New Session, Same Story Last Monday, on January 4th, the Wisconsin State Legislature began the 2021-22 legislative session. New members were sworn in and all elected officials looked ahead to the new session.
Sen. Jeff Smith’s Statement on Gov. Evers’ 2021 State of the State MADISON – Governor Tony Evers delivered the 2021 State of the State Address this evening. Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) released the following statement in response to the address:
Sen. Smith’s Statement on COVID-19 Compromise Legislation Passage MADISON – Today the Wisconsin State Senate passed Assembly Bill 1, a second COVID-19 government response bill. Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) released the following statement in response to today’s Senate floor period:
Sen. Jeff Smith Announces New Staff Hire in Legislative Office MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) announced a new staff member joining his State Capitol office to serve constituents of the 31st Senate District.
Foxconn: Breaking Up is Hard to Do Over time, relationships can go sour. When it happens in one’s private life, the breakup can be agonizing; so much of two people’s lives can be intertwined in a short time. When it’s a public or business relationship, the breakup can be painful and even more complicated.
Sen. Jeff Smith Looks Forward to 2021-22 Session MADISON – Today marks the beginning of Wisconsin’s 105th legislative session. Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) released the following statement looking forward to the 2021-22 session:


Out of the Long Shadow of 2020 During this time of year, we take time to reflect on the previous year and try to focus on the good things that happened. Even in 2020 there must have been some good things, right?
Winter in Wisconsin Winter is a season to celebrate, although some lifelong Wisconsinites may disagree because of the snow and freezing temperatures. The change of season and anticipation of the first snowfall can be joyous.
Sen. Smith’s Statement on Committee Assignments MADISON – Today, Senate Minority Leader, Janet Bewley (D – Mason), announced committee assignments for the 2021-22 legislative session. Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) will serve on the following committees beginning in January:
Budgeting to Reflect the Will of the People It’s often said that a budget is more than just a fiscal document, it’s a moral document. While Wisconsin leaders work on creating and approving a new budget, we must make sure our state budget reflects the values we share as a state.
Fend for Yourself Unless Republicans Do Their Jobs The COVID-19 pandemic has impacted our lives significantly, killing nearly 4,000 Wisconsinites, devastating our economy and leaving us in a hard place to recover.  After more than 230 days since the State Legislature met, Governor Tony Evers stepped up...
Overwhelming Broadband Expansion Demand Shows Urgent Need MADISON – This week, the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) announced they received 124 applications, totaling $62 million in the second round of funding for the State Broadband Expansion Grant program.
Republicans' Proposal is a "Recipe for Disaster" MADISON – After eight months of inaction, Wisconsin Assembly Republicans introduced a hodgepodge of proposals for responding to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Now is Not the Time to Get Sick We’re finally reaching the point where we can see the light at the end of the tunnel. In recent weeks, scientists released encouraging updates regarding effective COVID-19 vaccines.
Statement on Nestlé Investment to Expand Eau Claire Facility MADISON – Nestlé recently announced a $50 million investment to expand its Eau Claire manufacturing facility, which is expected to add 70 new jobs.
Be Thankful for Each Other Every year, we gather around our dining room table with our loved ones for Thanksgiving dinner and reflect on the past year. We think about all that we’re thankful for: our family and friends, our job and an excitement for what’s yet to come. This year is different...
A Safe and Healthy Hunt As we approach another gun deer hunting season in Wisconsin, hunters are getting ready – sighting-in their rifles, remembering a sharp knife, and preparing their gear. Of course, anyone set to hunt should always be prepared, even for Wisconsin’s unpredictable weather.
Sen. Jeff Smith Elected Democratic Caucus Chair MADISON – Today, Senate Democrats elected Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) as the Democratic Caucus Chair.
Democracy at Work And, just like that, Election Day has passed! What a relief for all of us. At the end of an election season, you may feel overwhelmed with emotion; we feel excited, relieved and disappointed all at the same time.
Sen. Jeff Smith Statement Recognizing Veterans Day MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) issued the following statement recognizing the contributions and sacrifices our veterans have made for our state and nation in honor of Veterans Day, observed November 11th.
Sen. Smith Welcomes Questions from Wisconsin Residents for COVID-19 Interview with Public Health Experts MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) announced he will be hosting a virtual interview with public health experts on the COVID-19 pandemic.
