- 1 Ways to Resist
- 2 Updates
- 3 Actions Taken by the State Government
- 4 Key Upcoming Elections
- 5 Healthcare
- 6 Policing
- 7 Immigration
- 8 Voting Rights
- 9 Mass Incarceration
- 10 Benefits / Tax Cuts
- 11 Housing/Infrastructure
- 12 Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- 13 LGBTQ+ Issues
- 14 Educational Justice
- 15 Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- 16 Climate / Environment
- 17 Disability Rights
- 18 Organizations and Events
- 19 Local News Sources
- 20 Relevant City and County Information
Ways to Resist
- Contact your elected officials:
- Governor: Scott Walker (R), next election 2018
- Wisconsin State Supreme Court (elected, 10-year terms)
- Justice Daniel Kelly, appointed 2016, required to stand election spring 2017
- Justice Annette Kingsland Ziegler, term expires July 31, 2017
- Justice Michael J. Gableman, term expires July 31, 2018
- Former Chief Justice Shirley S. Abrahamson, term expires July 31, 2019
- Chief Justice Patience Drake Roggensack, term expires July 31, 2023
- Justice Ann Walsh Bradley, term expires 2025?
- Justice Rebecca Grassl Bradley, July 31, 2026
- Get involved with local organizations.
- Find organizations with state and local presences working in your area.
- Check out our Tools of Resistance.
- Look for upcoming events and opportunities and state and local events.
- 3/28/2017: The Common Council of Milwaukee has introduced legislation to keep Obama-era standards for for-profit colleges in place, even if they are overturned at the federal level. This would protect students from taking out large student loans to attend programs that do not meet minimum guidelines. 
- 2/22/2017: The ACLU is suing the city of Milwaukee, its Fire and Police Commission, and its Police Chief Edward Flynn over stop-and-frisks targeting Latinos and African Americans in violation of the Fourth and Fourteenth Constitutional Amendments.
Actions Taken by the State Government
Legislation that Supports Equity and Justice
Important bills proposed by Wisconsin lawmakers this legislative session that should be supported:
- No bills identified.
Harmful bills proposed by Wisconsin lawmakers this legislative session that should be opposed:
- AB 48 "Blue Lives Matter" bill, would include members of law enforcement in hate crime protections.
See also the main policy pages for federal legislative tracking.
Key Upcoming Elections
Click here to find out if you're registered to vote.
Register to vote here. You can register in person as late as Election Day, but mail-in registration must be postmarked 20 days before Election Day. A photo ID with proof of residence is required to vote—you may find accepted documents here.
2018 Competitive House Elections
- Wisconsin District 3 could potentially be a competitive district, with the risk of the seat flipping to red. Representative Ron Kind (D) ran unopposed in the 2016 election. Trump won the district in the 2016 presidential election with 49.3% of the vote.
2018 Senate Elections
- Democratic Senator Tammy Baldwin will be up for reelection in 2018.
February 21, 2017: Spring Primary.
On the Ballot:
State Superintendent of Public Instruction. Candidates: Tony Evers (incumbent), Lowell E Holtz, John Humphries.
Manitowoc County Judge. Candidates: Bob Dewane, Patricia Koppa, Donald Chewning.
Polk County Judge. Candidates: David Danielson, Malia Malone, Daniel Tolan.
Trempealeau County Judge. Candidates: Rian W. Radtke, Rick Schaumberg, Charles V. Feltes (incumbent).
April 4, 2017: Spring Election.
- Madison, Wisconsin, will hold City Council elections on April 4, 2017.
- If there is a full repeal of the Affordable Care Act, 180,000 people in Wisconsin (or 3.1% of the population) are estimated to lose coverage, whereas 431,000 people (or 7.5% of the population) will lose coverage with a partial repeal. (Retrieved 1/28/2017 from ACA Repeal Impact, state-by-state.) This is because with a full repeal, premiums will not increase the way they would under a partial repeal, since insurance companies will be able to discriminate on the basis of preexisting conditions and won't be required to provide essential health benefits. Not covering preexisting conditions will disproportionately affect people with disabilities.
- The number of uninsured people in Wisconsin is predicted to be 306,000 by 2021 under the ACA. Without the ACA, that number is expected to rise to 627,000, a 104.7% increase. This is because Wisconsin changed its eligibility rules in 2014 so that all adults up to 100% of the federal poverty level were eligible for Medicaid. This change was made in response to the ACA, so it is reasonable to assume that the state would revert to its pre-ACA eligibility level after the repeal.
- Wisconsin is among the states that lost the ability to place lifetime limits on coverage, because that practice is banned by the ACA; those limits are likely to be reinstated under a full repeal.
