Sunday October 25, 2020

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A Real Halloween Threat

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 21 October 2020
in Wisconsin

covid-19-protest-madisonLegislative Republicans continue supporting plans to dismantle Governor Evers’ efforts to slow the spread of COVID-19, even while Wisconsin is experiencing a spike in cases, hospitalizations and deaths.


MADISON - Halloween is typically a time we enjoy spooky things. We find ways to get scared, whether it’s a haunted corn maze or horror flick.  This year, however, it seems like we’re living in a scary movie with no clear happy ending in sight. What’s even scarier is we don’t have the leadership to help us through this horrific time.

In the beginning of the year, we watched COVID-19’s rampage through countries like China and Italy. In America, the President downplayed the seriousness of this crisis, predicting we wouldn’t be as affected here.

tony-evers-talksBy mid-March it became obvious, after seeing New York hit by the virus that we needed to take precautions here in Wisconsin. Governor Tony Evers wisely announced measures to keep us “Safer at Home” to try and avoid a serious spread. Around the same time, our frontline health workers worried they weren’t properly prepared for what might be coming, especially with a shortage of Personal Protective Equipment. We also saw businesses laying off thousands of workers, which quickly overwhelmed Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance system.

In mid-April the Legislature passed the COVID-19 Relief Bill, which allowed Wisconsin to accept the CARES Act funding from Congress. This was the first and only time Republican lawmakers acted on COVID-19 prevention efforts.

On April 21st, Republican lawmakers ran to the State Supreme Court to rescind the “Safer at Home” order, claiming individual freedoms were being trampled by a public health order that was in place to protect us. An hour after the Supreme Court overturned the “Safer at Home” order, we saw taverns full of patrons celebrating their ‘freedom’ to spread this highly-contagious virus.

After the Supreme Court ruling, local health departments were forced to scramble and pull together their own plans, even though there was another court case to limit local governments’ ability to act. Fortunately, a federal judge struck that suit down on July 21st and allowed local jurisdictions to implement and enforce their health plans.

During the end of July, we experienced widespread COVID-19 cases in rural counties. COVID-19 positives were soaring among young adults. Governor Evers announced Emergency Order #1, requiring face coverings over our nose and mouth while in public, indoor places. Despite the dangerous spike in cases, the Majority Party refused to call the Legislature into session to focus on additional COVID-19 relief.

Throughout September, with students returning to campus and our state experiencing COVID-19 fatigue, Wisconsin saw yet another spike in cases. To protect one another, Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #3 to limit indoor gatherings to 25% of capacity. On September 23rd Republicans finally met in the Capitol, but it wasn’t in the interest of the Wisconsin People – they met to hear campaign rhetoric for President Trump from his Secretary of State.

Around this same time, Republican lawmakers vocally supported efforts by a conservative think-tank to sue the Governor to end the mask requirement in Wisconsin. Fortunately, the judge struck down their attempt, citing the Legislature’s ability to put an end to Governor Evers’ emergency order.

Republicans continue shelling out taxpayer money to fight against popular, commonsense public health policy, when all they have to do is convene the Legislature and vote them down. Republican lawmakers have cost taxpayers more than $400,000 on legal assaults against the Governor instead of putting together a plan to stop the spread of COVID-19.

jeff-smith-ofcLast week, lobbyists challenged Emergency Order #3 in court, ultimately winning their case. At the same time, Republican lawmakers on the Joint Committee for Review on Administrative Rules took the first step to strike this emergency order down, all the while having no plan to ensure the safety of Wisconsin residents.

Most recently, on Monday, October 19th a judge restored Emergency Order #3, which will go a long way to help Wisconsin slow the spread of COVID-19.

It’s been 6 months since the Legislature passed the COVID-19 Relief Bill. Wisconsin is the nation’s hotspot for COVID-19. As of October 16th, we’ve had 166,186 positive cases and 1,574 people die from COVID-19. Governor Evers is doing what he can to stop the spread – we are long overdue for legislative Republicans do the same.

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Who Will Care for You?

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 14 October 2020
in Wisconsin

disability-oldCountless constituents and healthcare professionals are urging the Legislature to expand Medicaid. We can allow 80,000 more people access to health care and improve our caregiver workforce.


MADISON - We live our lives with much uncertainty. We can never be sure our plans will work out perfectly, and we may have to adjust due to unforeseen events. It could be weather changes, mechanical problems, an illness or accident that may change our entire life. But, even with uncertainty hanging over us like a cloud, we plan and move ahead.

Most of the time, plans are kept and we live another day healthy and free of worry. If things go as we plan, we will live a long and healthy life. But even as we approach our later years we won’t be able to do the things we once did for ourselves and we’ll need help. Many of us see this with our own parents or elderly neighbors; they need caregivers. It could be us or the people we care about; it could be at our homes or at a care facility; no matter who or where, professional caregivers are critical for our communities.

Like a lot of other things, the COVID-19 pandemic has pulled back the curtain to reveal the weaknesses of our healthcare system, including a caregiver shortage. This profession is in crisis; like so many other essential workers, caregivers have been left behind. It’s important that we recognize the shortfalls that currently exist for Wisconsin’s caregiver workforce. Understanding these barriers will help us know what we need to do to support caregivers and strengthen this essential workforce.

