RTT Update: 09-12-17 (notes)

Sen Erpenbach Office Visit 9-12-17

Sen Erpenbach was on the Senate floor during the meeting. The group met with Kelly, who is a legislative assistant in his office.


  • The Senator will be voting no on the bill.
  • Some amendments have been proposed by the majority, but the office did not have information about what those amendments were.
  • The bill is Special Session SB1, and the special session was called just to pass the bill.
  • The minority has also proposed amendments, but these amendments have no chance of passing.


Kelly recommended using the notification service at legis.wi.gov to keep track of bills and topics.


Health Care:

  • There is no expectation that any of Sen. Erpenbach’s healthcare bills will see any movement as long as the Republicans hold the majority.
  • Kelly declined to discuss any possibility of flipping the legislature because campaigning is not appropriate to the Senate office.
  • The ACA is in limbo and money for navigators has been cut. Is there any chance to restore that funding through state channels?
    • Sen. Erpenbach consistently advocates for Medicaid expansion.
    • The office has been trying to promote the open enrollment period through social media.
    • The senator is additionally seeking a legal opinion about whether it would be feasible to introduce a bill that would allow a state on the federal exchange to opt-out of the open enrollment period.
  • For people on long-term, necessary medications, is anyone working on “pill banks” in the case of ACA repeal?
    • Not that the office is aware of.
  • Which companies provide health insurance in Wisconsin?
    • The office is not certain. Some companies have entered the market while others have left.
  • Is there any motion on the BadgerCare for all bill?
    • No.


Minority parties do not set the agenda. The majority may not give much notice on a hearing or other action.


Does Jon Erpenbach plan to join the Progressive Caucus?

  • There is no information on his plans, but he would likely be interested in the work of the Progressive Caucus.

What is the outlook on the Mining Bill?

  • 10 hours of public testimony were given last week.
  • There may be a vote this week, but if amendments to the bill are offered, the vote may be delayed to next week.
  • At the hearing, there was a lot of local opposition, but also many who were brought in to support mining.
  • One example: An Inuit woman was invited to speak from Canada about how mining can be positive for Native American communities. However, many local tribes pointed out that in the Canadian examples that she provided, Native American groups were brought to the table to work with mining companies regarding benefits and environmental protections, which is not what is happening in this case.
  • The Back 40 mine owners are financially struggling, and they need to signal to investors that they’re a going concern. The support of Wisconsin for their projects would accomplish that.
  • The mining bill would repeal the “Prove It” law which required mine owners/operators to demonstrate that they could run a mine safely for ten years and also close a mine safely for ten years.. The bill would further remove existing legislation that would require mine owners/operators to take responsibility for negative outcomes that result from mining after the mine has closed.
  • In general the public and their objections were given time at the hearing.
  • Mining companies claim that technology has advanced to improve safety for people and the environment. However, there is no evidence of this as the proposed bill would remove the regulations that would allow monitoring.
  • What works to stop legislation like this?
    • Local opposition has stopped mines in the past.
    • Contacting bill co-sponsors has worked in the past. Talk to your friends and family up North to ask them to call as well.
    • Contacting investors and making your opposition known can also be effective.
    • Working with counties downriver is key


Is there any way Democratic elected officials could connect to grassroots groups on issues like this?

  • That’s hard because there are a lot of groups
  • Information goes out through the Erpenbach newsletter, facebook, and twitter.


Regarding the Budget…

  • Will this take away local control on mining?
    • The budget deals with a different type of mining, not that involved in the Back 40.
    • The budget also includes a provision to void any local regulation that is more stringent than state regulations
    • There are also changes to professional licensing to eliminate licensing requirements. It would eliminate professional boards to consolidate oversight. This is separate from the desire to get rid of all licensing for teachers.

The current bill for mining (SB 395) would apply statewide.


There is no number of promised mining jobs– The Ladysmith mine created 25 jobs that lasted for 4 years.


Regarding Gerrymandering….

  • What if the Supreme court rules against the state?
    • The legislature is starting at zero for re-drawing the maps.
  • Concern that a Republican-drawn map would likely have to go back to the court.
  • The governor’s race might be key in Wisconsin because it’s not subject to gerrymandering.


What about the Wisconsin job shortage?

  • There’s a skill gap and no funding for technical schools.
  • And then there are transportation issues.


Do you see corporations investing in training?

