What Will It Take to Close Lincoln Hills? Within the last decade, Lincoln Hills has reached a state of crisis. New reports emerged this fall, citing the violence taking place at this youth detention facility. This revelation reminds us that nothing yet has happened to resolve the serious issues in Wisconsin’s youth prisons.
The Ho-Chunk Code Talkers: Honoring Native American History Since 1990, our country has recognized November as Native American Heritage Month. This commemorative month provides an opportunity to remember Native Americans’ roles in our country’s history and appreciate their cultural contributions.
What Are You Thankful For? We’re nearing the end of another year and already getting ready for Thanksgiving. Everything seems to speed up during these last weeks as we prepare for the holiday season and the New Year.
Stop the Spread of CWD We’re only three days away from gun hunting season in Wisconsin. Hunters are prepared and eagerly anticipating the time to look out from their deer stand. It would seem Wisconsin is prepared for the upcoming hunting season.
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding Gov. Evers' Veto of AB 249 MADISON – Today, Governor Evers vetoed Assembly Bill 249. This legislation would have made it more difficult for elected officials to make honorary designations of state highways or bridges by imposing stricter standards on who can be recognized.
Weekly Democratic Radio Address: Preserving Wisconsin’s Hunting Heritage MADISON, WI – Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) offered the Democratic weekly radio address on Chronic Wasting Disease.
Playing the Blame Game President Harry Truman followed the mantra, ‘the buck stops here.’ These are honorable, and even courageous words to lead by. His motto, was displayed on his White House desk and was proudly expressed in his speeches. He reminded us not to pass blame on to others.
Republicans Failed to Make Their Case for Preventing Gun Violence MADISON – All Senate Republicans were absent from today’s special floor session, called by Governor Tony Evers to address the gun violence epidemic.
Broadband Expansion: Broadband for Those Who Need It Most We’re facing one of the largest infrastructure challenges in Wisconsin history. The decisions we make today on broadband expansion can either make Wisconsin a leader or allow us to fall behind in the digital age.
Vindictive Republicans Vote to Limit Governor's Powers...Again MADISON – During today’s Senate floor period, Republicans approved Senate Joint Resolution 59 by a party-line vote. This proposed constitutional amendment would limit a Governor’s partial veto authority.
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding Former DATCP Secretary Pfaff MADISON – Today, Republicans, by a party-line vote, rejected the nomination of Brad Pfaff as Secretary of the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections.
Broadband Expansion: Better Broadband After spending three days in Denver for a Broadband Summit with legislators from across the country, I came away with even more of an urgency to help Wisconsin catch up to other states on broadband internet expansion.
Sen. Smith Introduces Legislation to Restore Chippewa Valley RTA MADISON – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) introduced legislation to recreate the Chippewa Valley Regional Transit Authority (RTA).
Our Financial Future October is “Financial Planning Month,” so we should all think about how we plan for our financial future, especially this week as we recognize “Save for Retirement Week” and “Get Smart about Credit Day” on Thursday.
Statement Regarding Gov. Evers' Special Session Announcement MADISON – Today, Governor Evers announced a special session to address gun violence in Wisconsin.
Recognizing Indigenous People’s Day There’s quite an interest in genealogy these days. We can now order a kit to learn what ethnicities make up our DNA to better understand our heritage and ancestry. Even beyond this initial discovery, we can connect to unknown relatives.
Believe in America's Dairyland Take a moment to imagine living on a small family farm. Waking at dawn to a rooster crowing and cows mooing. You head down to the barn to get the cows milked, collect chicken eggs, clean out stalls and feed all the animals before going back into the kitchen to grab breakfast for yourself.
Legislative Democrats Roll Out Fall Priorities MADISON – Today, Legislative Democrats rolled out their fall priorities plan, Forward Together. As the legislature moves into the fall floor period, there are many issue areas Democrats will be focused on to improve the lives of everyday Wisconsinites.
Raising Awareness About Domestic Violence We often focus on highly visible forms of violence in our society, like mass shootings. However, domestic violence happens every day in every town and neighborhood, and it often goes unreported or even unnoticed.
Listen Up to Save Lives Recently I joined 700 community members at Carson Park for the Sharing Hope Walk, a fundraiser to promote awareness for suicide prevention. Before the walk began, I read a board describing the walk’s importance. Right below the board, there were hundreds of shoes lined up neatly along the course.