Less funding and more complicated systems have forced many who would have otherwise considered a healthcare position, caring for the elderly or clients with disabilities, to reconsider purely for financial reasons. When such highly skilled people are able to find work in other professions that pay livable wages with benefits who can blame them for looking out for their own families’ needs?

Governor Tony Evers recognized the shortage of professional caregivers as a crisis, particularly as we enter an era of increased need brought on by the aging baby boomer generation. This awareness resulted in Governor Evers creating the Task Force on Caregiving in 2019, which was asked, “to analyze strategies to attract and retain a strong direct care workforce and to assist families providing caregiving supports and services.”

After months of meetings with stakeholders throughout Wisconsin, the Task Force presented their findings and recommendations in the “Wisconsin Caregivers in Crisis” report to Governor Evers in September.  During the course of their meetings, the Task Force found the caregiver workforce is “in a state of perpetual turnover” due to low-wages, despite the many open positions that are available.

jeff-smithWhen the turnover of professional direct care workers is so dramatic, it becomes a truly dangerous situation for many clients who need and deserve consistency in their care. When speaking with constituents with special needs, a top concern is that they are continuously training new caregivers.

The Task Force’s report provides a comprehensive list of proposals intended to address this crisis and better support caregivers. The list details approaches to broadly address Wisconsin’s caregiving needs by focusing on five key strategies: invest in tools to help family caregivers; reform direct care workforce rates; expand benefits for the caregiving workforce; improve outreach to Wisconsin’s untapped workers and better connect caregivers and people in need of care through a Home Care Provider Registry.

While reading the report, the proposal that really caught my eye – which could be easily implemented to help Wisconsinites – is Medicaid Expansion. Over the course of the legislative session, we’ve already heard a lot about the advantages of expanding Medicaid. Now we know, Medicaid expansion would help solve some of the big problems our state’s caregiver workforce is facing. Specifically, the report concluded caregivers could earn more money and “allow an additional 60% of caregivers to obtain health insurance,” all the while improving caregiver retention.

This session, I’ve heard from countless constituents and healthcare professionals urging the Legislature to expand Medicaid. We can bring tax dollars back to our state from the federal government, allow 80,000 more people access to health care and improve our caregiver workforce. Twenty-nine states have already expanded Medicaid – it’s time Wisconsin does too.

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Safe and Secure Absentee Voting

Posted by Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, State Senator District 31
Jeff Smith, Senator District 31 (D - Eau Claire)
User is currently offline
on Wednesday, 07 October 2020
in Wisconsin

vote-47-mbDespite all the chaos in the news, every vote counts and absentee voting is safe and easy. Here are some do's and don'ts to make sure your voice is heard.


MADISON - If you’re like me, you’re probably experiencing whiplash from all the voting changes and the political ads airing on TV, radio and at the mailbox. It’s hard not to visualize yourself at your polling location casting a ballot on Election Day.

At the thought of going out, you consider what you will need when you show up to the polls: keys, wallet or purse, voter ID and a facemask. As we get through this global pandemic, the idea of going out is often measured by the importance of our errand. Voting is a critical task, but it doesn’t have to be a hassle – absentee voting will save you a trip on Election Day, and you can research your choices while filling out your ballot at your kitchen table.

Absentee voting is safe and easy. You don’t have to schedule your trip to your polling location and you can rest assured your vote will be counted by your local clerks and poll workers in a secure and efficient way.

The deadline to request your absentee ballot is quickly approaching, so acting today will help you get your ballot in time and make your choices. That way you can tell those political callers you already voted and they will take you off their lists!

You must request your absentee ballot from your town, village or city clerk by 5 pm on October 29th, but why wait? Make sure you are registered and request your ballot today. You can simply request your absentee ballot at MyVote.WI.gov. You can also email your clerk, set up a time to meet with him or her; or, if the clerk’s office has regular business hours, show up and they can help you out. You will fill out a simple absentee ballot request form and either send them a copy of your photo ID or present it to the clerk.

After requesting your ballot, you will receive your absentee ballot in the mail. Don’t delay sending your ballot back too! The United States Postal Service recommends sending your completed absentee ballot back to your clerk’s office one week from Election Day, but the earlier the better. A recent court decision by the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled the deadline to return absentee ballots is 8 p.m. on Election Day.

The great thing about absentee voting is that a ballot will automatically be sent to you every election. If you move, you will have to re-register, but it isn’t something you have to do every time you vote.

jeff-smithIt seems like every election there is a new court ruling or new law citizens have to navigate to cast a ballot. For the most up-to-date and comprehensive information, you can visit MyVote.wi.gov. On the website, you will see important deadlines, find your polling location and even see a sample ballot.

Despite continual court challenges and laws designed to limit voting, we must make our voices heard. It’s not about politics, it’s about our civic duty to participate in democracy. It’s what makes our country great. Each citizen has the right and the duty to vote.

