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Tell Gov. Evers to appoint indigenous leaders to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

This year saw one of the most horrific environmental disasters in Wisconsin history: a wolf slaughter during the height of breeding season, at the behest of an out-of-state hunting group, with the blessing of the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.

It started on February 2 when an Kansas group called Hunter Nation filed a lawsuit in Jefferson County, demanding that Wisconsin immediately hold a wolf hunt. A judge ordered the hunt to proceed, and the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board complied – even though there were just a few days of hunting season left.

The board set a quota of 200 wolves to be killed, out of a population of just over 1,000 — or about 20% — during a time when many female wolves are pregnant.

They then sold 4,000 permits to kill those wolves — meaning 20 people were gunning for each wolf.

Tell Gov. Evers to appoint tribal members to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

Unlike most states, Wisconsin allows night hunting and trapping of wolves, and is the only state to allow the cruel practice of using dogs to run down prey.

Also unlike other states, Wisconsin allows a hunt to go on for 24 hours after a quota has been reached — practically guaranteeing it will be overshot.

And that’s exactly what happened. In two days, mostly out-of-state hunters slaughtered 218 of Wisconsin’s wolves that we know of — it’s likely more were killed than reported.

Of the 200-wolf quota, 81 were alloted to the Ojibwe tribal groups of Wisconsin. The Ojibwe consider wolves sacred. Only 119 wolves were supposed to actually be killed.

That means hunters slaughtered almost twice their allotment, including all of the wolves belonging to the Ojibwe.

Tell Gov. Evers to appoint indigenous leaders to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

Tribal groups are supposed to be consulted before any wolf quotas are set. But the lone tribal biologist left the Natural Resources Board meeting to discuss the quota when the board ignored his input.

“It’s so disappointing, the hurried plan to kill ma’iingan,” said John D. Johnson, chairman of the Great Lakes Indian Fish and Wildlife Commission’s Voigt Intertribal Task Force, which advises the commission on natural resources policy. Ma’iingan is the Ojibwe name for the wolf.

“It’s an extreme disappointment on many levels,” said GLIFWC public information officer Dylan Jennings. “I think it really full-on demonstrated the lack of respect and the lack of commitment to co-management on the state’s part.”

There is a solution to prevent this from happening again: Appoint tribal members to the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board. By statute the board has seven members, appointed by the governor for six year terms. No current members of the Natural Resources Board are indigenous — but two have terms that end in May.

Tell Gov. Evers to appoint tribal members to those seats. Wisconsin must never again conduct a wolf hunt without the express input of the tribes.

Image credit: Herb Lange / Wisconsin DNR

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Grassroots activists seek $15 minimum wage

Members and supporters of Our Wisconsin Revolution have sent nearly 100 letters to Wisconsin Sens. Tammy Baldwin and Ron Johnson demanding their elected officials support a proposal to raise the minimum wage to $15 an hour. 

These grassroots activists asked the senators to tell Vice President Kamala Harris to overrule the Senate parliamentarian and keep the $15 minimum wage provision in the American Rescue Plan covid relief bill, as well as to abolish the filibuster, a procedural relic used in the past to block civil rights legislation and now threatening other progressive programs.

“A recent study found that raising the minimum wage to $15 an hour would lift 32 million workers out of poverty — including 843,000 in Wisconsin,” the letter stated. “Of these Wisconsinites, the majority are women and people of color working on the front lines during a pandemic.”

The American Rescue Plan providing $1.9 trillion in coronavirus relief passed the U.S. House on a mostly party-line vote of 219-212 on February 27. Included in the House version was a provision to gradually raise the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025. 

Now the American Rescue Plan is headed to the Senate, where the $15 minimum wage is in jeopardy because the relief package is going through a process called reconciliation, which allows the bill to be passed by a simple majority rather than a filibuster-proof majority of 60 votes.

Under Senate rules, only items relevant to the federal budget can be passed through reconciliation. However, an unelected Senate parliamentarian found that the minimum wage increase is not related to the federal budget and shouldn’t be in the covid relief bill.

“We disagree with the parliamentarian’s decision,” the letter stated. “Giving workers a much-needed raise would allow them to get off federal assistance, saving billions of dollars in taxpayer money and letting people spend more at local businesses, revitalizing the economy for everyone. The minimum wage has not been raised since 2007 – this is long overdue.”