Legislation to Provide In-State Tuition for Members of Tribal Nation State Representatives Nick Milroy (D-South Range) and Jeff Mursau (R-Crivitz), along with Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick), are introducing legislation that would allow any tribal member in the nation to receive in-state tuition with the University of Wisconsin System.
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding Introduction of ERPO Bill MADISON – Today, Democratic legislators, Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison) introduced LRB-4383. This bill would create a civil process for Extreme Risk Protection Orders (ERPO).
Have a Conversation for Democracy’s Sake Politics is everywhere around us – when you turn on the television, open a newspaper or scroll through Facebook. It’s hard to get away from it all. When we see the divisiveness all around us, it’s easy to think our system is broken.
Test Your Deer for CWD With the start of fall, hunters are heading to the woods and fields. There’s so much more to hunting than simply grabbing a bow or gun and marching out into the woods to shoot. Hunters take pride in preparing a strategy to be in the right place at the right time.
Sen. Smith Encourages Hunters to Test and Properly Dispose of Deer This Hunting Season MADISON – Today, Democratic lawmakers introduced “Healthy Herd, Healthy Hunt,” a package of bills designed to address the spread of Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) in Wisconsin by encouraging hunters to test their deer and properly dispose of deer carcasses.
Statement Regarding JFC Action on Farmer Mental Health Funding MADISON – This week, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) approved $200,000 in funding over the next two years for farmer mental health assistance.
America is Best When Labor is Strong Another Labor Day has come and gone. Summer is beginning to wind down and we’re taking our last chance to fish or camp for the season. Children are reflecting on their summer and eagerly anticipating the new school year.
Kiddos and Mental Health We always want what’s best for our children. We want our children to be happy, comfortable and safe. If we could provide all the tools for our children to succeed, why wouldn’t we?
Statement Regarding Western Wisconsin Broadband Funding Increase MADISON, WI – Today, the Federal Communications Commission (FCC) approved more than $163 million in funding to improve broadband access in Wisconsin over the next ten years.
Politics Behind Gun Inaction I can’t imagine the horror victims go through when face to face with an active shooter while in a place of worship, school, shopping center or night club. How do families cope with the news of a loved one being murdered by a domestic terrorist, coworker or significant other?
Legislators Gather for Nonpartisan Conference Last week I joined over 7,000 legislators and staff from other states and around the world in Nashville at the National Conference of State Legislatures’ (NCSL) annual Legislative Summit.
Questioning Our Economy Do you ever wonder how our economy stopped working for all of us? How have we arrived at stagnant wages, mega-rich corporations buying elections and people lacking essential access to healthcare?
Sen. Smith Advocates for CWD Solutions at the National Conference of State Legislators MADISON, WI – Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) joins a bi-partisan group of elected officials for the National Conference of State Legislators (NCSL) in Nashville, TN.
Transit For Our Future Summer travel season is in full swing. During this busy time, families are crisscrossing through Wisconsin squeezing in those final summer vacations before kids go back to school. Summer is also construction season, causing headaches for everyone trying to get to and from our summer fun.
Enough of Divide and Conquer Politics When politicians have no answers, they find a way to distract constituents. Politicians have a knack for finding a scapegoat to blame when a plan is failing. It’s been the game played by politicians for decades.
This is No Time for Legislators to Rest Students are floating down the river while friends and families are enjoying outdoor fairs and festivals. It’s finally summer; time for a break, right? Many assume legislators are on summer break after passing the budget, and I can’t help but wonder why.
Trust the Voters Redistricting is right around the corner in 2021. New legislative and congressional district maps will be drawn up after the census by the political party in charge. Gerrymandered maps will give the party in charge a secure advantage for the next 10 years.
Sen. Smith Statement Regarding Governor Evers' Budget Action MADISON, WI – Today, Governor Tony Evers vetoed 78 items from the 2019-21 biennial state budget as he signed Assembly Bill 56 into law as Wisconsin Act 9. Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) released the following statement regarding the Governor’s actions:
Independence and Freedom for All When we think of the 4th of July, we often think of parades, fireworks and gatherings throughout our community. It’s a day of remembrance and pride for our country. It’s the day we officially recognize that our forefathers declared our independence as a separate nation.
Sen. Smith Statement Regarding Budget Vote MADISON, WI – Today, the Senate passed the 2019-21 biennial state budget (Assembly Bill 56). The budget bill passed 17-16, with two Republicans Senators voting with Democrats against the bill. Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) released the following statement regarding his vote:
Budget Vote This Week: Rhetoric or What's Right Two weeks ago, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) passed their version of the state budget 12 to 4, along party lines. The full Senate scheduled a vote this week on the budget, a vote that may demonstrate the true callousness of politics in our state.