  • It’s what Foxconn plans to do (with Wisconsin government funding)
  • Job obsolescence is a problem.


When is the Democratic party going to articulate a vision?

  • Take that up with the party.

RTT Update: 08-22-2017 (notes)

Notes – Indivisible Madison visit to Senator Chris Larson’s office on August 22, 2017

The group met with the Senator and his staff.


Five Facts About Foxconn:

  1. The Foxconn deal would be one of the largest economic development packages in the country–the third largest in U.S. history and the largest in Wisconsin history.
  2. Nothing in the agreement with Foxconn guarantees that Wisconsin jobs will be created. Residents of Illinois could be employed, and there has been talk of building dormitories on the Foxconn campus.
  3. There is no minimum salary specified in the agreement. Foxconn would forego some tax advantages if they didn’t meet certain salary requirements, but other aspects of the agreement would remain in place.
  4. The jobs that will be created at the Foxconn plant are the kind of jobs that are at high risk of automation. The agreement has no provisions for how jobs would be preserved in the event of automation.
  5. It will be almost impossible for Wisconsin to recover the money that is being put into the deal. Estimates that costs could be recouped in 25 years assume that all jobs created will be Wisconsin jobs and that the maximum number of jobs will be created.


Other things that are missing from the Foxconn deal:

  • No expectations or requirement regarding job duration/longevity to receive tax benefits
  • No requirement to follow environmental laws. (Wisconsin state and local laws tend to be more strict than federal regulations around issues such as wetlands and watershed protections because of our unique environment. These would be waived for Foxconn.)


What would be an agreement that Senator Larson would vote for?

  1. Any agreement should fit into the spirit and culture of Wisconsin. Follow the law. Protect the environment. Protect education.
  2. We would need to feel good about offering the same deal to the next corporation to look at Wisconsin or to corporations already in state seeking a similar deal.
  3. We’ve been told for seven years that the state is broke, and areas such as education and roads have made deep cuts. If we have the funds for a Foxconn deal, we should make good with those areas that have sacrificed first.
  4. WEDA oversight would need to be improved. So far, WEDA has not shown itself to be very adept at measuring job creation or enforcing clawbacks when job creation falls short.


Have these ideas been articulated by the Democrats?

  • Yes. Many of these ideas have been expressed but the gubernatorial candidates in particular.
  • However, we should understand that he does not speak for others in making these remarks.
  • Progressive consensus can be difficult sometimes, because there are nearly infinite ways to go forward, but when conservatives say they want to go back, we already have a shared idea of what that would look like.


Does the Senator have any insights into the development of the Progressive Caucus?

  • There have been discussions, but nothing has formed yet.
  • The Wisconsin media may be a barrier to an effective caucus. They may not be interested in a minority party caucus.


Will any Republicans vote against Foxconn?

  • 2 Republican representatives voted against it, so it is possible.
  • Republicans who believe in local control, transparency, ending corporate welfare, etc. might be motivated to vote No.
  • In Milwaukee, people are excited about the prospect of jobs, but no one is on board with the costs.
  • When discussing the lack of benefits to rural areas of the state, it was noted that Foxconn may be wooing such areas with promises of supporting ginseng farming.


Would the Senate put out a Resolution on Charlottesville?

  • Possibly, when they come back in session.


Could the Foxconn deal die in Committee?

  • Not with this much money at stake.
  • However, the longer the deal is delayed, the more time people have to contemplate the deal’s flaws.


What can we do to influence legislators from other districts?

  • Constituents will have the most influence.
  • Citizen Action has been doing some phone banking to districts to make sure that constituents are informed. This is an opportunity.
  • Elected officials will also pay attention to out-of-district voices if there are many of them.


Is Paul Ryan using Foxconn?

  • He’ll use anything he can.
  • The deal is primarily a Trump-Walker deal. It’s not clear that Paul Ryan had much to do with it.


Have any of your bills gotten a hearing?

  • Not really. The only way to move a bill is to give Republicans full credit.
  • Republicans are starting to think that they can do no wrong.
  • Republicans have gone after Progressive constituencies with Act 10 and redistricting, so their majority is protected.


What can we do next year?

  • It’s not good.
  • There is a case with the Supreme Court, but that will not move until October.
  • And campaign finance laws have been weakened in Wisconsin.


Are there any areas where grassroots activists can make a difference?