The parliamentarian’s decision is not binding. It is an advisory position that can be overruled by Vice President Harris, and has been overruled by vice presidents in the past. Grassroots activists are asking their senators to tell Harris to ignore the parliamentarian and keep the $15 minimum wage in the American Rescue Plan.

A related issue is the filibuster — an arcane procedure that allows any senator to speak for hours or even days to hold up any piece of legislation unless at least 60 other senators vote to close debate. That’s why legislation not passed through reconciliation needs at least 60 votes.

“In a Senate divided 50-50 along party lines, with only a tie-breaking vote from the vice president, that just won’t do,” the letter stated. “We will never be able to pass our progressive agenda that the vast majority of Americans support — Medicare for All, Green New Deal, student loan forgiveness, criminal justice reform, and more — as long as these programs can be filibustered by a single senator.”

Our Wisconsin Revolution’s letter campaign to Sens. Baldwin and Johnson continues through the weekend. 

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The State of Our State

A response to the dueling “State of the State” speeches given by Governor Tony Evers and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos.

Our nation’s politics is on a bullet train to crazy town. The armed insurrection at the U.S. Capitol that sought to violently overthrow our republic leaves all of us nervously wondering what additional horrors await us in the days to come.

The toxic partisanship, divisiveness, polarization and political dysfunction on display nationally have infected our state politics. In the midst of an ongoing pandemic, no legislative action whatsoever has been taken since April dealing with this public health emergency and providing some relief to those who’ve lost employment, lost health insurance and face losing their homes. The state of our state government is paralyzed. This political paralysis leaves Wisconsin stuck in a rut and more directionless than it has been in a very, very long time.

Wisconsin is not dealing with health insecurity magnified by the pandemic and is not acting decisively to cure what ails our sick health care system. Wisconsin is not addressing glaring and growing economic inequality. Wisconsin is not responding constructively to widespread civil unrest all across the country and right here in our state, and is not coming to terms with the underlying social and racial injustices fueling these disturbances. Wisconsin is not acting boldly in response to the climate crisis.

The governor calling the legislature into special session is not the answer. Obstructionist legislative leaders have shown repeatedly they will gavel in and gavel out without acting. Ruling Republicans will not pass legislation of any importance that the Democratic governor wants. The governor will veto any legislation of importance passed by the legislature. The result is inaction on the biggest problems facing our state. Paralysis.

The one possible path to progress is the state budget process. The budget is the one and only bill that really needs to pass every two years, and a new one is due to be enacted this year. The governor will make his budget request next month and what he proposes will be pronounced dead on arrival in the do-nothing legislature…unless the governor employs a strikingly different strategy than he did two years ago, one that compels legislators to negotiate with him in good faith.

When he campaigned for the office, the governor promised to phase out taxpayer-funded subsidies for private schools. When the voucher system that delivers these subsidies was created some 30 years ago, proponents claimed it would boost student achievement and improve the quality of both public and private schools. The program has failed to deliver these results. When programs work, they should be continued and funded. When they fail, they should be ended. The governor should keep his campaign promise and eliminate funding for this failed program in his budget proposal.

Despite the private school voucher scheme’s failures, Republicans who control the legislature love the program. If the governor proposes eliminating funding for it, they will surely work to restore that funding. The governor, however, could use his veto authority to overturn that legislative action, and Republicans do not have the supermajorities in both houses needed to override that veto. If they want the governor’s approval of some funding for their pet program, they will have to grant him some of his wishes. Maybe this is how Wisconsin can get long overdue Medicaid expansion to insure more people during this pandemic.

While he’s at it, the governor could keep his word to close down the state’s corporate welfare office. The governor also could work at keeping another of his campaign promises to cut the state’s prison population in half and propose more funding for the UW System than for prisons. He could stand with Mr. Republican himself, former Governor Tommy Thompson, and propose turning one of our prisons into a college. Legislative Republicans are heavily invested in corporate welfare and surely will balk at its elimination, but maybe the threat of it is the way they can be prompted to cooperate in acting to remedy the shameful fact that more of Wisconsin’s state budget is spent on prisons than on the entire state university system.

