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Not all is dire

Russ Feingold

It's easy these days to be discouraged as a progressive in Wisconsin. Sometimes it seems that between gerrymandering, the makeup of the state legislature, and the laws coming out of Madison, that there's no real hope for the future.

Last night I was reminded that in fact there really is a growing discontent and that we still have progressive champions wanting to make a difference.

Remember - Voter ID is now required in Wisconsin

Bringit Wisconsin

Just want to remind you that the upcoming February primary is the first election in Wisconsin requiring ID to vote. Please don't forget, you cannot vote in future elections without a valid voter ID. Confused about what the rules are? The state GAB has a site to explain Voter ID to you - at least as long as we continue to have a GAB. Of course, they have not been given enough money to actually promote the site to people, so let's help out a little.  You can go to http://bringitwisconsin.com (there are multiple other URL's that work as well) to get all the current information about Voter ID. Spread the word.

Environment and Heritage yielding to state business again

The conservative revolution in the Wisconsin government has had a lot of casualties - schools, jobs, happiness ---

But perhaps the longest-lasting and least reversible casualties have  been the environment and the state's heritage. Two bills that are currently roaring through the legislature are particularly troubling. Tom Tiffany, R-Hazelhurst, and Richard Gudex, R-Fond du Lac have introduced new legislation on fish farming in Wisconsin. As has been the trend, this is not a bill to ensure that fish farming be regulated to reduce its impact on the environment, but to turn fish farming into a free-for-all that will allow fish aquaculture in public waterways, lower requirements for flow-through on dams involved with aquaculture, and make aquaculture an "agricultural use" on the Lower Wisconsin Riverway - this will allow much-lessened restrictions on fish farming on land adjacent to the Wisconsin. Senate Bill 493 was introduced on Jan. 4 and a hearing was scheduled for it on Jan. 5 - making it nearly impossible for concerned citizens to follow along and get to the hearing. This has become a disturbing pattern. The companion Assembly Bill 640 has not yet been scheduled for a hearing, so perhaps that will be a place where citizens can register their concerns.

The Uppity Fund - It's Back!

Every election cycle about this time we set up a fund on ActBlue that makes it easy to make a one-click donation to progressive candidates. This is my own hand-picked selection of candidates for state elections, as well as president. You can donate and divide your donation among all those candidates by clicking on the thermometer on the front page. You can also divide your donation up however you want on the donation page.

It's going to be a tough and pivotal election. Despite what you might think from the press coverage, elections are not completely about money, but money is sure heavily involved, and until we can manage to take more of the money out of politics we're going to have to play the game to survive. 

Speed and Secrecy Kill Democracy

Kathleen Vinehout

Speed and Secrecy Kill Democracy

by

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

“How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just before the hearing on that bill.

“How can we have a thoughtful and intelligent discussion...we just got this stinking thing a few hours ago.”

The bill, SB 464 (which has an Assembly companion - AB 582) was complex. The bill’s author said he wanted to avoid “moving the goal post” on a development project. Among other things, the bill froze in place laws on an industrial development once a minor approval (like a driveway permit) was granted even if the project would not be completed for years.

The Towns Association called the legislation, “One of the most damaging bills to local control in recent memory.”

Indian Country TV Live Stream of Save the Mounds rally

As I am sure many of you are aware, the state legislature is in the process of fixing another of the state's protective laws to suit the needs of business by allowing companies to destroy Native American effigy mounds. Of course the explanation here is that this is only allowed if nobody can "prove" that there are human remains in the mound. This is ludicrous in that the age of these mounds makes it nearly impossible to prove that there are remains -  plus they are part of the states and the Native American heritage whether bodies are buried in them or not. At some point we need to start conserving our state and protecting it from the need to profit at any cost. There will be a rally at the capitol on Tuesday Jan 12 at noon. Indian Country TV will live stream the rally and you can watch it below or at their site at noon. In the meantime take a look at some of the other news and other coverage they provide on the player.

Watch live streaming video from indiancountrytv at livestream.com

This is what racism looks like!

Gannon

The sheets are off.  The Republicans are now saying in public what they have been saying to each other in private for years.  The racism in the party is so ingrained that they cannot see it themselves.  The fact is that this guy is not only serious, but also sarcastic about an unemployment situation that has caused poverty and crime.  Talgo had already located in the center of Milwaukee when Walker turned away $800,000,000 for the railroad expansion from Milwaukee to Madison which subsequently cause the train manufacturer to leave Milwaukee.

Whose Property Rights Are Most Important?

Kathleen Vinehout
 
Whose Property Rights Are Most Important?
By
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
 
“My neighbor likes to expand his lot,” Kelly told me. “First he put up a stone fence on our property and then he built a jungle gym for his kids on his other neighbor’s property.” The fence stayed but the jungle gym came down.
 
Laws and fences help make good neighbors.
 
Often these “laws” are ordinances passed by local communities. We decide collectively what works for our neighborhood, and what works in some areas will not work in other areas. You can’t have roosters in most cities. But in some cities, you can keep a few hens.

Katherine Cramer discusses her new book

I am looking forward to reading this book. Interview is from last week's Here and Now program on WPT.

Cramer is the director of University of Wisconsin's Morgridge Center for Public Service. Her new book, "The Politics of Resentment," connects Scott Walker's political rise to a rural resentment against the "liberal elite." This resentment, she says, represents how one's place-based identities influence his or her understanding of politics.

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Looking Forward to the Challenges of 2016

Kathleen Vinehout

Looking Forward to the Challenges of 2016

By

Senator Kathleen Vinehout

 

“I spent all day trying to get an ID for my mother,” Joe from Union Township told me. His mother, age 84, recently gave up her driver’s license because of a vision problem. She’d moved into an apartment in Eau Claire.

 

By changing her address and surrendering her drivers’ license, Joe’s mom was without the necessary current “government ID” she needed to legally vote in 2016.

 

Happy New Year! And welcome to Wisconsin, a state that now has some of the strictest voter identification laws in the nation.

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