- Prior to the ACA's ban on gender-rating, women in Wisconsin could pay up to 34% more for the same coverage, compared to men; an ACA repeal could bring back that coverage gap.
- Given that a repeal of the ACA would also change payment structures and subsidies, 46,000 jobs could be lost in Wisconsin. When federal funding is cut, it creates a ripple effect that affects local and state revenue, thus creating losses in economic activity and employment.
- Under the ACA Repeal-and-Delay strategy, young adults in Wisconsin could pay $730 more in 2018.
- 54 people were killed by the police in Wisconsin from 2013 to 2016, which is the 39th most per capita in the country.
- Black people were killed at a rate 4.4 times higher than the rate for all people in Wisconsin. 
- Wisconsin has passed AB409, which requires independent investigations of police use of deadly force..
- Wisconsin has 274,687 immigrants, and 4.8% of the population is foreign-born.
- There are an estimated 80,000 undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin, making up 1.3% of the population.
Rights of Non-Citizens
- Wisconsin does not allow undocumented immigrants to get drivers' licenses.
- Wisconsin does not allow undocumented immigrants to attend public college at the same in-state tuition rate as legal residents and citizens.
- In 2012, President Barack Obama signed an executive order (DACA) that defers deportation for children who were brought to the country as children. The action allows them to work lawfully but does not create a pathway to citizenship or give them legal status in the United States. In Wisconsin, 12,202 individuals have benefited from this executive action.
- Several bills have been introduced in Wisconsin to extend in-state tuition to undocumented immigrants, but none has passed.
- 3.2% of K-12 students in Wisconsin had undocumented parents in 2014.
- Undocumented immigrants in Wisconsin made up 1.9% of the labor workforce in 2014.
- If all undocumented workers were removed from Wisconsin, the state would lose $2.6 billion in economic activity.
- Undocumented immigrants paid $98.7 million in state and local taxes in Wisconsin in 2012. If they all had legal status, they would pay $131.3 million.
- Milwaukee County is the only county with Wisconsin with a sanctuary policy.
- In 2014, 1,132 refugees arrived in Wisconsin.
- In 2011, state lawmakers passed a restriction on individual voter registration and a law requiring photo ID to vote.
- In 2014, the legislature also reduced early voting hours on weekdays and eliminated them entirely on weekends. These cuts went into effect for the first time in 2014. They are currently on hold after a July 2016 trial court decision that found that the restrictions were intentionally [[Institutional Racism|racially discriminatory]. That decision also ruled that voters could obtain a free photo ID by showing up at a state DMV office. This is the subject of ongoing litigation.
- In 2014, Wisconsin had 33,555 incarcerated people, plus a probation population of 46,140 and parole population of 20,083.
- Wisconsin does not have any private prisons.
- Of the prison population, 1,185 people were serving life sentences, and 229 were serving life sentences without parole.
- In Wisconsin,a black person is 11.5 times more likely to be incarcerated than a white person.
- Corrections expenditures in 2014 were $1,278 million.
Benefits / Tax Cuts
- Wisconsin residents who face a tax increase under Trump’s plan:
- Households: 163,000
- Adults and children: 551,000
- Children: 344,000
- In 2015, an average of 406,754 households and 805,540 individuals received Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program benefits (SNAP, formerly called Food Stamps) in a given month in Wisconsin. In 2011, approximately 14% of the population of Wisconsin was receiving SNAP benefits. The average monthly benefit per Wisconsin household was $220 per household and $110 per person in 2016.
- In 2016, an average of 41,243 households, including 18,669 families and 32,903 children, received Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF), which is direct financial assistance, in a given month. The average monthly benefit for a single parent with three children residing in Wisconsin was $653 in 2014. Average benefits in Wisconsin have fallen in value by 17.2% since 1996.
- In 2016, an average of 22,117 women received funds from the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants, and Children (WIC) in a given month.
- In December 2015, there were 6,801 Social Security recipients in the "aged" category who received $339.50 per person on average, for a total of $2,309,000.
- 162,700 low-income families spent more than half of their income on housing.
- In 2014, Wisconsin had 26 units (less than the national level) of affordable and available housing for every 100 households categorized as “extremely low income” (at or below 30% of area median income.)
- In Wisconsin, there were 5,685 homeless people in 2016.
- Of the homeless population, there were 862 families, 415 veterans, 312 unaccompanied young adults (18-24), and 363 people experiencing chronic homelessness.
- Wisconsin received $384 million in federal rental assistance funding in 2014.
- In Wisconsin, more than 79,000 families relied on federal rental assistance in 2014.
- Nearly all Wisconsin households using federal rental assistance included children, elderly people or disabled people.
