Update from Martha Laning-DPW Chair

Welcome to the latest installment of my chair update.

Another Successful Founders Day Gala

A huge thank you to everyone who supported our 2017 Founders Day Gala! The event last Saturday was a huge success and it was great to see so many progressive warriors energized and excited to organize our way to victories up and down the ballot in 2018.

We heard wonderful speeches from Democratic Assembly Leader Peter Barca, Democratic Senate Leader Jen Shilling, Mayor Tom Barrett, Congressman Mark Pocan, Democratic Party of Wisconsin Regional Organizer Jake Spence, Senator Tammy Baldwin, and our special guest DNC Deputy Chair Congressman Keith Ellison.

Throughout the night we heard the continued theme of organizing early and listening to the issues facing Wisconsinites. Our plan at the Democratic Party is to organize every corner of the state year round to win elections now and far into the future. We know that when we get neighbors talking to neighbors about the issues they care about and the progressive candidates on the ballot who will make their lives better we all win.

Take a look at some of the pictures from Founders Day below. You can view the rest on our Flickr page.

Call to Action: President Donald Trump’s Firing of FBI Director James Comey

Like many of you, I was shocked when the news broke last week that President Trump had fired his FBI Director, James Comey. Immediately I thought that it was an affront to Democracy for the President to fire the very person leading an investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election. As DNC Chair Tom Perez said after the news broke, we need to wake up and smell the cover up.

Make no mistake, President Trump’s firing of FBI Director James Comey is a dangerous abuse of power and a dangerous, transparent move to interfere with the FBI’s investigation into his campaign’s possible collusion with Russia during the election.

The White House’s narrative about Comey’s firing is breaking down with each passing day as it becomes more clear that Trump fired him out of anger at the widening Russia investigation, and not the recommendation of officials at the Department of Justice, as Trump has even admitted that he was thinking about how the Russia investigation should be over when he made the decision to fire Comey. And while testifying before the Senate Intelligence Committee, acting FBI Director McCabe refuted multiple pieces of the White House story about Comey. Contrary to the White House’s claims, McCabe said that FBI agents had not lost faith in Comey and that agents around the country were shocked and disheartened by Comey’s firing.

This is the clearest evidence yet that we need a special prosecutor at the DOJ and an independent commission.Trump’s firing of Comey is the latest and most vivid evidence that we cannot allow the Russia investigations to be buried by a corrupt Administration and complicit Republican leaders in Congress.

I encourage you all to call members of Congress and demand they come together to pass legislation for a 9-11 style, bipartisan independent commission to conduct the kind of thorough, honest investigation that the American people deserve – and call for a special prosecutor appointed to oversee the DOJ’s work on the Russia investigation.

Sen. Tammy Baldwin: 202-224-5653
Sen. Ron Johnson: 202-224-5323
Speaker Paul Ryan: 202-225-3031
Rep. Mark Pocan: 202-225-2906
Rep. Ron Kind: 202-225-5506
Rep. Gwen Moore: 202-225-4572
Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner: 202-225-5101
Rep. Glen Grothman: 202-225-2476
Rep. Sean Duffy: 202-225-3365
Rep, Mike Gallagher: 202-225-5665

Democrats Work To Protect Wisconsinites From Trumpcare 

Democrats haven’t forgotten about the 217 House Republicans who voted to pass Trumpcare and cause real harm for Americans across our nation.

Trumpcare will mean real harm for Americans across our nation. Average Wisconsinites will feel the impact of this bill in the doctor’s office and in their checkbook. Trumpcare contains an Age Tax – placing a greater burden on millions of Americans ages 50 – 64 by allowing insurers to charge them at least 5 times more. It also guts protections for people with preexisting conditions, letting insurers jack up their rates as much as they want – breaking a promise Trump and many Members of Congress made.

For some Americans, Trumpcare will mean bankruptcy.  For others, it will be a death sentence. In fact, the only people Trumpcare is good for is the wealthy and drug and insurance companies who will get the bulk of the nearly $600 billion in new tax breaks under it.
Democrats in the state legislature are standing up for the residents who can’t afford more out of pocket costs, especially those with pre-existing conditions and seniors living on a fixed income.

Their Health Care Protection Package introduced by Sen. Jon Erpenbach and Rep. Daniel Riemer contains five proposals to protect children, families, and seniors. It includes:

  • Prohibiting lifetime and annual limits under health insurance policies and plans;
  • Prohibiting pre-existing condition exclusion and rate setting based on pre-existing conditions;
  • Requiring coverage and prohibiting cost sharing for preventive services under health insurance policies and plans;
  • Coverage of certain essential health benefits and;
  • Maintaining access to reimbursements to family planning providers in the Medical Assistance Program

If Republicans in the House and Gov. Walker want to rubber-stamp Donald Trump’s plan to limit health care access the legislature should act to protect Wisconsinites and ensure that everyone in our state can get the care they need and deserve.