  • The people experience the results of policy, and can bring their personal stories to elected officials.

RTT Update: 08-15-17 (notes)

Sen Wirch 8/15/17 Office Visit


Meeting with Chief of Staff

Senator did not attend. He was spending the day in his district.

The Senator holds office hours at Central Library on Fridays.



  • Waiting to see what the final deal is.
  • Supports “family-supporting jobs” in the district
  • Will be proposing amendments—has significant concerns regarding precedent.


Concern: Does Bob Wirch stand up for Kenosha enough? Particularly regarding Foxconn environmental concerns and payoff to Foxconn? Will this deal just end up helping Paul Ryan and Walker?

  • Republicans will decide if Foxconn passes.
  • Tonight the county board will be voting on Foxconn.
  • Wirch’s office isn’t hearing a lot regarding Foxconn. Maybe there have been 35 calls. Mostly they’ve been receiving form emails, which are deeply discounted by staff. Of the phone calls, most were anti-Foxconn.
  • They’re also not seeing a lot of letters to the editor.
  • The pinch is that Wisconsin has lost car manufacturing, and we need to revive the economy.
  • The Assembly put in an amendment that all jobs pay at least $30k to get the tax credits. Concern: the benefits required to be paid haven’t been specified.
  • Yesterday indicated that amendments are unlikely. They [i.e., the Foxconn] think they have the votes. No one from Foxconn has reached out to Wirch’s office. Ordinarily, there’d be at least a courtesy visit to the representative of the affected district.
  • The Fiscal Bureau memo has been useful, but perhaps not powerful enough. Conservatives are calling the memo biased and wrong.


How permanent is the technology that will be manufactured at the plant?

  • It’s all impermanent.


Re: environmental concerns, on what grounds can an impact statement be waived?

  • The need for an impact statement would simply be removed by the bill.
  • Waste water discharge regulations are being waived.
  • Existing regulations will not apply to this enterprise zone. There are concerns about the precedent being set.


What is the African American unemployment rate in the district?

  • Huge. Racine always has a high unemployment rate.
  • Kenosha is doing somewhat better.
  • “The box” (to indicate previous conviction on a job application) is a major contributor to unemployment.


Is there a commitment to hire Wisconsin workers?

  • On Friday a sub-amendment was added that states a preference for WI workers, but this is not a requirement.


What about the history of Foxconn in China?

  • Recommendation to check out the New York Times story from earlier this year about Foxconn’s history in China.
  • What appears to be catching on is that the jobs may not be good jobs and the break-even point for the state is so far in the future.


It does not appear that Foxconn would violate the Great Lakes Compact. The Army Corps of Engineers will have the final say, keeping in mind that we are under a Trump administration.


Regarding Charlottesville:

Will there be a party statement?

  • It’s not determined yet if the Senate Democrats will have a statement. This may be discussed Thursday in the caucus meeting.
  • There might possibly be a resolution.
  • The idea that Nazis are bad isn’t controversial.
  • The group expressed that they would appreciate a statement from the Senators.


Regarding the Progressive Caucus:

  • Sen Wirch may be involved. It’s not yet clear.
  • Thursday the Senate Democrats will caucus.
  • The group requested that Sen. Wirch stay connected to the grassroots and invite more dialogue.


Fun Fact: The budget will be a “historic” increase in Education funding in the sense that it will get us back to 2010 levels. It is an increase only in the context of many years of cuts; the messaging that teachers are bad has really stuck.


How does the office regard a group from outside the district?

  • District members matter the most to the Senator.
  • Facilitating discussions and developing staff relationships are also important.

RTT Update: 08-08-17 (notes)

Rep. Pocan 8/8/17 Office Visit

Meeting with Melanie Conklin, District Outreach and External Relations

What’s the update on Health Care?

  • The details are too new.
  • There is no information on what was discussed between Trump and Walker.
  • The concern is that open enrollment is coming up fast.
  • There are concerns about appropriating the health insurance reimbursements.

What are the points of influence on health care?

  • Rep. Pocan is looking for areas of compromise, something that will stabilize marketplaces.
  • The key message is that the Affordable Care Act affects everyone.
  • Reinsurance is pretty black and white and reasonable. Congressman Kind is working on the “moderate” proposal. This is coming out of the “New Dems” (who may or may not be related to the Blue Dogs).



