Wisconsin Protests, Monday, May 23 - Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Ed Show: Walker's anti-labor bill faces setback


Mary Bottari reports:

On May 26, Wisconsin Judge Maryann Sumi ruled Governor Scott Walker's "budget repair bill," which would eviscerate collective bargaining rights for most public workers in the state, "null and void."

Sumi ruled that lawmakers clearly violated the state's open meetings law in their rush to pass the bill at the height of the capitol protests, and that the public interest in the enforcement of the state's open records law outweighed the public interest in sustaining legislative action.

A Dramatic Day in March

Back in March, the Walker "budget repair bill" was stuck in limbo because 14 Democratic senators left the state to prevent action on the bill. For fiscal bills, a supermajority is needed for final passage. On March 9, Republican lawmakers -- led by Scott Fitzgerald in the Senate and Jeff Fitzgerald in the Assembly -- pulled a fast one. They stripped the bill of fiscal items and hastily convened a Joint Conference Committee to vote on the legislation. Rather than meeting in a standard committee room, the conference committee jammed into the tiny, ornate Senate Parlor with a dozen or so members of the media and a few members of the public.

Because less than two hours notice was given, the "Wisconsin 14" were still out of state and could not make it back in time. Facebook and Twitter ensured that thousands rushed to the capitol building, but they could not get in due to the restrictive door access implemented by the Republicans.

The only Democrat assigned to the committee who could attend was Representative Peter Barca (D-Kenosha), who famously stood in the tense Senate Parlor calmly reading a legal memo from the current Republican Attorney General advising legislators to grant 24 hours notice before important meetings.

In the dramatic footage that was played on national television, Barca repeats over and over, "This meeting is in violation of the open meetings law," while in the background you can clearly hear the chants of "shame, shame, shame" from the crowds gathering under the Senate Parlor window. While many were livid, some were quietly in tears in complete disbelief that they were locked out of the building during a vote that would affect the lives and livelihoods of 300,000 workers across the state. It was the single most dramatic day of the Wisconsin protests.

A Legislator Vindicated

Today, Barca was proved right.

Read more here.


Wisconsin State Journal: Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law

A judge has struck down Gov. Scott Walker's controversial new collective bargaining law. Dane County Judge MaryAnn Sumi issued a permanent injunction against the law Thursday morning. This means the law is effectively dead until the Wisconsin Supreme Court acts on the law. Sumi's decision said there was "clear and convincing evidence" that Republicans who control the Legislature violated the state's open meetings laws. And she said that means the law is void. The law would take away all collective bargaining rights from most public employees except for negotiating over salary. Firefighters and most police officers were exempt from the changes. The Supreme Court has scheduled arguments for June 6 to determine whether it will take up the case. The law brought tens of thousands of protesters opposed to the legislation to the state Capitol for days on end in Februrary and March. Lawmakers could again take up the law and attempt to pass it again. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Blue Cheddar Blog: Let it be known that the day Walker suppressed the vote, people yelled like hell

It was raining and cold and still it felt good to get out and raise some hell against the radical Republican agenda today. I pieced together this brief video. There are some episodes I didn't catch in the video, such as the 4th graders who spontaneously began chanting "recall Walker". [Hold on - Nick Nice caught that! HERE] The fact that the Solidarity Sing Along group struggled to sing loudly enough to match the protesters' volume. I didn't capture the way that some protesters close to the troopers could not look at them in the eye, while others could and did so. The man you'll see wearing a suit and raising his fist in response to our chanting at the end of the video is @astrodex on twitter. WORT was able to record and include his confrontational question of Walker in a press conference as well as Walker's response. AND WORT FM incorporated some of my interview of @astrodex in their Monday-Thursday evening news show, In Our Backyard. Hat's off to citizen journalist Craig McComb who pulled this news piece together and was super-nice to work with. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

YouTube: Protest of Scott Walker's Voter Suppression Bill

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker signs photo ID measure; legal challenge possible

Madison - Ending a decade-long quest by GOP officials, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill Wednesday requiring voters to show photo identification at the polls. But the law costing more than $7 million in new spending and lost revenue could still face a legal challenge as opponents consider suing to overturn it. The law will require poll workers to start asking voters for photo IDs for the July 12 state Senate recall elections, but the voters will not be required to present them until next year's presidential primary. "To me, something as important as a vote is important whether it's one case, one hundred cases or one hundred thousand cases. Making sure we have legislation that protects the integrity for an open, fair and honest election in every single case is important," said Walker. About 50 protesters shouted "Recall Walker!" outside his conference room during the signing. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Legislative panel overturns pollution rules