Keep your promises, governor, and provide the kind of leadership and pioneering spirit that Wisconsin once had and that made our state a progressive beacon for the rest of the nation to follow.

Mike McCabe


January 13, 2021

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Dear Governor, Play Hardball With Do-Nothing Legislature

December 9, 2020

In a letter to Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, the independent social justice group Our Wisconsin Revolution urged the Evers administration to eliminate funding for Wisconsin’s private school voucher program in the proposed 2021-23 state budget that will be presented to the legislature early next year as a way to gain leverage in budget negotiations in hopes of overcoming partisan gridlock.

The letter from the group’s co-chairs and executive director follows up on a November 30 message urging the administration to act boldly instead of playing it safe with its budget proposal and recommending six ways to forcefully tackle four emergencies facing Wisconsin—economic inequality, health insecurity, social injustice and environmental insanity.

Any hope the Democratic administration has to broker agreement on the budget across party lines hinges on hard-line bargaining with the legislature’s ruling Republicans that includes a willingness to eliminate funding for programs they favor like private school subsidies, the letter asserts. It goes on to say that when majority Republicans seek to restore funding for the program in the budget bill they pass, the governor needs to make it clear he is prepared to use his partial veto authority to eliminate the funding again, noting that GOP lawmakers do not have the supermajorities needed to override the governor’s vetoes.

“We don’t have to tell you how much legislative Republicans love the voucher program. You have it in your power to dismantle it. In order to save taxpayer-subsidized private schooling, they will have no choice but to support your own budget initiatives. If they refuse to do so, one of their signature programs will go away,” the letter to Evers and Barnes says. “Legislative Republicans have shown little to no interest in working with you and have blocked your actions at every turn. We urge you to play hardball with them.”

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It’s Time to Pass the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act

Our Wisconsin Revolution is partnering with Coulee DSA and Physicians for a National Health Program-Wisconsin to encourage our representatives to support and co-sponsor the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, H.R. 6906, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

We are living through a historic health care crisis. More than 12 million Americans have been infected with Covid-19 this year, and over 250,000 of them have died. It is well past time for a unifying federal plan to ensure that all Americans have access to the health care that they need during this unprecedented time. We demand that our representatives in Congress pass the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, S. 3790, H.R. 6906, which guarantees medically necessary care for Covid-19 to all citizens, regardless of insurance coverage, thereby saving lives and preventing a wave of medical bankruptcies.

Can you call your senators and Congressional representative to ask them to support and co-sponsor this bill? See below for an easy to follow call script!

If calling doesn’t work for you, you can quickly and easily use this letter writing tool to send them an e-mail

Here are the representatives and corresponding phone numbers:

Senators
Tammy Baldwin: (608) 264-5338
Ron Johnson: (920) 230-7250

Congress
CD1 Bryan Steil: (608) 752-4050
CD2 Mark Pocan: (608) 258-9800
CD3 Ron Kind: (608) 782-2558
CD4 Gwen Moore: (414) 297-1140
CD5 Jim Sensenbrenner: (262) 784-1111
CD6 Glenn Grothman: (920) 907-0624
CD7 Tom Tiffany: (715) 298-9344
CD8 Mike Gallagher: (920) 301-4500

Not sure who your congressional representative is? Find Your Representative | house.gov

Call Script

“Hello, my name is _____, I live in (City), and I am one of your constituents. I am calling to urge you to support and cosponsor the Health Care Emergency Guarantee Act, S. 3790 / H.R. 6906, sponsored by Sen. Bernie Sanders and Rep. Pramila Jayapal.

This bill would use Medicare to cover all health care expenses for the duration of the Covid-19 crisis. By using Medicare we could quickly and efficiently expand coverage and streamline payments through a single system to hospitals and health care providers.

