In this update:

  • A Look at the Week Ahead
  • Administration Updates
  • Legislative Updates
  • Election Updates
  • Fundraising Opportunities

A Look at the Week Ahead

State of the State Address

Tuesday, January 24

Gov. Tony Evers 2023 State of the State Address

7:00 PM

Streamed on WisEye:

Administration Updates

Evers calls for advisory referendum on “Wisconsin’s Criminal Abortion Ban”

Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) and Democrats in the state Legislature are calling for an advisory referendum to be placed on the April 2023 spring elections ballot asking whether “Wisconsin’s criminal abortion ban should be repealed to restore the rights afforded to Wisconsinites under Roe v. Wade.” Although the governor wants the advisory referendum placed on the ballot to gauge voters’ opinions, he said in a press release that he already knows what the outcome of the referendum would be. “I know where Wisconsinites stand, as does every single person who serves in the State Capitol,” Gov. Evers said. “This is an opportunity to make clear that there continues to be not one single shred of doubt about where the people of Wisconsin are on this issue: Wisconsinites support Roe, we support reproductive freedom for our loved ones, our family members and kids, our friends, and our neighbors, and we are going to fight like hell every single day until Republicans heed to the will of the people.”

Despite the outcry from Gov. Evers and fellow Democrats, Republicans voted unanimously this week to reject an attempt by Senate and Assembly Democrats to replace a competing advisory referendum on welfare eligibility with the advisory referendum on abortion. For an advisory referendum to be placed on the ballot, it must pass through both chambers of the Legislature during the same session. The Assembly and Senate each have Republican majorities. Both political parties have been maneuvering in recent weeks to include advisory referenda on the April 2023 ballot in an attempt increase turnout among their respective political bases for the upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court race.

Erpenbach to head Parole Commission

Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) recently announced that he will be appointing former State Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) to head the state Parole Commission. Sen. Erpenbach spent the past 24 years representing the 27th Senate District and retired after last session. In a statement, the former Senator said “The success of the Commission depends on our ability to balance the law and public safety while supporting victims, survivors, and their families and keeping dangerous individuals off of our streets. It’s that balanced, thoughtful approach that I intend to take as chair. I look forward to serving the people of Wisconsin in this new role, and I want to thank Gov. Evers for the opportunity to continue public service and for entrusting me with this important responsibility.”

Sen. Erpenbach’s appointment is subject to approval by the Senate, but he can serve in the role without confirmation unless the chamber votes to reject him. Senator Van Wanggaard, Chair of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, says he is “hopeful” about Sen. Erpenbach’s appointment and further stated, “I want to hear his thoughts on how he will enhance public safety, how he intends to ensure victims are included in the process, and how he will follow the open meetings law he championed, all of which of Gov. Evers’ previous appointees failed to do.”

Legislative Updates

Legislature advances constitutional amendment on bail, advisory referendum on welfare

This week, the Legislature approved two questions to include on the April 2023 spring elections ballot. The first question asks voters to approve a constitutional amendment that would allow judges to consider more factors when setting cash bail while the second question is an advisory referendum asking voters whether able-bodied, childless adults should be required to job search while receiving welfare benefits. “This is an opportunity for us as policymakers to hear directly from Wisconsinites,” Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said regarding the welfare question. “Last session I voted to provide real solutions to the workforce crisis to get thousands of people off the sidelines and back into jobs. Unfortunately, Governor Evers did nothing.” In contrast to Speaker Vos, Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard (D-Madison) said of the GOP proposals, “They’re trying to gin up their voters, simply put.”

The Senate passed the advisory referendum on welfare reform 22-10 with all Republicans and Democratic Senator Brad Pfaff voting in favor of the measure. In the Assembly, the measure passed with a 62-35 majority.

The constitutional amendment on reforming the cash bail system passed the Senate 23-9 with Democratic Senators Bob Wirch and Brad Pfaff joining all Republicans in supporting the measure. In the Assembly, the constitutional amendment passed with a 73-22 bipartisan majority that included 10 Democrats and all Republicans.

Scores of Evers appointments referred to committee

Senate Republicans have referred scores of Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) appointments to committee for review. The move comes a week after Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) told reporters that Gov. Evers’ cabinet appointees would receive confirmation votes in the coming months. The list of appointments referred to committee include Gov. Evers’ nominees for the Natural Resources Board and UW System Board of Regents, as well as some cabinet members who have not yet received a confirmation vote, including Department of Workforce Development Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek.

See the list of committee referrals: click here

Vos named NCSL president

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) has been named president for the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) after former Idaho Speaker Scott Bedke stepped down to assume his new role as lieutenant governor. Speaker Vos will serve as NCSL president for the remainder of Lt. Gov. Bedke’s term, which ends in August 2023. Speaker Vos previously served as the president of NCSL from 2019 to 2021 and is the first elected official from Wisconsin to hold this leadership post.

NCSL is a bipartisan organization that serves the nation’s 7,383 state lawmakers and more than 30,000 legislative staff by providing research, technical assistance and opportunities for policymakers to exchange ideas on the most pressing state issues. The conferences alternates its leadership annually between the two political parties.

