10 results for author: Senator Jeff Smith


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. There is no better time to recognize the work dairy farmers do and the challenges they face.Farmers need to be expert mechanics, scientists, business owners and creative geniuses to make a farm thrive. Factors beyond their control make even the smartest or the hardest working farmers face bankruptcy.Farmers have seen glorious and terrible times throughout our history. In the 1930s, many farmers lost it all when the soil they relied on was ...

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 7 this year. It began last year when I started talking to voters in the 31st Senate District. I heard over and over from voters that they want lawmakers to work together to support our rural schools and to fix our roads.The people’s budget presented by Governor Tony Evers provided a $1.4 billion increase for K-12 education. The Governor’s plan included sparsity aid for rural districts and a start for restoring dramatic cuts made in the past eight years.Just last week, the Republican Joint Finance Committee members cut the Governor’s ...

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.Who could disagree with the statement that knowledge is power? In fact, when someone used that line representing the conservative group, Americans for Prosperity, I thought it might be an opportunity to find agreement. The person testified in favor of a bill (Senate Bill 179) to force gas stations to post a sticker on each gas pump stating the tax being charged per gallon.I asked the woman testifying if she also ...

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.Since the 1970’s, Wisconsin Governors have shaped our nation’s conservation legacy. In my office, over my desk, hangs a poster from Governor Gaylord Nelson’s campaign. The man from Clear Lake was ahead of his time. He did all he could to raise awareness that the earth is worth protecting.We recently celebrated Earth Day. From recycling to burning less fossil fuels, we in 1970 already felt responsible to preserve and ...

THE BUDGET MOSAIC

Connecting dots can be very satisfying -- when it all clicks together our eyes get big, our jaws drop and we become stunned with our newfound knowledge.The bigger the conclusion, the more satisfying the result. For legislators, much is the same for comprehending the state budget. Pouring over the details and reading the documents line-by-line can be dull, very dull. But when things start to click and make sense, it’s all worth it.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. There is value in ...

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.The Governor’s comments highlighted his goal to present the people’s budget to the Legislature: “It’s about creating a Wisconsin that works for everyone — a Wisconsin for us. This isn’t the Tony Evers’ budget, the Democratic budget, the speaker’s budget, or the Republican budget — this is the people’s budget. And it’s one that we crafted together.”This was a very unique ...

Water is Precious – Part III

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 science are easy ways to show how an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.In the last two columns, I discussed how water sustains our lives and how important it is for our economic prosperity. This week I will offer simple, but critical ways we can invest in water, our most precious resource.Most of Wisconsin is lucky to have immediate access to clean ...

Water is Prosperity – Part II

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.In my Capitol office hangs an old re-election poster for former Governor Gaylord Nelson. The founder of Earth Day, Governor Nelson was one of Wisconsin’s fiercest advocates for our environment. He was also a pragmatist – he understood not only how important clean water was, but he also acknowledged its importance for our economy.Milk, cheese, beer, and paper -- these are quintessential Wisconsin products. Each of these water-dependent products requires large amounts of clean water.Water is abundant ...

WATER IS LIFE – Part 1

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 like the adoration of our pets or the dependability of our vehicles, the quality of our water critically depends on the care we take for protecting the things we love and depend on the most.When we turn on the faucet to fill a glass of water or sip from a drinking fountain, we have a reasonable expectation the water is safe. This blind trust is mostly due to the protections we have in place and the oversight of the United States Environmental Protec...

Looking at ACA

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, the number one issue from last fall’s election is coming home to roost here in the Legislature.When I left office as State Representative in 2010, bipartisanship was at an all-time low. The biggest political football at the time was the Affordable Care Act (ACA), also known as Obamacare. Democrats knew it would be a political liability to pass the ACA, but health care reform was desperately needed. During the 2010 ...