Uppity Wisconsin

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JFC restores 5 of 6 cut Elections Board positions

Governor Walker's budget included a cut for the equivalent of 6 positions in the Elections Board, arguing that they could continue without those workers.  This is interesting because it has been all too apparent that the board has bare-bones staffing for the ever-increasing requirements being placed upon them.

Apparently even Republicans on the JFC have realized that and have restored 5 of the 6 cut positions.

Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Hills, said the commission was "significantly understaffed" as it oversaw the 2016 election and presidential recount.





The poor don't work hard enough says Grothman

U.S. Rep. Glenn Grothman, at a recent town hall, put taxpayers into three groups, the ultra-rich, the middle class and "those who could be working harder." No kidding. You can watch it here.

lo0yY5in_4o





“REINS Act” – New Power for Leaders to Stop Public Protections

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“This is the broadest, most dangerous bill you’ve never heard of.” I told my colleagues during a recent Senate debate. “It’s an obscure way to shut down government from doing something that the Legislature intended to do.”

 

Senate Bill 15, known by the initials REINS, would allow leaders of the Legislature to shut down the implementation of new laws if the leader found the new law too costly to implement. A version of the bill is moving toward passage at both the state and federal levels of government. I expect the state Assembly will soon take up the bill.

 

A little background; after a bill becomes law, agencies work on writing the details of how to implement the law. These details, known as Administrative Rules, are vetted by the Legislature through a committee and vetted by the public through hearings.

 

“Administrative Rules are the fine details of laws written by policy experts at state agencies.” said long-time Capitol reporter Shawn Johnson in an NPR story on the Senate passage of the REINS Act.




Walker wants to put us into the "let's move to a different state" world

No shocking surprise here, but governor Walker says he is willing to consider getting an exemption for Wisconsin to opt out of crucial portions of the ACA if in fact those waivers make it through the Senate.  So - you want good health insurance?  Move to a state that supports it.

Remember - this exemption not only applies to the people who are on Obamacare currently but also applies to the folks who have insurance through their employer. This means that a cheapskate employer could fix it for their employees so they would have crappy low-cost insurance as well. 

As always, if there is a race to the bottom, Scott Walker wants to get a jersey and participate.





AHCA Passes the house

The deplorable AHCA bill has passed in the house with 217 of the needed 216 yea votes. I am really glad to be headed to Medicare land shortly, but what about my kids?





Mike McCabe talks to us about his letter of support for the governorship

A letter of support has been circulating for Mike McCabe of Blue Jean Nation to run for the governorship in 2018.  I spoke today to Mike on the phone about this letter.

WISCONSINITES UNITE TO DRAFT
MIKE McCABE FOR GOVERNOR

Dear Mike,
We strongly urge you to run for governor. Our reason is obvious: the levers of political power have been seized and are being manipulated by those interested primarily in self-enrichment and personal power. The actions of those who currently control the Capitol are extremely short-sighted as well as morally and ethically corrupt, and sap our state of its underlying strength and vitality.

The people sense this, and are hungry for a different kind of leadership. You are the right answer. You are an upright man, not interested in self-enrichment or power for power’s sake, with a feeling for the needs of others and your country. We are aware that you would rather not run for office. With the landscape littered with professional politicians and career office holders, your understandable and admirable reluctance to run only makes you more appealing to us and enhances your viability as a candidate. Added to that, you are a natural leader, with a vision of what is right, a rare gift for putting that vision into words, along with uncommon sense about how to turn words into actions. Also, the timing is right.





Sen. Vinehout ~ Youth in Government Day Engages Teens

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Imagine you could make the laws. What would you change about how things are run?” My question to the students spurred a long discussion about change in our world.
 
Almost 100 high school students recently participated in Trempealeau County Youth in Government Day. The daylong session was designed to encourage youth to become engaged in government. Students visited with county officials and staff about their work running county services.
 
During lunch, I spoke with the students about being a Senator and lawmaking. I encouraged them to think about laws as something they could someday change.
 
Teens told me they often think of the law as permanent. The day at the courthouse taught them things can change. They can be a part of change. The teens offered ideas that reflected their interests and experiences. Some focused on immediate concerns, “Get rid of the school dress code,” said Isabelle. Some had a larger vision.
 
