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Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District

Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District

State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legislative assistant, Erpenbach was elected to represent the 27th Senate District in November of 1998 and was re-elected in 2002, 2006, 2010, and 2014. Jon’s Senate colleagues elected him Senate Democratic Leader in December 2002. He served in that position until December 2004.
Senator Erpenbach has worked in the Legislature to regulate issue ads since his election in 1998 to the Senate, that includes working on bipartisan proposals to limit outside spending in elections and shed light on who is spending money to influence the outcomes of elections and legislation.
For more information please contact his office at 608-266-66790 or 888-549-0027 or sen.erpenbach@legis.wi.gov

Illegal Coordination Highlighted in Guardian Story

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 14 September 2016
in Wisconsin

scott-walker-sworeinSenate Republicans knew they were blowing our campaign finance laws to pieces for their own personal benefit. That is the true crime in all of this.


MADISON, WI - Last November, the Wisconsin Senate Republicans made changes to Wisconsin election laws that they knew would allow collusion and coordination between political candidates and dark money issue ads in elections. This move was needed because they had been breaking the law, most notable in the recall elections as highlighted in The Guardian leak of thousands of pages of a John Doe investigation into Governor Scott Walker.

Wisconsin courts have found that if a group is coordinating on issue ads with a candidate, their spending -- regardless of whether it includes express advocacy -- can be considered a contribution, which under Wisconsin law encompasses both cash donations and the giving of anything of value. AB 387 changed that and made collusion and coordination legal, even when candidates coordinate with ’issue advocacy’ groups.

Issue ads claim they are NOT campaigning because they are just educating voters, not trying to influence the outcome of an election. But coordination with a candidate is the definition of campaigning. We argued all day on the Senate floor and every single Senate Republican knew they were blowing our campaign finance laws to pieces for their own personal benefit. That is the true crime in all of this. Politicians voting to benefits themselves.

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Services Best Delivered in Counties with Direct Veteran-to-Veteran Support

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 28 July 2016
in Wisconsin

iraq-warCounty Veterans Service Officers are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin, but the State DVA has targeted them and it needs to stop. Why this relentless attack on CVSO officers and veterans by the Wisconsin DVA?


MIDDLETON, WI - Veterans in Wisconsin need only to travel within their own county to have personal contact with another veteran helping navigate access to services. That office is the County Veterans Service Office by statute a “bricks and mortar” office where a veteran can receive support and assistance from another veteran.

CVSO’s are our most essential direct contact to veterans in Wisconsin. Why are they under attack from the Department of Veterans Affairs and Secretary John Scocos? I have no idea, but I want it to stop.

CVSO’s should have easier access to direct service connections with state and federal benefits, but instead, the Wisconsin DVA has been making it harder for CVSO’s to help veterans. From limiting access to benefits programs to blocking grants without proper legal authority, the DVA has targeted CVSO’s and it needs to stop.

There is no reason Wisconsin government should be trying to consolidate veterans services and make veterans travel farther for help, but that is exactly what the DVA is peddling in the Legislature.

I support expanding the role of CVSO’s to help veterans; that is not only logical but good public policy. We have a public health crisis with delayed mental health services for veterans and their families and we should expand CVSO offices to help with this crisis.

Why this relentless attack on CVSO officers and veterans by the Wisconsin DVA?

The answer to that question really doesn’t matter. No state agency should stand in the way of community driven services for veteran-to-veteran counseling and benefit support.

If the DVA needs to cut their budget they should look to their own agency overhead rather than the small grants that CVSO’s get from the state. Recent articles have cited that the DVA spends two dollars on administration costs for every dollar they spend on services; that certainly can be improved.

This should not be a war between the DVA and veterans receiving services in the community through their local CVSO office. Making it a war is a huge mistake for Wisconsin’s veterans. I am hopeful Governor Walker and Legislative Republicans see through the bad public policies the DVA is putting forward trying to consolidate CVSO offices regionally, making veterans drive even further to receive help.

Regardless of the DVA’s poor decisions, there are Legislators just like me committed to supporting county based veteran-to-veteran benefits support and counseling. But we need your advocacy help working together to stop this ridiculous policy push right now.

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For more information on CVSO offices and how to get in touch with your Legislators contact my office at 888-549-0027 or 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

For more information on CVSO officers, check here.

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Federal Bill Gives WI Another Chance to Capitalize

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Tuesday, 03 May 2016
in Wisconsin

aca-workingWisconsin taxpayers have missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal government as a part of the Affordable Care Act implementation, but now there's a chance to push the “reset” button.


MADISON - That fact that Wisconsin taxpayers have missed out on hundreds of millions of dollars from the Federal government as a part of the Affordable Care Act (ACA-ObamaCare) implementation is not new news. One of the few states that to say “no thanks we don’t want our own tax dollars back, please send it to Illinois or Texas” has been a painful decision to watch as students cannot graduate because classes are cut, potholes get bigger and another school referendum hits property taxpayer’s pocketbook. Well the good news is that this bad decision by Governor Walker and the Republican majority in the Legislature can be reversed at any time. We could come in session tomorrow and get this done.

Now that no one from Wisconsin is running for President and we have seen the unnecessary struggle that the choice to refuse $320 million just this biennium has had on our state economy, we can come back to the table and accept Federal dollars and give access to affordable health care. Not taking Federal funds does not mean that our tax dollars are squirreled away and saved for a rainy day by Congress. It just means they send our money to another state, to help them balance their budgets and help their citizens with health insurance.

