FRIDAY, JUNE 24TH NEWS ROUNDUP
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker cancels budget bill-signing at firm run by felon
Gov. Scott Walker has called off plans to sign the 2011-'13 budget bill at a private Green Bay-area company run by an executive with six felony convictions, a spokesman announced today. The announcement came less than an hour after the Journal Sentinel contacted the governor's office to ask about the executive's criminal history. Walker aide Cullen Werwie said this afternoon that the event will now be held at 2 p.m. Sunday at Fox Valley Metal-Tech Inc. in Green Bay. Werwie acknowledged that Walker's advance team had erred by not conducting a thorough background check on Gregory A. DeCaster, chief executive officer of Badger Sheet Metal Works in Ashwaubenon, the original location for the ceremony. DeCaster was convicted of six felony counts of income tax evasion in the mid-1990s and was sentenced to three months behind bars. He was also fined $10,000 and given two years of supervised release. "It was something we wish we would have known on the front end," Werwie said. He said officials decided to change locations because they believed DeCaster's past tax problems would serve as too much of a distraction. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
THURSDAY, JUNE 23RD NEWS ROUNDUP
Wisconsin State Journal: Politics blog: More lawmakers call on Gov. Walker to veto craft beer limits in budget
A group of 15 Democratic lawmakers delivered a letter to Walker on Wednesday asking him to reject the plan, which was inserted into the two-year budget by the Legislature's finance committee. "Our craft brewers are great for Wisconsin, employing hardworking individuals that help maintain our local economy and they keep our long lasting tradition of craft beer alive and thriving," they wrote. "A veto of the language regarding craft breweries will help to send a message that all businesses, small and large, are 'Open for Business' here in Wisconsin." READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker fields at least 15 GOP requests for budget vetoes
Madison - Republican lawmakers have lined up seeking budget vetoes from Gov. Scott Walker, making at least 15 requests for him to nix a range of provisions affecting craft beer brewers, credit unions and ethics statements from public officials. That gave a few points of bipartisan opposition to provisions in the bill, though every Republican lawmaker has voted in favor of the budget, which relies on spending cuts rather than tax increases to close a $3 billion budget gap over two years. Requests for vetoes are coming in as Walker, who holds the most powerful partial veto pen in the country, is expected to release his rewrites of the state budget within days. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
The Cap Times: In work on recalls, elections chief Kevin Kennedy battles charges of partisanship
Wisconsin's non-partisan Government Accountability Board has seen its profile rise in the past several months with the pending recall elections, a statewide Supreme Court recount, redistricting and the implementation of a recently passed photo ID bill all falling under its purview. Created through the merger of the state's Elections and Ethics boards three years ago, the board is tasked with enforcing state elections, ethics and campaign finance laws. Lately staff members have had to navigate their duties in what director and general counsel Kevin Kennedy calls "politically charged times." Here's Kennedy's take on how his agency is handling the challenge. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Judge tells parties to plan for recalls as scheduled
A Dane County Circuit Court judge brought recall primaries a little closer to reality Wednesday by consolidating two lawsuits challenging the elections, and putting them on the fast track for a decision. According to attorneys on both sides of the recalls scheduled against nine state senators, Judge Richard Niess told people connected with the cases that he expected they would be decided before Democratic primary elections scheduled for July 12 in the recalls of six Republican state senators. "The electorate should proceed on the basis that the elections will go forward," The Associated Press quoted Niess as saying. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Brave New Films Exposes the Koch Echo Chamber
WEDNESDAY, JUNE 22ND NEWS ROUNDUP
The Cap Times: Capitol Report: Bipartisan group asks Walker to veto beer distribution bill
The bill, which was stuck into the budget without a public hearing, would solidify the state's three-tier beer system by preventing brewers, distributors and any retail outlet that sells beer from owning a license to operate in more than one of these business categories.Specifically, the state's small craft brewers could no longer have a brewer's license and a distribution license, a restriction they say would stifle their ability to grow and hurt their future profitability. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bill exempts researchers from animal cruelty cases
Madison - A provision in the state budget would give more legal protection to researchers performing animal testing in the state. Some animal rights activists say this will let researchers off the hook for animal cruelty, while researchers say it is necessary to close a loophole to ensure scientific studies continue. The amendment would exempt animal researchers in Wisconsin from any state criminal penalties for animal cruelty. Researchers would still be liable under federal law if they violate the protocol of their research institution. Sen. Tim Carpenter (D-Milwaukee) urged Gov. Scott Walker to veto the animal testing provision in a statement. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin State Journal: Concealed carry bill heads to Walker for signature
Dylan Fredericks doesn't carry a gun, but he plans to after Gov. Scott Walker signs into law legislation making it legal to carry concealed weapons in Wisconsin. And the employee of PT Firearms in Cross Plains suspects he's not alone. "We've really seen an uptick in business," he said. "The past week we've probably sold about 15 different guns." But Matt Havighurst of Madison said he doesn't like the bill "at all." READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin State Journal: Judge dismisses final challenge to collective bargaining law
A judge on Tuesday dismissed the final part of a lawsuit against the state filed by former Dane County Executive Kathleen Falk and County Board Chairman Scott McDonell to block Gov. Scott Walker's controversial law restricting collective bargaining rights of most public employees. Dane County Circuit Judge Maryann Sumi had ruled in April that Dane County and its leaders do not have the authority to sue the state of Wisconsin to challenge the constitutionality of the law, but she held off ruling on whether Falk and McDonell could sue the state in their personal capacities and as taxpayers. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP primaries to be held in recalls of Senate Democrats