Raising Awareness of Domestic Violence A couple of weeks ago, I had the opportunity to meet virtually with two community leaders representing domestic violence awareness organizations in Wisconsin. Every October, we recognize Domestic Violence Awareness Month to bring attention to this issue and...
Search for Truth During an Election As we approach another Election Day, we all feel the heat from both major political parties as they do all they can to get their voters to show up for their candidates...
We Must Act Immediately on Pandemic School Stability Package MADISON – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) renewed calls for the Legislature to pass the Pandemic School Stability Package in light of recent data released by the Department of Public Instruction (DPI).
A Real Halloween Threat Halloween is typically a time we enjoy spooky things. We find ways to get scared, whether it’s a haunted corn maze or horror flick. This year, however, it seems like we’re living in a scary movie with no clear happy ending in sight.
Sen. Smith’s Statement on Broadband Connectors Pilot Program Cohort Selection MADISON – Today Governor Tony Evers, in partnership with the Public Service Commission and Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, announced the six communities that were selected for the new Broadband Connectors Pilot program cohort.
Sen. Smith Selected as Member of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women Task Force MADISON – Today, Attorney General Josh Kaul announced Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) as a member of Wisconsin’s Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women (MMIW) Task Force.
Who Will Care for You? We live our lives with much uncertainty. We can never be sure our plans will work out perfectly, and we may have to adjust due to unforeseen events. It could be weather changes, mechanical problems, an illness or accident that may change our entire life.
Safe and Secure Absentee Voting If you’re like me, you’re probably experiencing whiplash from all the voting changes and the political ads airing on TV, radio and at the mailbox. It’s hard not to visualize yourself at your polling location casting a ballot on Election Day.
Statement on Introduction of Pandemic School Stability Package MADISON – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick), Senator Chris Larson (D – Milwaukee) and their Democratic Assembly colleagues, introduced the Pandemic School Stability Package.
Every Day, Every Farmer Counts Farming is one of the most dangerous occupations in America. In 2018, the National Education Center for Agricultural Safety reported 23.4 accidental deaths per 100,000 farm-workers.
State Republicans show up to work for Washington but not Wisconsin MADISON – Five weeks before the U.S. presidential election, Secretary of State Michael Pompeo traveled to the closed Wisconsin State Capitol to deliver a speech on China’s pursuit to influence U.S. policy.
Statement on Broadband Expansion Grant Investment MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers announced more than $5 million from CARES Act funding to further expand broadband in Wisconsin.
How “Doing Nothing” Works for Politicians While scrolling through social media recently, I saw someone ask, “Why hasn’t Governor Evers distributed funds from the Heroes Act?” Others jumped all over this comment, claiming the Governor failed because the Heroes Act wasn’t being implemented when it could be.
Sen. Smith Congratulates Recipients of CDBG-PF Project Award MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers and Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan announced more than $36 million in funding for 42 public infrastructure projects for communities across Wisconsin. Four award recipients are within the 31st Senate District.
Housing Crisis in a Pandemic Six months into a global pandemic, we’ve become familiar with language we’ve never expected to use before COVID-19. “Quarantine” was a word most likely associated with popular sci-fi movies, and “safer at home” was a phrase we probably only heard when we were expecting a big snowstorm.
Sen. Smith Congratulates Eau Claire as Recipient of Public Transit Grant MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers, Wisconsin Department of Transportation Secretary-designee Craig Thompson and Wisconsin Department of Administration Secretary Joel Brennan announced $18 million in public transit grants for Wisconsin communities.
Frances Perkins' New Deal Annually, our country honors the contributions of American workers on Labor Day, but perhaps it wasn’t until this year, while living through a pandemic, when many really appreciated the essential role many workers have in our day-to-day lives.
Repair Trust in Pursuit of Racial Equality This past weekend, hundreds of thousands of Americans came together at the stairs of the Lincoln Memorial in Washington D.C to commemorate the anniversary of the March on Washington. Activists stood on the same steps, delivering remarks reminiscent to the same call to action shared 57 years ago...
Statement on Policing Reform Special Session MADISON – Today, the Wisconsin Senate gaveled in for a special session on policing reform and immediately recessed, preventing any space for debate or action on the legislative proposals. No Republicans were present during today’s special session.
