Wow, where do these guys come from? Today I’m talking about Tom Tiffany and Andre Jacque, two of the most misguided legislators to hold office in Wisconsin in many years.
Let’s start with Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst). The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel published a piece about him recently, calling him a “lightning rod on environmental issues.” It’s a good article, well worth your time, and chronicles Sen. Tiffany’s efforts to “ease” environmental regulations (make that erase) in order to allow GTAC to mine in the Penokees, his role in overriding county-level shoreline zoning protection in the budget, and his successful effort to cut funding for scientific research in the DNR, including reducing the number of scientists who work there. Richard Thiede, the president of the Iron County Lakes and Rivers Alliance covers these issues much more thoroughly in a guest post at the Woods Person blog. The details show Sen. Tiffany’s absolute disregard for the people he represents.
But the most interesting part about the MJS article is Sen. Tiffany’s response to his placement on the 2014 “Dishonor Roll” of the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters. “‘That’s a badge of honor,’ Tiffany said. He dismissed the League as ‘out of the mainstream.’ The award hangs on the wall of his Capitol office.”
What a statement! A badge of “honor” to be noted as one of the worst legislators in the state in terms of protecting the environment. Most people, even conservatives, want to be seen as protective of the world around us, but not Tom Tiffany. Of course, this attitude squares with Sen. Tiffany’s views: the EPA is “radical,” the role of humans in global warming isn’t settled, natural resources (i.e., mineral and forest resources) must be “fully utilized” no matter the impact on air and water quality (and tourism). (Interestingly, Tiffany and his wife ran an excursion boat on the Willow Flowage for twenty years, on water where the DNR spent millions of dollars on land purchases. Seems he’s all done with that.)
Now Tom Tiffany sees himself as an “agent of change,” and believes the state should curtail conservation land purchases, embrace sand mining while limiting local governments’ ability to regulate it, increase logging in state forests, and “discipline” the scientists in the DNR. In other words, Wisconsin should go back to pre-statehood days.
Rep. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) only wants to send Wisconsin back to the 1930s.. He has introduced a bill that would curtail significant portions of Wisconsin’s biological research, and would force scientists from the University of Wisconsin and the Medical College of Wisconsin to take their research, and their research dollars, outside the state. As described by the Legislative Reference Bureau, Jacque’s bill, which is scheduled for a hearing on Tuesday, August 11, at 10:00 am, “prohibits a person from knowingly and for valuable consideration acquiring, receiving, or otherwise transferring a fetal body part in this state. A fetal body part is a cell, tissue, organ, or other part of an unborn child who is aborted by an induced abortion. The bill also prohibits a person from knowingly providing, receiving, or using, for experimentation, a fetal body part in this state, regardless of whether the provision, receipt, or use is for valuable consideration.” (Emphasis added.)
Two points are critical here.
- Federal law already prohibits the sale of fetal tissue for profit.
- Fetal cells and fetal tissue have been used in scientific research since roughly the 1930s, and in federally-funded research since the 1950s. Federally-funded research is subject to review by an federal ethics panel. This bill as written prohibits such research. At UW alone the cells are used by more than 100 scientists in $76 million worth of grants.
Rep. Jacque does not seem to understand what his bill does. A similar bill did not pass the legislature in 2011. According to an article in the Wisconsin State Journal Rep. Jacque “said he changed the bill to allow use of the cells,” but the plain language of the bill does not do that. (This is the proposed language: 146.345 (1) (ag) “Fetal body part” means a cell, tissue, organ, or other part of an unborn child.”) Playing mad scientist, the representative also concluded that if researchers want to create new cell lines, they can use tissue from miscarriages. (He should try asking a woman who has just miscarried for permission to use that tissue … ) Rep. Jacque also callously dismisses the claims of the University of Wisconsin as to the extent of research performed using fetal cells and fetal tissue. “For his part, Jacque said of UW’s estimates on potential lost research dollars, ‘I’m sure that’s exaggerated, but they can use any numbers they like.'”
Now Rep. Jacque has suggested that there might be changes to the bill to make it more acceptable, but if he doesn’t understand what he has done, how can he make meaningful changes?
Remarkable. Rep. Jacque wants to set back research to the pre-1930s, and Sen. Tiffany wants to turn back environmental protection to the 1850s. Where do these guys come from anyway?