Tag Archives: lobby day

Community Bulletins | March 26, 2015

Candidates announce for state Democratic Party chair

Martha Laning earlier this month announced her candidacy for chairperson of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin. Laning is a community leader, businesswoman and former candidate for Wisconsin’s 9th Senate District. She’s been endorsed by state Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, who’s often mentioned as a prospective gubernatorial candidate.

Also running for the position is Jason Rae, who has served on the boards of numerous progressive organizations and as chair of the Milwaukee County Human Rights Commission. Currently executive director of the Milwaukee LGBT Chamber of Commerce, Rae was chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin’s Platform & Resolutions Committee for four years.

Other announced candidates are Jeff Smith and Joe Wineke.

More community bulletins …

• GREEN CAMPAIGN: Conservation Lobby Day is set for April 14, with citizen lobbyists gathering at Monona Terrace in Madison to register. For more, go to milwaukeeenvironmentalconsortium.org.

• BUILDING COMMUNITY: All Hands Boatworks, which held a meeting in Milwaukee earlier in March at Keep Greater Milwaukee Beautiful, is making plans for a youth regatta, a youth boatbuilders camp and other projects. For more, visit All Hands Boatworks on Facebook.

• JUSTICE AND DISPARITY: The International Socialist Organization, with co-sponsorship by Young, Gifted and Black, the UW Comparative Studies Department and the UW LGBT Campus Center, hosted transgender activist CeCe McDonald at the UW-Madison campus on March 19. McDonald talked about prison reform, racial profiling, racial disparities and transgender rights. 

• FAIR NOTICE: The Fair Wisconsin board of directors announced the appointment of Megin McDonnell as interim executive director. She succeeds Katie Belanger and has been serving Fair as external relations director since 2011. For more, go to fairwisconsin.com.

• HIGH-TECH DRIVER’S ED: The Wisconsin Department of Transportation has created an e-version of The Motorists’ Handbook that explains the rules of the road and offers safe driving recommendations for operating cars or light trucks. “The eBook option for tablets makes this version especially convenient to study and prepare for the knowledge test that all applicants must pass to get a driver license,” says Debbie Kraemer, supervisor of the Bureau of Driver Services. The handbook is available at wisconsindmv.gov.

• RUMMAGE WITH A CAUSE: The Milwaukee/NARI Foundation, Inc., the educational and charitable arm of the Milwaukee/NARI Home Improvement Council, Inc., will host its 10th annual “Home Improvement Rummage Sale” in the parking lot of Milwaukee Millwork, 11712 W. Dixon St., Milwaukee on May 1, 8 a.m.–4 p.m. The sale supports efforts to reduce materials from landfills while also assisting the foundation’s efforts to provide financial and educational support to students pursuing a career in the home improvement and remodeling industry. Leftover merchandise will be donated to Habitat for Humanity.

Send notices to Lisa Neff at .

Activists to lobby Wisconsin lawmakers on Citizens United anniversary

Activists with a coalition of groups will lobby Wisconsin lawmakers on the fifth anniversary of the Citizens United decision under the banner “Money Out, Voters In — Wisconsin.” The action will take place on Jan. 21 at the state Capitol in Madison.

In Citizens United vs. FEC, the U.S. Supreme Court said corporations, unions and other associations could give unlimited amounts of money to try to elect candidates of their choice so long as they don’t coordinate their activities with their chosen candidates.

“The Supreme Court, in its Citizens United decision, opened the floodgates, and our democracy is drowning,” Matt Rothschild, the executive director of the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign said in a news release issued this week. “Here in Wisconsin, we’ve seen the consequences, as the Koch Brothers and Gogebic Taconite, and the school privatizers are throwing their weight around as never before.”

Peter Skopec of WISPIRG added, “Five years after Citizens United, big money is speaking louder than ever before — but the good news is that our leaders can take immediate steps to reduce its influence and empower ordinary voters. State lawmakers should lower, not increase campaign contribution limits, and make coordination between outside groups and candidates explicitly illegal. They should empower small donors by matching small contributions with limited public funds. And they should maintain the Government Accountability Board’s independent oversight powers, rather than take us back to the days of ineffective, partisan-appointed monitoring that failed Wisconsin in the past.”

The lobby day will begin with a press conference at the Capitol and coincide with the introduction of state Assemblywoman Lisa Subek’s bill to place an advisory referendum on the November 2016 ballot asking whether Wisconsin’s congressional delegation should support, and the Wisconsin Legislature should ratify, an amendment to the U.S. Constitution. The amendment would state: “1. Only human beings — not corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations, or similar associations—are endowed with constitutional rights, and 2. Money is not speech, and therefore limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to restricting political speech.”