Two Republicans have filed nomination papers in each of three recall elections against Democratic state senators, meaning that July 19 likely will be primary day in all three races, with final elections Aug. 16. The deadline for filing nomination papers was 5 p.m. Tuesday; 400 valid signatures were required for filing. In the 12th Senate District, represented by Sen. Jim Holperin (D-Conover), Kim Simac, a tea party leader from Eagle River, will face Robert Lussow of Tomahawk, who is chairman of the Lincoln County Board. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
TUESDAY, JUNE 21TH NEWS ROUNDUP
Wisconsin State Journal: Venture capital bill coming back with revisions
A Dane County judge ruled Monday that the state's Domestic Partner Registry does not violate the state Constitution. In a 53-page decision, Circuit Court Judge Daniel Moeser said the registry, which went into effect Aug. 1, 2009, does not violate the Marriage Amendment to the state's Constitution passed in 2006. "This ruling helps us continue to take care of each other in the way that we do every single day," said Kathy Flores, 44, of Appleton. Flores and her partner, Ann Kendzierski, are among five same-sex couples who joined Fair Wisconsin, the state's largest gay rights group, in intervening in a lawsuit challenging the registry brought by members of Wisconsin Family Action. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin Reporter: Wisconsin Democrat to Missouri: 'This is our wake-up call'
ST. LOUIS — Wisconsin's battle between Democrats and Republicans is just "ground zero" of a larger war, state Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, told a crowd at a recent Democratic fundraiser. "This is a national battle," Taylor told Democratic donors Friday at the Jefferson-Jackson fundraising dinner, sponsored by the Missouri Democratic Party. "I'm here to remind you, Missouri. I'm here to remind you, Democrats, that this is our wake-up call," Taylor said. Traditionally considered a union-friendly state, Wisconsin has seen a schism this spring, after Gov. Scott Walker's changes to collective bargaining, which end most negotiating powers for the majority of the state's public union employees, emerged from the state Supreme Court's ruling this past week. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin State Journal: Walker, Soglin make national TV splash
Wisconsin was well represented on the morning cable television shows Tuesday. Gov. Scott Walker was a guest host on Squawk Box on CNBC in New York, while Madison Mayor Paul Soglin appeared via satellite on CNN's "American Morning." Not suprisingly, both focused on the economy. Soglin, elected in April to a third stint, defended a recently passed resolution at the U.S. Conference of Mayors calling for withdrawal of American troops from Iraq and Afghanistan. The resolution also urged federal officials to use the money that would have been spent on the war for improvements to roads, schools and other infastructure. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Republicans in Legislature may try to make recalls harder
Republican leaders in the Legislature said Monday they would consider introducing legislation this fall to make it harder to recall state officials. Assembly Speaker Jeff Fitzgerald (R-Horicon) said the upcoming recall elections had launched the state Senate into "full campaign mode" and was slowing down the legislative process. Also, Gov. Scott Walker -- speaking with reporters in Washington -- called the recalls a "distraction" for most Wisconsin residents. Fitzgerald said he believed some Democratic legislators would support a measure changing or weakening the current law. "I have never been a fan of recalls (of lawmakers) on either side of the aisle -- especially for a vote," said Fitzgerald, referring to how single votes -- such as passing legislation that strips public employees of most of their bargaining rights -- can trigger recall efforts.READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
MONDAY, JUNE 20TH NEWS ROUNDUP
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Venture capital bill coming back with revisions
With Gov. Scott Walker's venture capital bill on hold after running into heavy opposition, two Republican senators are proposing a revision that would jettison the most controversial piece: a plan to provide $200 million in tax breaks to insurance companies and give hundreds of millions to out-of-state financial firms. Sens. Randy Hopper (R-Fond du Lac) and Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) -- both facing recall elections this summer -- want legislators to bring the proposal to a vote soon. Darling says she would like to see the money made available to venture capital funds by September. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Budget bill gives Walker more power over Medicaid programs
The new state budget bill grants broader power to Gov. Scott Walker's administration to remake BadgerCare Plus and other state health programs with little legislative oversight, a situation that worries advocates for the roughly 1 million people covered by those programs. The major question: how the governor's Department of Health Services will use that authority as it cuts a projected $466 million in costs from the programs over the next two years. "We don't know exactly what will be coming down the pike," said Bob Jacobson, a spokesman for the Wisconsin Council on Children & Families. "And we don't know how we can have a voice in those decisions when the Legislature has been taken out of the picture." READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin State Journal: The good and bad about state budget
The Wisconsin State Journal editorial board prioritized fixing the state budget mess this year. It was the top plank in our 2011 agenda, which we publish on the cover of our Opinion section every Sunday. The Republican-drafted state budget heading to Gov. Scott Walker's desk this week goes a long way toward achieving this important goal. According to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the structural deficit that has dogged the state Capitol for a decade now is virtually eliminated. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Wisconsin Rapids Tribune: GAB finalizes list of candidates for GOP recalls
MADISON -- The Wisconsin Democratic Party has removed its "placeholder" candidates from several upcoming recall elections, saying it only devised the tactic to defend against a possible Republican ploy that since has failed to materialize. The announcement Friday was the latest act of gamesmanship between the two parties ahead of as many as nine recall elections this summer. Six GOP state senators are being targeted for recall because they supported Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to cut collective-bargaining powers from most public employees. Three Democratic senators also are being targeted for opposing those efforts. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Bail group touts job potential
Gov. Scott Walker promised he would create more jobs in Wisconsin. The American Bail Coalition says it can help, with a privately run bail bonds system it says will create 1,500 jobs. Last week, the budget the Senate handed Walker included a provision that would set up a system of bail bondsmen in Wisconsin. It was inserted in the budget over the objections of law enforcement and the state's chief judges, who feel the current system is better. Wisconsin hasn't had a bail bondsmen system since 1979. And judges say they want no part of bail bondsmen. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.