Excellent new news from the Federal government is the introduction of the SAME Act by Senator Tammy Baldwin and others. This bill would push the “reset” button for Wisconsin. We could choose to accept our tax dollars back as a part of ACA and start at the same full reimbursement rate that we could have had in the first place; 100% reimbursement from the Federal government for expansion of our current BadgerCare Plus program. Under SAME, for four years we would be at 100% reimbursement, phasing down to 90% reimbursement after another three years. Still a lot better than where we are now, which is zero. This could be a huge windfall for our state budget.

What people don’t understand is general purpose revenue (GPR) was used to backfill Medicaid expenses for Wisconsin this budget. That means dollars that should have gone to our schools, roads and UW schools were diverted because of the political decisions of the Legislature. Republicans can even accept the Federal funds for a year and then change their mind the next year. The flexibility and sheer amount of tax dollars makes this decision a no brainer.

It is time for the Legislature to put politics aside and accept Federal BadgerCare expansion funds so our financial house can improve. The SAME Act from US Senator Baldwin will provide Wisconsin a unique opportunity to hit the “reset” button for our taxpayers and citizens. It simply is time to put more than $320 million in our coffers without raising taxes and without cuts.

For more information on the BadgerCare Plus expansion dollars or the Federal SAME Act please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 888-549-0027 or 608-266-6670

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There Are Difficulties for Some to Obtain an ID to Vote

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 15 April 2016
in Wisconsin

voter-idWhile it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Voting is a right for every eligible person, and no political party should place barriers in front of those who want to vote.


MADISON - The decision by the US Appeals Court to send a recent voter ID case back to the Federal District Court (lower court) acknowledges that for some, obtaining an ID to vote is so burdensome that they may not be able to vote in violation of the state and federal law.

The Appeals Court directed the lower court to find a way to allow some voters to vote without a photo ID because they cannot receive one the way the law currently stands.

This is not a surprise to those of us that did not support passage of this proposal.

Voting is a right for every eligible person in Wisconsin and it is simply not the job of any political party to place barriers in front of those that want to vote. The illusion that voter fraud is a reality has been shattered many times. Attorney Generals, Judges and District Attorneys have found no voter fraud.

It is this simple, voting is just not a high benefit crime for criminals and the outlier in our 5 million person state who votes more than once is found out and prosecuted like the case against republican Robert Monroe.

To sum up the decision, while the court said it is not an undue burden for most people to obtain a valid photo ID to vote, it is too difficult for some people. Some people can even be put into classes, or groups of individuals who cannot obtain a valid ID that qualifies under the Wisconsin law. While three groups are a part of this action by the court, some may say there are other groups that have exceptional difficulty obtaining a valid ID to vote. This ruling opens the door.

Homeless and those that move frequently for a variety of reasons often have no valid ID because they live on the streets, in shelters or on a friends couch. Being transient does not make an individual ineligible to vote. In Wisconsin, the number of people experiencing homelessness has increased every year since 2008 with the numbers reaching at least 25,000 in Wisconsin.

In this decision the court acknowledged that for some groups of individuals who want to vote obtaining a valid photo ID is an exceptional challenge. My hope is that through this decision and what happens next in the lower court there will be a clear path for the right to vote for all.

The absence of Legislative remedy is not a reason for the court to be blind to the realized and actual shortcomings of the law. The courts job under the Constitution in the balance of the powers doctrine is to interpret the law. The Republican Legislature passed this law and said over and over “not one voter would be displaced by this law.” It is the job of the courts to make sure that is a reality.

For more information on this recent court decision or voter ID laws in general please contact my office at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or call 888-549-0027.

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Sunshine Week 2016, Reflecting Back on the 2015 Budget Open Records Attack

Posted by Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
Jon Erpenbach Press. State Senator 27th District
State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Madison) - A former radio personality and legisla
User is currently offline
on Friday, 04 March 2016
in Wisconsin

joint-financeMADISON - The last day of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC) state budget work in the summer of 2015 was expected to be a day with some surprises. One surprise no one could have anticipated was the inclusion of page after page of open records changes. Limiting not only nearly every Legislative office record, the changes also would have closed state public agency records and the Governors records as well. Maybe that is why we celebrate “Sunshine Week” every year, to remind us all of the value of open government and the importance of transparency.

To close open records was monumental, epic and dangerous. As JFC Democrats we were given only 15 minutes to talk about the Republican motion that gutted open records. I spent every single second of my time talking about the mistake of the open records change. I remember saying that in the future when these Legislators left office and were looking back, this vote, to gut the open records law, would be their biggest regret because of the damage it would cause the people of Wisconsin.

Not one Republican vote was swayed by that argument and every single Republican on the Committee voted in favor of gutting Wisconsin open records law, including Representative Czaja and Senator Harsdorf. So of course it was a little disappointing that the Wisconsin Newspaper Association honored these two Legislators with awards.

Wisconsin had some of the first open records laws in the country. Decisions making sure records of the government were open for inspection in Wisconsin are almost as old as the state itself. As we are about to embark on Sunshine Week 2016 to celebrate open government, I hope we will all reflect on the 2015 budget open records crisis and remember how quickly the rules can change if we take them for granted.

I have always been a defender of a strong Wisconsin Open Records law, even when I was sued because I would not give out personally indefinable information of constituents who had contacted my office. The ability to make a decision as a custodian of public records and the counter balance of being able to bring suit when you disagree is central to the Wisconsin open records law and I hope it will be for years to come. Let’s celebrate Sunshine Week 2016 with extra vigilance given the summer of 2015 action.

For more information on Wisconsin’s Open Records law contact my office at 608-266-6670 or This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or 888-549-0027.

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