Subek planned to attend the press conference.

The coalition’s membership includes the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, WISPIRG, People For the American Way, United Wisconsin, Wisconsin Farmers Union, Center for Media and Democracy, South Central Wisconsin Move To Amend, Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, Citizen Action Wisconsin, AFT- Wisconsin, National Association of Social Workers – Wisconsin Chapter, United Council of UW Students, Midwest Environmental Advocates, 9 to 5, Madison Teachers Inc., Move to Amend of Southeast Wisconsin, Chippewa Valley Move to Amend, Move to Amend Rock River, Lake Mills Move to Amend, Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, Reedsburg Area Concerned Citizens, Wisconsin Grassroots Network, Madison Area Urban Ministry, Madison MoveOn, Peace Action Wisconsin, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Door County Environmental Council, SouthWest Wisconsin Area Progressives, One Wisconsin Now, Progressive Dane, South Central Federation of Labor, Teaching Assistants’ Association and Wisconsin Wave.

Medical marijuana advocates plan Wisconsin lobby day

Wisconsin medical cannabis patients and activists plan a lobby day for Jan. 16, 2013, at the state Capitol in Madison.

The Madison and Wisconsin chapters of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, along with Is My Medicine Legal YET?, the Wisconsin medical cannabis advocacy group founded by medical cannabis bill namesake Jacki Rickert, are organizing the effort, according to a news release from NORML.

The proposed medical cannabis legislation — the Jacki Rickert Medical Marijuana Act — will have a new lead sponsor next session.

Wisconsin Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison, will be taking over from Rep. Mark Pocan, D-Madison, who was elected to the U.S. Congress on Nov. 6 to fill the seat held by Tammy Baldwin, elected a U.S. Senator the same day.

The 2013-2014 JRMMA is being updated to reflect the many developments in medical cannabis in the recent past. As in past sessions, the legislation is not expected formally introduced until after the state budget is settled mid-year.

Organizers are holding the lobby day early in the session to build on momentum from recent votes in Colorado and Washington to legalize small amounts of cannabis and the passage, by Massachusetts voters of a medical cannabis initiative making that state number 18 plus Washington, D.C., according to a news release.

Directing anger into action

Last week the state of Delaware cleared a major hurdle toward becoming the seventh in the nation to legalize civil unions for same-sex couples. The state’s legislature passed a bill by a 26-15 vote, followed by an eruption of applause. Delaware’s Democratic governor of two years says he’s looking forward to signing the bill into law.

Wisconsin is quickly moving in the opposite direction. This rapid descent is particularly troubling given that our state was the first to enact legislation protecting LGBT people from employment discrimination.

Wisconsin’s government was not only taken over by Republicans in November – it was taken over by right-wing extremists. Unfortunately their extremism includes an open hostility toward equality. Some legislators now in the majority have blatantly anti-gay voting records. They have voted against measures designed to discourage anti-gay bullying in schools and for measures to enshrine anti-gay bigotry into our Constitution. Even the newest members of the Republican majority have received top scores from anti-gay organizations because of their views.

Although he campaigned for governor on creating jobs, Scott Walker’s first 100 days have shown no real focus on that subject. But one thing he managed to include in his first 100 days was to fire the lawyers defending the state’s domestic partnership registry.

In coming months, we are likely to see additional attacks from Walker. For example, as he seeks to finance his tax cuts for the rich, many critical programs will face dramatic cuts and possible elimination. It’s hard not to assume that funding for AIDS and other programs of interest to the LGBT community will suffer under his ax.

On the other hand, governors of neighboring states are moving in the direction of fairness. In January, Pat Quinn, the new Democratic governor of Illinois, signed a bill legally recognizing the civil unions of gay couples in that state. Last week, Minnesota’s Mark Dayton became the first sitting governor of that state to attend OutFront Minnesota’s LGBT Lobby Day. “I stand with you,” he said during that event, going on to pledge support for full equality, which he described as consistent with “the founding principle of this country.”

Instead of envying our neighbors, LGBT Wisconsinites must channel their disapproval of Walker into deliberate action. While he cannot be recalled until January, at least eight of his state senators are the targets of current recall efforts. Visit recalltherepublican8.com to find out more about those efforts and to learn you can help them.

If at least three of the Republicans senators are replaced, it will go a long way toward slowing down Scott Walker’s radical agenda. If we are able to accomplish such an unprecedented feat, our action and determination just might earn Wisconsin the envy of our neighbors and of other fair-minded people across the nation.