  • There is a possibility that there will not be further continuing resolutions. This would shut down the government.


Regarding the Mueller protest in the case of his firing:

  • There is nothing new about the Russia investigation that Rep. Pocan can share with his staff.


What about impeachment?

  • Nothing new since the articles were drafted.
  • Ryan is the key player, and he’s still loyal to the party so far.
  • Also, keep in mind that with a successful impeachment, we’d still be stuck with Pence.


Is anyone looking at enforcement on visa laws? What about the DREAM Act?

  • Not likely to go anywhere. Some people will stop it at all costs.


There’s a need for a unified progressive message.

  • “A Better Deal”
  • It’s hard to get the message out.


How do we influence the back-room catastrophes (e.g., the lines that get slipped into appropriations bills)?


What’s going on with the “Election Integrity” commission?

  • Rep. Pocan introduced a bill on interstate cross-check
  • The danger is that people will take themselves off the rolls to avoid having their data shared.


Student loan refinancing

  • Thank you to Rep. Pocan for introducing legislation.
  • The future of work panels will be ongoing. Mark Pocan and others are talking to experts in four congressional districts, and there will be a report and legislative package coming.


What about grassroots progressive events?

  • Target the 2018 governor’s race. That’s going to be critical, and will invite media coverage.

RTT Update: 07-18-2017

This week we met with State Senator Mark Miller to discuss unions and the future of the progressive movement in Wisconsin.

Mark: I have read about the Indivisible movement in the papers and I’ve been so happy to see this taking place all over the country. I know that there have been lots of set backs since Act 10, I was the Democratic leader then, but I’m pleased to see the sustained energy.

Question: Which do you think has the larger impact on the people of Wisconsin: union issues or redistricting and voter suppression.

Mark: Not everyone appreciates the importance of unions. Unions are one part of relieving economic distress. If you can negotiate pay it is easier to raise wages. This is how you can raise household income. For many people, for example the ones who voted for Trump, this is not as big of an issue. Some of these people feel left behind by the economy due to short comings in our policies. These are the same people that voted for Obama before, but voted for Trump due to economic distress. So people are impacted by both, but unions are not on their radar as much.

Question: Is there a way to have progressive feet on the ground against gerrymandering and ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council)?

Mark: People don’t always want to hear about these issues from politicians like myself, they typically prefer to hear it from neighbors. That is why grass root efforts like this are important. Compared to how we used to be, we are so extremely divided into camps now. When I first ran for office it was split about one third of people would always vote Democrat, one third would always vote Republican, and the middle is where the decisions would be made. Now the split is more like 45% Democrat and 45% Republican, and the remaining 10% in the middle swings it. Focus on the Wisconsin Supreme Court races. The transparency (or lack of transparency) of money in politics is an important issue that the Supreme Court would help. If we focus on this race it could be a way to allow for more disclosure.

Question: There is a proposal out about Badger care for all. What are your thoughts?

Mark: This would allow people to buy into Wisconsin’s version of Medicaid. I am already signed on and support this. When I was a private employer, my ability to provide benefits for my employees relied on how we did the previous year. If our profits were down, coverage for pregnancy was typically dropped because we couldn’t afford it. I did not like this. If you are a citizen of an industrialized area, you should have health insurance.

Question: What are you working on right now and what are your areas of focus?

Mark: My main focus is on elections and environmental issues. Elections are fundamental to our democracy and should be determined by the campaign and not unknown third-party money. We should also have public funding for Supreme Court races. I have also been active in working on issues of water management in the Central Sands area of Wisconsin.

Rep. Mark Pocan has also encouraged us to create a Progressive Caucus in the State Senate and we are moving forward with this idea. You’ll be hearing more about this in the future. We will introduce progressive legislature and have a core of people who can meet with groups like yours.

RTT Update 06-27-2017

This week we met with Flora Csontos from Senator Baldwin’s office to discuss healthcare and funding for the 2020 census. We were joined by members of Indivisible Stoughton and had our largest group yet. Thanks to everyone who has shown up and helped keep us going!

Question: We have been working on coordinating with other Indivisible groups. One group that we have spoken with is Indivisible Hawaii and they had some concerns about the 2020 census that seem relevant since Senator Baldwin is on the Appropriations Committee for Labor. We would like to request that the 2020 census is adequately funded since this information helps us figure out how to allocate our resources and would help create fair voting districts.