The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee voted to overturn rules regulating nonpoint pollution in the state. Both houses of the Legislature will have to approve the measure. For now, regulations stay in place until new rules are written. Nonpoint pollution - the kind of pollution that comes from farm fields and city streets - is the largest source of water pollution in the state. The committee's action Tuesday night drew criticism from environmental groups. Amber Meyer Smith, program director for Clean Wisconsin, says her organization fears that lawmakers want to weaken the regulations. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: Wealthy don't need vouchers for private school

Giving children in poverty private-school vouchers to escape failing public schools in Milwaukee is one thing. But Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to hand vouchers to wealthy families in Milwaukee and other cities isn't justified or affordable for taxpayers. This is especially true given the state's budget problems and cuts in aid to public schools. Walker's proposal could result in beleaguered taxpayers having to subsidize private school tuition for wealthy families who never intended to send their kids to public schools in the first place. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: How Paul Ryan cost Republicans a congressional seat, and how he may cost them more

Newly elected Congresswoman Kathy Hochul, D-N.Y., was a terrific candidate, as good a contender as the Democratic Party could have asked for in the special election to fill the open congressional seat representing upstate New York's 26th District. But Hochul did not stand a chance of winning a district so safely Republican that it backed John McCain for president in the 2008 election that saw the rest of the state back Barack Obama. In recent congressional elections, Republicans have gained as much as 70 percent of the vote. New York's 26th District backs Republicans by tradition and nature. And it was going to back Republican nominee Jane Corwin to fill the seat vacated by Republican Congressman Chris Lee after the married man got caught trolling for dates on the Internet. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: Capitol protest fallout splits the Brat Fest faithful

With not one, but four local brat fests grilling up for this weekend, state Rep. Brett Hulsey's mantra is: "Leave no brats behind." Political fallout from the recent Capitol protests against Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to strip bargaining rights from most state employees is keeping some longtime supporters of the World's Largest Brat Fest from attending the four-day event at the Alliant Energy Center this year because executives of sponsor Johnsonville Sausage made financial contributions to elect Walker. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Ryan plan at nub of House election upset

When Paul Ryan won nearly unanimous support last month from House Republicans for a budget that proposed huge changes to Medicare, it was a risky move by an emboldened GOP. Just how risky became clear Wednesday, as both parties digested the Republican loss of a western New York congressional seat in a race dominated by Ryan's Medicare plan. Democrats say the outcome is a repudiation of the House budget chairman from Janesville and a sign that Medicare will prove toxic for the GOP in the 2012 elections. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


9:30 a.m. - Mary Bottari reports for CMD:

You are a new Governor pursuing a radical, budget slashing agenda. In your spare time, you work to pass the most restrictive Voter ID law in the nation, which turns out to be quite costly. What to do? Here is an idea. Why not rob the public campaign system, a system designed to encourage a diversity of candidates and a flourishing of democracy, in order to pay for your voter suppression efforts?

That is exactly what Wisconsin Governor and the WI GOP did this week when they raided the money set aside for the public financing of campaigns to pay for "the most radical Voter ID bill in the nation" according to Wisconsin Common Cause.

The move would kill a 34 year tradition of public financing for elections in Wisconsin. All public financing for state political races would end. Instead the fund would be used to implement AB7 a "Voter ID" bill originally spawned by the conservative American Legislative Exchange Committee (ALEC).

Read more here.


Talking Points Memo: New Poll, Wisconsin Wants To Recall Walker -- And Put Dems In The State Senate

A new survey of Wisconsin from Public Policy Polling (D) finds some good news for Democrats in their efforts to take control of the state Senate in the upcoming recall elections, in a backlash against Gov. Scott Walker's (R) anti-public employee union legislation: The state's voters want to recall Walker -- and they would rather have the Democrats in control of the state Senate, too. The poll finds Walker with an approval rating of only 43%, with 54% disapproval. The poll also asked: "Would you support or oppose recalling Scott Walker from office before his term is up?" The result was support 50%, oppose 47%. However, recalls in Wisconsin do not take the form of a yes-or-no question on the incumbent, but are effectively special elections pitting the incumbent against an opposing candidate. Thus, Walker was also tested in hypothetical match-ups against two potential Democratic nominees. Former Sen. Russ Feingold, who lost re-election after three terms in the 2010 Republican wave, leads Walker by 52%-42%. And Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett, the 2010 Democratic gubernatorial nominee whom Walker defeated by a margin of 52%-47%, now leads Walker by 50%-43%. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Journal Times: Walker: Wisconsin open for business, Illinois going backward

MOUNT PLEASANT - Gov. Scott Walker says Wisconsin and Illinois are headed in opposite directions, and this state would be a good place for some Land of Lincoln businesses to come to. Walker spoke for about 20 minutes Tuesday at the Racine Marriott, 7111 Washington Ave., at the annual Racine County Economic Development Corp. celebration. He said Wisconsin has become much more business-friendly since he took office Jan. 3. Meanwhile, he said, Illinois' budget problems and tax increases to solve them are making Wisconsin the preferred place to do business. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: GOP lawmaker proposes Arizona-style immigration bill

A bill mirroring some of the tough enforcement measures of Arizona's controversial immigration bill was introduced Tuesday by a state Republican legislator in Wisconsin. The legislation introduced by Rep. Don Pridemore of Hartford would allow local law enforcement to detain those arrested for civil or criminal violations that do not provide proper identification that would prove they are a legal citizen. They can be detained for up to 48 hours until they provide proof that they are in the country legally. During that time, local law enforcement can only verify lawful presence with the authorization of federal officials. Pridemore says federal officials would have to verify the immigration or citizenship status themselves. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: Trumka right to push for union independence

Earlier this month in a Nation magazine cover story, I looked at one of the most positive trends in recent labor history: a pattern of unions signaling that they will put more of their "political" money into grass-roots organizing and coalition building -- as opposed to placing the movement's financial and foot-soldier resources at the service of whatever Democratic candidate happens to be on the ballot. Unions such as the Service Employees International Union and National Nurses United are investing in smart, grass-roots projects in the states -- seeking to build on the protest and politics model developed here in Wisconsin, where mass protests against anti-labor initiatives signaled an opening for labor to go on the offensive. At the same time, key unions such as the Firefighters have signaled that, because of their disappointment with Republicans and Democrats at the federal level, they will be putting all their political money into state and local races and related projects. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: An irresponsible bill

We favor a responsible concealed-carry law for Wisconsin - one that requires a permit, a realistic amount of training, a background check and access for law enforcement to a database of permit holders, records that should be subject to the state Open Records Law. Unfortunately, the state Senate is slouching toward irresponsibility. The Senate Judiciary Committee will vote on a retooled bill Wednesday that would allow people to carry guns without registering them with the state. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin Reporter: Public financing for candidates on chopping block

MADISON — Wisconsin may shift taxpayer money from publicly financing statewide candidates in elections to incoming voter ID restrictions. The legislative Joint Finance Committee, the budget committee comprising legislators from both houses, voted Tuesday to stop funding the Wisconsin Election Campaign Fund, or WECF, which helps candidates running for legislative and statewide offices, and the Democracy Trust Fund, or DTF, which assists state Supreme Court candidates. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker gets power to block administrative rules

Madison - Gov. Scott Walker gained the power to block rules written by state agencies and other elected state officials, under legislation he signed Monday. The Republican governor also signed into law a bill at the Capitol allowing the City of Milwaukee to sell vacant public school property held under the city's name, something that could open up opportunities for voucher or charter schools that have been trying to expand in Milwaukee. The rules measure, which cleared the Legislature this month, allows the governor to reject proposed administrative rules used to implement state laws. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Post Crescent: Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker signs bills affecting water testing, rules

MADISON — Gov. Scott Walker on Monday signed into law proposals repealing a clean water testing requirement and giving his office more power in the crafting of state agency rules. One bill Walker signed repeals a state Department of Natural Resources rule that calls for municipal governments to install equipment to disinfect their water by December 2013. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Post Crescent: Government Accountability Board clears way for 3 Republican recall elections in Wisconsin

MADISON — The Wisconsin board that oversees elections gave the final approval to three recall petitions targeting three GOP state senators, making it all but certain that those senators will face recall elections this summer. The Government Accountability Board rejected the challenges made to recall petitions targeting Republican Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon. It also voted to file paperwork by June 3 that will allow elections to be called for July 12. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: The 'Paul Ryan for President' delusion

