HEALTH AND GUN VIOLENCE PREVENTION
Stronger gun laws are needed to defend children, communities
No matter your race, creed or color, everyone wants to live in a community that is free from the fear of flying bullets. Gun violence is a leading cause of death and injury, including suicide and domestic homicides, and is a declared public health issue in the U.S. that state lawmakers can do something about. Thankfully, Gov. Tony Evers stands strong in the face of special interests and big corporations that benefit from loose gun laws. Most recently, Gov. Evers vetoed the Republicans’ Assembly Bill 495 that would have permitted guns on school grounds.
Unconstrained access to high powered guns makes everyone LESS safe, no matter where we live. The trauma of mass shootings affects us all. Common sense reforms, like background checks and waiting periods that keep guns out of the hands of people who have been shown to be a danger to themselves or others, have worked elsewhere and should be adopted here. We can help make our community safer by voting for lawmakers and a Governor who will fight for true public safety by ending gun violence.
Since his first day in office, Governor Tony Evers has called on Republican legislators to put aside partisan games and pass common sense gun safety measures that will protect Wisconsinites and end the gun violence epidemic. Gov. Evers has introduced legislation to expand universal background checks and create a red-flag law in Wisconsin.
Gun violence is a public health crisis that needs action, starting with prevention. Gov. Evers is committed to curbing the gun violence epidemic by taking common sense steps to stop violence and save lives.
- Soon after taking office, Gov. Evers introduced two bills that would create universal background checks and create a red-flag law in Wisconsin. These bills would have increased public safety as well as have lessened the burden on public safety officials.
- Gov. Evers ordered the Wisconsin Legislature into an historic special session to consider common sense gun safety bills, but the Republican-controlled legislature dodged the special session by adjourning within seconds without any debate.
- Gov. Evers has also served as a brick wall against outrageous Republican-backed gun bills. He vetoed a bill that would have nullified federal firearm laws in Wisconsin. In April 2022, Gov. Evers vetoed a bill that would have allowed people to bring guns in cars onto school grounds, stating that this bill neither improves public safety nor addresses gun violence but only further endangers kids and makes schools less safe. Gov. Evers’ vetoes have drawn praise from national gun safety groups like Moms Demand Action and Everytown for Gun Safety.
- Gov. Evers’ opponents want to allow concealed firearms in most public places without a permit. This idea is opposed by 76 percent of Wisconsinites, who understand that carrying weapons in public without any kind of safety training or permitting process will not improve public safety.
- Gov. Evers has invested more than $100 million in violence prevention programs and local law enforcement agencies to give communities the tools they need to keep people safe.
Gov. Evers is fighting to end the gun violence epidemic. He’s introduced common sense gun safety measures, vetoed outrageous Republican-backed gun bills, and worked to address the root causes of violence. Gov. Evers is doing the right thing: fighting to help keep people safe.
BADGER BOUNCE BACK UPDATE
Gov. Evers’ Get Kids Ahead Initiative awarded $15 million to help nearly every Wisconsin school district provide school-based mental health supports. Funds may be used for mental health services, staff training, or family assistance programs.
- School districts in Jefferson County received the following grants: Cambridge $21,474; Fort Atkinson $44,554; Jefferson $33,081; Johnson Creek $19,280; Lake Mills $30,608; Palmyra-Eagle $22,857; Waterloo $20,650; and Watertown Unified $57,571.
Gov. Evers’ Tourism Capital Investment Program announced $21.9 million in grants to 27 local governments and organizations for major improvement projects that help promote, maintain, or bolster Wisconsin’s tourism industry. Since 2020, Gov. Evers has prioritized more than $200 million in support for travel, tourism, lodging, and entertainment industries.
- Jefferson County will receive $242,000 for site improvements at Fair Park which holds more than 200 days of events throughout the year.
Gov. Evers’ Safer Communities program awarded over $50 million statewide to address reckless driving, alleviate court backlogs, expand pre-trial supervision, and support local law enforcement agencies. This brings Gov. Evers’ overall investment in violence prevention and public safety to more than $100 million.
