Governor-Elect Evers Calls on Citizens to Contact Representatives, Wisconsin GOP Leaders Continue to Defend Lame-Duck Legislation

Today, five bills proposed by Wisconsin GOP legislators face a public hearing and vote by the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance (JCF) [1]. The hearing is in-session at the time of this publication. Should the JCF approve the proposed legislation (AB 1069-73), the bills will move to a special session vote by the Wisconsin State Assembly and Senate, which will likely take place this Tuesday [2].

The bills cover a range of topics including:

  • Moving the Wisconsin primary from April to March [3].
  • Giving lawmakers the power to appoint a special counsel to replace Attorney General Josh Kaul on litigation determined by a legislative panel [3].
  • Shifting the responsibility of setting new income tax rates from the executive branch to the legislature—in cases which are subject to determination by the legislature [4].

A general theme in the five proposed pieces of legislation, according to Wisconsin Democrats and Republicans alike, is changing or removing the powers of Governor-elect Tony Evers and Attorney General–elect Josh Kaul [5]. Governor-elect Tony Evers spoke up this week to decry the GOP-proposed limits to his administration. Among other measures, he called on Wisconsin’s citizenry to aid his effort by contacting their local legislators to voice their opposition to the special session bills [6,7]. The Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, a non-profit network of Wisconsin citizens, is likewise urging Wisconsinites to “contact [their] legislators at 1-800-362-9472” and ask that lawmakers vote no on all five bills [8]. The Wisconsin Public Education Network and League of Conservation Voters published similar calls to action on their social media pages.

Many republican lawmakers continue to defend their proposed legislation, arguing that the changes will limit the Governor, but only in an attempt to balance power at the Capitol [9]. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, of Juneau, remarked last week that the bills in question are in no way meant to undermine the Governor-elect [10]. Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released a joint statement, saying “”Wisconsin law, written by the Legislature and signed into law by a governor, should not be erased by the potential political maneuvering of the executive branch. In order to find common ground, everyone must be at the table” [11].

[1] https://docs.legis.wisconsin.gov/raw/cid/1474917

[2] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[3] https://madison.com/wsj/news/local/govt-and-politics/gop-lawmakers-seek-sweeping-new-restrictions-on-incoming-democratic-attorney/article_97fcae5b-ce51-5bef-8871-dd0d6fa9c327.html

[4] https://intellegereproject.org/2018/12/03/2017-18-wisconsin-lame-duck-ab-1069/

[5] https://www.nytimes.com/aponline/2018/12/03/us/ap-us-xgr-wisconsin-legislature-lame-duck-the-latest.html

[6] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/elections/2018/12/03/5-senators-spotlight-opponents-try-stop-lame-duck-bill/2189439002/

[7] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/12/02/tony-evers-says-he-take-any-steps-possible-prevent-gop-plan-take-away-his-power/2181201002/

[8] https://www.wisdc.org/news/commentary/6260-gop-lame-duck-session-subverts-the-will-of-the-people?fbclid=IwAR3h0Xrd648a8waik6C6o2OjqQC_9to5rkSnjrs9ksG96KBZJ-61znLyqiw

[9] https://www.wpr.org/democrats-push-back-possible-gop-limits-evers-power

[10] https://www.wpr.org/node/1357081

[11] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/11/30/lawmakers-consider-changes-early-voting-transportation-funding-2020-presidential-primary/2162684002/

 

Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel’s Anti-LGBTQ+ Agenda

On November 6th, 2018, Wisconsin will hold its Attorney General election for the next four-year term. The two candidates on the ballot are Democrat challenger Josh Kaul and the incumbent Wisconsin Attorney General running for his second term, Republican Brad Schimel [1].

During his first term, Schimel worked on an agenda of ending elderly abuse, sex trafficking, and drug abuse under a banner of keeping Wisconsin families safe [2]. However, how Schimel qualifies “family” under his jurisdiction may be up for debate considering his increasingly anti-LGBTQ+ agenda.

