State Senator Lena Taylor expressed disappointment she was not reappointed to the Legislative Joint Finance Committee by the Senate Democratic leadership.
But the disappointment, she said, was not for herself. She said, in a statement, the African American and other minority communities are the poorer because they do not have any representation on what is the most important and powerful committee in the legislature, deciding almost every important decision affecting the whole state.
“Long have Senate Democrats recognized the crucial needs of minorities and the overwhelming political support they have received from those communities,” said Taylor, who served on the committee for eight years.
The 4th District senator, who represents a majority African American district, noted since 1983, Senate Democrats have maintained the presence of an African American legislator on that committee.
“My pledge is to continue to represent the hard working men and women of my district that are still waiting on the promises that equality should bring them–an education that actually educates, a right to vote that is not impeded, a health care system that heals, and a government which favors the needs of the least of these among us.”
Building a Stronger Wisconsin contracted with The Shop Consulting, Inc. to conduct a statewide poll regarding citizens views on recently redrawn legislative districts. The poll consisted of a 603 response survey and was conducted by live callers on the evening of Thursday, November 8th. The margin of error for the poll is +/- 4%.
Of those who responded nearly 60% of voters believe that the Wisconsin Republicans main goal during the redistricting process was to solidify a long term majority. In addition, 62% (including 34% self-proclaimed Republicans) believed that the strategy of preventing another party from gaining a majority is a violation of citizen’s rights.
“Wisconsin Republicans have said throughout the redistricting process that they did not redraw districts for their own partisan advantage. Well, the voters of this state don’t buy it. They also believe that this type of action infringes on their first amendment rights to participate in government or to petition the government.” explained Randy Nash, Executive Director Building a Stronger Wisconsin.
Analysis also shows that vote totals down ballot for each party’s candidates do not reflect the partisan makeup of the new legislative districts. While it is estimated that Democrats and Republicans essentially split the combined total vote for State Assembly races, Democrats will likely control 39 legislative seats subsequent to the November election while Republicans will likely control 60. Likewise, Democrats running for congress garnered over 50% of the total vote, yet won in only 3 of Wisconsin’s eight seats.
“We expected that the newly gerrymandered districts may have an effect on partisan makeup of districts, and now it appears that the data confirms this theory.”
New Report Details State Legislative Progress on Issues Key to Saving Lives from Cancer
Madison, Wis.—Wisconsin is getting mixed reviews for its legislative efforts to combat cancer, according to a new report by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network (ACS CAN). How Do You Measure up?: A Progress Report on State Legislative Activity to Reduce Cancer Incidence and Mortality rates states using a color coded system and gives Wisconsin green ratings in three of seven benchmarks: tobacco taxes, smoke-free air laws and colorectal cancer screening.
“Wisconsin has taken some important steps toward reducing its tobacco-related cancer burden in recent years, including the highly successful statewide smoke-free air law,” said Allison Miller, Wisconsin Government Relations Director for the American Cancer Society. “We’re proud of this progress but we’re also concerned that some ground could be lost due to ongoing cuts to the state’s Tobacco Prevention and Control Program.”
Wisconsin’s only red ranking in the report was for tobacco prevention funding. State lawmakers cut the Tobacco Prevention and Control Program by 22 percent in the last budget and 55 percent the budget before. The program, which helps adults quit smoking and educates kids about the dangers of starting, is slated to receive just $5.3 million annually—less than what traditional tobacco states such as North Carolina, Virginia and Mississippi spend on similar efforts. Smoking-related health care costs in Wisconsin tally nearly $3 billion and smoking claims more than 7,000 lives each year.
The report also offers a blueprint for effective legislation on matters such as obesity, nutrition and physical activity; and quality of life.
“As advocates, we have the responsibility to educate the public on how to prevent and treat cancer, but we cannot do it unless state and local policymakers take action to provide funding and access to programs and services that are proven to work,” said Miller. “Prevention and early detection are really the most effective ways to save lives and potentially millions of dollars in health care costs.”
