Some Good Things Got Done

Early Friday morning the Legislature ended its 99th Session. Although work continues in the Capitol, the flurry of action on the nearly 2000 bills is over.

Hundreds of people called or wrote me sharing their opinions on legislation. Over the next few weeks I will be writing back and sharing the details of what happened and what did not.

People often write to support passage of a specific bill. In the past weeks, more people wrote about bills they did NOT want passed.  One of those bills would have made changes to Wisconsin’s voter registration and elections laws.  That bill never made it to the Senate.

People concerned about access to broadband services in rural Wisconsin helped stall a final vote on a telephone company deregulation bill.

Last minute efforts to pass the Clean Energy Jobs Act also failed. Questions were raised about rate hikes, nuclear power and the bill’s effect on electric cooperatives.

Why Rasmussen polls tilt Republican

Those Rasmussen Wisconsin polls just keep on coming, so often that it's hard to believe Rasmussen does it out of the goodness of their heart.

Some Democrats are tempted to tout the latest from Rasmussen, only because it looks better for Dems than Rassmussen's previous polls. It shows Feingold ahead in the Senate race and Barrett tied in the governor's race.

We've been saying for years there's something suspect about the Rasmussen numbers, which always seem to have the Republicans doing better than you'd expect.  Like that famous tower, they lean a little to the right.

Gwen Moore's opponent; ideas she's got!

It would appear that Congresswoman Gwen Moore has a Republican woman, Jennifer London, running for her 4th District seat this fall.

I know that because of a "press release" attached to our doorknob yesterday with a rubber band.  Most campaigns I've worked in have sent press releases to the press; taking it door to door is a new technique.  Shows how outdated my ideas are.

London is a self-described conservative who sounds like a teabagger, and who doesn't make it easy to figure out that she is a Republican.

Anyway, London does have a website, which says she's an accountant who lives in Bay View and knows how to balance a checkbook.

And she shares a few ideas about how to fix this great country of ours:

-- "The path that health care is taking is leading America directly towards socialism," she says. Her idea: Universal Private Insurance, she calls it.

Pres Obama, Rep. Baldwin Need Your Help Against Israeli Militarism

On January 21, 2010 Rep. Tammy Baldwin (D-Madison) signed a letter with the signatures of 54 members of Congress delivered to President Obama calling for a halt to the Israeli blockade of Gaza, describing the siege as an 'ongoing crisis' that would lead to 'disastrous' political and humanitarian consequences.

The stakes are rising, but you will not read about the current behind-the-scenes moves in the corporate press. From Jeff Gates:

Our President Needs Our Support

by Jeff Gates at Veterans Today

Forget your opinion of Barack Obama. Love him or loathe him, the reality remains unchanged: we have but one president at a time. And but one commander-in-chief.

U.S. national security is endangered perhaps now more than at any time in history. Both he and our military leaders took an oath to defend this nation from all enemies, both foreign and domestic.

Recent events suggest that, in cooperation with senior military officers, President Obama is battling a cunning and committed adversary. To prevail, he needs public support.

Brett Davis's noxious emissions polluting the air

Brett Davis, a Repub state leggie and would-be light gov, is outraged that the state of Wisconsin would buy a plane ticket for a guy who's an expert on auto emissions, to have him talk to the state's global warming task force.

Davis has made all kinds of hay with it, stirring up the Republican radio talkers in Madison and Milwaukee, and generally carrying on about how this "environmental extremist" came here to make a presentation on the state's dime.

As Jim Rowen points out, the person in question is actually a California state employee who has been working on air pollution control issues, including auto emissions, since 1974.

Some members of the task force wanted him to come because General Motors was planning a dog and pony show for the task force on the emissions issue, and they thought a little balance might be nice.

General Motors, of course, didn't ask for plane fare, having plenty of money left after a $60-billion taxpayer bailout.

Davis is concerned, however, about the $400 plane ticket for the California expert, paid for by the taxpayers.

Huh?

A belated happy Lenin's birthday

Just when you think it's safe to go out of the house, like maybe to celebrate Earth Day, you discover the loonies are still lying in wait.

This one's a classic, by someone named David Ziemer writing online in the Wisconsin Law Journal. He has discovered -- aha! -- that Earth Day is Vladimir Lenin's birthday, and, well, you know the rest:

It's appropriate that the two are celebrated on the same day, because there is no relevant difference between the socialist and environmentalist agendas in this country.

The John Birch Society peddled this ridiculous claim about Lenin's birthday in 1970 -- the first  Earth Day fell on the 100th anniversary of Lenin's birth.  Earth Day Founder Gaylord Nelson patiently explained that with 3.7-billion people in the world at the time, every day was the birthday of some 10-million people, some good and some bad, some alive and some dead.  April 22 was also the birthday of St. Francis of Assisi, who some consider the first environmentalist, as well as being the birthday of Queen Isabella of Spain and -- most importantly, Nelson said -- "my Aunt Tillie."

Amazing that this still circulates 40 years later -- and in a law journal  at  that.

No new nukes in Wisconsin as Clean Energy Jobs Act fails

Mostly, they did it for all the wrong reasons, but Wisconsin legislators have refused to pass a Clean Energy Jobs Act that would have greatly relaxed the rules on new nuclear reactors in the state. 

This from the website of the Wisconsin Network for Peace and Justice, part of a Carbon Free Nuclear Free coalition that fought to take the nuclear section out of the bill, or at least modify it to offer stronger protections against terrorist threats, nuclear waste and excessive costs.

On this fortieth anniversary of Earth Day, we have something to celebrate -- Wisconsin's safeguards on new nuclear reactors remain intact!

The state Senate adjourned for the session without voting on the Clean Energy Jobs Act (Senate Bill 450 / Assembly Bill 649). That means the bill is dead.

This is a bittersweet victory. We would have preferred that the state legislature pass a climate bill strong on renewables and energy efficiency that didn't undermine our nuclear safeguards.

Unfortunately, that wasn't what was under consideration.

Happy Earth Day, Gaylord

 

Gaylord Nelson photo by Fritz Albert

This resolution, sponsored by Gaylord Nelson's longtime friend Rep. David Obey, was adopted by both houses of Congress.

Whereas Gaylord Nelson , former United States Senator from Wisconsin, is recognized as one of the leading environmentalists of the 20th Century who helped launch an international era of environmental awareness and activism;

On Earth Day, what of "Clean Energy Jobs Act"?

UPDATE: No new nukes in Wisconsin; bill fails.

What's in a name?

The Bush administration was famous for giving Orwellian names to its legislation.

His Clear Skies Initiative, for example, actually weakened the Clean Air Act and other air pollution regulations, and did nothing to deal with carbon dioxide emissions.

Which brings us to Wisconsin's cleverly-named Clean Energy Jobs Act, a piece of legislation still dangling in uncertainty on the final day of the legislative session -- which just happens to be Earth Day.

The bill (let's call it CEJA for short) has been three years in the making, and is the product of a global warming task force appointed by the governor in April 2007. A long list of recommendations from that task force were eventually shaped into a comprehensive bill, and someone, somewhere along the way, quit calling it the climate change bill and started calling it the Clean Energy Jobs Act.

They say a camel is a horse designed by a committee, and this bill certainly has some humps. They're called compromises, or trade-offs. And one of them, which opens the door to more nuclear reactors in Wisconsin, is a whopper.

On Making Mining Safer, Part Two, Or, "Can We Appeal Safety To Death?"

It was about a week ago that we last got together to talk about safety in coal mines, and we have some new developments in the story that deserve a bit more of your attention.

As we discussed last time, there are a huge number of hazards inherent in the operations of underground coal mines, and there are a series of “mitigators” that can be applied to reduce those hazards.

Ironically, the biggest hazard these miners face today might not be underground at all.

In today’s story we’ll consider the possibility that the most dangerous location in the mining industry might actually be at the Federal Mine Safety and Health Review Commission, where an enormous backlog in enforcement actions is keeping dangerous mines open that might otherwise be closed.

It’s a “bad news, good news” story—but it really does have a potential happy ending, and with a bit of pressure, we can actually make life a whole lot better for miners, and their families, all across the country.

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