This is important to me, because [explain a little here about why this is important to you] …

Talking points

  • Wisconsin is currently experiencing unacceptable numbers of new cases, hospitalizations, and deaths, which are overwhelming our health care systems.
  • Many Wisconsinites are out of work and have lost their health insurance
  • People who do not have health-care coverage are avoiding seeking medical treatment for Covid-19 due to worry about medical bills, compromising their own health and the health of our communities.
  • I believe that health care is a basic human right that must be extended to all Wisconsinites, regardless of their circumstances.
  • Marginalized Wisconsinites are less likely to have health-care coverage and more likely to experience poor outcomes from Covid-19 and medical emergencies due to disparities in access to care. This includes people of color, poor and working class folks, and people with disabilities, among others.
  • This bill would also benefit those who do have insurance by covering all out-of-pocket costs.
  • This bill would prevent unexpected bills, limit prescription drug prices, and ensure that no one is left without coverage due to private insurers reducing coverage during the Covid-19 emergency.
  • I personally (insert personally relevant story or information such as being without health-care coverage, having a pre-existing condition known to exacerbate Covid-19, etc.)

We cannot afford to wait any longer to ensure that everyone can access the treatment they need to manage this contagious virus. We need a universal system of care during this emergency to help our country get through this crisis. Thank you, I look forward to your response.”

If you’d like to follow up your phone call with an email, use our letter writing tool!

If you’d like to do even more, we encourage you to write a letter to the editor at your local newspaper.

Thank you for taking action to support this bill, and for supporting health care as a basic human right. 

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Match the Budget to the Moment

November 30, 2020

Today the co-chairs and executive director of the independent social justice group Our Wisconsin Revolution called on the Evers administration to address four dire threats to the state’s health and welfare in the proposed 2021-23 state budget that will be presented to the legislature early next year.

In a letter to Governor Tony Evers and Lieutenant Governor Mandela Barnes, the group suggests six ideas as centerpieces of a transformational state budget tackling challenges “even bigger than COVID-19,” namely economic inequality, health insecurity, social injustice and environmental insanity that “already have created deep and crippling divisions and if left unaddressed will lead to Wisconsin’s and America’s certain and steady decline.”

While Wisconsin needs to respond to the surging pandemic with more help for the unemployed and eviction prevention funding, for example, the group’s letter stresses that “action is undeniably needed to start reversing the concentration of wealth in fewer and fewer hands, cure what ails our sick health care system, arrest climate catastrophe, and come to terms with chronic and systemic injustices in our society.”

Among the six proposals in the Motion W agenda are three policies—Medicaid expansion, increasing the state’s minimum wage and legalizing marijuana—that have gained voter approval this year in ballot initiatives in battleground states and Republican strongholds across the country.

Marijuana legalization would strike a blow for racial justice by ending racially discriminatory criminal prosecution of nonviolent conduct related to the possession and sale of marijuana, halting one cause of mass incarceration. It also would prompt new business start-ups in the form of dispensaries opening throughout the state, stimulate the economy and generate hundreds of millions of dollars in new revenue to fund health care access, broadband expansion and renewable energy investments.

Another way to fund the economic investments called for in Motion W is to make changes to the state’s tax system that allows the wealthiest in Wisconsin to pay the lowest overall tax rate.

Wisconsin invented taxation based on ability to pay, creating the nation’s first progressive income tax. Requiring the richest to pay their fair share again would help fund health care expansion and make it possible to pay for broadband expansion to close the digital divide that plagues low-income and rural communities. It also makes it possible to invest in the development of renewable energy, a sector of the economy that has been creating jobs 12 times faster than the rest of the economy.

“The next state budget should invest in tomorrow’s economy, not prop up yesterday’s economy. Wisconsin’s goal should be solar panels on every roof. And now more than ever, when we’re in the midst of this pandemic, we need to bring high-speed Internet to every doorstep and we need to make sure everyone can get health care. For that to happen, we need a state budget that rises to the occasion,” Our Wisconsin Revolution director Mike McCabe said.

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Town Hall to Tackle Climate Crisis in Wisconsin

Online event sponsored by chapters in Northeast region

Neenah, WI — With the prospect of a new federal approach to addressing climate change, three northeast region chapters of Our Wisconsin Revolution are hosting a Climate Action Town Hall featuring seven speakers on various aspects of the climate crisis and its solutions. 