Flora: It’s great that your groups are looking out this far!

Question: We had heard that the funding for the 2020 census might be decreased. Is this true?
Flora: I have not heard that, but I will check.
Question: We are against Trumpcare and would like to ask Senator Baldwin to continue opposing this legislation. What is the status of the Senate vote for this healthcare bill?

Flora: The Senate vote has been pushed to after the July 4th recess. This means that senators will have a chance to meet with their constituents over the break and hear their stories about the ACA. The CBO score came out yesterday and it is almost the same as the House version of the bill. People are spending more money for less care. Affordable healthcare is a personal issue for Senator Baldwin. As most of you know, she had a childhood illness and understands how difficult access to quality healthcare can be with a pre-existing condition. She’ll do everything she can.

Question: Will Senator Baldwin have any town halls over the 4th of July recess?

Flora: None are scheduled for July. We will possibly have some in August, but nothing concrete yet.

Question: Do Democrats have a plan of what they would like to do with healthcare? Resisting Trumpcare will only get us so far unless we have our own plan.

Flora: Several people have put forward plans to improve the ACA. While the ACA is good, there are things we can do to improve it. Earlier this month, Senator Baldwin introduced legislation that would help middle-class families receive financial assistance. We want to proactively improve the ACA. (The press release for this legislation is included at the bottom of this update).

Question: Senator Baldwin does not support school vouchers, but I am concerned because Governor Walker does. It doesn’t seem fair that money meant for public education is being funneled to private schools.

Flora: Out of all of Trump’s nominees, we received the most calls regarding Betsy DeVos. We will continue to push back against vouchers. We want everyone to have access to quality public education.

Question: Does Senator Baldwin have any plans to filibuster by amendment? Reconciliation would allow any number of amendments to be added to the AHCA, so it is possible for Senator Baldwin to do this in order to slow down the process. A national group is pushing for this and have created a website, trumpcareten.org, where people are submitting amendment ideas.

Flora: I will pass that along to the Senator.

ACA Improvement Press Release:

RTT Update 06-13-2017

This week we met with Zach Madden from Rep. Lisa Subeck’s office to discuss the “Housing First” package and the Constitutional Convention.

Question: Is there any benefit to being in the gallery tomorrow when they vote on joining the Constitutional Convention?

Zach: There is not a legislative benefit. However, it does show the press and public that people are opposed to this idea. Showing up would demonstrate that people don’t believe this is the right way to do this.

Question: The Republicans have also recently created bills related to homelessness – how are the ones introduced by Subeck in the “Housing First” package different?

Zach: Subeck is concerned that the bills in the Assembly (AB 234,235, 236, 237) are a ‘rearranging the deck chairs’, so to speak, instead of a solid solution. It’s good to prioritize the chronically homeless and addressing homelessness is always good. However, we need to put resources towards training and long-term housing.

Question: What can we do to support these bills?

Zach: Push the chairs of the committees to have a public hearing. These bills will be in the Committee on Housing and Real Estate and Committee on Public Benefit Reform.

Question: What is the current status of the Wisconsin gerrymandering case?

Zach: We might know the Supreme Court’s decision as early as next week. If they uphold the lower court’s decision, I’m not sure what will happen. Republicans could have new maps drawn already – not much is known. Any new maps would go through the legislature and then get a signature from the governor. Rep. Subeck did cosponsor and help author Assembly Bill 44 (AB44) that would help end gerrymandering in Wisconsin by putting the redistricting process in the hands of a non-partisan board.

Question: Where is the best place to visit to know what Rep. Subeck is working on?

Zach: We have a weekly newsletter that you can sign up for. We also have a website with up to date newsletters and press releases. If you want to have a more in-depth view, you can use the legislative notification service. It’s free to sign up and you can receive relevant emails regarding a specific issue or committee.

Question: Is Rep. Subeck in favor of the Health Care Protection Package introduced by Sen. Erpenbach and others?

Zach: She has signed onto the Health Care Protection Package.

Question: What is Rep. Subeck currently working on?

Zach: She introduced a package of bills on June 2nd which is gun violence prevention day. Gun safety is an important issue for her and this package includes common sense bills related to gun safety. For example, one bill would require you to file a report if your gun is lost or stolen. Another bill states that a trigger lock or a safe must be part of the sale or transfer of a gun. This can be seen as an addition to an existing bipartisan bill where people would receive a tax credit for a gun safe. The last two bills would require gun owners to keep their guns locked up when not in use if they lived with a felon or a minor.

