Wisconsin Protests, Monday, June 27 - Sunday, July 3, 2011


Wisconsin State Journal: State senators propose constitutional amendment to end Supreme Court elections

In an effort to combat the influence of money and partisanship on the state Supreme Court, a pair of veteran senators have authored legislation that would replace higher court elections with a merit-based selection program. Sens. Dale Schultz, R-Richland Center, and Tim Cullen, D-Janesville, told the State Journal on Thursday they were seeking co-sponsors for a resolution that would move Wisconsin more in line with the 28 states that have already moved judicial selection away from the volatile world of campaigns and fundraising. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: WEAC sues over law giving Walker power over DPI rules

Madison - Members of state teachers unions sued Thursday to block part of a law giving Gov. Scott Walker veto powers over rules written by other state agencies and elected officials. The lawsuit is the latest in a series of legal skirmishes between the GOP governor and public employee unions. In the case, parents of students and members of the Wisconsin Education Association Council and Madison Teachers Inc. challenge the law for giving Walker the power to veto administrative rules written by any state agency. That law wrongly gives Walker that power over the state Department of Public Instruction headed by state schools superintendent Tony Evers, the action charges. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Gov. Walker: Keep smoking ban in place

Madison -- Gov. Scott Walker said Thursday he won't change the state's ban on smoking in bars and restaurants. Though it angered some bar owners and patrons when it went into effect on July 5, 2010, the law has seen little controversy since then. Advocates of the ban on all workplace smoking say it improves the health of state residents. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Washington Post: Minnesota government shuts down

After six months of disagreement and seven days of intense negotiations, the Minnesota state government shut down at midnight last night. Gov. Mark Dayton (D) and the Republican-controlled legislature have been in a standoff since the beginning of the legislative session over how to close a projected $5 billion budget deficit. In an echo of the national budget fight, Dayton wanted to raise taxes on the wealthiest 2 percent of Minnesotans. Republicans wanted to close the gap with spending cuts and accounting shifts. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: State warns businesses of coming charge

Thousands of Wisconsin businesses are getting letters from the state Department of Workforce Development this week telling them to get ready for an extra charge, due in September. The special assessment is to pay each company's share of $48 million in interest payments the state owes the federal government for 2011. Wisconsin was one of many states that ran out of money in its unemployment compensation fund after paying benefits to a record number of people who lost their jobs during the 2008 recession. Wisconsin has borrowed $1.4 billion from the U.S. Treasury. The government waived interest payments in 2009 and 2010 but has not yet done so for this year. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


5:40 a.m. - Sara Jerving reports for CMD:

After four months of massive public opposition to a Wisconsin bill that strips the collective bargaining rights of most state employees, the law has taken effect. The controversial bill -- spearheaded by Governor Scott Walker -- was stalled after a Wisconsin judge ruled it void. The ruling judge, MaryAnn Sumi, said that lawmakers violated the state's open meetings laws when they hurriedly pushed through the legislation, which invalidated the bill. Her decision was reversed in mid-June when the state's Supreme Court decided to uphold the bill.

Read more here.


Oshkosh Northwestern: Bail bondsmen legislation likely to be revived in wake of Walker veto

Gov. Scott Walker's veto of a state budget provision that would have authorized for-profit bail bondsman to operate in Wisconsin may not be the last word on the contentious issue. Legislators who support the issue said they will bring the proposal back to the Legislature for further discussion and action this fall. "There's no doubt we will," said Rep. Robin Vos, R-Burlington, a co-chairman of the Joint Finance Committee who was responsible for getting the provision included in the budget bill. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Diminished, union leaders promise action

As the state's new collective bargaining law took effect Wednesday, public employee union representatives said they would become more visible in their communities, speaking out on workplace issues at school board, city council, village and county board meetings, now that the law allows certified unions to negotiate only wages. Prohibiting public unions from helping to resolve disputes over safety, seniority, hours, working conditions and other issues with human resources departments will move the discussion to public meetings, said Rick Badger, executive director of AFSCME Council 40, the union representing about 33,000 members of nearly 600 locals throughout the state outside Milwaukee County. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Thornton reveals 519 layoffs, including 354 teachers