The town hall will take place Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. over Zoom and will steam live on our Facebook page. Registration is at https://www.mobilize.us/ourrevolution/event/347544

Speakers include:

  • David Barnhill, former director of environmental studies at UW-Oshkosh and founder of Northwoods Climate Action on climate change in Wisconsin
  • Sara Wescott of the Menominee nation on climate action in indigenous communities
  • Sarah Lloyd, president of Columbia County Farmers Union and OWR co-chair, on climate change and agriculture
  • Christina Sedall of Sunrise Appleton on youth climate activism
  • Dan Dieterich of Citizens’ Climate Lobby on carbon fee and dividend
  • Cathy Cowan Becker, OWR northeast regional organizer, on what a Green New Deal could look like
  • Fadhel Kaboub, president of Global Institute for Sustainable Prosperity and an expert on Modern Monetary Theory on how to pay for a Green New Deal

The Climate Action Town Hall will be introduced by Mike McCabe, executive director of Our Wisconsin Revolution, and moderated by David Williams, leader of OWR’s Fox Valley Chapter who works in the weatherization assistance program for the community action agency Advocap.

The town hall is sponsored by the Fox Valley, Green Bay, and Northwoods chapters of Our Wisconsin Revolution, but presentations will be relevant to the entire state. 

WHAT: Climate Action Town Hall, with seven speakers on the climate crisis and its solutions

WHEN: Saturday, November 21, at 7 p.m. 

WHERE: On Zoom and livestreamed to the Our Wisconsin Revolution Facebook page. Registration is at https://www.mobilize.us/ourrevolution/event/347544

WHO: Fox Valley, Green Bay, and Northwoods chapters of Our Wisconsin Revolution

About Our Wisconsin Revolution

Our Wisconsin Revolution is an independent social justice organization working to make both our economy and our government a true democracy — of, by and for the people. We work in four issue areas: restoring a real democracy, creating an economy that works for all of us, ensuring quality public goods and services, and enacting fair taxes. Our formation was inspired by Bernie Sanders’ run for president in 2016 and is part of a national movement supporting a new generation of progressive leaders and empowering millions to fight for transforming our political and economic systems to be responsive to the needs of working families. 

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Movie Night

Our Wisconsin Revolution director Mike McCabe will be the special guest speaker before the October 8 screening of the documentary film “Slay the Dragon” at Delta Beer Lab in Madison.

The movie focuses on how partisan gerrymandering of congressional and state legislative districts undermines democracy and how citizens across the country are fighting to protect their votes.

Tickets can be purchased in advance or at the door.

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OWR Opposes DNC Platform, Which Leaves out Medicare For All

At 2 p.m. on Tuesday, August 11, 2020, Our Wisconsin Revolution leadership and staff who are delegates for Bernie Sanders to the 2020 Democratic National Convention will join almost 800 delegates from around the country in voting no on the DNC platform. This unison no vote is a rejection of the Democratic Party platform that does not include support for a single-payer, Medicare for All policy.

“I am voting no because the Platform Committee is not listening to the American people. This platform is a slap in the face to the vast majority of Democrats and to the American People,” said Sarah Lloyd, OWR co-chair and delegate for Bernie Sanders.

According to a recent Harris X/Hill poll, 69 percent of the general public supports Medicare For All, with a 88 percent rate of support among Democrats. The Platform Committee also voted down expanding Medicare eligibility to age 55, a proposition supported by many presidential candidates in the primary this past year.

A platform without language for Medicare for All is grossly inhumane in light of the COVID-19 pandemic. COVID-19 has already killed more than 160,000 American citizens. Support for Medicare for All has been boosted by the obvious truth, made clear by COVID-19, that tying health insurance to employment is not sustainable, equitable, efficient or safe from a public health standpoint. The massive number of people who have lost their jobs due to the pandemic and economic shutdown shows that it is dangerous for people to be dependent on health care directly tied to their employers.

“I am voting no because amid a new civil rights movement, Black Lives Matter, this pandemic has also magnified the severe health-care disparities we have in this country, with Black and Brown Americans dying at rates two to three times higher than white Americans, paralleling their similar rates of not having health insurance,” said Charlie Ryan, OWR co-chair and Sanders delegate. “If the Democratic Party wants to take a stand in support of BLM, then they should have voted resoundingly in support of guaranteeing health care to our minority communities that suffer the most from lack of health care.”

