Tuesday July 16, 2024

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What Biden Needs To Do

Posted by Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert, Green Bay Progressive
Laura Kiefert lives in Howard and is a Partner in the Green Bay Progressive. Mem
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on Friday, 12 July 2024
in Wisconsin

joe-biden-2020Joe Biden has served the country with dedication and distinction. However, given the current circumstances, I believe it’s time for him to step aside and allow a new candidate to take the lead.


LAKE GENEVA, WI - As a long-time member of the Democratic Party, I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what Joe Biden should do next. Given the current state of his campaign and the significant challenges he faces, I believe Biden should consider stepping aside for the sake of the party and the country.

First, let’s address voter concerns. Many people feel that Biden, who will turn 82 in the fall, is simply too old for the presidency. This perception isn’t going away and could seriously harm his chances, as well as the Democratic Party's prospects in 2024.

Biden’s approval ratings have dropped to around 37%, which is historically low for an incumbent president at this stage. It’s a significant uphill battle, and it might not be one that can be won.

There’s also the impact on down-ballot races to consider. Biden’s struggles could drag down other Democratic candidates, making it difficult for the party to win control of Congress. A new candidate might energize the base and improve the chances for other Democratic candidates.

The Democratic strategy for 2024 was to focus on Trump’s flaws. But with Biden struggling, the race is becoming a choice between two unpopular candidates. A new candidate could shift the focus back to highlighting Trump’s vulnerabilities.

laura-kiefert-2018The problem seems to be specific to Biden. In key states, he’s trailing behind other Democratic candidates, suggesting the party might do better with a new, more dynamic leader who can inspire and unite the party.

By making the decision to step down early, Biden could ensure a smooth transition to another Democratic candidate, giving them plenty of time to campaign effectively and build momentum. He could also play a crucial role in selecting and endorsing a successor who embodies the values and vision of the Democratic Party, ensuring continuity and stability.

Stepping aside would allow Biden to preserve his legacy as a leader who prioritized the country and the party’s future over personal ambition. He can continue to support the new candidate through endorsements, campaign events, and by leveraging his extensive political network.

Joe Biden has served the country with dedication and distinction. However, given the current circumstances, I believe it’s time for him to step aside and allow a new candidate to take the lead. This move would not only give the Democratic Party the best chance to retain the White House and win control of Congress but also ensure a brighter future for the country. It’s a difficult decision, but one that might be necessary for the success of the party and the nation.

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Beware of Amending the Constitution in August

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 10 July 2024
in Wisconsin

1776Senator Smith encourages readers to educate themselves before voting on the two constitutional amendments on the low-turnout August Primary ballot.


EAU CLAIRE - If you plan to cast a ballot in the primary election on Tuesday, August 13th y0u need to know what to expect. Your ballot may not even have a single contested race of candidates for state legislative seats or county offices, but buried at the very end it will for sure have two questions you are expected to answer. Your answers will determine whether our state constitution will be amended to grant even more power to the legislature.

Here are the questions as they appear on your ballot:

QUESTION 1): “Delegation of appropriation power. Shall section 35 (1) of article IV of the constitution be created to provide that the legislature may not delegate its sole power to determine how monies shall be appropriated?”

QUESTION 2): “Allocation of federal moneys. Shall section 35 (2) of article IV of the constitution be created to prohibit the governor from allocating any federal moneys the governor accepts on behalf of the state without the approval of the legislature by joint resolution or as provided by legislative rule?”

Now I have a question for you. Do you consider yourself fully prepared to answer these questions? If you answered yes, you’ve done some serious homework. If you answered no, you’re not alone. They are meant to be confusing and ambiguous.

The goal of putting this measure at the bottom of the primary ballot is clearly to take full advantage of this being such a low-turnout primary August election. It’s political trickery at its finest and Wisconsin voters need to take a second look before making a knee-jerk decision.

The first question is fairly straightforward in that it would prohibit the legislature from giving up their power, to the Governor specifically, to determine how funds are appropriated.

The first question also sets up the second question which would prohibit the governor from spending federal money without the approval of the legislature (specifically the Joint Committee on Finance).

The current majority Party has been upset since the federal funding allocated by the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) was spent at the discretion of the governor as was allowed under current law. These emergency funds were meant to be spent quickly to shore up our economy and offer families relief during and after the pandemic.

Wisconsin allocated more than half of its ARPA funds to the economy, which is more than any other state. Funds were also dedicated to healthcare and public safety. Here are examples of how funds were allocated:

Economic Development

·         $1.1 billion, or 55.8% of the total amount received, was allocated to economic development initiatives, including grants to support local businesses and workforce innovation grants to support pandemic-recovery plans like the Main Street Bounce-Back grants and the Workforce Innovation grants.

Healthcare

·         The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) was given access to more than $400 million in ARPA funds to improve Wisconsin health care initiatives, including mental health and substance use disorders, as well as home and community-based services.