- Wisconsin does not have an infrastructure score from the American Society of Civil Engineers in 2015.
- Wisconsin has 188 high-hazard dams and $7.1 billion in drinking water infrastructure needs over the next 20 years.
- In 2013, the Department of Transportation found that 14% of Wisconsin's bridges were structurally deficient or functionally obsolete, and 71% of Wisconsin's roads were in poor or mediocre condition.
- Driving on these roads leads to an additional $281 per motorist per year in increased vehicle repairs and operating costs.
- According to Governor Scott Walker (R), expanding broadband access is a major infrastructure goal for Wisconsin.
Women's Rights/Reproductive Justice
- Wisconsin has 21 Planned Parenthood centers.
- In 2015, 13 centers were in rural, medically underserved, or health-provider shortage areas.
- On average, there is one Planned Parenthood for 51,762 women of reproductive age.
- There were seven abortion providers providers in Wisconsin in 2015.
- In 2014, 6 out of every 1,000 women of reproductive age in Wisconsin had an abortion. The national abortion rate is 14.6.
- There is a 24-hour waiting period required after mandatory counseling.
- Parental consent is required for minors.
- Ultrasound requirements exist.
- Medical abortion is limited.
- Private insurance coverage is limited
- State Medicaid does not fund most abortions.
- TRAP (Targeted Regulation of Abortion Providers) laws exist.
Women and Wages
- In Wisconsin, 12.2% of women live in poverty. Single mothers make up 36.7% of women living in poverty, while women age 65 and older make up 8.4%.
- For every dollar made by men, women are paid $0.78, which is two cents below the national average of $0.80.
- African American women are paid $0.61 for every dollar paid to white men, while Latina women make $0.53 for every dollar made by white men.
Domestic Violence in Wisconsin
- In 2012, 28,729 domestic violence incidents were referred to district attorneys. This statistic does not include unreported incidents, reported incidents that were not referred for prosecution, or dating abuse incidents.
- An arrest was made in 71% of reported domestic violence incidents. The most common charge made in these cases was disorderly conduct.
- In 2013, 55 people (including victims and perpetrators) died in domestic violence–related homicides.
- More than half of domestic violence homicides in Wisconsin are committed with a gun.
- In a single day in 2014, Wisconsin domestic violence programs provided services to 1,949 victims. On that same day, 367 requests for services went unmet due to lack of resources.
- An estimated 12.7% of Wisconsin women will be stalked in their lifetimes.
Religious freedom law
Wisconsin does not have religious freedom laws. Religious freedom laws protect people's right to practice their religion and limit laws imposing on that right, and were intended to protect religious minorities. However, after same-sex marriage was legalized, conservative states have attempted to enact similar laws with provisions that allow discrimination against LGBTQ+ individuals.
Wisconsin has laws protecting people from discrimination in employment, housing, public accommodations, and education, but these laws only extend to sexual orientation and do not cover not gender identity.
Wisconsin has laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in certain areas of parenting, including foster care, parental presumption for same-sex couples, and de facto parent recognition. The state lacks laws protecting LGBTQ+ people from discrimination in second-parent adoption and surrogacy.
Hate crime laws
Wisconsin includes sexual orientation, but not gender identity, in hate crime protections. Wisconsin does not require reporting of hate crimes.
Wisconsin does have a law for transgender inclusion in sports, but does not have certain other laws protecting LGBTQ+ youth, such as protection from conversion therapy, laws to address LGBTQ+ youth homelessness, LGBTQ+ inclusive sex education laws, and LGBTQ+ inclusive juvenile justice policies.
Health and safety laws
Wisconsin lacks certain laws protecting the health and safety of its LGBTQ+ citizens, including nondiscrimination protections in the ACA exchanges, a ban on insurance exclusions for trans health care, trans-inclusive health benefits for state employees, and gender-neutral single-occupancy restrooms. Wisconsin does have transgender exclusions in state Medicaid.
- Wisconsin is ranked 22nd in per-pupil spending as of 2013, with an average expenditure of $11,071 per student.
- As of 2013, Wisconsin ranked 21st in teacher pay, with teachers earning an average of $55,171 per year.
- 85% of students in Wisconsin attend public schools. As is the case in other states, students who attend private schools come from wealthier families, with private school families earning an average 25% higher income.
- As of 2014, public charter school enrollment accounted for 5.1% of total public school enrollment.
- Wisconsin's overall graduation rate is 89%, above the national average. By subgroups, four-year graduation rates in Wisconsin are as follows:
- White: 93%
- Latino: 78%
- Black: 66%
- Asian/Pacific Islander: 90%
- American Indian: 81%
- Economically Disadvantaged: 78%
- Limited English Proficient: 64%
- Students with Disabilities: 69%
Consumer Protections / Workers' Rights
- Wisconsin has no state minimum wage, so the minimum wage in the state is the same as the federal minimum wage of $7.25.