“We know that people who do not have health insurance avoid medical care due to the fear of medical debt. This threatens our very ability as a country to contain COVID-19 and so undermines our public health,” said Rich McGowan, a medical doctor in Madison and OWR board member. “The times we are living through are exceptional in the scope of the problems facing us. They demand bold leadership. Unfortunately this latest vote by the Platform Committee has failed to deliver what the public supports.”

Our Wisconsin Revolution condemns the DNC’s 2020 Platform Committee vote and supports efforts of DNC delegates, 700 and counting, who would overturn that vote. This includes both Sanders and Biden delegates, including OWR Board members Michael Beardsley, Charlie Ryan, Sarah Lloyd, and Justice Peche, and staff member Cathy Cowan Becker.

Our Wisconsin Revolution’s mission is to create a new kind of politics in our state. “The OWR board and our general membership believe that health care is a right. The United States needs to make the necessary reforms to make that right a reality as soon as possible through a publicly funded Medicare for All system,” said McGowan. “Help us free our democracy from corporate control and put the power back in the hands of the people.”

Our Wisconsin Revolution is an independent, statewide, membership-driven, democratic-populist organization that aims to take Wisconsin government back from corporate elites and make it of, by, and for the people. For more information please see a recording of Our Wisconsin Revolution’s recent Health Care Forum and list of endorsed candidates.

Photo credit: Elvert Barnes

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OWR Urges PSC to Extend Utility Cutoff Moratorium

Wisconsin’s policy of preventing utility companies from cutting off service to customers during the winter months was extended until July 25 due to the coronavirus pandemic. With the virus still spreading and the number of infections and deaths on the rise, Our Wisconsin Revolution today asked the Wisconsin Public Service Commission to extend the moratorium on service cutoffs until next spring.

July 16, 2020

Public Service Commission
Rebecca Cameron Valcq, Chairperson
Ellen Nowak, Commissioner
Tyler Huebner, Commissioner
Hill Farms State Office Building
North Tower, 6th Floor
4822 Madison Yards Way
Madison, WI 53705

Dear Chairperson Valcq, Commissioner Nowak and Commissioner Huebner:

With the pandemic persisting and indeed worsening, we urge you to act immediately to extend the utility shutoff moratorium that is due to end July 25. We ask that the moratorium be extended until April 2021.

When the first moratorium extension was put in place, it may have been expected that coronavirus infections would have significantly declined by now or that COVID-19 would no longer be a serious public health threat in the summer months. The reality now is that the virus continues to spread, the number of infections is rising not falling, and with the economy still significantly impacted by the pandemic there continues to be a large number of economically vulnerable people who remain at great risk. Allowing the moratorium to end on July 25 and permitting utilities to cut off customers will create added health risks, and racial minorities and economically distressed communities will be disproportionately harmed.

While the state’s Safer at Home order produced some positive initial results in minimizing spread of the virus, COVID has rebounded and continues to be a major threat to both public health and Wisconsin’s economy. Large numbers of people in Wisconsin have seen their economic status damaged, putting them in the agonizing position of having to choose between paying for food, housing, health care or utilities. Disconnecting utilities at any time is a hardship, doing so during a pandemic is downright cruel and dangerous.

We understand that utility moratoriums are normally only put in place during the winter. There is nothing normal about we are going through as a state and nation. The pandemic is not letting up, and power is not only needed for heating but also for cooling. The combination of summer heat waves and COVID puts vulnerable populations at considerable risk and could prove deadly. COVID has laid bare to an even greater extent than before the racial, social and economic disparities and injustices that exist in our society. There is absolutely no doubt that the cruel, dangerous and potentially deadly result of allowing power to be cut off starting on July 25 will fall hardest on the poorest in our society and will have an especially harsh impact on black and brown people.

Power is needed for heating in the winter and cooling in the summer, but also for cooking, refrigeration, internet connections and phone service. Without these and with the pandemic still raging, people will be at risk and in harm’s way. The utility shutoff moratorium lasting until July 25 was based on the assumption that the COVID crisis would run its course by this time. It clearly has not. We ask you to use your authority to extend the moratorium until the pandemic is under control and loss of utility service does not pose such a grave threat to so many people.

Sincerely,

Mike McCabe
Executive Director
Our Wisconsin Revolution