Legislative Notification Service:

Housing First package:

Republican Homelessness Package:

Safe Storage for Gun Safety Package:

RTT Update 06-06-2017

This week we met with Dane Varese and Melanie Conklin from Rep. Mark Pocan’s office to discuss healthcare.

Question: What is the timeline of the AHCA(Trumpcare) now that it has moved out of the House?

Dane: In the Senate, they are held to the congressional calendar, so it could drag out. Especially as the election season approaches in 2018 and more senators are out running for reelection. Typically, less legislative action happens as they campaign. Unfortunately, once the bill leaves the House we tend to lose focus on it a little. But, we have heard that they are hoping to have a framework done within the week.

Question: If the Senate passes this new healthcare bill, will it have to go back through the House?

Dane: Yes. It is anticipated that there will be enough significant changes that it will need the House’s re-approval. Most likely this will include the full house, not just a committee, but we can’t know for sure this far out. But the House version of this bill is likely dead in the water.

Melanie: What would make it work in the Senate will likely kill it in the House and vise-versa. There may be some movement of the bill back and forth.

Dane: The current presidency creates a lot of headlines, but not a lot of movement. Nothing is likely to happen in the next week or so. The future is uncertain with the investigation into Russian interference in the election – this has been a huge weight on the legislature.

Question: What happens to the marketplace if the AHCA is not passed and nothing is done with the ACA?

Dane: If they can’t get something through, they might just find a way to make the ACA not work just enough so that it fails. Nobody is saying that the ACA is perfect; but, if your car has a flat tire you don’t go out and get a new car.

Question: Is there anything Republicans and Democrats agree on in Wisconsin? Is there an issue or issues that we could push where there is common ground?

Melanie: Broadband.
Dane: There is also some consensus on support of Pell Grants and Perkins loans.

Question: We are from Dane county. How can we be effective? When I call in to certain politician’s offices, I feel like I am written off when they hear that I am from Madison since this is a liberal area.

Dane: Ron Johnson is still your senator, so calling him is always a good idea. There are other ways to be visible and still respectful too. The Speaker of the House is near us, so you could try to be respectful but visible regarding an issue he is connected to. If you do something visible, be sure to take pictures or have the news there or it basically didn’t happen. But the Speaker does represent more than just his district since he is the Speaker. Calling the Washington office would be better though since you do not live in his district.

Melanie: Also, keep calling. It doesn’t matter if we agree with you or not, we do tally what you say or record your stories. A big part of the reason the first draft of the AHCA failed was due to people calling with their stories – positive and negative. The tallies and the stories that we record are very effective messaging. So please keep calling.

Melanie also shared the Congressional Progressive Caucus’s statement on the decision to withdraw from the Paris Agreement. Representative Pocan was recently named the co-chair of this caucus. The links to the document she provided is included below. We also dropped off a letter written by Derek at Governor Walker’s office urging him to continue supporting the Paris Agreement at a state level.

RTT Update 05-23-2017

We visited State Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling’s office today to discuss the Health Care Protection Package she has backed as well as the topic of gerrymandering in Wisconsin.  We spoke with Kara Pennoyer, Shilling’s Chief of Staff.

Question: Senate Bill 13 (SB13) would help prevent gerrymandering in Wisconsin.  Do you know of any Republican representatives that are on the fence regarding this bill?

Kara:  None that I know about.  This topic is split pretty much down party lines, but it is something that you can still ask them about.  The new maps did away with ‘purple districts’, so there is little incentive to support any effort to redraw the maps.

Question:  Are you focusing energy into pushing SB 13 at this time or are you waiting for a few more sessions?

Kara:  Most of the activity involving gerrymandering and drawing districts is happening in the courts at the moment.  We are focusing our energy on creating bills that show why the current system is bad and what we would do instead.  Our aim is to gain community support and make sure people are informed.  These issues aren’t always talked about as much outside of Madison, so we are trying to spread the word but that is sometimes difficult.

Question:  Are there any people we could talk to in attempt to get them to cosponsor the Health Care Protection Package?

Kara: We have all the Democrats on board, I believe.  Many Republicans are on record supporting the things that this proposal would protect; for example, ensuring coverage for people with pre-existing conditions and coverage of people up to age 27 on their parent’s insurance.