Election Updates

SCOWIS fundraising numbers released

Janet Protasiewicz                                  Everett Mitchell
$ Raised: $924,349                                   $ Raised: $115,689
$ Spent: $185,523                                    $ Spent: $71,962
Cash on Hand: $734,962                           Cash on Hand: $72,162

Jennifer Dorow                                           Dan Kelly
$ Raised: $306,919                                   $ Raised: $312,359
$ Spent: $23,748                                      $ Spent: $52,387
Cash on Hand: $283,172                           Cash on Hand: $276,554

Recently released fundraising reports show that Wisconsin Supreme Court (SCOWIS) candidate Judge Janet Protasiewicz has raised more money than all three of her opponents, combined. Judge Protasiewicz pulled in $756,117 in the final six-month period of last year. In contrast, her fellow liberal and opponent, Judge Everett Mitchell, raised $115,689. The two conservative candidates, former Justice Dan Kelly and Judge Jennifer Dorow, raised $312,359 and $306,919, respectively. Judge Protasiewicz and Judge Mitchell both actively fundraised during the entire six-month period whereas Justice Kelley launched his campaign in September and Judge Dorow’s fundraising was all done in December.

Dorow supports constitutional amendment on cash bail

Waukesha County Circuit Court Judge and conservative State Supreme Court Candidate Jennifer Dorow put out a press release Thursday in favor of a constitutional amendment on cash bail passed by the GOP-led Legislature. “I have long argued for the need to fix Wisconsin’s broken bail system,” said Judge Dorow. “Five years ago, I served on a Legislative Council Study Committee that looked at bail, and I am gratified we will finally have a chance to make some needed changes to our Wisconsin Constitution. The law needs to make clear that dangerous people accused of serious crimes need to be locked up—period. Public safety must be paramount in all bail decisions. In particular, judges should be required to consider the dangerousness of the defendant, the severity of a crime, and the criminal history of the defendant, along with having a viable option to hold dangerous defendants without bail. The proposed constitutional amendment aligns with my long-held views and is a step in the right direction. This change is long overdue.”

For the amendment on cash bail to become state law, it must be passed by a majority of Wisconsin voters during the April 2023 spring election.

Protasiewicz announces TV ad campaign

Milwaukee County Circuit Judge and liberal State Supreme Court Candidate Janet Protasiewicz announced her campaign would be launching a $700,000 TV ad buy for the three weeks preceding the Feb. 21 primary election. According to a press release from Judge Protasiewicz, ad times have been reserved in the Milwaukee, Green Bay, Wausau-Rhinelander, Madison, and La Crosse-Eau Claire media markets. The press release also noted a digital advertising campaign will begin soon as well.

“Our campaign strategy has always been to heavily communicate with voters statewide about Judge Janet’s approach to bring change to the Supreme Court — away from the hyper-partisanship and extremism demonstrated recently by the court,” Campaign Manager Alejandro Verdin was quoted as saying in the press release. “Our campaign’s fundraising advantage — and our advertising — will ensure we inform voters that Judge Janet is a common-sense judge who protects our freedoms and public safety.”

8th SD fundraising numbers released

Jodi Habush Sinykin                           Dan Knodl
$ Raised: $40,140                             $ Raised: $23,930
Cash on Hand: $30,586                     Cash on Hand: $49,176

Van Mobley                                           Janel Brandtjen
*Did not file                                    $ Raised: $11,670
campaign finance report                 Cash on Hand: $25,393

In the first look at fundraising numbers for the 8th Senate District Special Election, lone Democratic candidate Jodi Habush Sinykin led the field in money raised in December. Ms. Habush Sinykin reported $40,140 in receipts and finished the year with $30,586 cash on hand. State Rep. Dan Knodl (R-Germantown) raised the most funds out of the GOP candidates, reporting $23,930 raised in December and $49,176 cash on hand at the end of the year. Meanwhile, Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls) reported $11,670 in receipts and $25,393 cash on hand. The remaining GOP candidate, Thiensville Village President Van Mobley, filed his campaign paperwork after Jan. 1 and did not submit a financial report to the state.

State Democratic and Republican parties’ financials released

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin (DPW) out raised the Republican Party of Wisconsin (RPW) by $10 million this past year. The DPW reported $23.8 million raised and $25.4 million spent, to finish the year with $491, 758. The RPW reported $13.4 million raised, $13.1 million spent and $412,310 cash on hand.

Evers releases 2022 fundraising numbers

Governor Tony Evers (D-Plymouth) reported raising a total of $30.8 million in 2022, spending $41 million, and ending with $295,663 cash on hand. His total raised since the beginning of 2021 is $41.2 million, making his yield the highest of any governor in a two-year period. By comparison, former GOP Governor Scott Walker pulled in $37.8 million between the start of 2011 through the end of 2012 which included the period where Gov. Walker faced no contribution limits during the recall. Governor Evers’ Republican opponent this past election, Tim Michels, raised and spent $27.9 million between launching his campaign in April to the end of the year. That number includes the close to $19 million he personally put into his campaign.

Politico: ‘The most important election nobody’s ever heard of’

Politico recently ran an article about the Wisconsin Supreme Court race titled “The most important election nobody’s ever heard of.” They cited the matters of abortion and redistricting as crucial issues that will be decided by this new Court and further noted that if a liberal-leaning jurist wins, it will flip the balance of the Court for at least two years.

Read the full story here: ‘The most important election nobody’s ever heard of’ – POLITICO

Fundraising Opportunities

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Wisconsin Campaign Fundraisers

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