- Local investments include: Jefferson County $92,118; Fort Atkinson Police Department $33,867; Jefferson Police Department $22,190; Watertown Police Department $67,369; Lake Mills Police Department $18,033; Palmyra Police Department $7,000; Waterloo Police Department $11,437; Johnson Creek Police Department $7,000; Lake Mills Town Police Department $7,000; Oakland Town Police Department $7,000.
Based on the Public Service Commission, Jefferson Co. received a total of $1.3 million for high-speed internet expansion.
COVID relief funds distributed to Jefferson County totaled more than $6.7 million and included funding for small businesses and family farms; rental assistance; pandemic planning, testing and contact tracing; and grants for cultural venues and nonprofits.
Gov. Evers announced nearly $60 million in new Workforce Innovation grants to develop long-term solutions to the state’s workforce challenges. Madison Area Technical College received $29 million to address pandemic-related workforce issues in South Central Wisconsin, including Jefferson County, where MATC will expand the pipeline of childcare professionals, support childcare facilities, and help working families find child care. Additionally, MATC plans to develop more skills training for in-demand jobs in advanced manufacturing, healthcare, and information technology.
Ensuring Every American Can Vote
No matter where we live or what our background or party, Americans want fair elections. Every citizen should have the freedom to vote and to be heard on important issues such as health care, the environment, jobs, and education.
Two Bills Deserve Immediate Passage by Congress
- The Freedom to Vote Act (S.2747) protects the right to vote and sets national standards with reforms like automatic voter registration, expanded early voting, and voting by mail. It includes provisions to increase transparency in campaign funding and requires district maps to comply with the Voting Rights Act.
- The John R. Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act (H-4) would modernize and revitalize the Voting Rights Act of 1965, strengthening legal protections against discriminatory policies and practices.
Watch for Partisan Attempts to Curtail Voting
In their continuing attempt to cast doubt on elections in order to sow chaos and confusion among voters, Wisconsin Republicans have mounted attacks on the Wisconsin Elections Commission and assembled a package of bills to curtail voting by changing the rules for the location of polling places, use of drop boxes, and special voting deputies in nursing homes. Fortunately, Gov. Evers will veto such bills.
Demand Fair Maps
Elected officials should respond to the will of the people, not the interests of powerful corporations and wealthy donors. Gerrymandering deprives voters of other parties an equal chance at political power; it makes districts uncompetitive and creates lockstep partisanship and gridlock. In 2011, the GOP in Wisconsin swept to power and created voting maps that have been found to be an unconstitutional violation of the federal Voting Rights Act. In 2022, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled in favor of the hyper-partisan maps rather than the professional work of the independent Peoples Map Commission as the baseline for redistricting. It’s time for Fair Maps for Wisconsin.
We Will Vote
Despite desperate attempts by political factions to hold power for themselves, we the people prevailed in our last two elections by turning out in record numbers. We will do it again by fighting against every effort to rig the rules. We will recruit and support real leaders for every kind of elected office. And we will vote in November to make Wisconsin a place where freedom is for all, no exceptions.
Every family should be free from the burden and risk of serious illness due to lack of preventative care. Expanding Medicaid would extend affordable coverage to an estimated 82,000 Wisconsinites, save the state $324 million in the 2019-21 biennial budget, and free up $1.6 billion in federal funding. BadgerCare, Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, provides health care coverage for people with disabilities and families who qualify as very low-income (family of four earning less than $35,245). Wisconsin is one of only twelve states that have not yet expanded Medicaid to serve more working families, due to the Republicans voting against it.
Fresh drinking water is a common good that must be protected. Harmful concentrations of toxic lead, nitrate, and other chemicals have been found in wells and pipes across the state; contamination from lead water pipes alone affects an estimated 176,000 Wisconsin households. Gov. Evers has made clean water a priority, and the Biden Administration is expected to release $841 million over five years to Wisconsin for clean water infrastructure. The Evers Administration has proposed sensible remedies to prevent nitrate pollution by modifying farming practices, and the Department of Natural Resources is investigating high levels of PFAS contaminants – the “forever chemicals” commonly used in manufacturing and linked to multiple health problems – at more than 90 sites statewide. But the Republican legislature, backed by a vocal and well-funding business lobby, is blocking action on to protect clean water. They have cut funding for testing and investigations, prohibited the publication of PFAS standards, and removed measures that would require corporations to take responsibility for chemicals released.