President Trump’s Attack on Voting Rights

Last week, President Trump signed an Executive Order establishing a commission to review so-called “voter fraud,” in an attempt to justify the GOPs broader voter suppression efforts and pacify a President who is still upset he lost the popular vote by 3 million votes last November.

Study after study has proven that in-person voter fraud is effectively non-existent—more people get struck by lightning each year. But Republicans like Kris Kobach, whom Trump hand-picked to run this charade, have spent years lying about voter fraud in order to keep Americans from voting.

Given the lack of evidence of voter fraud, the executive order is another obvious attempt to perpetuate the myth of voter fraud and lay the foundation for an attack on the voting rights of communities of color, working families, students, first-generation Americans, and the elderly. In fact, a recent article by Ari Berman of The Nation Magazine, featured a study that showed that Gov. Walker’s voter ID laws suppressed 200,000 votes in 2016.

Democrats believe that voting is a fundamental right in America, and that our democracy is stronger when more people participate in our elections, not fewer. That’s why the DNC is creating a voter protection and empowerment unit at the DNC to stand up and resist the assault on the right to vote from Republicans and Trump. We will fight each day to protect your voting rights because we cannot trust anyone in Trump’s administration to protect access to the ballot box.

Congressman Mark Pocan Holds Successful Town Hall In Kenosha

Many thanks to Congressman Mark Pocan for adopting the 1st Congressional District for a day and holding a town hall discussion in Kenosha on Friday.

After the House of Representatives passed President Trump and Speaker Ryan’s horrible health care bill, grassroots organizers invited the Speaker and Rep. Mark Pocan, a Kenosha native, to a town hall to discuss the bill. Speaker Ryan, who hasn’t held a town in his district all year, declined the invitation leaving Rep. Pocan to adopt the district and hold a town hall to answer their questions on the new health care bill and discuss the current state of Washington D.C.

It’s a shame that Speaker Ryan is afraid to face the very people he is supposed to represent in Washington, but luckily Democrats like Congressman Pocan are willing to step up and do what’s right for Wisconsinites.

Read more about Rep. Pocan’s Kenosha town hall.

Democratic Weekly Radio Address: “GOP Priorities”

Last week, Rep. Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) offered the Democratic Weekly Radio Address on Assembly Republicans proposing another tax giveaway to the wealthy.

The audio file of this week’s address can be found here, and the video can be found here.

A written transcript of the address is below:

“Hi, I’m Representative Gordon Hintz with this week’s Democratic Radio Address.

“The Republicans have made their priorities clear. They have consistently prioritized massive tax giveaways to the rich over ways to increase economic opportunity for all Wisconsinites.

“Most of our roads and bridges are in serious disrepair, and taxpayers continue to foot the bill for the increasing costs of fixing our transportation system. Yet, what is the Assembly Republican solution? A plan that will raise taxes for nearly one in four people while giving a massive tax break of over one billion dollars to the richest in our state.

“Republican politicians are so focused on lining the pockets of special interests that they have neglected the investments in infrastructure and education that create opportunity for families across the state.

“We need a policy that addresses the needs of every Wisconsinite, not just the one percent. We need real solutions for our workers and our families.”

County Party Development Training

In late April, Sam Voorhees and Brian Evans, from our Candidate Services Department, held a County Party Development training at the Waukesha County Party Headquarters. In attendance were twenty county party members from Waukesha, Washington, Jefferson, Walworth, and Racine counties, who discussed and shared best practices on how to effectively prepare for the 2018 spring elections.

During the session, county party activists heard from Candidate Services, and other county party leaders, about forming spring candidate recruitment committees, training members to serve on candidates’ kitchen cabinets, and how to launch effective canvasses and phone banks. The day concluded with a discussion, during which party leaders, activists, and former candidates shared their experiences and advice, and a training on how to use the VAN, a Democratic voter and campaign database.

In the coming months, Candidate Services will be taking this training to other parts of the state. Please reach out to Sam Voorhees: samv@wisdems.org to request a training in your area.

Save the Date: #MarchForTruth

I know that many of you are planning to be in Madison on June 3rd for our annual state convention – and I can’t wait to see you all! We also want you to save the date for another event happening at 5 PM in Madison that day: The March for Truth.

