions on voting. Let’s instead use what we’ve learned to prevent this from happening again, while still encouraging young people to participate in our democracy and not break the law.

Some have blamed social media posts before the Primary, which blurred laws that differ from state to state, for misleading the teens. We doubt anyone misled them intentionally.

The 17-year-olds who voted believed they were allowed to do so. They truthfully provided their birthdate on the registration form. Yes, they signed a form certifying that they would be “at least 18 years old or will be at least 18 years old at the time of the next election” but they thought “next election” referred to the November election. And in some states citizens who are 18 by the November Election can vote in the Primary.

What about the officials who registered these young voters? Shouldn’t they have noticed the birthdate? We have heard that some did and refused to register underage citizens. We have also heard that some were under the same misapprehension as the 17-year-olds.

There have been many unsubstantiated claims of voter fraud and some people allege our system is not equipped to catch illegal voting. Yet our existing election safeguards detected this problem and referred it to law enforcement. It is not easy to vote illegally in Wisconsin. You would risk a felony rap subject to fines or imprisonment– and you could lose your right to vote! Further restrictions on voting are not needed to prevent such problems. Instead we need to maintain a strong Wisconsin Elections Commission to continue to detect and investigate irregularities.

To prevent such incidents in the future, the state needs to invest in more voter education and training of election officials. The best antidote to misinformation is good information. Lawmakers should keep this in mind as they consider the substantial staffing reductions proposed for the Elections Commission.

We do not want to let this unfortunate incident discourage enthusiastic young citizens from participating in our government and contributing to a better future. Teens need to know that, even if they can’t vote, they can work on a campaign, become a poll worker, connect people with good information and encourage people to vote. If they do that, we are sure that after their eighteenth birthday they will become lifelong voters.


By Erin Grunze and Andrea Kaminski. Erin Grunze is Voter Education Coordinator and Andrea Kaminski is Executive Director of the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, a nonpartisan organization that advocates for informed and active participation in government. There are 18 local Leagues in Wisconsin. Follow @LWV_WI on Twitter.

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