  • According to the Wisconsin Gazette, Schimel attended a conference last year hosted by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group classified as a hate group by the Southern Poverty Law Center for their extremist Anti-LGBT ideology [3][4].

  • From the same Wisconsin Gazette article, Schimel intended to keep his attendance to the conference from the public, citing in an email to one of his aides “…I do not plan to have any portion of it become public information,” therefore violating the state’s open records law. Schimel was reportedly paid over $4,000 for attending and speaking at the conference.

  • Schimel led Wisconsin to join a lawsuit against the Obama administration after the U.S. Department of Justice and U.S. Department of Education issued a joint letter ordering schools to allow transgender students to choose the bathroom consistent with their gender identities. The 11-state lawsuit sought to limit this right for transgender individuals in schools [5].

Schimel recieved a lot of backlash from the left in response to his Anti-LGBT views and how he has been presenting himself in allegiance with hate groups. With the population of people identifying as LGBTQ+ steadily increasing in the United States [6], it’s time for Wisconsin to align itself with a progressive message and reevaluate who we have speaking for our state.

[1] https://ballotpedia.org/Wisconsin_Attorney_General_election,_2018

[2] https://www.wisconsinvote.org/candidates/brad-schimel

[3] https://www.wisconsingazette.com/news/political/brad-schimel-illegally-followed-hate-group-s-instructions-to-keep/article_674e13b8-69a8-11e8-a484-3f9557eb2e5e.html

[4] https://www.splcenter.org/fighting-hate/extremist-files/group/alliance-defending-freedom

[5] https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2016/05/25/wisconsin-joins-suit-over-obama-transgender-bathroom-rules/85033006/

[6] https://news.gallup.com/poll/201731/lgbt-identification-rises.aspx

861 Lead Water Pipes Remain in Green Bay. Other WI Cities Still In Crisis

In 2011 the Green Bay Water Utility (GBWU) found that the lead levels in some homes exceed the allowable limits set by the EPA [1]. It was determined that the source of the lead was service lines installed prior to 1944 as well as lead solder used until 1984 [1, 2].

  • GBWU has been working to replace lines. As of May 2018, 861 known lead service lines remain in Green Bay. [3]
  • Homeowners are responsible for the costs of replacing the portion of the service line extending from the “curb stop” into the home. This replacement, on average, costs $4800.00 [4].
  • Wisconsin DNR established a two year program which provides funding to municipalities in order to offset the costs to homeowners of replacing lead service lines. Green Bay received $500,000 in FY 17 and $300,000 in FY 18 as a part of this program [5].
  • In addition the city has spent $300,000 in Stadium Tax money to address the issue [6].

While several cities, Green Bay and Madison, have been successful in their efforts to locate and replace lead water pipes many others in our state have not. For example, Milwaukee reports that 11.6% of children have lead poisoning (national average is 3%) [7].  “The simplest answer,” according a WisContext investigation, “is that federal, state and local officials aren’t coming up with enough money to remove and replace old lead service lines.” [8] It’s rare when a public health issue can be so clearly defined and the solution be so apparent, why then are law makers unable to address it?

[1] http://gbwater.org/water-quality/general-lead-information/

[2] https://www.epa.gov/sites/production/files/2017-08/documents/epa_lead_in_drinking_water_final_8.21.17.pdf

[3] http://gbwater.org/water-quality/who-is-affected-by-lead-service-lines/

[4] https://www.greenbaypressgazette.com/story/news/2017/05/12/city-continues-push-remove-lead-water-pipes/101518144/

[5] https://dnr.wi.gov/Aid/documents/EIF/privateLSLreplacementFundingProgram.html

[6] https://fox11online.com/news/local/green-bay/27-applications-turned-in-for-green-bays-excess-stadium-tax-money

[7] https://www.cbsnews.com/news/milwaukee-parents-concerned-lead-levels-after-troubling-report/

[8] https://www.wiscontext.org/milwaukees-long-festering-lead-problem-becomes-politically-toxic