Iron County Progressive

Weekly News from Your Wisconsin Democratic Party Chair


This year is framed by five fights: 
Win the spring. Inspire, recruit, and train volunteers and at the national convention. Stop the GOP supermajority. Cancel Trump's second inaugural. And Organize for the future. That's the WISCO plan.

This Tuesday, our spring primaries took place—and fight #1, the 
W, officially began. 2020 is here.

We're ready. In every corner of the state, we've never had a stronger grassroots organizing operation this early. We've never been stronger financially. And we've never been more deeply aligned, in every community and in every part of our coalition, on the vision that unites us—the commitment to fight on our issues, include and respect everyone, and empower the grassroots. 

FIGHT on the Issues & FIGHT to Win:

On to Victory in April!

The results are in from Tuesday night and we now have our nominee for Wisconsin’s 2020 Supreme Court race -- Judge Jill Karofsky!

This race is going to shape the future of our state for a generation, not to mention the presidential election in the fall -- with a conservative majority on the court, Republicans could very well make voting in the November election more difficult by tilting the playing field towards Trump and the GOP.

In January, Donald Trump endorsed Dan Kelly,
a GOP operative who just so happens to also be a Supreme Court judge. So from now until the polls close at 8:00 PM on April 7, we’re going to be all hands on deck for Jill Karofsky.

We’ve only got seven weeks until the general election and Dan Kelly has out-raised Jill Karofsky as of this writing, which means over the next two months, we’ve got to do everything we can to protect Wisconsin’s future from gerrymandering and threats to voting rights and elect Judge Jill Karofsky to the Supreme Court.

Congratulations, Tricia!

And for the 7th District -- the seat vacated by Sean Duffy -- we now have an official nominee as well: Tricia Zunker! She’s been working for northern Wisconsin her entire life. She’s served as an Associate Justice of the Ho-Chunk Supreme Court since 2013 and on the Wausau School Board since 2018, and now she’ll go on to compete in the May 13 special election for this seat. Watch her launch video here.

Meanwhile, Tricia's opponent is none other than Toxic Tom Tiffany, a Koch-backed politician who sides with corporate polluters over communities and people every chance he gets. He has a well-established record of siding with those who cut the biggest checks, regardless of how many people are hurt by their products and practices. Read more about Tom Tiffany's toxic record here and share the site so people can learn more:

Wisconsin Paying for Trump's Border Wall

This week, we also learned that the Trump administration is shifting millions of dollars away from Oshkosh Corps, a Wisconsin company that builds military equipment vital for our national defense, and towards his border wall.

This is funding that would have been spent supporting Wisconsin jobs and Wisconsin communities. Let's be clear about one thing -- 
Trump is stealing money away from Wisconsin manufacturers to build his vanity project. 

The president’s broken promises hurt us all. If he continues down this path, our economic and national security will be in jeopardy.

 Pieces and a Smidgen More  -- Jack Altschuler  

I was struck by the juxtaposition of a couple of pieces I reviewed this past week. Nick Kristoff wrote a disturbing piece in the Sunday Times about a customer with a problem which U.S. Bank had created for him and its shoddy treatment of an employee who helped that customer. Near the end of the piece Kristoff wrote,

“I’ve often noted that companies have enormous capacity to help their communities. But too often they act like American tobacco companies, which killed more people than Stalin did [over 20 million], or pharma companies peddling opioids, or McKinsey & Company advising a business to ‘get more patients on higher doses of opioids,’ or Boeing mocking regulators.”

If you want to know why Millennials aren’t exactly in love with capitalism, those are some good data points. Be clear, though, that this post isn’t about advocating socialism. It is about advocating caring.

Before anyone starts vilifying Kristoff or me as tree hugging, lily-liver, crocodile tears, whining liberals, consider that we all care. Some care about their families.

Some care about people who have suffered, like Mothers Against Drunk Driving, Never Again and more. Some care about our country. Some, of course, care only about themselves, which brings us to the other (juxtaposed) piece I reviewed this morning.

The local hospice organization publishes a monthly bulletin and this month it included a couple of quotes.