It's Time to Act on Student Debt Over the last four months, I was honored to participate in the Governor’s Task Force on Student Debt, established by Governor Tony Evers to address the student debt crisis impacting more than 700,000 Wisconsinites.
Sen. Smith Reacts to Evers’ Call for Special Session on Police Reform MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers (D) called for a special session for the State Legislature to take up legislation aimed at reforming police practices and improving police accountability.
Big Agenda for Small Farms When it comes to farming, one thing is certain – it connects us all. Many of us in western Wisconsin can trace our roots to farming. But even if we’ve personally lost a physical connection to the family farm, all Wisconsin residents have an obvious connection to Wisconsin’s agricultural heritage.
Sen. Smith’s Statement Regarding His Work on the Student Debt Task Force MADISON – Today, the Governor’s Task Force on Student Debt submitted its policy recommendations in a final report to Governor Tony Evers to help solve the student debt crisis in Wisconsin.
Pass the Healthcare Heroes Act Back in April, I participated in a virtual roundtable discussion with Wisconsin’s frontline healthcare workers. Amidst the onset of the COVID-19 epidemic in Wisconsin, this group of healthcare workers shared deeply unsettling safety concerns related to...
Legislature Must Act for Unemployed “I’ve been working my whole life, and was doing fine before COVID-19, and now suddenly, I can’t work, and can’t get unemployment. I’m scared of what life will be like in a few weeks when I run out of money for food, let alone bills,” said a man whose unemployment benefits were delayed 10 weeks.
Sen. Smith Encourages Farmers to Apply in Second Round of Farm Support Program MADISON – Last week, the Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Department of Revenue (DOR) announced a second round of funding for the Wisconsin Farm Support Program.
Sen. Smith's Statement on Overturning Executive Order #82 and Emergency Order #1 MADISON – Today, Republicans outlined plans to overturn Governor Tony Evers’ Executive Order #82 to declare a Public Health Emergency and Emergency Order #1 to require face masks in Wisconsin.
Questions Remain Unanswered for Schools In this week’s column, I wrote about the questions school districts are wrestling with to safely bring students back this fall. Schools need answers fast for educating students, supporting teachers and helping parents stay employed during this public health pandemic.
The People’s Maps Commission: By the People and For the People When representatives of the original colonies gathered to determine the formation of the United States they took the bold step of putting the trust in the hands of its citizens, establishing the United States as a Democratic Republic.
Sen. Smith Introduces Legislation to Help Republicans Solve Unemployment Crisis MADISON – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) introduced legislation alongside his Democratic colleagues to streamline Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance system and help workers receive quicker payments during future mass-layoff events.
A Trip Worth Taking Right Here Sometimes it seems like we forget what a beautiful state we live in. It’s easy to do when we’re so accustomed to the beautiful, great outdoors surrounding us. Thousands of years ago glaciers carved our northern region and left behind rich soils and minerals and an iconic landscape.
Statement on Creation of the Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers announced the creation of the Broadband Access Task Force. The Governor’s Task Force on Broadband Access will include representation from telecommunication experts, professionals in the fields of education and healthcare, and state legislators.
Statement on Today’s Supreme Court Ruling MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) released the following statement regarding today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision limiting Governor Tony Evers’ partial veto authority.
Statement on the People's Maps Commission MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers announced the official application and selection processes for The People’s Maps Commission, the nonpartisan redistricting commission to redraw Wisconsin’s electoral district maps.
Student Debt and Our Future Most of us have to take on some debt at some point in our lives, whether we take out loans to purchase a car or to help us become homeowners. Oftentimes, people borrow with clear expectations, understanding the whole process. Student loans are different and for many reasons.
Statement on Two-Week Early Voting Limit Decision MADISON – Yesterday evening, the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals upheld the decision to restrict early, in-person voting for Wisconsin elections. In response to this decision, Senator Jeff Smith shared the following statement:
Patriotism: Protecting the Health of Americans As we move through a year that has already been disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic, we think ahead to when we can resume normal activities, be part of community gatherings and celebrate holidays, like Independence Day.
Aging in Rural Wisconsin Growing old is an inevitable part of life. When it comes to aging, we can’t help but wonder where we’ll live when we retire, the quality of life we’ll have and how we’ll stay healthy.
The Movement America Has Been Waiting For This Friday, on June 19th, our country celebrates Juneteenth, an important holiday commemorating the emancipation of slaves dating back to 1865.