Good government groups have come out against these measures to amend our constitution based on their concerns over an unbalance of power. The ability to respond to emergencies like flooding, tornadoes, a bridge collapse or pandemic would definitely be negatively affected by such a radical move these amendments would cause.

jeff-smithIn fact, during the pandemic, the Majority Party in the legislature waited more than 8 months to take action. It was disheartening to see a complete lack of leadership during this time period. Conversely, Governor Evers went straight to work and responded immediately with ARPA funds. Emergencies require our elected leaders to act quickly. These constitutional changes will slow down, and may, all together stop our response to unforeseen crises.

Placing constitutional amendments on the ballot during low-turnout August elections is also concerning. Should our constitution be amended by a small percentage of the voters? It’s bad enough that the language is so confusing that voters may mistakenly think they should vote yes without understanding the consequences.

Our legislature is already far too contentious and, if approved, actions like this will only make things worse.


Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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An Independence Day For The Ages

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 03 July 2024
in Wisconsin

4th-flag-usSenator Smith encourages readers to take time during the 4th of July festivities to reflect on the privilege we have of living in such a great nation, and the responsibility that comes with it to continue the work of ensuring all American’s are truly free.


EAU CLAIRE - The Fourth of July is a time to celebrate the country we call home. We celebrate with fireworks, burgers, ice cream or show our red, white, and blue colors. Regardless of our specific traditions, we all find unique ways to show our patriotism.

During this time, I can’t help but reflect on the gratitude I have for being an American. We have the freedom to choose our religion, speak freely, to have a free press, the right to assemble and the right to petition our government. These freedoms should not be taken for granted and Independence Day reminds us not only of what it took to create our nation, but the effort it takes for us to keep it in tact. This is especially important to recognize when millions of people dream of entering this country with a glimpse of hope to receive such freedoms.

1776As fireworks gleam throughout the sky, I think it’s important that we acknowledge how lucky we are as Americans to live in this country. Since the birth of our nation, America has been a beacon of hope. A prominent historical example includes the millions of individuals, all of differing nationalities, who passed through Ellis Island in New York at the chance of starting a new life. Many of those migrants were our ancestors. They longed for a life free of famine, religious persecution, political oppression and economic uncertainty. Although Ellis Island closed 70 years ago, the diversity of our nation enriches our society with unique perspectives and diverse talents that continue to strengthen the fabric of our country today.

The Fourth of July is not only a time to commemorate the past but to also reflect on the present. Independence is an integral part of celebrating this day and is a key aspect of what makes America such a desirable place to live and work. When I think of independence, I also think about how each human deserves the proper legal protection to decide what they do with their bodies, including the right to choose when to start or expand their family. Your government should have no say in making such an important decision in your life, but today it does.

The Roe v. Wade court case was decided in 1973 and was made just two years after the 26th Amendment passed, granting 18 year olds the right to vote. While our country made strides for increasing voting rights and reproductive freedom during this time, we find ourselves struggling with similar issues today. For almost half a century, women had the independence to choose what to do with their bodies. Unfortunately, this was taken away in the summer of 2022.

jeff-smithIt has been two years since the Dobbs decision stripped away the fundamental right to choose when and how child bearing citizens start a family. Today, debates on abortion extend much further than whether or not to end a pregnancy. Abortion laws also curtail personal choice, bodily sovereignty and medical freedoms. Within the last two years, a hodgepodge of states have further revoked the right for women to make decisions for their own bodies.

We all understand the importance of freedom of religion, freedom of speech and freedom to petition the government. We must also understand that bodily freedom is just as important. The freedom to choose when to start or expand a family is an American value that is no longer guaranteed. For your Fourth of July celebrations, I hope you will reflect on our independence and the ways we can expand freedom for all, even in our great nation.


Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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Not All Heroes Wear Capes

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 26 June 2024
in Wisconsin

disability-oldSenator Smith details the heroic efforts of everyday volunteers who make the work of county Aging, Disability and Resource Centers (ADRC) possible.


EAU CLAIRE - “Not all heroes wear capes” is an expression you hear frequently to describe everyday folks doing extraordinary things without asking for credit or even boasting about their good deeds. That could easily fit the description of Lyle Orsch.

Lyle is a young man I became aware of last week. In January, he was out delivering Meals-On-Wheels as he did regularly during his high school lunch hour for the Trempealeau County ADRC. He arrived at the home of a woman who had fallen 12-hours earlier and broken her hip. He stayed with her after calling 911 until help arrived. He stayed calm and handled the situation with ease while reassuring her everything would be okay. This simple act of service saved her life. He’s a hero in my book.

elderlyLast week I had the pleasure of sitting down with several directors of county Aging and Disability Resource Centers (ADRC) from our area for a long conversation that spanned a wide range of topics. We discussed the delicate balance of providing care for our ever-growing population of elders in need of assistance. I learned there’s a serious shortage of volunteers who are needed to do everything such as delivering meals, driving folks to medical appointments, house cleaning, providing respite for care-givers and even minor repairs in the home most of us take for granted.

It’s an understatement to say my eyes are wide-open on the issue of ensuring that much more is done in the coming legislative session to support the role that these vital organizations play in our communities.

What is clear to me is that the work being done by ADRC’s in every county of the state is essential to supporting aging adults and others in their homes. For several years my wife has been providing care for her parents and we became more aware of the services and support provided by the ADRC. We also learned what it means to be caregivers and to never be too proud to ask for help. That’s directed at both adults needing services and their caregivers.