On the heels of announcing 519 layoffs, Milwaukee Public Schools Superintendent Gregory Thornton called on the teachers union to reconsider pension concessions that could save 200 jobs. Thornton announced Wednesday that 519 district employees, including 354 teachers, will receive layoff notices this week because of deep budget cuts in the new fiscal year that begins Friday. Most of the teacher cuts are at the elementary school level -- kindergarten through eighth grade. The layoffs were largely determined by seniority, in accordance with the union contract. Some less-experienced teachers with specialized training were exempt. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Journal Times: U.S. senators concerned by photo ID requirement to vote

WASHINGTON (AP) - Sixteen Democratic senators want the Justice Department to look into whether voting rights are being jeopardized in states that require photo identification in order for people to vote. The lawmakers wrote Attorney General Eric Holder on Wednesday to express concern that millions of voters do not have a government-issued ID -- particularly older people, racial minorities, low-income voters and students. The senators say the photo ID requirements have the potential to block millions of eligible people from exercising their right to vote. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

AP: Judges rule Obama's health care law constitutional

CINCINNATI -- In the first ruling by a federal appeals court on President Barack Obama's health care overhaul, a panel in Cincinnati handed the administration a victory Wednesday by agreeing that the government can require a minimum amount of insurance for Americans. A Republican-appointed judge joined with a Democratic appointee for the 2-1 majority in another milestone for Obama's hotly debated signature domestic initiative -- the first time a Republican federal court appointee has affirmed the merits of the law. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


5:40 a.m. - Jessica Opoien reports for CMD:

On the same day that Gov. Scott Walker's anti-public employee law takes effect in Wisconsin, public workers in Ohio can celebrate a victory in the battle for democracy.

We Are Ohio, the group leading the effort to repeal Ohio Senate Bill 5, the anti-collective bargaining bill, delivered a record number of nearly 1.3 million signatures to the Ohio Secretary of State today, backed by a "Million Signature March" parade of more than 6,000 people, retired fire trucks, motorcycles, a drum line and bagpipes.

"This is the people's parade," said We Are Ohio spokesperson Melissa Fazekas in a news conference after the parade. "You are truly one in a million."

Read more here.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP lawmaker Nygren sues to get back on ballot

Madison - A GOP Assembly lawmaker is suing to be placed on the ballot in a recall election against a Democratic senator. In a filing in Dane County Circuit Court, Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) said the state Government Accountability Board wrongly took him off the ballot in the recall election for Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) in the 30th Senate District. A hearing has been set for 9 a.m. Friday before Dane County Circuit Judge Richard G. Niess. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Green Bay Press Gazette: Wisconsin's collective bargaining law takes effect today

MADISON — After months of heated debate, ear-splitting protests and legal maneuvering, Gov. Scott Walker's collective bargaining law is finally set to take effect. Secretary of State Doug La Follette published the law in the Wisconsin State Journal newspaper on Tuesday. The measure goes into effect today, capping a tumultuous four months in Madison that saw state senators flee the state and massive protests at the State Capitol. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin Reporter: Dane sheriff removes himself from Bradley investigation

MADISON — Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney will not investigate a claim by state Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley that she was "choked" by fellow Justice David Prosser earlier this month. Instead, a team of detectives and supervisors will lead the probe into Bradley's allegations against Prosser. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Nation: Policing Fitzwalkerstan: Top Cop Investigates Alleged Assault of High-Court Justice by Ally of Wisconsin's Governor

With few checks and balances left in Wisconsin, many elected officials have chosen to fall in line with Governor Scott Walker's attempts to undermine worker rights, local democracy and the rule of law. But Dane County Sheriff Dave Mahoney has stood his ground, upholding both the Constitution and the laws of the state -- despite sometimes crude and often irresponsible attacks from those who would make Wisconsin over as Walker's personal fiefdom. When Walker and his authoritarian appointees tried to use the police to shut down demonstrations at the Capitol earlier this year, Mahoney pointedly refused -- arguing that he and his deputies could maintain public safety while protecting the rights of Wisconsinites to assemble and petition for the redress of grievances. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Justice Prosser was asked to get help for anger, sources say