“I want to save the horses sent across the Mexican border for meat,” said Raquel. We talked about the work of horse rescue groups who give time and money to help abandoned horses.




This is what we resist

The following are some videos from Glenn Grothman's recent town hall in Neenah - embarrassingly, the plac where I grew up. This includes a few choice words from Grothman on climate change (in the 70's we were worried about global cooling, and that never happened, so ---), shutting down Planned Parenthood (you can get your birth control at the grocery store), and a lot of other topics.  So - first up, climate change, then Planned Parenthood, then the entire town hall.  Thank you to Dan Wilson for the videos. And the rest of you - on those rare occasions when your congress-critter has a town hall, we'd love to see the video or audio.





Surprising discussion with Mike McCabe

Mike McCabe spoke to the full Assembly Meeting of the Citizen Action Western Wisconsin Organizing Co-op yesterday. I was slightly surprised by the Q&A portion of the talk, which lead with the question "when are you running for Governor".  We'll be talking to Mike more about this later in the week. This takes place at the beginning of the Q&A video.  Do yourself a favor and watch the whole talk, though.  It made for an interesting and fruitful afternoon. Please excuse the video quality - it was a great time and a great room, but the lighting was terrible for video.





Two people talking

I would like to today offer you something we see less and less of in the media - two smart informed people having a thought-provoking conversation.  I bring you Amy Goodman and Noam Chomsky talking about the fresh hell being brought upon us by the Republican Party.





On Earth Day - a year to resist like no other

it is once again Earth Day, a day with deep ties to Wisconsin, Gaylord Nelson, and the Wisconsin Idea. Sadly the last few years have seen massive retrenchment in our commitment to the environment as a country. Our state, under Governor Walker's leadership, seems to have left no stone unturned while looking for ways to lessen our protection of the environment.  

We have recently elected a president who has single-handedly built the most anti-environment cabinet in history, and who has spent most of hiis early presidency signing executive orders destroying the genuine environmental progress of the previous administration.  Today the New York Times makes the argument that the planet cannot afford this administration, and I agree.  

On a happier note, I joined many local Menomonie folks this morning on an Earth Day march for belief in Climate Change, and belief in Science. You would not think that in 2017 it would take an organized effort to convince the country to believe in science, but in the current political climate this is apparently a revolutionary idea.  I urge you all to join the revolution.




Sen. Vinehout - State Budget: Start with What's Real

State Budget: Start with What’s Real

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

When it comes to paying the bills you’ve got to deal with what’s real. You can’t spend rhetoric.

 

Lawmakers are doubling down to deal with the state budget. Public hearings and town hall meetings are scheduled across the state. Many civic groups are hosting legislators in a discussion of the state budget. Many are burning the midnight oil to get to the bottom of the state’s financial matters.

 

In all these conversations and the budget votes to come in the Capitol, lawmakers must to deal with what’s real.

 

People know about the state’s transportation fund. More money is leaving the fund than money coming in to pay for roads. Potholes are real.

 





Bert! He's Back!

Though it is often said that everything old is new again, I have to say I was surprised to see that an old childhood friend of mine is once again relevant. Old feelings I have not had since the Cuban Missile Crisis have raised their ugly heads again, but I am pretty sure that Kennedy could tell the differrence between ships heading to Cuba and ships heading away - somehow the fact that the current administration cannot tell where our own ships are heading is disconcerrting. In that spirit - I bring you the re-awakening of my childhood fears in the body of Bert the Turtle.





Meth Addiction: the Growing Epidemic in our Neighborhood

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“We are up to our gills in meth,” the county worker told me. “Four years ago one quarter of our child-protection cases were related to meth. Now, 92% of these cases are related to meth.”
 
“Our system just isn’t equipped to deal with the meth problem,” said another social worker.
 
Recently, more than 400 county supervisors and Health and Human Services staff came to the Capitol. I had visitors from every county in our Senate District.




Vote, for God's sake

Okay, so most of you who read this blog don't need reminding - but on the other hand clearly lots of people do. So ---

VOTE TOMORROW - and if you've already early voted, good on you.

The big state-wide election on which you can really express an opinion is for Superintendent of Schools. Tony Evers has long been the last firewall against total take-over of our school system  by private interests. His opponent? Not so much.  So you have a clear choice between  supporting public schools and standing back and letting the Betsy DeVos/Trump/Koch unholy alliance take over even more of our school system.  Your choice but please go express your opinion on this, whatever it might be. Let's not see everything go south just because nobody could get up the energy to vote.