June: What We Can Learn From Dairy Month Last Friday, I had the chance to connect virtually with some good friends in western Wisconsin to celebrate June Dairy Month. We had a conversation about the ways dairy has made an impression on our own lives and the impact the dairy industry has on the State of Wisconsin.
Be the Change We Need In the months since Wisconsin has been impacted by COVID-19, we’ve all thought about the day that our lives will begin to return to normal. It’s an understandable thought to have. After all, the pandemic has forced us to make changes in nearly every aspect of our lives.
Celebrate Our Farmers During June Dairy Month MADISON – Today marks the beginning of June Dairy Month, a celebration of Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and their economic and cultural contributions to our state. Their perseverance and hard work has deservedly earned Wisconsin its title of America’s Dairyland.
GOP Unemployment Blame Game Blows Up in Their Faces MADISON – Today the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held an informational hearing in response to unemployment insurance challenges impacting Wisconsinites, perpetuated by the COVID-19 global pandemic, antiquated systems within the Department of Workforce Development and...
Restoring Trust in Trying Times At times, there is a real disconnect between science and politics in our country. But, in the case of how we handle a pandemic, it can be dangerous.
Sen. Smith’s Statement on The Wisconsin Farm Support Program and CARES Act Initiatives MADISON – Today, Governor Tony Evers announced the Wisconsin Farm Support Program, a $50 million investment to provide direct financial support to Wisconsin farmers impacted by this global pandemic.
Disappointment and Opportunity Disappointment and opportunity may not always belong in the same sentence, but when addressing conflicts they often work together. We can be disappointed, but we have to consider the opportunity before us to move forward and be better.
Sen. Smith’s Statement on Supreme Court Decision MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) shared the following statement regarding today’s Wisconsin Supreme Court decision on the Safer at Home order:
The Importance of Being Prepared As we become responsible adults we are faced with many decisions that can affect our future and the future of our families. We choose a career, decide where we work and how to prepare for retirement.
Statement on Governor's Student Debt Task Force MADISON – This week, Governor Tony Evers announced that Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) will be a member of the Governor’s Task Force on Student Debt.
Connecting During Crisis Think about it – thanks to technology it’s possible to do so much from the nearest Wi-Fi location during this global pandemic. Some people can work from home or have a video call with their loved ones, and children can get their lessons from their teacher.
We Will Bounce Back Together During the COVID-19 public health emergency, Wisconsinites have had to make incredibly challenging decisions, including Governor Evers. On April 17th, Governor Evers’ administration made the difficult, yet responsible, decision to extend the “Safer at Home” order.
The Wisconsin COVID-19 Response Bill The COVID-19 public health emergency has forced us to quickly adapt and adjust our daily routines for this unprecedented time. Like so many families in rural Wisconsin, my bandwidth isn’t capable of allowing me to always work from home...
The Work Does Not Stop Here Sen. Smith’s Statement Regarding the Passage of the COVID-19 Response Bill
Wisconsin's Response to Coronavirus As we near the end of a month while under the COVID-19 public health emergency, I thought of the steps Governor Tony Evers has taken to keep Wisconsinites safe.
Pandemic Paycheck Protection During this unprecedented public health emergency, we have a lot to think about. While keeping ourselves and our loved ones healthy, we’re also thinking of ways to maintain our livelihoods and pay the bills.
Repeal the One Week Waiting Period MADISON – During this unprecedented public health emergency, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) is urging the legislature to repeal the one week waiting period for unemployment insurance benefits.
Stay Safer at Home Every day, as we learn more about COVID-19 and adjust to the disruptions in our daily routine, we’re being tested on how we, as a community, step up to a challenge and work toward a solution. Throughout the state, people are coming together to help others.
Take COVID-19 Seriously We must take COVID-19 seriously. On March 12th, showing tremendous leadership, Governor Evers declared a public health emergency in Wisconsin and has since strengthened precautions.
Emergency Preparedness to Build Resilient Communities Emergencies hit communities without notice and threaten our local economies. We are facing an unprecedented public health emergency right now, but we have faced emergencies before and we’ve become stronger from it.
Logic Behind Healthcare We’ve been hearing a lot in the news lately about our health. Just last week, I found myself in many conversations with healthcare professionals talking about ways to improve the health of our community...
