Big government Wisconsin Republicans continue GOP war on women

I’ve always been fascinated by Republican claims to support less government intrusion into the lives of citizens…..except when it comes to issues like same-sex relationships and women’s rights.

Here in Wisconsin we’re seeing that first-hand as Republicans in the Legislature have passed a series of bills aimed at allowing government to intrude into the lives of women when it comes to their right to make decisions regarding their own bodies and reproductive health.

Republicans on Wednesday also passed a separate bill that would eliminate the last bit of public funding available to Planned Parenthood, an abortion provider that also provides contraceptives and health care for women.

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The measure, Assembly Bill 179, would require doctors and nurses present during a failed abortion attempt to provide hospital care to the child. Intentionally causing the child’s death could result in life in prison.

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Another measure, Assembly Bill 180, would require doctors to inform women that they could continue their pregnancy if they act quickly after taking the first dose of a two-drug regimen that causes abortion. That bill would also require the state to make public the names of hospitals and clinics where abortions had been provided.

[…]

Another measure Republicans passed Wednesday, Assembly Bill 182, would ban women from seeking an abortion because of the race, sex or disability of a fetus, as long as the disability is considered compatible with life.

It’s clear Republicans in Wisconsin are hell-bent on continuing the larger Republican war on women, but I can’t help but wonder at what point Wisconsin voters will push back against the attempts by Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald to turn Wisconsin into the Alabama of the midwest.

So Raise The Damn Gas Tax All Ready!

Wisconsin continues to debate how to increase funds for transportation (in Wisconsin that translates to build more freeways) as gas tax revenues continue to fall as cars get more fuel efficient or don’t use gasoline at all. Instead the governor continues to put highway construction on the credit card or extends the completion dates for major projects (which increases their costs through inflation and often overlooked, loss of utility and increased travel times for users) to balance the transportation budget.

There have been a number of discussions in the legislature around increasing the gasoline tax, vehicle registration and just recently, converting state freeways into toll roads.

Of course Governor Walker continues to stick to his no tax increase pledge by threatening to veto any gas tax increases if they aren’t balanced by tax cuts in other areas. This brings up a number of points. If gas increases are balanced against other tax cuts, those paying increased gas taxes aren’t necessarily the people getting the new offsetting tax cuts. I can’t imagine that will make drivers very happy.

And second, how is reducing other taxes to balance gas tax increases not essentially the same as using general funds to pay for transportation? And isn’t using general funds for transportation now verboten? I am sure many of you can either correct me on that or support my statement.

So about those toll roads…that is a very very slippery slope. Somebody is going to have to spend the initial capital to build the infrastructure to measure and collect tolls. Where’s that money going to come from? Wisconsin already doesn’t have the funds to fix the roads, build new ones, etc….how can it add tolling facilities? (this all assumes the federal government would permit the conversion of freeways to tollways…not unlikely under the President Trump regime)

But the talk is that private investors would pay for the new infrastructure…and then reap benefits from the tolling. And how many years would it take to implement? If we look at the Zoo interchange, years maybe decades. Hmmmm. Who controls the fees and determines the profit margins when private enterprise controls public utilities?

But if you are going to be ‘Open For Business’, you had better have first rate infrastructure, not just a low tax rate…businesses need to get their employees to work on time, need to get their raw materials to their businesses, and need to get their finished products to market. Subpar streets, roads and highways don’t work for them.

So for the quick and dirty, the current Wisconsin gas tax is 30.9 cents a gallon. Take a quick 5.1 cent increase and gas tax revenue jumps 16.5% and takes a lot of stress off of the transportation budget. Increase it 10.1 cents and it’s an increase of 32.7%. When I first suggested this gas in Milwaukee was around $2.00 a gallon and even now at $2.29, a 5 or 10 cent hike isn’t going to be that discernable.

You want some simple background into the issue, please read Ernst-Ulrich Franzen’s article on the resignation of the Secretary Mark Gottlieb from the Wisconsin Department of Transportation…he apparently got tired of speaking truth to power.

Speaker Robin Vos is Right, But SO SO Wrong

In light of record numbers of early voters in Wisconsin ahead of the November 8th Presidential Election, Wisconsin Assembly Speaker Robin Vos declared his concerns around fairness in early voting:

“We’re probably going to have to look at it again to make sure that everybody in the state has the same chance to vote,” said Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester).

And I’ll agree with him on that. And he voiced concern about making voting consistent around the state:

Wisconsin hit record early voting Friday in the wake of a federal court order allowing expanded absentee balloting, and the GOP leader of the state Assembly called for restricting the practice to make early voting more uniform across rural and urban areas.

Now in one of the articles I read about Speaker Vos’ concern, he mentioned that the start of early voting was inconsistent from one municipality to another. And I can understand this concern…if Milwaukee starts early voting in late September and it’s neighbor, Wauwatosa doesn’t start until a week or ten days later that can cause confusion. So I wouldn’t oppose some rational consistency across the state for how early, early voting can start.

But the problem is Speaker Vos’ history around early voting. He and the WI GOP tried to use uniform early voting laws to restrict the availability of early voting in urban areas like Madison and Milwaukee and the courts found those laws to be unconstitutional. Things like limited hours and only one early polling place per city for instance. An insane idea in a city the size of Milwaukee for instance. Well here, see for yourself:

In July, U.S. District Court Judge James Peterson in Madison struck down a series of voting limits passed by GOP Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers. His decision, which is being appealed, flatly rejected claims by Republicans that they were trying to make early voting hours uniform, saying they were attempting to help themselves at the polls.

