Steve Hanson's blog

The Wisconsin idea dies in the Assembly - watch it and weep

The Assembly is currently in the process of concurrence with the changes in the far-reaching bills the Senate recently passed. Democrats are currently trying to drag out discussion on the bill, while the Republicans are are attempting to cut off debate under Assembly rules. Democrats are attempting to question the outright lies brought out by the Republicans on campaign finance changes.

It's Official - Paul Ryan is speaker

Paul Ryan

I find myself in the really odd position of thinking that the GOP could have made a worse choice. This is what it has come to, when we are settling for the least of a number of evils. I think we can look forward to continued nonsense from the house under Ryan's leadership, and perhaps continuing threats of government shutdown because the Tea Party representatives are grumpy about trivialities. Nonetheless, it probably could have been worse.

Ryan was elected this morning with 236 of the required 218 votes. Let's hope for the best, but I'm not convinced.

Daily Newsletter -- it's back!

Those of you who are subscribed to our daily newsletter have probably noticed that it has been incredibly silent as of late. It's the joys of trying to produce a news source with no funding, I'm afraid.

Anyway, I finally found the time to do at least a rough workaround to make the newsletter ship out again, so as of Monday those of you on the mailing list should start getting the email every weekday at 7 AM.  If you're not subscribed and would like to, there's a handy signup form on the front page of the site on the right.

I am also working on some performance and caching improvements which you will probably start seeing over the next few weeks.

Last Week's disastrous bills

Dana Wachs and Katrina Shankland discuss the trifecta of horrors passed by the assembly last week.  Still more coming next week.  Halloween was never so frightening.

By the way - I highly recommend Dana's Wachs Talks series on Youtube. Great progressive discussion from a legislative hero (and great neighbor).

Wachs Talks Episode 23 - October 22, 2015

GAB Bill is still a mess - but it passes anyway

Update -

The bill passed 58-39. Three Republicans joined all the Democrats in voting against the bill - Todd Novak, of Dodgeville; Warren Petryk, of Eleva; and Travis Tranel, of Cuba City. -- Next up? Gutting Campaign Finance Laws.

As another example of the saying "haste makes waste" the GAB bill needed two amendments today to "clarify" the mess that the bill is. One of the amendments that passed this afternoon was to clarify how many people would be on the newly-created board. That's right, you can't tell from the bill. I will not even go INTO the concept that the board will need to beg the legislature for money if they want to do a prosecution against legislators. Setting up the current GAB required five years of bi-partisan discussion. This bill took two weeks. The bill is clearly not fully-baked and should be put back in the oven for a while.

We had thought that the period of rushing bills through the legislature while they are still ill-defined, voting in the middle of the night, and trying to slip legislation past the public had ended.

We were wrong.

Back to the Past!

Back To The Past!

Once again we see the state legislature being confused. As anyone who is in any way sentient will know, today is Back To The Future Day. In Madison the Gang That Couldn't Vote Straight seems to have misunderstood and thought it was Back To The Past Day. Rumor has it that a Delorean pulled up in front of the Capitol early this morning, and a young man who looked a lot like Michael J. Fox dropped off a pile of old legislation.

Remember the Good Old Days? Back before the GAB? Remember the Caucus Scandal? It's back! The Assembly is taking up a bill (AB377/SB294) to destroy the GAB and replace it with two entities, one to handle elections and the other to handle ethics. Just like things were before 2007. When everyone including all the Republicans voted to form the GAB. Apparently the Republicans have changed their minds because they got caught.

Clean Water MEA Press Conference in Menomonie

Jim  Swanson MEA Press Conference

Yesterday morning Midwestern Environmental Advocates and multiple plaintiffs across the state filed a lawsuit asking the federal EPA to closely monitor progress Wisconsin is making against violations of the Clean Water Act.

Press conferences were held around the state yesterday morning to announce the lawsuit. Video from the Menomonie press conference is below. I apologize for the occasional outbursts of happy children - they were in the next room at the library enjoying themeselves.

In many states the EPA has delegated enforcement of the Clean Water Act to state agencies. In Wisconsin the DNR is the delegated authorit, and has a Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elmination System (WPDES). The WPDES rules in Wisconsin have fallen short on enforcement for several reasons.

MEA press conference part 1

MEA Press Conference Part 2 Menomonie WI

ACLU loses court fight over voter ID's

Judge Lynn Adelman today ruled against the ACLU in the lawsuit they had brought to allow a wider range of ID's to be used for voting in Wisconsin.

The ACLU had wanted technical college IDs, out-of-state driver licenses and veterans photo IDs to be ruled as acceptable forms of ID for voting purposes. Judge Adelman refused this request on various grounds - stating that the out of state plaintiffs all had passports, there's been no firm ruling on whether tech school ID's are acceptable, and that the plaintiffs with military ID's had all obtained other forms of identification. In essence, he ruled that the particular plaintiffs in the suit did not have standing because they had other means of voting - this does not help the people who either have not figured out how to obtain ID or who cannot manage it for one reason or another.

You may remember that Judge Adelman had previously been the judge who, in the same US District Court, had ruled the Voter ID law unconstitutional last year. This of course has since been overturned.

It's going to be painful to watch the 2016 election if the list of acceptable ID's is small, the law will (almost certainly) be enforced, and the state Republicans have their way with doing away with the Government Accountability Board and replacing it with two new bodies in the short period of time before the election.

Court of Appeals rules EPA did not protect water from invasives

Update --- a few links at the bottom.

In a ruling that will probably have far-ranging effects, the 2nd District Court of Appeals has ruled that the EPA has failed to protect the nation's water from invasive species under the Clean Water Act.

According to Mark Smith, policy director of the National Wildlife Federation:

“This is a huge win for our environment, economy, fish, wildlife, communities, and businesses. The court, in no uncertain terms, has told the federal government that it needs to uphold its responsibility under the Clean Water Act to protect our drinking water, jobs, and way of life. This decision is welcome news for the millions of families, anglers, hunters, paddlers, beach-goers, and business owners, who have borne the brunt of damages from aquatic invasive species for far too long. We look forward to working with the U.S. EPA to put in place safeguards that adhere to the Clean Water Act and protect all of our nation’s waters that are essential for people, fish, and wildlife. It’s time to slam the door on this serious threat once and for all.”

We'll try to have more info for you as it becomes available.


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