“I don’t know what your destiny will be, but one thing I do know: the only ones among you who will be really happy are those who have sought and found how to serve.”  Albert Schweitzer

“I am of the opinion that my life belongs to the community, and as long as I live, it is my privilege to do for it whatever I can. I want to be thoroughly used up when I die, for the harder I work, the more I live. Life is no ‘brief candle’ to me. It is a sort of splendid torch which I have got hold of for a moment, and I want to make it burn as brightly as possible before handing it on to future generations.”  George Bernard Shaw

Each of us can be clear regarding what we care about by doing a simple inventory of how we use our time. Where and how we invest our time tells us what we care about.

Applying that reasoning to the political world I cover, it’s clear that many thousands of staffers and volunteers and caucusers in Iowa care deeply about the direction of our country and the nation they will be handing off to their children and grandchildren. That’s true even in the face of the counting mess that was made.

In contrast, with their votes to acquit our cheating, criminal, Constitution flaunting President, our Republican senators made their own statement. They made it plain for all to see that they care about themselves and their short term political future far more than they do about our country and the kind of place their grandchildren will inherit.

If our goal is to produce the most cynical citizens we can, then the likes of U.S. Bank, the American tobacco companies, McKinsey and Boeing are leading the way in exemplary fashion. Yet it’s far more ominous that our own government is America’s best cynicism generator and the most flagrant offender of what we care about.

Here’s the Smidgen More

Do you like horror films? Many do, so to get your freak-out fix, you have to read McKay Coppins’ piece in the March edition of The Atlantic. Actually, it’s a must-read even if you’re not a terror lover, because you care – about democracy. The piece is entitled,

The Billion-Dollar Disinformation Campaign to Reelect the President How new technologies and techniques pioneered by dictators will shape the 2020 election It is frightening in the extreme how easy it is for political operatives and creeps with a laptop to manipulate people and elections. You need to know about this, so settle in with your favorite mug o’ joe and dig into Coppin’s reporting.

Note that I’m reading Rick Wilson’s new book  Running Against the Devil.  It’s tough love in the extreme for Democrats and for all who want to evict the present occupant of 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Report to follow.

Cutting Taxes by Supporting Schools 
Every other January the Legislative Fiscal Bureau (LFB), a nonpartisan agency, reviews Wisconsin’s general fund and projects an economic forecast for the state. Recently the LFB reported an expected $450 million surplus by the end of this biennium, on June 30, 2021. The question now is what do we do with that surplus? 
Governor Tony Evers has a plan. Two weeks after the LFB released their findings, the Governor called for a special session to invest in our public schools and reduce property taxes. He did this because he knows that what’s best for our kids is what’s best for our state. However, Republican leaders rejected Governor Evers’ plan and touted a one-time tax break to property owners in Wisconsin.
Governor Evers’ plan would restore the state’s commitment to fund two-thirds of public education costs, invest more in special education and increase mental health services available for school children. Additionally, it would prioritize funding rural schools through sparsity aid.
Schools in the 31st Senate District would see new investments over $3.9 million in general school aid, $880 thousand in sparsity aid and $2.1 million in special education aid. And these are just part of Governor Evers’ recommendations.
The complete package would also fund special education readiness grants, aid for mental health programs and service grants and tribal language revitalization grants. Altogether, the schools in the 31st Senate District would receive more than $12 million.
Properly supporting our public schools at the state level would decrease the burden on homeowners by not requiring school districts to pass referenda just to keep operating. These much needed, overdue contributions would ensure all students have access to a quality education while fulfilling shared goals to provide tax relief. Residents of the 31st Senate District would see more than $7 million in property tax relief under Governor Evers’ proposal.
If there is a way to satisfy both sides, shouldn’t we at least be open to discussing it? We should lay all ideas out on the table and figure out how to use the best ideas of both sides to work for the better good of Wisconsin. I know it can be done and I know there are legislators on BOTH sides who want to work together.
We need long-term solutions to address the challenges our public schools and rural communities are facing. I don’t think tax credits are a long term answer to any subject we try to tackle, especially not critical issues like education. The other side of the aisle is saying the opposite and adds that the governor’s proposal is not the answer either.
And just like the call to work together on other fundamental issues from helping our farmers to gun safety; why does it have to be one or the other? The Governor has one package of bills he would like passed and the Republicans have their own. Once again I ask, “Why does it have to be one or the other?” After all, the most common questions I hear from our constituents is “Why can’t you get along and work together?”
I want to believe there is room to agree because we all care about these issues and can collaborate to find a solution. If government worked as it should, we would lay all proposals down side by side and hash it out. This is a great opportunity to prove to citizens that we can work as a shared governance.
This place in history is the perfect opportunity to restore shared governance as it once was. No, we don’t need to bring back the practice of making decisions in “smoke-filled rooms.” However we may benefit from adapting a collaborative spirit and restoring faith and trust in our elected officials. Now is the time to work for everyone and cut taxes by prioritizing Wisconsin’s future.
The 31st Senate District includes all of Buffalo and Pepin counties and portions of Trempealeau, Pierce, Dunn, Eau Claire and Jackson counties and very small portions of Chippewa and St. Croix counties.