Madison - Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley asked Justice David Prosser to seek therapy to manage his anger two days after she says he put his hands around her neck, but he declined to do so, according to sources familiar with the situation. The request came June 15, when all the justices met with Capitol Police Chief Charles Tubbs to discuss the June 13 altercation between Prosser and Bradley. At least some of Prosser's fellow conservatives on the court said it would be ridiculous for him to take such courses, the sources said. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


Wisconsin State Journal: Sheriff's Office will lead probe into alleged choking incident at Supreme Court

The Dane County Sheriff's Office is taking over the investigation into allegations that state Supreme Court Justice David Prosser choked colleague Ann Walsh Bradley during an argument the day before the court issued its decision on the controversial measure to curb public worker collective bargaining rights. The sheriff's office is getting involved in the investigation of the June 13 incident the request of Capitol Police, sheriff's office spokeswoman Elise Schaffer said in a statement. "The Dane County Sheriff's Office recognizes the significance and sensitive nature of this investigation," Schaffer said in the statement. "Beginning today, detectives will work diligently to conduct a thorough and timely investigation." READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Journal Times: Walker leaves credit union provision in budget bill

The Wisconsin Credit Union League did not get what it wanted from Gov. Scott Walker when he signed the budget bill Sunday: a veto. Despite the league's pleas, Walker left intact in the bill language that streamlines the conversion of credit unions to banks in a process called direct conversion. The credit union league had said the legislation too easily allows the conversion of member-owned credit unions to shareholder-owned banks. The league says the legislation is unnecessary and simply a Wisconsin Bankers Association attempt to kill credit unions. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: GOP recall challenger off ballot

Madison - State elections officials Monday took a Republican Assembly lawmaker off the ballot in a recall election against a Democratic senator, leaving only a lesser-known GOP challenger with a misdemeanor conviction. The state Government Accountability Board voted unanimously to leave Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) off the ballot in the July 19 recall election for Sen. Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) in the 30th Senate District. The board found that Nygren fell just short of collecting the 400 valid nominating signatures needed to qualify for the ballot, finding that he collected 398 valid signatures. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Walker says he should have prepared public earlier for his sweeping changes

Gov. Scott Walker said Monday he should have done more to prepare the public for his plan to eliminate most collective bargaining for public employees. "We had not built enough of the case" for the sweeping plan, Walker said during a wide-ranging session with Journal Sentinel reporters and editors. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: Justices' feud gets physical: Prosser, Bradley clashed on eve of union ruling

Supreme Court Justice Ann Walsh Bradley late Saturday accused fellow Justice David Prosser of putting her in a chokehold during a dispute in her office earlier this month. "The facts are that I was demanding that he get out of my office and he put his hands around my neck in anger in a chokehold," Bradley told the Journal Sentinel. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: Walker signs $66 billion budget

ASHWAUBENON — With a crowd of angry protesters gathered outside, and a crowd of vocal supporters inside, Gov. Scott Walker signed his first budget Sunday, a $66 billion two-year spending plan that unapologetically slashes state programs on its way to closing an estimated $3 billion budget hole. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: Union contracts will come to an end on Wednesday

Tens of thousands of teachers and government workers will be without union contracts for the first time in decades on Wednesday. That's the day a new state law goes into effect prohibiting virtually all collective bargaining for an estimated 175,000 state, local and school workers. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

Wisconsin State Journal: Walker to veto tax change on tobacco, drawing praise from health groups

Gov. Scott Walker plans to veto a part of the state budget that would have changed the way chewing tobacco products are taxed in the state. Public health groups lobbied Walker to veto the change saying it would have made chewing tobacco cheaper and more attractive to children. More than a dozen groups, including the American Cancer Society and the Wisconsin Medical Society, sent Walker a letter Thursday asking him to undo the change made by the Legislature's budget committee. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

The Cap Times: John Nichols: Walker's pay-to-play state budget

Gov. Scott Walker plans to sign his state budget today, ushering in a new era of pay-to-play politics when tax dollars are shifted away from public education and local services and toward the accounts of special interests. Walker's budget, the most fiscally and economically irresponsible in Wisconsin history, cheats Wisconsin taxpayers, families and communities in order to pay off his political benefactors. It also undermines the ability of local officials -- particularly town boards and school boards -- to make essential decisions about how best to balance budgets. READ THE FULL ARTICLE HERE.

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