- Wisconsin has no state law for paid sick leave.
- Wisconsin has no state law for paid family leave.
- Wisconsin has Right-to-Work laws, which means that the state can prohibit unions that collectively bargain on behalf of both members and nonmembers from requiring union fees for the services they provide to all workers they represent. They are designed to reduce unions' income and power.
- Wisconsin is a state with an at-will exemption. "At-will" means that an employer can terminate an employee at any time for any reason, except an illegal one, or for no reason, without breaking the law. Likewise, an employee is free to leave a job at any time for any or no reason with no adverse legal consequences.
- Wisconsin also has a public policy exemption, meaning that an employer may not fire an employee if it would violate the state's public policy doctrine or a state or federal statute, including refusing to perform an act that state law prohibits (e.g., refusing an employer's request to commit perjury at a trial), reporting a violation of the law (e.g., reporting an employer's fraudulent accounting practices or use of child labor), engaging in acts that are in the public interest (e.g., joining the National Guard or performing jury duty) and exercising a statutory right (e.g., filing a claim under the state workers' compensation law).
- Wisconsin does allow for implied contract exemptions.. An implied contract can be created in several different ways: oral assurances by a supervisor; or handbooks, policies or practices as written assurances by the employer. This means that if there is no written contract between the employer and employee, that employee may have an exception of fixed term or even indefinite employment based on an employer's statements. As a general rule, courts disregard language promising long-term, lifetime or permanent employment as aspirational and consider the relationship to be at-will.
- Wisconsin does not support the Implied Covenant of Good Faith and Fair Dealing. Courts have interpreted the covenant in different ways, from requiring just cause for termination to prohibiting terminations made in bad faith or motivated by malice.
Climate / Environment
- About 70% of Wisconsin’s electricity generation is from fossil fuels.
- Wisconsin has 37 sites on the National Priorities List.
- Approximately 5.6% of Wisconsin’s land is federally owned.
- In 2014, the Black and Latino populations had the highest air pollution exposure indices—of 36—compared to an overall index of 24 and a White index of 22.
- In 2012, Black and mixed race adults in Wisconsin were most likely to have asthma—15.9 and 17.2%, respectively, compared to 9.1% overall and 8.7% of the White population.
- The environmental agency in Wisconsin is the Department of Natural Resources.
- In 2008, Wisconsin developed a “Strategy for Reducing Global Warming.”
- Wisconsin passed renewable energy portfolio standards in 2010, with the goal of 10% renewable energy by 2015.
- 12% of Wisconsin's residents are disabled, compared with the national average of 12.6%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1810]
- The employment rate among disabled adults in Wisconsin is 41.2%, compared to the national average of 34.9%. People without disabilities in Wisconsin have a 84.3% employment rate. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table R1811]
- Approximately 14.8% of eligible voters in Wisconsin have one or more disabilities, compared to a national average of 15.7%.
- Of adults with disabilities in Wisconsin, 23.0% live in poverty, as opposed to 7.7% of non-disabled adults. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B23024]
- In Wisconsin, 20.1% of adults between 18 and 64 with disabilities receive SSI (Supplemental Security Income), compared to the national average of 5.4%. [2015 US Census American Community Survey, Table B19056]
Organizations and Events
Find state/local chapters of national organizations here.
- One Wisconsin Now
- Our Wisconsin Revolution
- Wisconsin Progress
- We Are Wisconsin (has not been active lately)
Disability Rights Organizations
- ADA Wisconsin Partnership—2701 International Lane, Ste. 210, Madison, WI 53704. tel:608-246-3444, email: [email protected]
- Disability Rights Wisconsin—Offices in Madison, Milwaukee, and Rice Lake. tel:800-928-8778, email: [email protected]
- Family Resource and Support Center—101 Nob Hill Road, Suite 201, Madison, WI 53713. tel:608-237-7630
Environmental Justice Groups
Local News Sources
Newspapers (alphabetized by city or county):
- The Post-Crescent (Appleton)
- Green Bay Press Gazette
- Leader Telegram (Eau Claire)
- Kenosha News
- La Crosse Tribune
- Milwaukee Journal Sentinel
- Cap Times (Madison)
- Wisconsin State Journal (Madison)
- Portage County Gazette
- The Journal Times (Racine)
- Sheboygan Press
- Stevens Point City Times
- Stevens Point Journal
- Superior Telegram
- Gazette Xtra (Walworth county)
- Wausau Daily Herald
Public radio stations: