Steve Hanson's blog

Bad Ideas Never Die in Wisconsin

Return of the Bad Men

Just when we thought that perhaps the Gogebic Taconite mine was dead and buried, we find out that there is some chance it will return in a slightly different form.   This is bad news because even though rumor has it that the possible new mine operator has run iron mines before (which at least is an improvement) the fact of the matter is that we're talking about a mine in the same area, with the same political and environmental liabilities. There's clearly no way that this area can be mined in an environmentally responsible way, even when the state legislature has redefined "responsible" through legislation.

Let's hope that this bad idea shall pass as quickly and thoroughly as the last mine proposal.

Announcement by twitter?????

Scott Walker is in Twitter

So -- it's not at all clear how this happened, but Scott Walker apparently accidentally announced his candidacy a few days early on Twitter.  According to Politico his team ain't answering questions about it. Just so you know, I'm not voting for him or joining his team.  Maybe they just cannot break the habit of announcing everything late on Friday so's you won't notice.

Dumpster fire budget passes somewhat intact - 11 Republicans just say "no"

Its been fun, I think

SO that happened. The budget got passed. Although in some ways it's a little less egregious than what the governor initally proposed, it's still a "crap budget" as described by at least one Republican legislator. If you want to see a quck rundown of what is going to affect your life in the budget, there's a story at the Star Tribune (and why I keep ending up reading the Minnesota papers to get Wisconsin news is another question). 

Let's just say that a lot of bad policy got passed. And I mean bad policy more than bad budget items. This budget holds what is perhaps a record-breaking amount of state policy.  What ever happened to laws?  You remember laws, don't you?  Those things that the legislators are supposed to pass?  It's become so much easier in the world where Republicans control everything to just put all the goodies into the budget and then kick back to enjoy the next year and a half till the next legislative budget-making session occurs. 

In case you missed it - State Capitol evacuated - All Clear now

Update -- the evacuation of the Capitol just ended as the all-clear has been given and legislators are heading back to the building.

The state capitol was evacuated this afternoon due to a "credible bomb threat".  Many legislators were seen crossing the various streets around the capitol to partake of bipartisan drinking in the meantime.  Latest word on social media seems to be that dogs may be brought in to sniff the building, that the square has been more or less closed for the time being, and that it's likely that the budget debate in the Assembly will have to be moved forward to tomorrow.

This afternoon's Concert on the Square is currently "on hold" due to the threat.

Where did all the comments go?- They're BAAAACCCKKKK!

Well, that was interesting.  You could only not comment on the articles for the last few weeks.  After a little back-and-forth wiht the module developer I now see what the problem is, and it LOOKS like its fixed.  So - feel free to comment away.

You may be asking yourself this question.  I in fact have been asking myself the same question for the last couple of hours. It's not a conspiracy, it's not because we don't want your comments. Simply enough it's because we upgraded the commenting module on the site, and it turns out that it's pretty horribly broken. I'm trying to convince the comments to come back (they still all exist at the Disqus server, I just cannot get them to display properly).  I'm hoping to have this resolved later today.

Motion 999 - Living Wage? Minimum Wage? Either way we're screwin' you - Part 2

Let's continue our trip through Motion 999. Apparently people are making too dang much money to satisfy the JFC, so they have amazingly managed to lower wages by simply substituting the term "minimum wage" for the term "living wage" in all Departmernt of Workforce Development definitions.  We're talking $7.25 per hour if you're lucky and not under 20 and starting a job, or falling into any number of categories who don't necessarily deserve that much. The notion that we can continue to insist on such a small minimum wage when many people are minimum wage employees and trying to support families simply needs to stop. This administration and legislature clearly think making under $15,000 per year is plenty for anybody to live on. This is an easy argment to make when you've never had to live on that much money.

This continual push to punish the poor and make their lot worse needs to stop. But we're just starting - things get worse. More in Part 3. Oh- and if you want to watch the government grinding out more of this sausage, they're currently streaming live at

The Jiggery-Pokery

The Hokey Pokey

Inspired by the colorful language of Justice Scalia and the shenanigans of our Republican legislators during the recent JFC fiasco, I would like to offer the following small contribution to the American Songbook.  It's been truly astounding to watch our Governor finally admit to "putting his right foot in" and to hear Kooyenga apologize for - well you know, not understanding the legislation he votes for. Apparently for this legislature "that's what it's all about".

To the tune of "The Hokey-Pokey".

You put the motion in
You take the motion out
You put the motion in
And your constituents shout

Stop doing the Jiggery-Pokery
Don't be a Republican lout
Or else we'll throw you out!

Motion 999 - the devil made me do it - Part 1

Devil in a suit

For those of you who did not take time out from your July 4 holiday weekend to read budget documents (and yes, I AM that much of a nerd, thank you) I wanted to point out that the much-ballyhooed issue with the Leg devastating open records in the state was only part of the last minute Motion 999 surprise. Over the next week or so I'll be bringing up some of the other actions that the Legislature has been taking to make life in Wisconsin less sustainable. But there's way too much to fit in one article, so I'll be dragging this out. 

First off, let's mention that the crazed recanting of the transparency provisions in the motion is a sham. Despite Walker and the other responsible parties saying "nope, didn't mean what you thought, we're all for transparency, nothing to see here", any reasonable reading of the motion makes it clear that what was intended was to gut the transparency laws for the legislature.  Either the English language is a mystery to the authors of this bill, or what we're really seeing here is another example of the Walker camp trying to slip something in, getting caught, and then trying to explain it away by telling us all that we cannot read. I will accept the fact that this is a group of people who have a limited grasp of our language, but still, it's pretty clear it's a matter of getting their hand caught in the cookie jar and acting like a 3-year-old.  "Cookies?  Jar?  Not me mommy.  I was putting cookies IN". 

Wis. Republicans - what you don't know will let us hurt you

Freedom of Information

At the end of every budgetary session the JFC usually passes a sort of grab bag of "stuff" that they want to throw into the bill at the last minute. This year is no exception, as they tossed in a pile of wishes and hopes. Worry about those wishes and hopes, particularly with the current legislature. 

Some things in the final motion are not unexpected, like removing the "anybody graduating from the school of hard knocks can be a teacher" provisions - for which the JFC was skewered widely. But some new stuff slipped in out of the blue, as seems to be happening with regularity during this legislative session. Particularly disturbing is a collection of measures intended to remove a lot of documents from public disclosure, including blocking access to almost all communications during the work of making laws. As always,  none of the legislators seem to have any idea where the proposal came from - it apparently just got there on its own.

These documents have been crucial to understanding what is going on in the legislature, and restricting access to them could make it very difficult to prove wrongdoing or illegal acts. Additionally all drafting documents for bills would no longer be retained by the Legislative Reference Bureau. Perhaps this is an attempt to stave off any future John-Doe-Like investigations, or just to save embarrassment. In any case, it's a terrible step in the wrong direction. If we have learned anything in the last few years it's that the public deserves to know more about what is going on in government, not less. 

The text of the motion is attached.


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