In the wake of the steady stream of news regarding the investigation into Russian interference in the 2016 election, people all over the country are raising their voices to let their elected officials know that we want a fair and impartial investigation to provide definitive answers once and for all.

Find out more about the march on the event’s Facebook page.

Young Democrats Of America Leadership Academy

The Young Democrats of America (YDA) High School and College Leadership Academies taking place next month in Washington, DC.

This will be the 8th year the YDA has held the High School Leadership Academy and the 3rd year they’ve held College Leadership Academy. This programming continues to grow and gain momentum annually.

Please share this with your networks and others that may be interested in a four-day intensive training program that covers political engagement, professional and personal development, various issue advocacy trainings, and the ins/outs of DC.

The College Leadership Academy runs from June 18-21 in Washington, D.C. It’s open to currently-enrolled college students ages 18-24 and graduating classes 2017-2021.

The High School Leadership Academy runs June 14-17 in Washington D.C. It’s open to all currently-enrolled high school students ages 14-18 in graduating classes 2017-2020.

Things You May Have Missed But Need To See Now

States that voted for Trump among hardest hit by proposed cuts
“Michigan, Wisconsin and Pennsylvania could lose more than 11% of discretionary federal grant funding if Congress goes along with Trump’s proposed cuts, according to an analysis from The Pew Charitable Trusts.”

Paul Ryan rejects calls for special prosecutor in Russia investigation
“House Speaker Paul Ryan (R-Wis.) on Wednesday rejected calls for an independent commission and special prosecutor to handle ongoing investigations into alleged ties between the Trump campaign and Russia, saying doing so could “compromise” U.S. intelligence gathering.”

Editorial: Dismissal of FBI Director James Comey reinforces need for independent investigation
“Republicans and Democrats calling for an independent investigation into the Trump campaign’s ties to Russia have it right. With President Donald Trump’s dismissal of FBI Director James B. Comey, only an outside investigation can carry the credibility that will earn the trust of the American people. This can no longer be left in the hands of the FBI or Trump’s Justice Department. ”

Democrat Mark Pocan takes debate into Republican Paul Ryan’s district
“You don’t normally see members of Congress doing “town hall” meetings with other members’ constituents. But Democrats are now adopting this in-your-face tactic as part of their fight to defeat the GOP health care bill and win back the House next year. ”

Rep. Ron Kind addresses health care concerns during Tomah listening session
“Health care and Tuesday’s firing of FBI Director James Comey were among the issues discussed during a visit by Rep. Ron Kind, D-La Crosse. Kind spoke at a listening session at the Tomah American Legion Wednesday afternoon, where more than 30 people asked questions about issues, including legalizing medical marijuana, healthcare and the environment.”

Hearing on UW protest bill shows conflicting views on state of campus speech
“Democrats and others have taken issue with language in the bill that would prohibit students from disrupting speakers with conduct that is “violent, abusive, indecent, profane, boisterous, obscene, unreasonably loud” or otherwise disorderly — noting several of those categories of speech are protected under the First Amendment.”

Legislator seeks LGBT conversion therapy ban
Wisconsin could be the next state to penalize therapists and mental health practitioners for doing conversion therapy on LGBT youth, under a bill proposed by state Rep. Amanda Stuck (D-Appleton).

Sen. Vinehout (D-Alma): Column: “REINS Act” – New power for leaders to stop public protections.
“The REINS Act is promoted as a cleverly devised pun to rein in run-away government. However, in reality, it is a way for large corporate interests to manipulate our political process to their own ends, sacrificing our people’s health and safety.”

Rep. Hebl (D-Sun Prairie): Column: Take a moment this week to thank a teacher.
“While we taketime to thank teachers this week, I think it is important to recognize that they deserve our gratitude every single day of the year. Their work is tireless, and often goes underappreciated. They work hard for our kids and for our communities.”

Rep. Considine (D-Baraboo): Column: Appreciate teachers every week.
“We can do this at the state level by increasing funding for public schools, rather than supporting private voucher schools at the public’s expense.”

Sen. Erpenbach (D-Middleton): JFC Democrats vote to improve Veterans Home at King, long-term solution for Veterans Trust Fund.
“A state that supports their veteran community does not divert funds from our nursing homes when there are facility and staffing needs for our aging and ailing veterans. A long-term solution for the viability of the Veterans Trust Fund is long overdue and JFC Democrats know that now is the time to increase state support for veterans. For years, Republicans ignored warning signs at King, rejected project improvements and dismissed facility safety issues as they continued to raid millions of dollars,”

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