Over the past few weeks, the new Wisconsin state senate has been back in their home districts for the first congressional recess.
Normally, these off months for politicians have been a time for them to meet with their constituents and learn about what issues to bring back to the capital.
With healthcare and immigration on the line, people have stepped up their presence in these town halls and listening sessions.
Organizations such as Indivisible and activists like Michael Moore have been working to rile up disenfranchised people and use their frustration to let the elected officials know how they feel.
Senate majority leader Mitch McConnell faced ridicule from his home state of Kentucky. During a town hall event in Lawrenceburg, a woman asked McConnell about how he would help the people affected by the loss of health care they will experience with the repeal of Obamacare.
“And the last I heard, these coal jobs are not coming back and now these people don’t have the insurance they need because they’re poor. And they worked those coal mines and they’re sick. The veterans are sick, the veterans are broken down, they’re not getting what they need. If you can answer any of that I’ll sit down and shut up like Elizabeth Warren,” she said.
There was enough rattle from around the country that President Trump sent out a tweet amid all the protests.
“The so-called angry crowds in home districts of some Republicans are actually, in numerous cases, planned out by liberal activists. Sad!” Trump said.
“Liberal activists,” though, are still citizens of the country and legal voters.
State Senator Patrick Testin, whose district contains the University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point, hosted a listening session on Friday Mar. 10 on campus.
Testin was not excluded from the angered crowds of constituents flooding in.
To the surprise of the Student Government Association, who put the event together, there was a massive turnout of roughly 150 people.
With Governor Walker’s proposed budget that came out last month including the ability to opt-out of segregated fees, various groups that would be hurt if it passed came out in droves to let their opposition be heard by Testin.
Dr. Jason Siewert, campus psychologist, cares about mental health for college students and is concerned about the jeopardy of the counseling center if the executive clause about the segregated fees passes.
“Are you prepared to vote for a budget that includes the segregated fees, we have talked a lot about ‘we’ll consider this, we’ll move on this, we’ll discuss this’ I just want you to answer that question. Will you support a bill or a budget that includes the segregated fees?” Siewert asked Testin.
Testin replied, “As much as I’d love to give you a straight answer on this, I just can’t because we are going through the budget process right now.”
Max Zeitler, sophomore broadfield social science major, runs cross country and track. He, and several other student athletes who held a large presence at the event, were worried about a big part of their lives at school.
“All of my family have always been Republicans mostly, but when I heard about the segregated fees it just seemed like a slap in the face,” Zeitler said.
“A lot of us student athletes come here, not because we couldn’t compete at a D2 or D1 level, but because it was close to home. Now a lot of us are unhappy about this. What are you going to say to the governor specifically to show him our unrest about seg fees?” Zeitler asked Testin.
The silver lining to unpopular legislation is that it will consequently push more people to engage in the political process.
SGA hopes to host more town halls and listening sessions in the future.