How Wisconsin Measures Up:
Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program Funding: Yellow
Colorectal Screening Coverage Laws: Green
Smoke-free Laws: Green
Tobacco Prevention Funding: Red
Tobacco Taxes: Green
State Tanning Bed Bans for Minors: Yellow
Access to Palliative Care: Yellow
In a year consumed by budget and legislative challenges, many state legislatures missed opportunities to enact laws and policies that could save money, generate revenue and save lives. In the past 10 years, only three states – California, Missouri and North Dakota – have not raised their cigarette tax, and 20 states and the District of Columbia still have taxes less than $1 per pack. No state comes close to matching health and economic costs attributed to smoking, which are estimated at $10.47 per pack.
No states passed comprehensive smoke-free legislation in the recent legislative session; however, a number of cities and counties passed laws making them 100 percent smoke-free. Currently, 23 states, Puerto Rico, the U. S. Virgin Islands and the District of Columbia have comprehensive smoke-free laws in place. Keeping all workplaces, restaurants and bars in a state 100 percent smoke-free is the best way to protect all residents from the dangers of secondhand smoke.
Passage of the Affordable Care Act in March 2010 initiated the formation of health benefit exchanges in many states. Fourteen states already have established exchanges through legislation or executive order. These serve as the central marketplace where consumers compare and buy health insurance plans in the individual and small group markets.
Unfortunately, many states are slashing funds to the National Breast and Cervical Cancer Early Detection Program, which provides low-income and uninsured women with access to life-saving mammograms and Pap tests. Decreased funding means fewer eligible women across the country have access to lifesaving screenings.
In 2012, more than 1.6 million people in the United States will be diagnosed with cancer and more than 577,000 people will die from the disease. In Wisconsin this year, 31,920 people will be diagnosed with cancer and 11,240 will die of the disease.
For state-by-state details or a copy of the complete report, please visit www.acscan.org.
Two Community Agencies Partner Host Legislative Forum
MILWAUKEE, WI—The Wisconsin African American Tobacco Prevention Network (WAATPN) partnered with the Wisconsin Black Chamber of Commerce to host a legislative forum for constituents living in the Sixth Senate District on Wednesday, July 25, from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m., at Coffee Makes U Black Café, located at 2803 North Teutonia Avenue.
Candidates running for the Sixth Senate seat left vacant by G. Spencer Coggs, who vacated his seat to become the City of Milwaukee Treasurer, include: State Rep. Elizabeth Coggs (D); Milwaukee County Supervisor Nikiya Harris (D); Milwaukee County Supervisor Michael Mayo (D); Allyn Monroe Swan (D); and Delta Triplett (D). All candidates have confirmed their attendance except County Supervisor Michael Mayo.
Eric Von, WMCS Talk Show Host of “Morning Magazine,” moderated the legislative forum, which will address key constituent concerns, as well as some of the myriad of health issues, economic challenges and other concerns of the WAATPN and the WBCC.
“It’s important that we provide this opportunity to the community to hear their concerns, as well as learn what the candidates expect to do to address some of the pressing crime, health, economic and education concerns facing this constituency, if they are elected,” said Lorraine Lathen, spokesperson for WAATPN.
The Sixth Senate District Democratic primary election will be held on August 14th, and the general election is on November 6th. This event is free and open to the public. For more information, please contact Michael Campbell at 414-551-2524 or via email at [email protected]
Former legislator urges community support Black candidates during August 14 election
by Thomas E. Mitchell, Jr.
There are three important things retired state legislator Annette Polly Williams wants you to know.
First, there is actually an election (yes, another, believe it or not) on August 14 for several predominately Black state Assembly and Senate district seats.
Second, in several Black districts, particularly the 10th Assembly district, established White political figures such as legislator Sandy Pasch (who represents the 22 Assembly district) and incumbent Rep. Fred Kessler (12th Assembly district), are doing the unthinkable: Seeking office in Black district’s that have been redrawn to include more White voters.
