“This ghastly voter suppression legislation saves no money, creates no jobs, expands no rights, fixes no problems and makes no sense. In the past, Wisconsin led the way in ensuring the fullest participation in democracy. Now, in a move that will reek through history as the baldest of political grabs, Wisconsin shamefully leads the way in abridging democratic freedoms.”—Mike Tate, Chair of the Democratic Party of Wisconsin, on the voter ID bill passed by Wisconsin Republican Senators in a 19-5 vote today.
Yesterday, Republican Ron Johnson voted against a bill that would repeal $2 billion per year in tax breaks for the five biggest oil companies, which isn’t surprising considering his funding sources. Does Mr. Johnson still own stock in BP? That was a campaign issue that I don’t recall ever being resolved one way or another.
Unlike Paul Ryan, Tommy Thompson has said he’ll run for Kohl’s senate seat. This is not exactly newsworthy, though, since he pullsthisstunta lot. He’s like the Brett Favre of politics (minus the creepy texts) in that he loves to play the “will he or won’t he?” game with the media.
Scott Walker Asserts That Wisconsin's Domestic Partnership Law is Unconstitutional
Scott Walker is seeking to stop hospital visitation rights for same-sex couples.
Gov. Scott Walker believes a new law that gives gay couples hospital visitation rights violates the state constitution and has asked a judge to allow the state to stop defending it.
Democrats who controlled the Legislature in 2009 changed the law so that same-sex couples could sign up for domestic partnership registries with county clerks to secure some - but not all - of the rights afforded married couples.
To hear Republicans tell it, the protests against Gov. Scott Walker’s budget proposals have been organized by “union thugs.” Professional troublemakers from big labor are pulling the strings to advance their self-serving agenda. In reality, many of the activists are ordinary citizens suddenly politicized by Walker’s approach. With no experience serving as leaders of a mass uprising, they’ve found creative ways to make themselves useful since the protests began in February.
Or: Reason #115 why somebody needs to be fact-checking Maureen Dowd’s columns.
Bob Dylan responded to allegations by Dowd and others that he censored his lyrics to comply with demands from the Chinese government. The last paragraph is especially hilarious. From Dylan’s website:
As far as censorship goes, the Chinese government had asked for the names of the songs that I would be playing. There’s no logical answer to that, so we sent them the set lists from the previous 3 months. If there were any songs, verses or lines censored, nobody ever told me about it and we played all the songs that we intended to play.
Everybody knows by now that there’s a gazillion books on me either out or coming out in the near future. So I’m encouraging anybody who’s ever met me, heard me or even seen me, to get in on the action and scribble their own book. You never know, somebody might have a great book in them.
Among the police reports from the capitol protests is this gem describing a drunken Republican staffer.
On Feb. 19 a state trooper responded to a report of an “intoxicated subject” and found a staffer for Rep. Joan Ballweg, R-Markesan, sitting on a bench. When approached, a deeply besotted Jonathan Pollitt informed the cops that he’d locked his “f—-ing keys” in Ballweg’s office and wanted help retrieving them, the report says.
Turns out, Pollitt had the keys, but he was trying to get into the wrong office.
The trooper opened Ballweg’s door with a key provided by Pollitt, but because Pollitt didn’t have any identification, the trooper didn’t let him in.
"You are so fired," Pollitt reportedly told the officer. The trooper agreed to take Pollitt to the Capitol Police office so he could be identified. At the office Pollitt continued to berate the officers. "You think you’re exempt from the Senate bill, but I’ll have you fired," he told officers, apparently referring to the fact that Walker’s proposal to strip public workers of collective bargaining rights didn’t apply to public safety employees.
Long story short, Pollitt was given a chance to walk away, he didn’t, and was eventually handcuffed and taken to detox.
“I’m proud to vote for a faculty union at UWGB. As we have seen this past year in Wisconsin, it is vital that working people join together and fight for our rights: our right to make decisions which affect the quality of education here in our state and our right to decent benefits. Working together, as a union, makes our voices stronger.”— Aeron Hayne, Associate Professor of English & Humanities at the University of Wisconsin - Green Bay. UWGB faculty voted 117 to 2 to unionize and affiliate with the American Federation of Teachers-Wisconsin. Turnout in the election was 71 percent.
“Even though I continue to love this job, I have decided that the time has come to give someone else the opportunity to serve. Therefore, I am announcing today that I will not seek another term as your Senator. Rather, I will devote all my energy and time in the next 19 months to continuing to serve the people of our state.”— Democratic Senator Herb Kohl, announcing his plans to retire. He is the sixth senator from the Democratic caucus to announce he won’t be seeking re-election.
