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Journal Archives

Wisconsin Assembly rejects background check bill, offers funds for armed school guards

The state Assembly voted Tuesday on party lines to reject a proposal to require universal background checks for gun purchases in Wisconsin, opting instead to offer funds for armed guards in schools and crack down on "straw purchasing."

The measure to support armed safety guards passed 71-24, with the support of all Republicans and 11 Democrats.

Students from several Madison high schools joined Assembly Democrats in calling for stricter gun control laws on Tuesday morning, hours after the state's attorney general said he is open to allowing firearms in schools. The debate follows a shooting at a high school in Florida that left 17 dead last week.

Attorney General Brad Schimel said in an interview on WTMJ radio Tuesday morning that elected officials should have a "discussion" about allowing guns in schools.

Wisconsin Senate passes abortion limits for public workers

MADISON - Abortions for public workers would not be covered by insurance in most cases under a bill the state Senate approved Tuesday without debate.

As senators worked into the night, they also approved bills loosening regulations for building on wetlands, allowing terminally ill patients to try experimental drugs and providing more aid to schools in rural areas and ones that have been cash-strapped.

The measures are among those being taken up as lawmakers try to complete their work for the year. Republicans who control the Senate have said they will meet this week and once in March.

Under Assembly Bill 128, public workers could not use their government-provided health insurance plans for abortions except in cases of rape or incest or to preserve the life of the mother. The restriction would apply to state workers and thousands of local government employees who get their coverage through the state Group Insurance Board.

Read more: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/20/wisconsin-senate-pass-abortion-limits-public-workers/352983002/

Lawmakers committing $430 million for new adult prison and youth lockups in Wisconsin

MADISON - Wisconsin would set aside $350 million for a new adult prison, shift offenders from a troubled juvenile prison to new $80 million lockups, toughen penalties on violent crimes and hire dozens more prosecutors, under sweeping law-and-order bills the Assembly is passing this week.

On Wednesday the Assembly unanimously advanced the youth prison proposal, leaving it to an unknown fate in the Senate, and sent the tougher penalties bills to Gov. Scott Walker.

The adult prison and prosecutors proposals won't come before the Assembly until Thursday, but the total cost of the entire package is already turning heads, hitting nearly $430 million in one-time expenses and more than $60 million in annual costs.

The focus on criminal justice also comes a day after the Assembly approved Assembly Bill 606 to give Milwaukee police officers and firefighters seats on the city's Fire and Police Commission.

Read more: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/politics/2018/02/20/lincoln-hills-youth-prison-would-replaced-carjacking-penalties-increased-under-bills-passing-assembl/351523002/

Milwaukee leaders announce bid for 2020 Democratic National Convention

For Milwaukee officials and business leaders hoping to bring the 2020 Democratic National Convention to the city, it's not all about turning Wisconsin blue politically.

"I'm here representing the green party," Tim Sheehy, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce president, said Wednesday during a City Hall news conference to unveil the city's bid.

Sheehy said the chance to host a major party political convention presents an opportunity to "bring tens of thousands of visitors to Milwaukee who are going to spend money, create jobs" and help carry "the story of the city's renaissance."

The convention would be held at the new Milwaukee Bucks arena, which is opening this fall.

Read more: https://www.jsonline.com/story/news/local/2018/02/21/milwaukee-leaders-announce-bid-2020-democratic-national-convention/358094002/

Voters dismayed to find they've been kicked off the voter rolls

For Jenni Gile, going to her eastside Madison polling place on Tuesday was a disappointment. Even though she voted at the same polling place for at least four years, she was informed she was removed from the voter list.

“If I had moved, I get it,” she said in an email to the Cap Times. “But that’s not the case.”

She's not alone. Across Wisconsin, voters have been complaining that they either couldn't vote, or had to retrieve records to prove their residency and reregister.

In Gile's case, she said she didn't register because an unhelpful poll worker didn't tell her how to go about it.

According to the state Elections Commission, part of the problem stems from an effort to update voter status through the Electronic Registration Information Center (ERIC), which pools the efforts of several states to identify voters who may have changed their address, moved out of state or died. To identify people whose voting status needs to be verified, the group draws data from Social Security, state departments of motor vehicles and the Postal Service.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/news/local/voters-dismayed-to-find-they-ve-been-kicked-off-the/article_54dd0803-5b72-5063-b2be-da4be2bda95c.html

Screnock knocks Dallet as activist; she slams rival as tool of special interests

Sauk County Judge Michael Screnock slammed Supreme Court rival Rebecca Dallet as an activist who would seek to legislative from the bench in the pursuit of political issues she supports.