(Editor’s Note: Every 10 years following the national census, district maps at every government level in every state are redrawn to accommodate population shifts and what are called “Communities of Interest”: communities that have shared values, ethnicity and political commonalities.)
Which leads to the third piece of information Williams wants you to know: The White candidates running in the predominately Black and redrawn districts stand a good chance of winning if Black voters don’t show up at the polls en’masse in four weeks (August 14) and support a Black candidate who will earnestly represent and advocate for them.
The August 14 election is a partisan primary. The winners in the primary election will go on to the November general election. Even candidates like incumbent 11th Assembly District Rep. Jason Fields, who has one Democratic challenger, Mandela Barnes.
Should Fields win, his name will still be on the November Ballot, even if there is no Republican challenger.
Incumbents State Sen. Lena Taylor (Senate District 4) and Rep. Leon Young (Assembly District 16) have no challengers, making their reelections a proverbial “cake walk.”
But Williams, who though retired is still very politically active, fears the 10th could be lost to Pasch, a White Assemblyperson who represented Whitefish Bay before redistricting. She challenged and lost to incumbent Republican state Sen. Alberta Darling in the 2011 recall election.
Redistricting has pushed Pasch out of her district “comfort zone” to more outlying areas—outside Milwaukee County.
“Over 70% Black district lost to a White suburban woman?” Williams asked rhetorically during an interview in which she sounded the clarion call to the community—especially to her former constituents in the 10th district—to rise up collectively and “vote Black.”
Williams’ fears could come to fruition. Also running for the seat being vacated by Rep. Elizabeth Coggs—who’s running for the state Senate Sixth District seat once held by her cousin, Spencer Coggs (who is now Milwaukee City Treasurer)—are three Black candidates: Millie Coby, Harriet Callier and Ieshuh Griffin.
“The three Black candidates will split the vote, giving the race to Pasch,” said Williams, who predicts at least the loss of one Black seat in the State Legislature.
Two Black legislators—Tamara Grigsby (18th Assembly District) and Barbara Toles (17th Assembly District)—are retiring, leaving their seats wide open in respective races that have multiple contenders.
For Grigsby’s seat alone there are eight candidates–White and Black—vying for the seat.
Williams, who is endorsing Coby and is working hard on her behalf to get the vote out for her, said even if it is only a primary, the winner on August 14 will be the hands-down favorite to win in the November general election.
“Blacks (in the 10th district) must vote, especially for Millie,” Williams stressed, suggesting the other two Black candidates are not putting forth the type of effort necessary to win an election.
Williams thinks Pasch believes it would be easier to move into and run in the restructured 10th district than try to get back her old suburban seat which is being contested by two White male Republican candidates.
“She can’t win in her own district,” Williams said. “Her constituents in Whitefish Bay rejected her (in the Senate recall election).”
Williams said the 10th District was formed to be a “super Black district” in 1972 after the 1970 Census district redrawing. The district was part of the first state Senate district represented at the time by Monroe Swan. The district was the “Blackest” of the 99 Assembly districts in the state according to Williams.
“It was the one district that was a voice for Black people,” Williams boasted. “It’s a district where a representative could take a stand on an issue on behalf of his or her constituents without fear of retaliation from White voters.
“I had a strong base of Black support,” Williams said recalling her days in the legislature. “I stood up and fought for my constituents and I never apologized for being Black. Millie is as close to me there is in taking a stand on an issue without fearing retaliation.”
Despite redistricting, the 10th is still predominately Black (74%) and still the most Black legislative district in the state.
Williams said young elected officials today have no knowledge of the history behind the struggle she and other early Black lawmakers went through to attain, represent and keep their seats in the face of racism.
The former lawmaker believes there are non-Black forces from outside the community who are buying off Black people, especially the current and new generation of Black lawmakers who are being demonized by the mainstream media and many Black residents who see them as “do nothing politicians.”
“I don’t like what’s happening,” lamented Williams. “We have to fight to keep control of the seats we have. We have to let people know the 10th district Assembly seat is in jeopardy.”