Wisconsin’s voter ID bill moves to the Senate after being approved by the Assembly. linked above.
Widespread voter fraud remains unproven, as does the allegation that photo ID laws suppress turnout. One thing is clear: The bill could cost the state millions at a time when Republicans are also fighting to dramatically cut the budget.
On election night in November, after it was clear Republicans would take control of the Legislature, the soon-to-be Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, listed passage of photo ID as one of his top priorities.
Wisconsin’s bill, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, would cost more than $5.7 million to implement.
The [Wisconsin] Assembly has passed AB 23, which would, unless mandated by federal law, end a DNR requirement that municipal water systems be continuously disinfected. The bill passed 58-35.
Dems charged that the law meant the state was walking away from its commitment to provide clean drinking water to the public, listing a wide range of potential water-borne illnesses. “We put this new standard in place to protect Wisconsin citizens,” said Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine. “We’re now rolling back those standards to go down to the lowest common denominator.”
Republicans countered that the DNR requirements are an unnecessary burden on communities with already strong water standards. “Why don’t you want these communities to make their own choice on this?” asked [bill author] Rep. Severson.
Gov. Scott Walker and the Republican Legislature have moved quickly to weaken a string of environmental and energy programs as they contend with a budget deficit and make economic development their top priority.
The governor and GOP lawmakers have pushed more than a dozen initiatives that would reverse the course set by Democrats when they held power.
Among the changes:
• Trying to eliminate mandatory requirements for recycling and the subsidies to local government that went with it.
• Weakening the state’s commitment to wind power by making it more difficult for developers to meet siting requirements.
• Canceling a major state contract to burn homegrown biomass at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
• Delaying costly water pollution rules to control weed-producing phosphorus in waterways.
Today marks the 125th anniversary of the Bay View Massacre. After 5 days of protests demanding an eight-hour work day, thousands of striking workers from the Milwaukee area gathered at the Milwaukee Iron Company rolling mill. The National Guard, under orders from Republican Governor Rusk, shot into the crowd of demonstrators, killing seven unarmed people (including a child) and injuring countless others.
Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to privatize work determining who is eligible for food assistance in the state would violate federal law and could expose the state to a loss of more than $20 million in federal money, federal officials say.
Frustrated with the government, Dan Baltes interjected himself into the high-profile debate on illegal immigration in Arizona, including a petition to oust the Pima County sheriff. He initiated an effort to draft a Florida congressman to run for president. Last week he appeared on Fox News as the leader of an effort to recall Wisconsin legislators. Some of his fellow conservatives, though, say they’re catching on to something else: Baltes isn’t who he appears to be.
Yesterday I posted about Scott Walker being the featured speaker on education policy for a group I wasn’t familiar with, the American Federation for Children. I was in complete disbelief that anyone (well, besides Walker-advocate Michelle Rhee) would consider Walker some sort of expert on education. After all, this is a man who recently answered the question “why do you hate education” with the response: "Well, for us, the answer is that I love education."
The latest version of a bill requiring voters to show photo ID at the polls would make sweeping changes to Wisconsin elections - moving the September primary to August, tightening rules on absentee ballots and ending straight-ticket voting.
A hearing on the bill is slated for 10 a.m. Wednesday, and Republicans who run the Assembly will meet in private later in the day to discuss any changes to the measure.
Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said his caucus is largely behind the latest version by Rep. Jeff Stone (R-Greendale), but may want to tweak it. He said he hopes to pass the bill in May and forward it to the Senate.
Read the full story here. Wisconsinites, you can testify tomorrow at the hearing! Interestingly, the Department of Transportation and the Government Accountability Board have estimated that this reform would cost at least $4.8 million to implement.
The New York Times had a great editorial today on the Republican push for tightening voter ID requirements.
Scott Walker To Give Keynote Address on Education Policy. (Seriously)
Howard Fuller, Milwaukee’s best-known advocate for school choice, has been an outspoken opponent of Scott Walker’s proposal for sweeping education reforms. He recently wrote:
It was not easy for me to stand before the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee and threaten to withdraw my support from the Milwaukee Parental Choice Program, which I have supported for more than 20 years. But if lawmakers approve Gov. Scott Walker’s proposal to lift the income requirement that has maintained the program for children from low-income families, that is exactly what I will do.
And today, an article from Mother Jones covered Walker’s plan. Since Milwaukee students in the Parental Choice Program aren’t testing as well as students in public schools, Walker plans to stop testing the students in the Choice Program.
Governor Scott Walker Caught In Political Plagiarism
Rick Ungar’s latest post on Forbes is a must read. Scott Walker keeps taking credit for creating jobs, when in reality they were created by his predecessor, Governor Doyle; this time, he was caught red-handed.