The cost of neglect is great. Clean Wisconsin estimates that $23 million to $80 million is spent on medical costs each year to treat health impacts of nitrate contamination alone. https://www.cleanwisconsin.org/our-work/water/. We deserve lawmakers who will work for health of people, not just their wealthy donors.
Prescription Drug Affordability and Access
Topping the Wisconsin health news is the high cost of prescription drugs necessary to manage chronic, life-threatening conditions like diabetes or heart disease. Too many people are forced to skip doses or not fill prescriptions simply because the cost of medications is too high. Gov. Evers, having created a Task Force to recommend solutions, included 20 recommendations in his 2021-23 executive budget, such as capping the copay for insulin, creating a consumer protections watchdog group and an affordability review board. We value the leadership of Gov. Evers in tackling excessive drug costs for thousands of families across Wisconsin.
WORK & EDUCATION
Great Public Schools
All families deserve access to quality education through local community schools. In his first term, Gov. Evers passed an historic increase in K-12 public education restoring the state’s two-thirds funding commitment, and was able to increase investment in the UW college system and Wisconsin’s technical colleges. This year Gov. Evers has proposed spending part of the state’s historic surplus to meet some of the pressing and immediate needs of kids. But GOP lawmakers, in service to their mega-donors, have failed to provide adequate annual increases for schools districts as recommended by 2019 Blue Ribbon Commission, and they have amped up their anti-public school agenda. From lifting the cap on the state’s private school voucher program, to attempting to dismantle the Milwaukee public schools, to blocking the expenditure of federal funds, to attacking teachers who help kids learn real American history, the Republicans in office are putting their mega-donors ahead of public education. We will continue to speak up and vote for lawmakers who put children first.
Connecting every community and business with high-speed broadband is critical for creating opportunities across Wisconsin. Gov. Evers passed the largest broadband investment in state history, expanding access for 9,300 businesses and 150,000 homes. Gov. Evers declared 2021 the Year of Broadband Access and is delivering on that promise with additional investments to expand access across the state.
An estimated one in nine Wisconsin jobs are agriculture related but the sector is threatened as family farms go out of business. In its first year, the Evers Administration created the Office of Rural Prosperity to help workers and entrepreneurs in small communities navigate issues like housing, broadband, and other challenges. Its Wisconsin Initiative for Dairy Exports is building a presence in the international dairy markets. Gov. Evers has awarded $100 million in federal relief funds to more than 35,000 farmers statewide who have suffered under pandemic related challenges including supply chain issues. Democratic lawmakers have drafted bills that will grow the state’s meat industry, increase access to mental health services for farmers, and connect local producers to markets.
Fixing Roads and Bridges
Gov. Evers is making historic investments in the state’s roads and bridges. His first budget included nearly a half billion in transportation funding, and even during the pandemic hundreds of road improvement projects were moving forward. Between 2019 and 2020 alone repairs were made to over 1,000 miles of highway and more than 800 bridges, in virtually every corner of the state. Wisconsin’s roads are now ranked 8th in the nation.
During his first term, Gov. Evers provided over $4 billion in cumulative tax relief for working families. In 2021 he signed a $450 million small business tax cut and additional relief for low-income families. The latest budget provides more than $2 billion in individual income tax relief and cuts taxes for middle-class families by 15 percent.
Paid Leave for Workers
No one should be expected to give up pay or lose their job to care for themselves or family members when they are ill or to welcome a new baby. There is growing evidence of the benefits of paid leave programs for employers – they can help to increase labor participation. Only twelve states require that employers offer time off with pay. Efforts to expand paid leave are stalled in Congress and at the Wisconsin Legislature. Instead, the GOP legislature propose doing away with unemployment pay. It’s time for policies that attract labor and create opportunities for good jobs.