Sen. Smith to Host End-of-Session Listening Sessions Senator Jeff Smith will host five listening sessions throughout the 31st Senate District. Members of the public are welcome to attend the full event or stop by for part of the listening sessions.
I'm Here, Ready to Listen I’ve always said that one of the best parts of my job is listening to others, whether it’s their stories, suggestions or questions. During this time of year, I regularly hear many of the same questions.
Policymaking by the People, for the People Before a bill becomes a law, a process exists to ensure policymakers develop the most effective policy proposal, and with good reason. Decisions made on the state level influence the way folks work and live in all corners of the state.
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.
Pay Attention Before Your Car is Towed Every day, we consume so much new information. While watching TV, reading the local paper or scrolling through social media, we may even feel overwhelmed by all the news available to us.
Connect Wisconsin with Better Broadband Governor Tony Evers shined a bright light on the urgency of strengthening our rural communities by calling a special session to take up agriculture bills, creating the Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity and establishing the Office of Rural Prosperity.
It's Time to Prioritize Rural Prosperity During the State of the State, Governor Tony Evers reflected on the accomplishments made in 2019 and the priorities we must carry out in the year ahead. As we draw closer to the end of this legislative session, we have a stronger sense of urgency to get things done.
Ranking Democrats on Agriculture Call for Action on Special Session Madison – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D-Eau Claire) and Representative Dave Considine (D-Baraboo) joined their colleagues at a press conference on the January 2020 Special Session on Agriculture.
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding the Introduction of the "Better Broadband" Bill Package MADISON – Today, Senator Smith (D-Brunswick) introduced six bills aimed at improving broadband expansion in Wisconsin.
Better Broadband Bills Senator Smith (D-Brunswick) introduced six bills aimed at improving broadband expansion in Wisconsin.
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding Gov. Evers' State of the State Address MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith (D-Brunswick) issued the following statement regarding Governor Tony Evers’ State of the State Address:
Surprise! It's a Bill! Last week, Governor Tony Evers assigned homework for the Legislature to accomplish in the new year. Governor Evers urged bipartisan cooperation to tackle some of the most pressing issues in our state and create solutions Wisconsinites support...
Sen. Smith's Statement Regarding Republicans' Rejection of Critical Amendments MADISON – During today’s Senate floor session, Republicans failed to carry out substantive changes to some of the most pressing issues facing Wisconsinites.
Legislators Request Public Hearing for Non-Partisan Redistricting Reform Legislation MADISON – Senator Jeff Smith, a member of the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Technology and Consumer Protections, along with bill co-sponsors, sent a letter to Committee Chair Senator Duey Stroebel, requesting a public hearing on Senate Bill 288.
Good Government Demands Redistricting Reform Every new year is an opportunity to reflect on what we can do better moving forward. When the New Year is the first of a new decade we think even bigger. What can we do in this new decade to become the sibling, parent, neighbor, colleague or citizen we’re expected to be?
Presidential Candidates Must Pay Their Bills MADISON – Today, Senator Jeff Smith (D – Brunswick) and Representative Amanda Stuck (D – Appleton) introduced The Recovery of Unsettled Municipal Payments Act.
Let's Finish What We Started During this time of year, we’re surrounded by reminders to set goals for the next twelve months and fulfill our New Year’s resolutions. As the weeks pass by, we typically find ourselves falling back into our old habits and routines. Once we slip up, it may seem like our resolutions are hopeless and
Wisconsin Voters Deserve Fair Maps MADISON – Today, Senator Smith (D – Brunswick) and Representative Diane Hesselbein (D – Middleton) introduced LRB-5162/LRB-3797, to establish a constitutional amendment for non-partisan redistricting reform.


Every Conversations Sparks a New Idea The past year pushed me to learn and grow as a leader. As I spent time with my family over the holiday season, I reflected on the value of collaboration, a lesson learned in 2019.
Lessons Learned in 2019 This time of year offers an important opportunity to reflect and be grateful for the experiences we’ve earned. It’s been an honor serving as your state senator this year.
It's Cold Outside for Our Furry Friends While it’s not officially here yet, the winter season has come to western Wisconsin. Snow has fallen and temperatures have dropped close to zero. During these winter months, my family’s two dogs enjoy exploring the outdoors.
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.