Thursday June 30, 2022

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On Getting Vaccinated

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
User is currently offline
on Thursday, 04 November 2021
in Wisconsin

laura-rodgers-vaccinationWith Aaron Rodgers out for a game for testing positive for COVID-19, progressive activist Laura Kiefert speaks out on the community responsibility to get vaccinated.


GREEN BAY, WI - I’m sick and tired of the vaccination debate and just as tired of keeping my frustration on the subject to myself. So here goes. I think that as a society, we have an obligation to safeguard one another. Yes, you get vaccinated to protect yourself – but you also get vaccinated to protect those around you. And we do this in order to control or eradicate diseases that ravage our population.

I believe everybody who is eligible should be required to get vaccinated if they want to engage with others in public spaces. In the interest of public health, vaccines or a recent negative test should be required to enter virtually all public spaces. If you want to go to a restaurant, bar, train station or concert, for example, you need to show proof of vaccination or a recent negative test.

If a person chooses not to get vaccinated, they should stay home because no one has the right to infect others with a potentially deadly illness. I believe it is the ultimate act of selfishness to decide that your individual decision must take precedence over the literal life and death of the people around you.

We are talking here about someone choosing an unhealthy diet – something you could argue only affects an individual. We're talking about a very contagious disease that is so easily transmissible it's killed more than 750,000 Americans and millions of people around the world have died. And, it isn’t over yet.

Vaccination is not only a matter of individual choice because there are immunosuppressed Americans who do not have full immunity from the vaccine and there are many people, including our young children, who aren’t vaccinated, yet. How is it right that someone can opt to not be vaccinated and then spread the illness to vulnerable groups who did not make the choice to be so vulnerable?

So vaccination cannot be perceived as an individual choice. Instead, we need to equate it much more so to drunk driving. You can drink in private – that's your choice – but you can't just decide to get behind the wheel because you feel like it and don't think you'll get hurt. We have laws against drunk driving, since individual choice to undertake a dangerous public activity cannot override the need to protect the public from deadly harm.

We all want want our kids to go to school without being sent home constantly due to positive cases and the need to quarantine. We want workplaces to come back without the need for masks and distancing. We want our economy to thrive and travel to return to pre-pandemic normal. If we want those things to happen, then it's necessary for all people who are eligible in those environments to be vaccinated.

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The Future of Wisconsin is Now

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 November 2021
in Wisconsin

vote-47-mbSen. Jeff Smith writes about last week’s public hearing on the GOP redistricting plan. During the public hearing, it was abundantly clear that Wisconsinites oppose these gerrymandered maps.


MADISON - Wisconsinites deserve fair maps. I’m sure you’ve heard me say this once, twice or maybe a hundred times over the last few years. The redistricting process is well underway, and I hope you’re paying attention because what’s happening now will determine the direction of our state for decades to come.

Every ten years political districts must be re-drawn based on Census data. Assembly, senate and congressional district lines are adjusted to accommodate population shifts and to ensure each district has approximately the same number of citizens. There are three Assembly districts in each Senate district and Wisconsin has eight U.S. Representatives. It all sounds simple until you realize the district lines are drawn by legislators who will benefit by staying in power.

Many of us would agree that politicians shouldn’t pick who they want to represent. Other states have found a way to make the process fairer by having a nonpartisan commission draw the maps. Seems like a sensible decision that would be less likely to be corrupted by power-hungry politicians.

The Majority Party in the Legislature has yet to relinquish the power of drawing their own district lines. Back in 2011, Republicans controlled majorities in both houses and the governor. They took full advantage of their opportunity to gerrymander our state and hold legislative majorities for the next decade.

wi-dist-maps-currentWell, here we are again—another decade and another chance to get district lines done fairly. Unfortunately, Republicans introduced another set of maps back in October that are just as gerrymandered – if not worse – than the ones they passed in 2011. There was a public hearing held just last week on the proposed maps; during the hearing, the Republican authors even admitted to using the 2011 gerrymandered maps to draw manipulated district lines and protect their incumbents.

The good news is Wisconsinites turned out in a big way to oppose Republicans’ gerrymandered maps. Wisconsinites lined up, crowded the hallways and filled overflow rooms to have their voices heard. As a member of the committee, I was inspired to hear from constituents who made the long drive, waited all day to speak out against these maps. After nearly nine hours, ALL of the citizens who testified opposed the gerrymandered maps.

