“Lord willing, and the creek don’t rise, I’ll see you Tuesday.” I said as I left the office in Madison.
By the next day, the creek at the base of my farm’s steep driveway had risen over the road. The rushing water cut a channel through the gravel town road, making the road impassable.
My forward-thinking husband kept an eye on the water’s progress and moved vehicles over to the other side before the rushing water completely cut through the road.
“Public assistance should be a trampoline not a hammock,” read the title of Governor Walker’s press release touting work on a package of bills introduced in a Legislative Special Session. The bills made changes to certain programs targeted at helping those living in poverty.
During the recent Senate debate, proponents of the bills declared the best road out of poverty was a job. No one in the Senate disagreed. However, what these bills really do is KEEP people in poverty and make a few companies richer while providing little accountability.
Last Friday afternoon we learned of the 79 bills up for a vote on Tuesday. I spoke with my neighbor shortly after seeing the long list.
“How can they possibly know what they are voting on?” she asked me. I replied there is no time to talk with people and learn the effects of these changes.
Legislation moving quickly through the process makes changes to protections of our wetlands; specifically, wet areas not connected to a navigable body of water.
In a recent committee hearing, I argued majority lawmakers were moving broadband expansion forward by press release and little else.
This week Representative Don Vuwink (D-Milton) and I are circulating bills to actually move broadband forward for Wisconsin.
The Senate Revenue, Financial Institutions and Rural Issues committee debated a bill that would allow a local community to pass a resolution saying the community was “Telecommuting Ready.” However, nothing in that bill helped communities gain access to broadband.
“With more people working in Wisconsin…, we can’t afford to have anyone on the sidelines, we need everyone in the game,” stated Governor Walker, calling for a special session to take up bills he nicknamed, “Wisconsin Works for Everyone.”
The Senate Public Benefits, Licensing and State-Federal Relations Committee, of which I am a member, took up the special session bills in a recent public hearing. The 10 bills make substantial changes in eligibility for FoodShare (nutrition) or BadgerCare (medical care). Many of the bills limit assistance for families experiencing hard times.
Farmers from several western Wisconsin counties traveled to Madison as part of the annual Ag Day at the Capitol.
On the day the Governor delivered his State of the State address, farmers shared with their legislators, the state of things in their world.
Safety is always on the mind of farmers. For one farmer, farm safety was a heightened worry when his daughter took drivers education. He told me, folks traveling down rural roads often ignore the turn signals and lights on his tractor. People will make the dangerous decision to pass him when he is turning left into a farm field. There have been instances when drivers hit the farm equipment.
The little girl walked home through the snow. She took the longer route. Mom asked her to stop at the store to buy milk. She touched the coupons and note. She couldn’t lose them. Mom was so sick with cancer.
“Who put all this policy in the budget?” I whispered to my colleague the night the budget passed. “Groups,” he said glumly. “I call it the ‘Shadow Legislature.’”
These groups are often from outside Wisconsin and often funded by large donors. Behind the scenes, they push for policy, added at the last minute, which is unrelated to the state budget but changed laws.
Recently, these groups came out of the shadows to directly ask for what they wanted.
“I’m paying higher property taxes and I haven’t had a raise in years.” Sound familiar?
You are not alone.
Property taxes are a regressive tax – the tax falls harder on those with less means. Property tax bills take a bigger bite out of the paychecks of people who have not received a raise in years. At the same time, the very wealthy see their tax bill as a smaller share of their increasing piece of the pie.
Snow falls gently on the farm. It’s the light, fluffy snow that comes when it’s very cold.
We’ve seen bitter temperatures to end the year. Like many, the cold caused its share of problems on our farm. I was reminded to appreciate running water when our well pump went out Christmas Eve. When an electric waterer failed, we carried buckets of water to our horses.
Bitter cold weather and a dwindling supply of propane caused Wisconsin to declare a state of energy emergency related to intermittent propane supplies. For the 250,000 Wisconsinites that depend on propane for heat, a shortage can be a big deal.