Question:  Will there be a time for public testimony regarding the Health Care Protection Plan?

Kara:  This is a Democrat bill, so a public hearing is usually not scheduled.  Some states require public testimony sessions for all bills, but not Wisconsin.  But, if you know which committee is reviewing a bill, you can pressure them to hold a public hearing.  A few years ago, for example, there was a Democrat bill on breastfeeding that was not scheduled for a public hearing and a breastfeeding coalition talked the committee into hearing testimony.  Right know the Health Care Protection Package is being reviewed by the Senate Committee on Health and Human Services and the Assembly Committee on Health. (links to these committees are included at the bottom of the update)

Question: Walker’s proposed budget would cut down the number of people on the parole board.  What is Shilling doing about this?

Kara:  Shilling does speak to people in our prison system who have worked to get their GED while incarcerated.  She has said that it is frustrating for them to get ready to transition back into society and then not have a chance of parole.  If you are interested in helping out with criminal justice in Wisconsin, I recommend that you get in touch with a local group of ‘Wisdom’. (A link to this organization is included at the bottom of this update)

Question: Would you consider backing or creating a minimum wage bill where the minimum wage is tied to housing price?  To some, especially in rural areas, a $15 minimum wage is ridiculous since small businesses couldn’t afford to pay that.  It may be more reasonable to base minimum wage on housing.

Kara:  We have introduced a $15 minimum wage bill.  We could discuss relating the minimum wage to housing.

One last cool thing:  Kara also told us about wisconsindems.com as a resource to stay informed about budget votes and proposals.  This website records votes and proposed amendments.  It also summarizes what is being voted on and you can sign up for email updates.

Wisdom organization link:

Assembly Committee on Health:

Senate Committee on Health and Human Services:


RTT Update 05-16-2017

This week we visited Senator Baldwin’s office and met with Flora Csontos, Baldwin’s regional representative for Southwestern Wisconsin, and State Director Janet Piraino.  The topics of discussion were the status of the American Health Care Act (AHCA or TrumpCare/RyanCare) in the Senate and the status of creating an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election.

Flora:  Senator Baldwin has been calling for an independent investigation into Russian interference in the election since day one.  Since the firing of FBI Director Comey, she has continued this push and has a press release stating that Trump and his administration are not above the law.  (Press release linked below).  Unfortunately, there currently is not a timeline on either the Russian investigation or the healthcare bill.

Question: Has Senator Baldwin considered putting her foot down in the senate by objecting to unanimous consent?  This is used to set aside a specified rule of procedure in order to expedite proceedings.  Could she object with the purpose of disrupting ‘business as usual’ until we get movement on the Russian investigation?

Flora:  I will pass this on.  I am not sure if this is the plan at the moment.  Senator Baldwin is in senate leadership, so they are discussing strategy and trying to find ways to respond to these unusual times.

Question: Can Senator Baldwin try to make hearings as public as possible?  We understand that not everything can be public – for example the hearings on Russian interference in the election.  But could the hearings on the AHCA be as public as possible?

Flora:  We will pass that request on.

Question:  Can you please hold more town halls in rural areas?  Senator Baldwin has experiences that make her personally invested in health care.  Affordability and access to health care is an area of common concern between Democrats and Republicans.  She should capitalize on this common ground and her own personal experiences to communicate with people outside of her normal demographic and use this as an opportunity to listen to their concerns.

Flora: Senator Baldwin does try to hold town halls during congressional recesses.  She just had two in Milwaukee and Prescott.  She holds round tables and listening sessions and she also visits churches and businesses in an attempt to reach many different people.  I will pass along the request to hold more of these meetings in rural areas.

Flora: I wanted to say that I am very excited that you are all still here.  We in Senator Baldwin’s office want to be here for you.  Keep calling and meeting with us!

Join us next week when we will visit Minority Leader Shilling’s office to discuss the Health Care Protection Package proposed by Senator Erpenbach and Rep. Riemer.

Senator Baldwin’s Press Release following the firing of FBI Director Comey:

Senator Baldwin’s Press Release on TrumpCare vote in the House:

More info on Unanimous Consent:
Or, you can check ‘Robert’s Rules of Order’, 11th edition, pages 54-56 (ISBN 978-0-306-82020-5) for more information on unanimous consent.