The gerrymandered maps will soon be voted out of committee and passed by the Majority Party. Like any other bill, the governor has the right to sign or veto the legislative and congressional redistricting plans. Governor Evers has indicated he is likely to veto a redistricting plan if it’s anything like the gerrymandered maps we currently have.

Before Republicans even introduced their maps, lawsuits were filed from both sides. Republicans are confident the Wisconsin Supreme Court will allow them to gerrymander our state again. Democrats filed in federal court and hope the federal court will step in to help Wisconsin have fair maps.

jeff-smithThis is a critical moment in our state history. It was obvious that last decade’s gerrymander would have ramifications long after the maps were approved. Republicans have clung to power and continually reject any attempts to adopt a more equitable process.

The People of Wisconsin spoke loud and clear during last week’s public hearing: we must reject these gerrymandered maps. I hope the Republican Majority honors Wisconsinites’ demands and goes back to the drawing board. If Republicans get their way with the Wisconsin Supreme Court, it will be another decade and then another decade and another and … forever. One person, one vote is in jeopardy.

The gerrymandered Majority has no fear of voters, so I’m worried they’ll ignore Wisconsinites once again. I have seen it time and again, gerrymandered districts make legislators unaccountable and lazy. This is simply unpatriotic. We are at a crossroad right now that will determine if Wisconsin will be held hostage by one party, or the People of our great state will have their voices heard. It’s all happening now, so make sure you’re following along.

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Vos Confessed at Map Hearing

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Saturday, 30 October 2021
in Wisconsin

wi-fair-mapsAt hearing, he admitted they tried to make the maps more favorable to Republicans in 2011. Now they may be able to draw maps that help them stay in power simply by moving lines.


MADISON - I spent five hours in the State Capitol yesterday for the hearing on the newly gerrymandered maps.

I was a little late getting into the hearing room because there was such a huge and amazing crowd of citizen activists who were also trying to get in. That was great to see!

When I got in, Speaker Robin Vos was in the middle of his testimony as the co-author of the bills (SB621/AB624). A few minutes later, while he was being questioned by the Democrats on the joint committee, he made a killer confession: He admitted that they tried to make the maps more favorable to the Republicans. “Was partisanship used? Yes,” he said.

That’s the whole ball game! We don’t want Republicans – or Democrats, for that matter – to be able to draw maps that help them stay in power simply by moving lines here or there on a map.

Three and a half hours later, I was able to give my testimony, which you can read here:

Reject Gerrymandered Maps

You can view a slightly improvised version on WisconsinEye's recording of the hearing starting at 12:59 p.m.

If you haven’t already, please contact your legislators, This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it and This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it to register your opposition to these bills.

matt-rothschild-2018We’re also concerned about the ongoing smearing of the Wisconsin Elections Commission and the endless smoke machine about last November’s elections. Here’s what I wrote about the recent Legislative Audit Bureau report:

LAB Hatchet Job on Wisconsin Elections Commission

Thanks for your concern for our democracy!

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

***

P.S. Please support our urgent work with a tax-deductible donation today. Just click here.

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Restore the Voice of Wisconsin Conservation Congress

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, 27 October 2021
in Wisconsin

fishing-flyThe Congress allows citizens to advise the DNR Board on issues affecting hunting, fishing and conservation practices in Wisconsin.


EAU CLAIRE - The best policies come from citizens themselves. Subject matter experts, hobbyists or trained professionals are the best advisors lawmakers have when proposing new bills.

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) may just be the best example of how policies can be introduced and adopted by citizens’ own initiative. Established in 1934 by the State Conservation Commission – the predecessor to the Natural Resources Board (NRB) – the WCC allows citizens to share their input with the Department of Natural Resources (DNR).

In 1972, Governor Patrick Lucey signed legislation that legally recognized the WCC. Under Wisconsin State Statues, “The conservation congress shall be an independent organization of citizens of the state and shall serve in an advisory capacity to the natural resources board on all matters under the jurisdiction of the board.”