Health Care - What's Next?

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“Obamacare is the law of the land,” House Speaker Paul Ryan told the nation. “We’re going to be living with Obamacare for the foreseeable future.”
 
The much-maligned Affordable Care Act (ACA) passed in 2010 will stay in place.
 
Self-employed older Americans and state budget directors breathed a sigh of relief. The Republican plan would have raised rates for older people on Healthcare.gov, shifted taxes away from the well-off, and shifted to states more costs for low-income, disabled and elderly (through Medicaid).
 
But the problems of the ACA – rising premiums, customers left with little choice and insurance companies leaving the marketplace in some states – still remain.
 




Cranberry Creek CAFO Hearing

A hearing was held today about the re-issuance of the WPDES permit for Cranberry Creek Farm. Cranberry Creek is asking to expand from approximately 2000 cows to over 7000. May testified at the hearing today, raising various issues with the state of the permit application, while also questioning the wisdom of a farm fo that scale in an area that is already suffering from groundwater degradation.

This is the second application that has been filed for the farm. The first was contentious because it seemed in many areas to be incomplete or inaccurate, including listing other properties for manure spreading for which no agreement had been made.

We went out and videotaped the testimony today - it is long, but you will find that many of the people testifying were well prepared and convincing.





Are Waters in Wisconsin Meeting Water Quality Standards?

By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“The bottom line is: Are waters meeting water quality standards?” George Meyer told the Audit Committee at a recent hearing.
 
“[Wisconsin is] adding hundreds of impaired waters every year,” Mr. Meyer added. “It’s because of discharged nitrates and phosphorus.”
 
“Regulations and laws are only as good as enforcement.” Mr. Meyer said. “In the last few years [there has been] a substantial reduction in enforcement actions both in the wildlife area and the environmental area.”
 
Mr. Meyer knows about enforcing laws to protect our natural resources. For eight years, he served as the DNR Secretary under Governor Thompson. His 30-year DNR career also included ten years as head of the department’s enforcement efforts. He now runs Wisconsin Wildlife Federation, a nonpartisan coalition of nearly 200 conservation groups.
 
The Audit Committee was examining the findings of the Legislative Audit Bureau’s review of ten years of permitting, monitoring and enforcement of wastewater discharge. DNR is responsible for monitoring water discharged from about 350 industrial permittees and 650 municipal permittees and about 250 large farms (Concentrated Animal Feeding Operations or CAFOs) – mostly dairies.




Paul Ryan - Granny Killer

In the new age of Trump politics, you can count on a lot of alternate truth. Much of it comes from the "Wisconsin Miracle" wrought by our governor and the likes of Paul Ryan. We are about to find out if we are going to take the somewhat flawed Obamacare and replace it with the totally nonfunctional Trumpcare. If this happens we by and large have Paul Ryan to blame. 

Where to start? The last time I saw the bill it appeared that the projections of taking 24 million people off of health insurance had prompted Ryan and his cohorts to declare "Only 24 million?  We can do better than that. Hold my beer." Attempts to placate the far-right wing of the GOP have resulted in plans to even more severely cut back on Medicaid. The supposed plan to help out seniors from the huge increases in health care costs they will somehow have to survive has amounted to throwing in an inadequate amount of funding, and throwing the whole mess over the wall for the Senate to figure out. 

In the long term of course the whole problem with this bill is that it is unsustainable. By throwing out mandatory insurance, the plan suffers from not forcing young and healthy adults to buy in to the system, therefore making the entire system unstable. Republicans have long warned about an impending "death spiral" from Obamacare. The replacement bill almost guarantees that the death spiral will happen. 





Broadband Expansion: Rural Wisconsin Needs the Real Deal

Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“All we seek is help to get the basic broadband services that you all take for granted,” Justin Fortney from Clifton Township in Pierce County wrote to me.  “It has been frustrating for us families to watch the digital revolution pass us by…We often…pack the family into the car and drive to a relative’s house or commercial business to use their Internet.”
 
According to the federal government’s most recent information, Wisconsin ranks last in the Midwest in both rural and urban broadband access with only 44% of rural folks accessing download speeds of 25 Mbps.
 