From State Senator Janet Bewley
Northern Wisconsin Lights Up the Capitol

MADISON – Despite being hundreds of miles from the capital city and enduring another winter of snow and cold, the people of Northern Wisconsin continue to demonstrate the hardiness and determination that underlies so much of what makes the part of the state we call home so special.

Over the last few weeks, my colleagues in Madison have been visited by an incredible assortment of business owners and employees, local elected officials, concerned citizens and students from northern Wisconsin. Earlier this month, I was pleased to spend time with the people who made the trip from Barron, Rusk, Sawyer, and Washburn counties to participate in the Heart of the North Legislative Day.  Legislators from across Wisconsin heard from articulate advocates on issues such as increased funding for public schools and transportation aid.

I was especially impressed with the students who spoke about the importance of special education and mental health services in their schools, as well as the workforce housing shortage across northern Wisconsin. Their enthusiasm is contagious and a promising sign for the future. They were prepared, passionate, and well-spoken and did a great job!

Another group of students who did a great job representing northern Wisconsin were the young people who participated in the annual Superior Days.  This grassroots lobbying effort is an often copied, but rarely equaled effort to increase awareness and build support for issues important to people in areas that often don’t get the attention they deserve.  In addition to the students, there are delegates representing an incredible cross section of the people and businesses that make Wisconsin’s Lake Superior region such a great place to live. 

My thanks to all the participants and supporters of Superior Days, particularly those that came down for the “Best of the Northwest” product parade to share their stories and products - Earth Rider Brewery and White Winter Winery, Essentia Health, WITC Superior, University of Wisconsin Superior,  Dairyland Power, LHB - to name a few.

Across northern Wisconsin, I see students engaging with community members, sharing their interests and perspectives, and voicing their informed opinions at every level of government. A great example of this is Hayden Suske-Funk, who was in Madison this week as part of the Senate Scholar Program. This week long program provides juniors and seniors in high schools with an opportunity to learn the ins and outs of how the legislature really works. 

Haydn wrote to me, asking me to sponsor him for the program. I was able to spend some time with him during the week, and found him to be an eager and bright student with a sincere passion for environmental ecology. I am sure that Hayden’s family and friends are incredibly proud of him, just like I am proud of all the people from northern Wisconsin who have taken the time out of their busy schedules to come to the Capitol and advocate for our communities.  

This week in review with Rep. Beth Meyers 

This week, we had residents from all Wisconsin counties bordering Lake Superior come to Madison to advocate for issues that are near and dear to their communities. Among the issues we discussed were:
  • Expanding mental health services, particularly in rural areas. 
  • Raising the Medicaid reimbursement rate for behavioral health services, substance abuse treatment, services for nursing home care and for personal care workers.
  • Allowing Superior to raise tax revenue for invest in a better, thriving city. While Superior is not in my district, more economic activity in Superior is good for the whole region. 
Thank you to all who spoke to legislators and championed for the people of Northern Wisconsin!

Assembly Session

This week, the Assembly was in session. We voted on and passed several good bipartisan bills, including: 
  • - Assembly Bill 531 would require that student identification cards include contact information for suicide prevention hotlines. This bill is a product of the Suicide Prevention Task Force I served on. As our young people are suffering from mental health with fewer resources, especially in rural areas, we must give them all the tools we can to combat rising suicide rates. 
  • - Assembly Bill 147 is a bill to fight "spoofing," where telemarketers conceal their identity by blocking the receiver's caller ID or displaying the wrong phone number. Telemarketers can use this technology to scam and defraud. Across Wisconsin, people have reported experiencing a high and increasing number of telemarketing calls. Unsolicited telemarketing being the number one consumer complaint received annually by the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP), with 4,860 complaints registered in 2018 alone. 
  • - Assembly Bill 222 and Assembly Bill 379 would increase penalties for individuals who have multiple convictions of Operating While Intoxicated (OWI). 
Thank you to all my constituents who weighed in on these bills, and I hope to see them become law. 