There are five board members from every county chosen each spring to participate in the Conservation Congress. During the spring meeting, held simultaneously in each county, any citizen present is given a ballot with proposed policy measures for the DNR. This is where Wisconsinites can discuss ideas and express their opinions about what happens in our woods and waterways. It’s often the first place lawmakers look when crafting new bills. Since the 1930s, the WCC guided the Natural Resources Board in their decision-making based on how citizens voted at the spring meetings. It can’t get more democratic than that.

wi-assembly-hearingThe process by which the WCC works is exactly how policies should be developed in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, during last week’s public hearing in the Senate Committee on Sporting Heritage, Small Business and Rural Issues, we realized that many current legislators are ignoring this formula and dismissing citizen involvement altogether. Recently, lawmakers hastily introduced a package of bills affecting hunting, fishing and conservation practices; soon after, they rushed to hold a public hearing.

Dozens of Wisconsinites and advocacy groups testified during the six-hour long hearing. When the National Turkey Federation testified with concerns about one bill that would affect the turkey hunting season, I asked if they’d been approached and consulted by the bill authors. They said they had not. I asked the same question to members of Trout Unlimited who shared their concerns regarding a bill that increases the stock of brook trout in Lake Michigan; they also responded in the negative.

This went on all day. It became evident that the bill authors had no regard for what Wisconsin sportsmen and women really cared about. The only group, as it turned out, that was consulted and registered in favor of all the bills came from Kansas. Even the Wisconsin Conservation Congress was taken by surprise by this package of legislation they did not ask for.

jeff-smithThis is all very troubling, but I can honestly say I’m not too surprised. We should’ve seen the writing on the wall when back in 2011, the Majority Party passed legislation that essentially prevented conservationists from directly offering rule revisions to the NRB. 2011 Act 21 created an 18-step process that can take two-three years to complete. This has made the rule-making process so difficult that Conservation Congress meetings rarely adopt rule changes in even years of the biennium.

Despite these changes, I still attend the meetings in my county because I trust the discussion to be honest and sincere. I also introduced a bill to reinstate the power of the WCC. As we’ve seen this year, there are people, like Fred Prehn, who don’t respect our democratic processes or Wisconsin’s conservation record. We can avoid bad policies and protect Wisconsin’s natural resources by restoring the voices of the WCC. The Senate must also act and approve Governor Evers’ appointment to the NRB.

The best legislators are wise enough to consult with citizens who know best how a policy will affect the state. No one should think they know all they need to know simply from their own experiences. That’s not to say that all advice given is perfect right away, but it’s all part of the process. The Wisconsin Conservation Congress has worked well for Wisconsin – and it’s what we need today to preserve our natural resources for the next generation of Wisconsinites.

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Say No to the New Gerrymander!

Posted by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign
Matt Rothschild is the Executive Director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a
User is currently offline
on Friday, 22 October 2021
in Wisconsin

gerrymander-say-no-2021MADISON - Meet the new gerrymander, same as the old gerrymander.

Wednesday, Speaker Vos and Majority Leader LeMahieu unveiled their new district maps for the state, and they’re just as bad as they were last time around, as I explain here:

Stop the GOP Re-Rigging of Our Maps

The bills were introduced as SB621/AB624 for legislative maps and SB622/AB625 for congressional maps.

>> A joint committee public hearing on the new maps has been scheduled for October 28 at 9 a.m. Plan to attend the hearing as well as the Wisconsin Fair Maps Coalition press conference prior to the hearing at 8:30 a.m. This will most likely be the only public hearing on the bills.

>> Please contact your state legislators before the hearing on October 28 and tell them to vote against these re-rigged maps. And urge Gov. Evers to veto these bills if they arrive on his desk.

We also have got to get rid of the filibuster. The logjam in Congress just stalled the Freedom to Vote Act, which is a crucial bill for safeguarding our democracy, as I noted here:

Pass the Freedom to Vote Act

My colleague, Iuscely Flores, wrote an important story this week about a package of bills in the state legislature that would address the gross disparities in maternal and infant mortality in Wisconsin. Please check it out:

Wisconsin Needs Birth Equity

>> You can use this online tool to contact your legislators to support Birth Equity in Wisconsin.

And we also published a piece about who is behind the ludicrous idea to have an open season on Sandhill cranes:

Ag, Hunting Groups Favor GOP Sandhill Crane Hunt Proposal

matt-rothschild-2018Thanks for reading, and thanks for taking action.

Best,

Matt Rothschild
Executive Director
This e-mail address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it

***

P.S. Please support our urgent work with a tax-deductible gift. It’s easy. Just click here. Thanks!

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