Don’t forget to vote all the way down your ballot too! Learning about state and local candidates is just as important as your pick for President and Vice President. If you don’t know who is running locally or what their stances are, just ask your friends or look them up online.

Voting doesn’t have to be hard; we can all make our choices in a safe and efficient way. If you ever have any questions about voting changes or need to know how to register to vote or request your ballot, my office is ready to assist you. Just email us at This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it or give us a call at 608-266-8546.

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State Republicans, Nygren Fail Wisconsin on COVID-19

Posted by Karl Jaeger, Jaeger For Wisconsin
Karl Jaeger, Jaeger For Wisconsin
Jaeger For Wisconsin, Karl Jaeger has not set their biography yet
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on Tuesday, 06 October 2020
in Wisconsin

trump-wh-covidWillfully downplaying the severity of COVID-19, disregarding the safety of our citizens by ignoring science, and fighting every attempt the Governor makes to slow the spread, has helped make Wisconsin the Nation’s new COVID-19 hotspot, says Karl Jaeger.


MARINTTE, WI - After months and months of John Nygren and our State Legislature downplaying the severity of COVID-19, willfully disregarding the safety of our citizens by ignoring science, and actively fighting every attempt the Governor has made to slow the spread of this virus, Wisconsin is quickly becoming the Nation’s COVID-19 hotspot.

The GOP has not done a single thing to slow the spread of COVID-19. In fact, they have fought the Governor at every step—filing multiple lawsuits to end public health orders and issuing celebratory press releases with each of their hollow “victories”.

karl-jaegerI’ve said this before, but the basic function of our state government is to protect our citizens’ health and safety. Acting to undermine public health like this will cost lives. The Wisconsin GOP owns this pandemic—the responsibility for every new case of this virus rests squarely in their hands. How many people have to be hospitalized before we start to matter to them?

john-nygrenWisconsin Republicans have not met or passed a single bill in over 170 days. Neither the executive branch nor the judiciary has the ability to write new laws: only the Legislature can do that. Lives are at stake and they don't have a single solution to offer. And now, instead of working toward solutions, they are using the courts, at taxpayer expense, to fight Wisconsin’s mask order. This is shameful. This reckless disregard for human life is completely unconscionable.

There’s nothing even stopping them from convening to rescind the mask order on their own—they’re just cowards who are too weak to take responsibility for their own actions. They’re afraid to hurt their chances of reelection, so they are shifting blame to the Supreme Court at taxpayers’ expense. They’ll spend our money to sue the Governor, but won’t convene to work on solutions. In fact, they haven’t offered one single idea on how to deal with COVID-19 since the pandemic began.

November 3 is fast approaching, and it’s time Wisconsin elects leaders who will work together to put the health and safety of our people first. Please wear a mask, wash your hands, and practice social distancing—and please vote for change.

Karl Jaeger
Candidate, 89th Assembly District

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Tom Palzewicz Introduces Himself

Posted by Tom Palzewicz, Candidate for Congress
Tom Palzewicz, Candidate for Congress
Tom Palzewicz is the Democrat running for Congress in Wisconsin's 5th Congressio
User is currently offline
on Friday, 02 October 2020
in Wisconsin

tom-palzewiczTom Palzewicz is the Democrat running for Congress in Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. He is a small-business owner and Navy Veteran running against Scott Fitzgerald in this traditionally red district.


BROOKFIELD, WI - Greetings, my name is Tom Palzewicz. I am a small-business owner, Navy Veteran, and Democrat running for Congress in Wisconsin's 5th Congressional District. I'm running because our country lacks vision. We are at a crossroads for our Democracy, and the stakes are high for our country. When I got into this race, I looked forward to an honest exchange of ideas and solutions. Unfortunately, my opponent, Scott Fitzgerald, has been unwilling to engage in this fundamentally democratic exercise.

The central tenet of our Democracy is debate. We will never agree with anyone on everything, nor were we meant to. Still, the ability to find common ground is almost impossible without a free-flowing exchange of ideas. A series of debates provides voters a window into the policy solutions we offer as prospective representatives. I am ready, willing, and eager to engage in a robust, open, and respectful conversation with Senator Fitzgerald because it is what the voters deserve. After sending letters, making phone calls, and reaching out across various channels, Fitzgerald still declines the opportunity to make his case to the voters and defend his ideas. I know the voters of this district, not as Republicans or Democrats, but as my friends, family, and neighbors. I know that no matter what party you identify with, you welcome solutions, and you welcome debates.

scott_fitzgeraldParty loyalty has sadly been absolute at the federal level of our government. In the White House, Senate, and even here in Wisconsin the “with us or against us" mentality is pervasive. I know Wisconsinites are better than this. Instead of placing the country's needs first and having real conversations about our values and ideas, we are dividing almost everything by fealty to party and raw power acquisition. We have not had a reasonable discussion about how to solve our most pressing issues. We are amid a pandemic that claimed the lives of over 200,000 Americans, we see racial injustice violently unfold before our eyes, and we are witnessing an unrelenting climate crisis. No matter how great these challenges may seem, we can overcome them through the American spirit of dialogue, discussion, and yes, debate.

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