Looking Inward for Juneteenth Day Wisconsin is filled with beauty. Sometimes we take our state’s beauty for granted because it’s very apparent all around us. It’s always the less apparent beauty that surprises us and compels us to look deeper in ourselves and appreciate everything around us.
UWEC Science Building Project Advances in Budget Process MADISON, WI – The Joint Committee on Finance voted on Tuesday, June 11th to approve Governor Tony Evers’ $109 million capital budget request for the new UW-Eau Claire Science and Health Sciences Hall. In response to this vote, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) shared the following statement:
Where's the Compassion for Dairy Farmers? You rarely hear complaints from farmers about their job because they love what they do, but you will hear an earful about the weather, milk prices and the occasional tractor breakdown. June is dairy month and there’s no better time to recognize the work dairy farmers do and the challenges they face.
Health, Science and Wisconsin Dr. Tim Nelson of Mayo Clinic walked the halls of the Wisconsin State Capitol along with UW-Eau Claire Chancellor Jim Schmidt. They visited 11 offices in a marathon day of lobbying for UWEC’s new science and health sciences building project in the current budget.
Politics or the People's Priorities? My role representing the 31st Senate District didn’t just start when I was sworn into office on January 7th this year. It began last year when I started talking to voters in the 31st Senate District.
Investing in Wisconsin's Future MADISON, WI – Yesterday, Republican members scrapped Governor Evers’ $1.4 billion education plan during an executive session of the Joint Committee on Finance (JFC).
We Are All One Wisconsin This past week, I met with several healthcare leaders from around the state. Dentists, dental hygienists, physicians, nurses, social workers and others discussed a whole gamut of healthcare topics.
Knowledge is Power How many times have you heard the expression, “Knowledge is Power?” I heard it from an unexpected source last week during one of our public hearings in the Senate Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protection Committee.
DHS Reports Establish Direct Impact of Medicaid Expansion on 31st Senate District MADISON – The Department of Health Services (DHS) recently released individual reports summarizing the impact that Medicaid expansion would have for each of Wisconsin’s 72 counties.
Valuing Our Voices I joined Governor Evers at listening sessions in Eau Claire, Oshkosh, Kenosha, Superior and sat alongside Joint Finance Committee (JFC) members in River Falls for a public hearing. These were opportunities to listen to the comments and reactions from hundreds of Wisconsinites.
Local Democratic Legislators Demand Action on UW-EC Phillips Science Hall Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick), Representative Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) and Representative Jill Billings (D-La Crosse) toured the UW-Eau Claire Phillips Science Hall and participated in a roundtable discussion with UW-EC students and faculty.
Mental Health is Real Health So much can be said about mental health and yet so little has been done. We all know someone struggling with mental illness. So few receive the help they need.
Earth Day Should Be Every Day It’s been eight years since anyone in our executive branch of government uttered the words “climate change.” Thankfully, Governor Tony Evers brought science, common sense and the term climate change back to Wisconsin...
Passing the Baton The number of times I’ve heard people say, “We need to help young people engage in our community,” or “We need more young people in politics” is so common I won’t even venture to guess. It’s almost inevitable someone will say something like that at every meeting I attend.
Paying Again Through Referendum Last Tuesday was a big election day for Wisconsin. It was an even bigger election day for public education. Many Wisconsin school districts were able to pass crucial referenda to keep operating, some weren’t so lucky.
Statement Regarding Bill Introduction to Expedite Conservation Congress Actions MADISON – Today Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) and Representative Mark Spreitzer (D-Beloit) introduced a bill to expedite the rule-making process for Conservation Congress actions taken at the annual meetings during the month of April.
Leaders or Followers? As leaders and policy makers in Wisconsin it is our job to ensure that our state government and operations run smoothly. Our agencies must be funded properly, people must be paid and projects should be moving forward in a timely fashion...
The Budget Mosaic Governor Tony Evers listened to the experiences and values from many different people and put together a budget that represents a large mosaic - tiny little pictures that make up a larger picture...
You be the Judge of the Budget at Our Listening Sessions I will be hosting nine budget listening sessions to discuss Governor Evers’ biennial state budget proposal. I need you to be the judge for the Governor’s work on the People’s Budget...
