Politics

A space for civil discussion of Wisconsin (and national) politics. People who do not maintain a civil tone or who are threatening will be removed from this space. In this context consider politics in a wide sense - not just inter-party squabbling.

User-Contributed Politics News

Jeff Smith - Walk the Talk for Bipartisanship

I’ve said it. Governor Evers said it. Republican leaders said it - “We need to work together.”

A number of clichés come to mind as we talk about working together. “It’s easier said than done” or “Talk is cheap.” I prefer “walk the talk.”

Jeff Smith - Rushing to Fix One Part While Destroying the Whole

Jeff Smith

Remember the high-gloss campaign mailings? The non-stop TV and radio campaign ads from last year about protecting people with pre-existing conditions? I bet you heard more than you ever wanted about pre-existing conditions, right? Well, the number one issue from last fall’s election is coming home to roost here in the Legislature.

WLCV - A fresh look and name for a new day in conservation for Wisconsin

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Tuesday, Jan. 15, 2019 CONTACT: Ryan Billingham, Communications Director, Wisconsin Conservation Voters, 608-208-1129 (office), 608-213-6972 (mobile/text), or

MADISON – It’s a fresh start for Wisconsin’s environment and a fresh start for one of its leading conservation organizations.

Why Wasn't 2018 A Big Election For Women In The Wisconsin Legislature?

Women vying for public office made historic waves across the United States in the 2018 midterm elections. Wisconsin, however, didn't quite follow that national trend. Additionally, while voters elected more women to the state Assembly in 2018, the state finds itself lagging behind its Midwest neighbors.

Jeff Smith - Marsy’s Law: Do It Quick or Do It Right?

Jeff Smith

Our first week of the legislative session is off to a fast start. It appears my first legislative vote will be changing our State Constitution with a resolution called, “Marsy’s Law.”

The new Legislature always has a high-priority issue that needs to be addressed immediately. In 2007, as a freshman State Representative, I voted to create the Government Accountability Board (GAB) in response to a caucus scandal years before I took office.

Jeff Smith - Committees, Collaboration and Compromise

Senator Jeff Smith

Senate committees aren’t exactly the hottest topic to write about in state government, but it’s incredibly important for our work as legislators. Most Senate committee names seem like someone pulled the topics out of a hat and randomly strung them together to create a committee.

Strange as some committee names may appear, committee creation is more an exercise in compromise and collaboration than blind luck.

Statement Regarding Senator Jeff Smith’s Swearing-in

MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) was sworn into office today as the 31st District Senator during the opening session of the 104th Wisconsin State Legislature. Senator Smith offered the following statement:

“I feel humbled and honored to represent our Western Wisconsin values in the State Senate. There is much work to be done, but together, we can make our state a great place to live, work and raise a family.

Divided, but Not Broken Government

Senator Elect Jeff Smith

As I traversed western Wisconsin last year campaigning to be the new 31st District State Senator, it was clear we’ve been fortunate to have Kathleen Vinehout serve as our Senator for the last twelve years.

Kathleen Vinehout - Saying Goodbye

And today we also say Good By to Kathleen as a columnist.  We have run a great many of her columns over the years, and we only wish we could look forward to more of them. 

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Yesterday, June 17

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    12:55pm

    Wisconsin is filled with beauty. Sometimes we take our state’s beauty for granted because it’s very apparent all around us. It’s always the less apparent beauty that surprises us and compels us to look deeper in ourselves and appreciate everything around us.

    The same is true with people. We see each other, but oftentimes we don’t take the time to meet and get to know others in our own neighborhood and community. We don’t recognize our perceptions of others until we question and reflect on them. For this Juneteenth Day, I hope you will join me by looking inward and recognizing our less-apparent biases.

    While the Civil War ended in April 1865, the emancipation of enslaved African Americans didn’t occur until June 19th of that year, when Texas abolished slavery. Every year since 1996, our country has celebrated the official end of slavery as June 19th, 1865. We recognize this important date of our country’s history as “Juneteenth Day.”

    Recently I heard something I’ve considered to be true for a long time while watching the show “United Shades of America.” Kamau Bell, the host of the show said, “Whether you think you're biased or not, racism is a part of your life, with or without you knowing it,” in response to an implicit bias test.

    Bell revealed he was unfamiliar with the term “implicit bias” until four years ago, when Bell told a friend that he experienced racial prejudice. Bell’s friend told him this interaction stemmed from implicit bias. In this episode, Bell spoke with Dr. John Diamond, a professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison about implicit bias and its connection to systemic racism, specifically in the City of Milwaukee.

    Project Implicit, a test Bell took that made him feel uncomfortable, demonstrates most of us can be biased in our thoughts and actions without realizing it. This test looks at what people are thinking before they have a chance to consider the socially responsible answer. Dr. Diamond explains this concept saying, “You don’t have to necessarily dislike people of other races to be affected by [implicit bias].”

    We all have implicit biases. The Ohio State University Kirwan Institute points out how our thoughts, actions and decisions are influenced by these subconscious biases, which can include both favorable and unfavorable automatic assessments of others.

    How does this happen?

    We’re all influenced by our surroundings; whether it’s from our family members, our community or the entertainment we consume. Oftentimes it can be from stories or rumors we hear. Those influences shape our actions in ways can’t recognize. For instance, you might choose to not stop in certain neighborhoods based on news you saw on TV or a story you heard. Redlining, the discriminatory practice of refusing to invest in communities of color, is a real thing in Milwaukee. Real...

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