Meanwhile, Dallet, a Milwaukee County judge, portrayed Screnock as a comparatively inexperienced judge who is a tool of special interests who spent hundreds of thousands of dollars to get him through the primary.

“I will stand up for our values and I will make sure that the court is protecting the rights of the people of our state and not protecting the rights of special interests or political allies,” Dallet said in a phone interview.

The liberal One Wisconsin Now, which tracks media buys, tallied $584,000 spent by the WMC Issues Mobilization Council on broadcast, cable and satellite TV praising Screnock in the lead up to the primary and the conservative Wisconsin Alliance for Reform dropping another $75,000 on radio and TV. Campaign finance reports filed with the state Ethics Commission also show the state GOP spending at least $142,000 to back Screnock.

Read more: https://www.wispolitics.com/2018/screnock-knocks-dallet-as-activists-she-slams-rival-as-tool-of-special-interests/

Wisconsin Assembly sends reinsurance legislation to Gov. Walker's desk

The Wisconsin Assembly voted Tuesday to approve Gov. Scott Walker's plan to bring down insurance premiums for about 200,000 people who receive insurance through the individual marketplace.

The bill would would allow the state to seek a federal waiver to offer a reinsurance program, covering 80 percent of medical claims costing between $50,000 and $250,000.

Lawmakers voted 79-16 to approve the bill, with 19 Democrats joining Republicans to support it.

Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, said the plan is expected to decrease premiums by 2 percent by 2020.

Read more: http://host.madison.com/ct/cf98fbe9-d59c-5e16-8cde-4665efc9c20e.html

GOP bill to let businesses self-insure employees clears Assembly

A GOP bill that would let private businesses pool resources and cover their employees’ health care costs passed the Assembly on a 59-36 vote.

The bill, from Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, would allow businesses in the same chamber of commerce or industry association to utilize those so-called association health plans to self-insure employees.

Lawmakers also signed off via voice vote on two amendments to the bill, including one that would guarantee all insurance funds — especially those that are self-insured — are solvent. The other amendment, meanwhile, would require those groups of employers to comply with state health insurance laws, including coverage of certain treatments.

The bill originally cleared an Assembly panel last week sporting an amendment that would require certain chiropractic services that state law requires health insurance plans cover.

The bill now heads to the Senate.


Gov. Rauner accused of politicizing Janus union dues case

Just days before U.S. Supreme Court hears oral arguments in a key labor relations case emanating from Illinois, the head of an organization representing the plaintiff is asking Gov. Bruce Rauner quit “falsely” taking credit for the case, and to quit making it a political issue.

A Rauner spokesman said that to accuse the governor of not being involved in the case is to rewrite history.

The case is that of Mark Janus, an Illinois state worker from Springfield who said it violates his free speech rights to be forced to pay dues to the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees when he doesn’t think AFSCME represents his interests. Arguments in the case are set for Monday in Washington, D.C.

AFSCME argues that what are called “fair share” dues pay for union protections to all employees in a bargaining unit.

“I am writing to request that you immediately stop misrepresenting the case and your role in it in public appearances and in the media,” wrote Patrick Hughes of Hinsdale, president of the Liberty Justice Center, in a letter to Rauner.

Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/news/20180220/gov-rauner-accused-of-politicizing-janus-union-dues-case

Illinois megadonor jumps into Missouri right-to-work fight

JEFFERSON CITY, Mo. — An Illinois megadonor is contributing $500,000 to the effort to make Missouri a right-to-work state.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that Richard Uihlein donated the money Tuesday to a political action committee named “Freedom to Work.” It’s raising cash to fend off a union-led attempt to kill efforts to change state labor laws.

Last year, lawmakers passed a right-to-work law barring mandatory union fees in workplace contracts. But labor unions gathered enough petition signatures to put the law on hold until a statewide referendum can be held in 2018.

Uihlein is a wealthy packaging company executive from Lake Forest who is also helping to bankroll Attorney General Josh Hawley’s bid for the U.S. Senate. Uihlein also contributed $360,000 to Gov. Eric Greitens’ maiden bid for statewide office in 2016.

Read more: http://www.sj-r.com/news/20180221/illinois-megadonor-jumps-into-missouri-right-to-work-fight

Cross-posted in the Illinois Group.
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