Sen. Smith Rolls Back Harsh Penalties for Local Road Budgets Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) and Representative Joan Ballweg (R-Markesan) introduced bipartisan legislation (LRB 1106/1) to lower late penalties for local governments applying for road aids.
Celebrating Women's History Month Last week we welcomed the beginning of Women’s History Month – a time for us to celebrate women's achievements, honor women's history and reflect on the work that still needs to be done...
Statement Regarding Governor Evers’ Capital Budget Request for UW-Eau Claire’s Science Hall Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) and Representative Jodi Emerson (D-Eau Claire) issued the following joint statement regarding Governor Tony Evers’ announcement to include $109 million for phase one of reconstructing UW-Eau Claire’s Science Hall.
First Glance at Governor Evers’ Budget Governor Tony Evers presented his first budget to the Legislature on Thursday evening last week. It was a uniquely crafted budget. It contained encouraging policy for Wisconsin’s future. And many of the Governor’s budget provisions were long overdue.
Statement Regarding Gov. Evers’ First Budget Address The Governor’s budget is a mirror image of his campaign that reflected the people’s priorities. We’re long overdue for a Wisconsin that works for everyone...
Walking in Someone Else's Shoes One of my favorite parts of serving as State Senator is listening to stories. Each of us has a story. I feel so grateful every time someone shares his or her story with me. Sometimes the best stories are the ones from people who think no one will listen.
Part Three: Water is Precious Water is cheap. Fixing water quality problems is expensive. Protecting our water before polluting it is less expensive. We can take steps now to preserve our cheapest most precious resource. Changing our perceptions about water use, using nature to help us preserve water and reinvesting in...
Statement Regarding the Middle Class Tax Cut MADISON – Tonight the Wisconsin State Senate approved the Republican’s spending plan (Assembly Bill 4) Senator Smith (D-Brunswick) offered the following statement: “Governor Tony Evers’ middle class tax cut...
Part Two: Water is Prosperity Last week I wrote about how water is life. This week I hope to show how important water is for all of us to not only survive, but also to thrive.
Sen. Smith Introduces Voter Protection Act as His First Bill The Voter Protection Act was first introduced by Senator Jeff Smith during his second term as a State Representative in 2009. After leaving the legislature in 2010, Smith returned as the 31st District State Senator and vowed to reintroduce the Voter Protection Act as his first bill.
Part One: Water is Life We take a lot of things for granted in life. Our car will always start, our dogs will always love us and the water we drink will always be clean. Like all these assumptions, nothing is guaranteed. Much...
Walk the Talk for Bipartisanship I’ve said it. Governor Evers said it. Republican leaders said it - “We need to work together.” A number of clichés come to mind as we talk about working together. “It’s easier said than done” or “Talk is cheap.” I prefer “walk the talk.”
Statement Regarding Gov. Evers’ First State of the State Address “Governor Evers’ message of unity is a far cry from the divide and conquer politics that have become too common in politics today. I’m hopeful the Governor’s invitation to work together will be heard by Republican leaders in the Legislature...
Rushing to Fix One Part While Destroying the Whole Remember the high-gloss campaign mailings? The non-stop TV and radio campaign ads from last year about protecting people with pre-existing conditions? I bet you heard more than you ever wanted about pre-existing conditions, right? Well...
Senator Smith Announces New Staff, Social Media Sites and Website “My staff is here to serve citizens of the 31st Senate District by answering questions about state government, helping constituents navigate all the different programs and services and, most of all, they are here to listen and help citizens play an important role in the governing process..."
Marsy’s Law: Do It Quick or Do It Right? Our first week of the legislative session is off to a fast start. It appears my first legislative vote will be changing our State Constitution with a resolution called, “Marsy’s Law.”
Committees, Collaboration and Compromise Senate committees aren’t exactly the hottest topic to write about in state government, but it’s incredibly important for our work as legislators. Most Senate committee names seem like someone pulled the topics out of a hat and randomly strung them together to create a committee.
Statement Regarding Senator Jeff Smith’s Swearing-in “I feel humbled and honored to represent our Western Wisconsin values in the State Senate. There is much work to be done, but together, we can make our state a great place to live, work and raise a family..."
Divided, but Not Broken Government As I traversed western Wisconsin last year campaigning to be the new 31st District State Senator, it was clear we’ve been fortunate to have Kathleen Vinehout serve as our Senator for the last twelve years.