Don’t Kill the Referees

Kathleen Vinehout
Don’t Kill the Referees
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“Just do the right thing,” my doctor told me. We were discussing politics. We just finished reviewing the x-rays of my new hip replacement. My doctor wanted to offer a little advice to my colleagues in the Senate.
“People want you to think of them,” he said. “They don’t want you to make decisions on what’s best for the party – whoever’s in power. They want you to make the best decision for the people.
“The problem,” I told him, “is that the interest groups are pulling the parties further and further apart. They don’t want to compromise. It’s very hard for the leaders of both parties to say ‘No’ to their favorite interest group.”

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

Rep. Lisa Subeck: Statement on State Assembly Passage of AB 387

This just in from Lisa Subeck - AB387 just passed the assembly - 387 is the bill to remove most constraints in the campaign finance law in the state. The bill passed unanimously - all Dem legislators recused themselves from the vote.

DATE: October 21, 2015
CONTACT: Zach Madden, 608-266-7521(office) 920-627-5773 (cell)
Rep. Lisa Subeck: Statement on State Assembly Passage of AB 387
Assembly Republicans Usher In New Era of Corruption
MADISON –Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison) released the following statement in response to Assembly passage of AB 387, which radically rewrites our campaign finance laws.
“Republicans are opening the door to more corruption and pay to-play politics. This bill will give corporations and billionaires more power in our elections and in our State Capitol and reduces transparency and the public’s right to know who is spending big money to influence elections and the decisions our elected officials make.
AB 387 has been rammed through by Republicans with just 2 weeks between introduction and today’s vote on the bill. The bill is so egregious, and has such a corrupting impact on our state government, that I found it necessary to join my Democratic colleagues and recuse myself from the final vote on the bill. It is fundamentally unethical for any elected official to vote on a bill that has such a substantial financial interest on her or his next reelection in a current campaign cycle.
In less than 48 hours, Republicans have exempted politicians from John Doe criminal investigations, dismantled the non-partisan Government Accountability Board and now they have overhauled our campaign finance laws. AB 387 is the last nail in the coffin for clean, open, transparent, and accountable government in Wisconsin.”  

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

WDC - Urgent: Open Gov’t in Wis Needs You Now!


Dear Friend,

          I was just at a press conference in the Capitol, and Representative Gary Hebl of Sun Prairie expressed a fear a lot of us have: “This will be the week that good government died in Wisconsin.”

          But you and I still have a chance to prevent this catastrophe.

          There are three disastrous bills that Speaker Vos is railroading through the Assembly this week:

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.

Vos Bill opens the door on “dark money” in campaigns

Kathleen Vinehout
Vos Bill opens the door on “dark money” in campaigns
Senator Kathleen Vinehout
“This bill strengthens democracy because it allows more citizens to participate,” Assembly Speaker Robin Vos told the Wisconsin State Journal. Vos is the lead author of a bill to overhaul the state’s campaign finance law.
Wisconsin was an early leader in campaign finance reforms of 1911 that limited money in campaigns and provided “rigorous penalties” including disqualifying candidates and sending them to prison. Ironically, the effort over 100 years ago was led by legislative Republicans.


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