The ADRC mission is to provide older adults and people with physical, developmental or intellectual disabilities with the resources needed to live with dignity and security. This helps individuals achieve maximum independence and ensure quality of life.

If you have questions about aging or living with a disability, your local ADRC can help. ADRC’s provide information on a variety of programs and services. That includes long-term care options, and they also help people apply for programs and benefits, including publicly funded long-term care.

Here are some of the resources ADRC’s can offer:

While it is important to promote and thank the staff of these fine organizations, we must also keep in mind they are being asked to do a lot with very little money. Annual budgets for ADRC’s are simply not keeping up with the increased costs associated with operating these services. Keep in mind the aging population is only going to grow.

jeff-smithThe ‘silver tsunami’ is here. More financial support is needed by the state and as your state senator, I will be the first to advocate for more money during the next budget, which starts in earnest this coming January.

In addition to more state funds, volunteers are critically needed to ensure the smooth operation of these services in every county. As I heard several times during our conversation, this kind of community service is incredibly meaningful and the need is great.

The regular contact volunteers like Lyle offer for these folks is in some cases the only regular contact they receive. How about you? Do you have a couple hours you could help drive someone to an appointment or deliver some meals? Give your county ADRC a call today to learn more about how you can help.


Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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Celebrate Pride Month

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
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on Wednesday, 19 June 2024
in Wisconsin

lgbtq-rainbow-flagSenator Smith celebrates Pride Month recounting the events leading from the Stonewall uprising, and Wisconsin’s leadership as the first state to pass a non-discrimination law, to the continued struggle for equality today for our LGBTQ+ community.


EAU CLAIRE - Martin Luther King, Jr. reminded us that “the arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Over the course of my life, I can look back and see how true that statement is. History shows us the very tangible progress we have made, even in recent years, but it’s important to remember that we didn’t come this far by chance alone.

During Pride Month, this June and beyond, we are reminded of the importance of standing together to support and uplift our LGBTQ+ community. This month is a time to honor the progress we’ve made, acknowledge the challenges that remain and commit ourselves to the ongoing fight for equality and inclusivity. For Wisconsin, Pride Month is not just a celebration, it’s a time to remember our shared values of diversity, acceptance and human dignity, especially in the face of the challenges we saw during the last legislative session.

lgbtq-stonewall-greenwich-1969When police raided the Stonewall Inn in Greenwich Village the night of June 28, 1969 and began hauling patrons out to paddy wagons, it sparked an uprising. Police were caught off-guard; they had not met so much resistance in the past. But these citizens who were only able to be open about who they were in places like the Stonewall Inn had enough. Protests and violent clashes lasted for 6 days. It was this tipping point that sparked a groundswell of activism in the gay rights movement across the nation and the world.

Wisconsin has its own proud history of LGBTQ+ activism. Eight years before Stonewall in 1961, a group of men was bent on harassing patrons of the Black Nite Bar in Milwaukee. They were met with resistance and successfully kicked out of the bar. This incident has since been dubbed the “Black Nite Brawl” and “Milwaukee’s Stonewall.”

While Stonewall has been celebrated since 1969 as a turning point, there is still so much more to do. It is often said that it is our differences that make us a great nation. Accepting that we are all individuals, with our own individual backgrounds and desires, we can embrace that variety and build a vibrant and welcoming society.

Wisconsin has been a leader in LGBTQ+ rights since 1982, when we became the first state to pass a law prohibiting employment or housing discrimination based on sexual orientation (although it’s important to note that Wisconsin still does not have a law preventing discrimination based on sexual identity). It would be nine years before any other state would pass such protections.  This groundbreaking legislation was a beacon of hope and a model for other states to follow. Yet, despite these strides, the LGBTQ+ community continues to face significant obstacles. From healthcare disparities to discrimination in various aspects of daily life like housing and employment.

jeff-smithOne of the most pressing issues facing our LGBTQ+ community is the fight for comprehensive non-discrimination protections. There is still a need for robust legal safeguards that protect individuals based on gender identity and expression. Every Wisconsinite, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, deserves to live free from discrimination. It is our responsibility as policymakers to ensure that these protections are enshrined in our laws.

Healthcare access is another critical area where we must focus our efforts. Studies have shown that LGBTQ+ individuals often face barriers to accessing quality healthcare, leading to disparities in physical and mental health outcomes. Transgender individuals, in particular, experience high rates of discrimination and inadequate care. By promoting inclusive healthcare policies and supporting providers who offer affirming care, we can help bridge these gaps and ensure that everyone in our community receives the care they deserve.

This Pride Month, I encourage everyone to join in the celebrations. Attend local Pride events, support LGBTQ+ businesses and engage in conversations about the importance of equality and inclusion. Let’s use this month as an opportunity to reflect on the progress we have made and recommit ourselves to the work that still needs to be done, especially in the upcoming legislative session in January.


Senator Smith represents District 31 in the Wisconsin State Senate. The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo, Pepin and Trempealeau counties and portions of Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson and St. Croix counties.

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