Both federal and state governments responded with grant programs to expand broadband but there are problems with assuring that residents actually receive the promised services.
 
With much fanfare, Governor Walker recently announced his plan to add money for broadband to schools and rural areas. Later, Senator Marklein released a different bill. The Senator’s bill was voted out of his rural affairs committee and is headed for final passage soon.




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Yesterday, February 19

  • Steve Hanson
    7:30pm

    Changes to Body
     
    In general anyone who believes that in the highly-charged partisan atmosphere of the state and the country that judicial candidates will not bring their own viewpoints to the court is fooling themself. You have a choice between a candidate who is running openly as a progressive/Democrat, one who has clear leanings in that direction, and one who is clearly of a conservative bent. Personally I believe we have had quite enough of a court that seems to always back the current conservative state government, and it would be nice to have another person on the court who would be more open to ruling against big business in the state. But it's your choice, and your vote - all I ask is that you actually get out to the polls and express your opinion.
     
    In general anyone who believes that in the highly-charged partisan atmosphere of the state and the country that judicial candidates will not bring their own viewpoints to the court is fooling themself. You have a choice between a candidate who is running openly as a progressive/Democrat, one who has clear leanings in that direction, and one who is clearly of a conservative bent. Personally I believe we have had quite enough of a court that seems to always back the current conservative state government, and it would be nice to have another person on the court who would be more open to ruling against big business in the state. But it's your choice, and your vote - all I ask is that you actually get out to the polls and express your opinion.
     
    Other primary elections are sprinkled across the state. In the Chippewa Valley most people will have an opportunity to vote for local school board candidates. These are extremely important seats and will guide the schools in your local district. Your vote matters. Don't throw it away. Some links are provided below to help you out with finding your polling place, registering on-line (yes, you can do this on-line, bring the paperwork and your documentation, and finish your registration at the polls). 
     
    Other primary elections are sprinkled across the state. In the Chippewa Valley most people will have an opportunity to vote for local school board candidates. These are extremely important seats and will guide the schools in your local district. Your vote matters. Don't throw it away. Some links are...
    Read more
  • Steve Hanson
    7:11pm

    Too many differences to list. See Revisions for details.

  • Steve Hanson
    7:11pm

    Changes to News Link
     
    Find your polling place, register, and see what is on your ballot (https://myvote.wi.gov)
     
    Find your polling place, register, and see what is on your ballot (https://myvote.wi.gov)
     
    Wisconsin Elections Commission (http://elections.wi.gov)
     
    Wisconsin Elections Commission (http://elections.wi.gov)
      +
    Voter ID Information (https://www.bringitwisconsin.com/)
    Read more
  • Steve Hanson
    7:08pm

    Too many differences to list. See Revisions for details.

  • Steve Hanson
    7:06pm

    Tomorrow is election day in Wisconsin. Important elections are up throughout the state. Everyone in the state has an opportunity to vote in the primary election for State Supreme Court. the Supreme Court race is interesting as it has candidates of very different judicial attitudes. Tim Burns is running as an unabashed liberal, and essentially as a Democrat, despite this being a non-partisan race. Sauk County Circuit Judge Michale Screnock claims to be non-partisan, and that he will not create law from the bench - yet he is endorsed by the NRA, has hired GOP consultants for his campaign, and has accepted in-kind donations from the state Republican Party. He has also made a large point in his advertising of the fact that he was appointed by Governor Walker, which I can only take as a conservative dog-whistle statement. Rebecca Dallet has criticized the president, and has made a strong point of having values that are not reflected by the national Republicans. Dallet has a long history as a judge, but has been highly criticized by progressives for some of her rulings. 

    In general anyone who believes that in the highly-charged partisan atmosphere of the state and the country that judicial candidates will not bring their own viewpoints to the court is fooling themself. You have a choice between a candidate who is running openly as a progressive/Democrat, one who has clear leanings in that direction, and one who is clearly of a conservative bent. Personally I believe we have had quite enough of a court that seems to always back the current conservative state government, and it would be nice to have another person on the court who would be more open to ruling against big business in the state. But it's your choice, and your vote - all I ask is that you actually get out to the polls and express your opinion.