In July, Peterson ruled the restrictions on early voting were unconstitutional because they intentionally discriminated against minorities. “I reach this conclusion because I am persuaded that this law was specifically targeted to curtail voting in Milwaukee without any other legitimate purpose,” Peterson wrote. “The Legislature’s immediate goal was to achieve a partisan objective, but the means of achieving that objective was to suppress the reliably Democratic vote of Milwaukee’s African-Americans.”

Republicans put limits on early voting in 2011 and further tightened them in 2014. The restrictions limited early voting to weekdays between 8 a.m. and 7 p.m. — thus ending weekend voting that had long been popular among Latinos and African-Americans.

Peterson also found requiring early voting to occur at only one location was unconstitutional because it put a greater burden on voters in Milwaukee and other large cities, where many minorities live. It is much easier for a small town to accommodate voters with a single location than Milwaukee and other urban centers, he wrote.

So I am not confident that Speaker Vos actually has fairness in mind when he says we should revisit early voting. Alhtough I do agree that equal start times could be appropriate, one polling place per city. Hardly! Something along the lines of liquor licenses might make more sense…one polling place per something thousand population…then a small town like Antigo WI can get by with one polling place while Milwaukee might be allowed a dozen…and of course with daily hours and weekend hours to match the local lifestyles.

So let’s by all means revisit it but be careful about the what or how you try to make it fair!

Has Robin Vos had a change of heart on “divide and conquer?” I doubt it.

In advance of Republican presidential nominee Donald Trump’s visit to Green Bay today, Republican Speaker of the Assembly Robin Vos took to the Right Wisconsin to blast Trump for not endorsing Speaker of the House Paul Ryan, who’s facing a primary challenge for his seat in Congress.

Here’s just one snippet from Vos’ piece.

Politics is about addition and multiplication; not subtraction and division. As a party we need to do all that we can to unify

Of course, Robin Vos’ sudden desire for addition and multiplication versus subtraction and division is rich, given how supportive Vos has been of the “divide and conquer” strategy Gov. Scott Walker has used time and time again to screw Wisconsin’s public employees and middle class.

The fact that Robin Vos – who has used and directly benefited from a “divide and conquer” strategy – is now upset at the division and discord Donald Trump has sowed is both ridiculous and ironic, and I’m glad to see the Republican Party reaping what it has sown in the form of the hot mess that is Donald Trump’s candidacy for president.

Sanctuary Cities In Wisconsin.

Ok, if you have been paying attention to some of the shenanigans in the state assembly this past week or so, you saw that they passed a sanctuary city ordinance. What exactly does that mean? Well here check this out:

Wisconsin cities would face state financial sanctions if they block cops from asking people about their immigration status, under a GOP bill considered by lawmakers Wednesday.

The public packed a hearing room at the Capitol to testify on the bill by Rep. John Spiros (R-Marshfield) before the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs.

The bill comes amid a furious national debate over illegal immigration, spurred by both billionaire Donald Trump’s White House campaign and President Barack Obama’s attempt to overhaul federal policies without congressional action.

Is this really a burning issue in Marshfield? Or much of anywhere in Wisconsin? Who is really driving this and why?

Even the Walker administration cheerleading JSOnline has an issue with the distraction:

We’re not particular fans of local IDs or of the sanctuary city movement, by which communities adopt policies barring police from asking about the immigration status of those charged with crimes (although requiring police to check could drive undocumented workers further underground).

But these are ultimately local issues that should be hashed out in individual communities. Local authorities don’t need state legislators imposing their will on communities on non-state issues. The importance of local control been a mantra of Republicans for years. Someone like Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester), who came out of local government should certainly understand that.

Well it will be a moot point (or maybe not since the state GOP likes to change direction on a moments notice) as the state senate is unlikely to have time to take it up in the http://www.jsonline.com/news/statepolitics/state-senate-unlike-to-take-up-sanctuary-cities-bill-b99673340z1-369431031.html:

A state bill to fine sanctuary cities for immigrants drew roars of protest Thursday, but it now appears set to die with a whimper.

An estimated 20,000 Latino and pro-immigrant demonstrators converged on the Capitol to protest the controversial legislation, which would impose financial penalties on local governments that block police from asking criminal defendants about their immigration status.

But a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau said GOP senators are unlikely to take up the proposal passed by their Republican colleagues in the Assembly.

“It’s not a high priority for any of our members,” Myranda Tanck said of AB 450.

The legislation was introduced in October but hasn’t even been discussed yet in meetings of the Senate Republican caucus — a bad sign for any bill at this point in the waning legislative session.

But back to how big a problem this really is. Here’s the list of sanctuary cities in Wisconsin…plus a county:

Wisconsin

•Madison, WI (Congressional Research Service) Update: In June, 2010, the city council passed a resolution reaffirming its policy.

•Milwaukee, WI (Added 10-13-15, Source: 10-8-14 DHS DDO Report citing Resolution 12-135)

•Milwaukee Co., WI (Added 6-10-12 Source article: County Board Resolution on Immigration on target, Opinion, Journal Sentinel News., 6-9-12)

Just the usual suspects…keep moving…nothing to see here!