Not all Republicans are delusional. Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich correctly identified House Budget Committee Chair Paul Ryan's plan to use a form of vouchers to redirect Medicare and Medicaid spending away from providing health care and toward enriching for-profit insurance companies as "right-wing social engineering." Only when the gatekeepers of the new Republican orthodoxy informed him that truth telling was not allowed by those who might imagine themselves as serious contenders for the 2012 Republican presidential nomination did Gingrich abandon reality-based politics. But that did not make his initial assessment of the scheme by Ryan, R-Janesville, to redistribute wealth upward any less truthful. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: School voucher advocates gave $3M to state Republican campaigns

Groups supporting expansion of Milwaukee's school voucher program spent more than $3 million to help elect Gov. Scott Walker and other Republicans. A report from Wisconsin Democracy Campaign shows proponents of the school choice program outspent opponents 3-to-1 during the last election season. Nearly $1 million in outside election spending came from state business lobby Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Video for the Koch Brothers Exposed campaign: 'Tell Secretary Clinton to Say No to the Kochs'


10:00 a.m. - Rebekah Wilce reports for CMD:

According to news reports, the Charles G. Koch Foundation has bought "the right to interfere in faculty hiring at a publicly funded university." Kris Hundley of the St. Petersburg Times reports that the elder Koch brother's foundation "pledged $1.5 million for positions in Florida State University's economics department. In return, his representatives get to screen and sign off on any hires for a new program promoting 'political economy and free enterprise.'"

Read more here.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: State proposal would send $250 million to certified capital companies

Legislation that Gov. Scott Walker says will create jobs would provide hundreds of millions of dollars in tax breaks to insurance companies, while giving control of a $250 million fund to out-of-state financial management companies that would not have to pay back the fund's principal and would keep up to 80% of its profits. The proposal is supported by a group of Republican lawmakers led by Sen. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) and Rep. Gary Tauchen (R-Bonduel). But some others - including at least one Republican legislator - are calling it a massive corporate giveaway. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Prosser wins recount in Wisconsin Supreme Court race

With the weeks-long recount complete, unofficial numbers confirm that state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser narrowly defeated Assistant Attorney General JoAnne Kloppenburg in the April 5 election. But the battle may not be over yet, as Kloppenburg mulls whether to challenge the results in court. And if a legal contest goes on long enough, attorneys say it could delay efforts to swear Prosser in for a new term on Aug. 1, leading to a temporary vacancy on the closely divided high court. Final recount numbers submitted to the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board show Prosser with 7,006 more votes than Kloppenburg. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Recall efforts against Hopper, Kapanke, Olsen found sufficient

State elections staff members on Friday recommended that recall elections be set for three Republican state senators. The elections for Sens. Dan Kapanke of La Crosse, Randy Hopper of Fond du Lac and Luther Olsen of Ripon would be July 12, if the Government Accountability Board goes along with its staff. In a set of recommendations posted Friday on the board's website, director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy and elections division administrator Nathaniel Robinson asked the board to reject Republican challenges to the legality of petitions filed against the three senators. They agreed with lawyers for the three Republicans on some of the individual signatures the lawyers challenged but didn't find enough faulty signatures to bring the petitions below the number needed for an election. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker tells state GOP to focus on Senate recall elections

Wisconsin Dells - Gov. Scott Walker told Republicans at their yearly convention Saturday to keep their eyes on the Senate recall elections, claiming that national labor unions would spend $20 million to $25 million to help Democrats in those races. Whether that massive level of spending materializes, the recalls - with many in swing districts - will be a referendum on the agenda of Walker and his party. "I'm convinced this isn't just about the (Republican) majority in the state Senate. This isn't just about where the Legislature is headed in the state of Wisconsin. This is ultimately about courage," Walker said. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: For Senate -- Feingold or someone with same values

U.S. Sen. Herb Kohl, a reliably reasonable Democratic senator who made significant contributions to debates about everything from antitrust protection to dairy policy, has decided not to seek a fifth term, which would have had him legislating on the eve of his 84th birthday. Had Kohl run, he would have won. Like former Sen. Bill Proxmire, whose seat he held, Kohl was a moderate maverick -- such creatures really do exist -- who had figured out how to opt out of the money chase (Proxmire collected no contributions, Kohl self-funded his own campaigns) and present himself as an incorruptible "nobody's senator but yours." READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

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