    Other primary elections are sprinkled across the state. In the Chippewa Valley most people will have an opportunity to vote for local school board candidates. These are extremely important seats and will guide the schools in your local district. Your vote matters. Don't throw it away. Some links are provided below to help you out with finding your polling place, registering on-line (yes, you can do this on-line, bring the paperwork and your documentation, and finish your registration at the polls). 

    One last note - weather and roads are likely to be terrible tomorrow in some parts of the state. This may impact people getting out to vote, and may even impact the elections sites in some places. Note that there is no way to postpone an election (short of a state of emergency being issued by the Governor) so the election will be tomorrow no matter what the weather is like. So - go vote, it's important. But be careful and stay safe.

  • Steve Hanson
    4:36pm

    Voter registration booths will be set up at locations across the Chippewa Valley where knowledgeable volunteers will be ready to work with anyone who needs help registering to vote in advance of the upcoming spring election on Tuesday, April 3rd.

    --- Eau Claire, LE Phillips Public Library, Chippewa Room, 12-7pm
    --- Eau Claire, UWEC Davies Center, 1st floor, 10am-2pm
    --- Eau Claire North High School (students only) 10am-2pm
    --- Menomonie, Menomonie Market Food Coop, 2-7pm
    --- Chippewa Falls, Public Library, Meeting Room 12-7pm
    --- Colfax, Public Library, 4-7pm
    --- See below for detailed location addresses

    Individuals wishing to register should bring a proof of residency document such as a utility bill, paycheck, bank statement, residential lease, or a cell phone bill. If an individual possesses a current DMV-issued photo identification card, they should also bring it along. If an individual has moved since last voting, they must re-register in order to vote.

    This regional voter registration drive is part of a non-partisan effort called “Chippewa Valley Votes”, organized by local volunteers, that helps citizens participate in the democratic process through services including registration, education, and assistance with navigating the photo ID process. The event is held in partnership with the League of Women Voters-Greater Chippewa Valley chapter.

    --- LE Phillips Public Library, 400 Eau Claire St, Eau Claire Chippewa Room (downstairs)
    --- UWEC Davies Center, 77 Roosevelt Ave, Eau Claire downstairs, 10am-2pm
    --- North High School, Eau Claire (students only) 10am-2pm
    --- Menomonie Market Food Coop, 814 Main Street East, Menomonie
    --- Chippewa Falls Public Library, 105 W Central St, Chippewa Falls, Meeting Room (near front entrance)
    --- Colfax Public Library, 613 Main St, Colfax

  • Your profile picture
    1:26pm

    Last Friday afternoon we learned of the 79 bills up for a vote on Tuesday. I spoke with my neighbor shortly after seeing the long list.

    “How can they possibly know what they are voting on?” she asked me. I replied there is no time to talk with people and learn the effects of these changes.

    Legislation moving quickly through the process makes changes to protections of our wetlands; specifically, wet areas not connected to a navigable body of water.

    Wisconsin has more than one million acres of “isolated” wetlands. These areas are our swamps, meadows and marshes. Isolated wetlands are regulated by the state, hence the ability of state lawmakers to remove protections.

    Talking to scientists and engineers is key to understanding the importance of wetlands and the implications of removing state protections. However, legislation moving at warp speed with little public notice make it nearly impossible to have these conversations.

    Wetlands are key to our ecology. They provide habitat to an immense array of creatures and plants. Wetlands recharge ground water, help control erosion, and store excess water caused by severe weather.

    Our farmstead sits 50’ above a large swamp and marsh. The wetlands capture flooding waters from the swollen Buffalo River. In the past several years, we saw several serious floods. The flooding in our wetlands eased possible destruction by the unusually intense storms.

    “In the last six years, Wisconsin has seen five 100-year floods and one 1,000-year flood,” wrote Tyler Esh, the Eau Claire Emergency Management Coordinator. “Rains are becoming increasingly severe.”

    These severe floods led many people I represent to question current state policies. For example, a town official asked for help with a washed-out road. He wanted to double the size of a culvert that washed out in a severe storm. We could not get adequate state help to pay for the improvements. The following year, the road and culvert washed out again.

    Floods know no boundaries. Folks in Racine, Kenosha and Walworth counties remember last summer flooding when up to 8 inches of rain fell causing sewers to overflow. Filling in wetlands makes things worse in urban as well as rural areas.

    The City of Houston learned a hard lesson this summer. Part of the reason Houston flooded so badly was because they...

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