Unfortunately, it wasn't all good news.

Wisconsin has a backlog of untested sexual assault evidence kits, known as rape kits. In 2014, we had as many as 7,000 untested kits, which took emergency federal funding to tackle. What we needed was a plan for this to never happen again.

Republicans, Democrats, the Attorney General, sexual assault groups, law enforcement and medical professionals came together to write a bill to standardize procedures, roles and a timeline to ensure there is never another backlog of thousands of sexual-assault evidence kits sitting on shelves while rapists remain free to re-offend. That bill was Assembly Bill 214, and it passed in the state Senate and was supported by a majority of Assembly members.

Unfortunately, Republicans in the Assembly decided to write an entirely new bill, Assembly Bill 844. and they didn't consult any advocates, survivors, law enforcement or medical professionals in the process. This version of the bill:
  • Adds unrelated provisions about school choice and reporting to ICE (the bill required someone arrested and charged with rape to be reported to ICE if they are here illegally, which law enforcement is already required to do). 
  • Mandates that the Department of Justice do additional work and storage, but removes the funding needed to perform that work.
  • Has several small new requirements that could make it extremely hard on rural clinics with strained resources by requiring services for victims that several locations do not have the funding or capability to provide. 
  • Other new provisions that could create confusion for law enforcement or victims, with a clear misunderstanding of how current systems work (something that could have been avoided if they spoke with law enforcement or the DOJ). 
Everyone who attended the public hearing testified against the bill (see list of organizations against the bill here). No one except the Republican authors were in favor of the bill.

Throughout my career, my best accomplishments have been reaching across the aisle and getting things done in a bipartisan manner. We had an opportunity to do that with AB 214. We could have passed a bill to get justice for rape victims, and it would have been signed into law immediately.

Instead, these victims are being used as political pawns. I hope the majority party decides to do the right thing and pass a bill that everyone can support. Let's do what we were elected to do - get things done and stop playing games.

Flood Insurance

We have several feet of snow on the ground. When it starts to warm up, it all has to go somewhere. That's why this week Governor Tony Evers declared this week Flood Insurance Awareness Week. Here is a link to the National Flood Insurance Program.

“Just one inch of water in a home can cause thousands of dollars in damage. Last year was the wettest on record in Wisconsin," said WI Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable. “This week, we are encouraging Wisconsin consumers to learn more about the importance and benefits of flood insurance so they can be sure that they have the financial protection they need before the snow starts melting and the rain starts falling."

The National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) anticipates an increased likelihood of spring flooding throughout the state in 2020 due to melting snowpack sitting upon already saturated soil. Typical business and homeowner's insurance policies do not cover damage from floods, while federal disaster assistance is only available to flood victims if an official declaration has been issued. Even then, that federal aid is available only to those who qualify.

Here are some other things to keep in mind as the snow melts and floods threaten our communities:
  • Elevate your furnace, water heater and electric panel in your home, if you live in a high flood risk area.
  • Install "check valves" to prevent flood water from backing up into the drains of your home.
  • Seal walls in your basement with waterproofing compounds.
  • Don't drive in standing water. The average automobile can be swept off the road in 12 inches of moving water, and roads covered by water are prone to collapse.
  • Make a Plan B - do you have somewhere you can stay temporarily if you're forced to leave your home?

Above all, use your common sense and stay safe!

National Wear Red Day

February is American Heart Month, and the first Friday in February is Wear Red Day. Pictured above are advocates, Capitol employees, and elected officials wearing red to show their support.

Wear Red Day is a special day designed to raise awareness of women and heart disease. Approximately every 80 seconds a woman dies from cardiovascular disease in the United States, but we can change that because 80 percent of cardiac events can be prevented with education and lifestyle changes.

Contact Information

If there is an issue that is important to you, even if you are sure I agree or disagree with you, please contact my office. Hearing from my constituents gives me the perspectives I need when researching, discussing and voting on any given bill. Please call, email, write or contact me on social media:

Phone Number: (608) 266-7690
Address: P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708
Twitter: @beth_rep
Facebook: @RepBethMeyers

Thank you for your interest, and again, feel free to reach out to my office if you have any additional questions or concerns. Thank you!