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— Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel said amending the state constitution to strengthen the rights of crime victims would even the playing field between victims and defendants.

Schimel, who appeared Sunday on “UpFront with Mike Gousha,” is backing Marsy’s Law, a nationwide movement to elevate victims’ rights to state constitutions. The law is named for Marsalee “Marsy” Nicholas, a young California woman who was stalked and killed by her ex-boyfriend in 1983.

“What we’re looking to do is move the statutory rights into the constitution, and it better evens the playing field,” Schimel said on the show, produced in partnership with WisPolitics.com.

“It’s never going to be perfectly even, because in a criminal courtroom the defendant’s right to fair trial, his constitutional rights, will always have an edge over the victim’s rights. But this moves them closer to even,” he said.

The law would strengthen the rights of victims in the areas of restitution, information and notification. Schimel offered an example of how Marsy’s Law would work in bail hearings for defendants. Victims currently don’t have the right to be heard at a defendant’s bail hearing, he said, but under Marsy’s Law they would.

“The judge sees the defendant’s face at every single court appearance,” Schimel said. “As a prosecutor for a long time, I think it’s a good thing that the court sees the face of the victim more often.”

Gousha asked about concerns raised in other states that the law would lead to delays in the criminal justice system, or unforeseen consequences. Schimel said he disagreed with that.

“If we want crime victims to come forward and be part of the system, and we need them if we’re going to hold offenders accountable and make our communities safe, we need crime victims to participate in the system. If we want them to do that, they need to perceive the system as not stacked against them,” he said.

Gousha also asked Schimel about the state crime lab’s progress in testing old rape kits, and in a web extra, he asked Schimel about the fight against heroin and opioid abuse and addiction.

See the Schimel interview on wisn.com.

— Also on the program, a newly elected member of the Milwaukee Public Schools Board said the Emerge Wisconsin program helped teach her how to campaign and win elections.

Paula Phillips of Milwaukee was elected to the MPS board last Tuesday. She is currently attending the Emerge Wisconsin program, which helps elect progressive and Democratic women to public office by teaching them campaign fundamentals.

In the April 4 elections, 16 women who had attended or are currently attending the Emerge Wisconsin program ran for local, non-partisan offices around the state. Fourteen of those 16 women won seats.

“I think what makes Emerge unique is that is does focus on women,” Phillips said.

She said the program is “helping women build confidence so that when you’re going through a grueling campaign you know what your story is, why you’re doing what you’re doing, and then you have this amazing support system while you’re doing it.”

— In another segment, the president and CEO of the Waukesha County Business Alliance urged Gov. Scott Walker and lawmakers to reconsider funding for work on the Interstate 94 east-west corridor in Milwaukee.

Suzanne Kelley said the corridor “is a major thoroughfare for commerce in our region.”

Walker eliminated money for corridor planning and work in his most recent budget plan, now before the state Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee.

“Our business leaders in Waukesha County are telling us that a modern, efficient transportation system is critical to their businesses,” Kelley said.

She said 21,000 businesses, more than 300,000 jobs, and some 500,000 people are within a 3-mile radius of the corridor, which is a 3-mile section of I-94 between the Marquette and Zoo interchanges.

“The best approach from our standpoint would be to find a comprehensive solution that combines a long-term transportation strategy with appropriate funding for the highest priorities,” she said.

See more from the show:

— U.S. Sen. Tammy Baldwin, D-Madison, will be in Milwaukee today for a roundtable discussion on drug abuse.


Thursday, May 4: WisPolitics.com luncheon: “Medicaid in Transition”

The WisPolitics.com lunch at the Madison Club on Thursday, May 4 features a “Medicaid in Transition” panel discussing proposed changes to the federal-state Medicaid program.

– Michael Heifetz, state of Wisconsin Medicaid director
– John Russell, president and CEO, Columbus Community Hospital
– Eric Borgerding, president, Wisconsin Hospital Association;
– Jon Peacock, research director, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families

Register: https://wispolitics-medicaid.eventbrite.com



Walker takes aim at DNR magazine, subscribers erupt
[Photo of ex-DNR Magazine editor Natasha Kassulke, who quit the magazine after Walker’s administration demanded to vet every article ahead of publication.] … Even though it is sustained entirely by subscribers — it had nearly 84,000 as of December — Walker’s proposed budget would end it next February. He argues … DNR can reach more people through social media. … proposal has outraged subscribers, particularly older ones who don’t rely on the internet for news, and has Democrats wondering if the pro-industry governor wants to pull the plug because the publication promotes science. DNR Sec. Stepp echoes GOvs. Jindal and Bentley, who have also axed state magazines — DNR staffers lose time from core duties when they work on articles and that subscription revenue doesn’t make up for the lost hours. … “There are things in the magazine Walker hasn’t liked,” said state Sen. Jon Erpenbach. DNR’s Dick declined comment, stood by Stepp’s JFC testimony. “I do not like looking at a screen,” Shavlik of Crivitz said. “I just like a piece of paper in front of me. If they have a good reason (for eliminating the magazine), I can live with it. So far I haven’t heard a good reason.” LA’s new Dem GOv. Bel Edwards brought back the popular “Louisiana Conservationist” in a limited format.

Walker wants WI to be first state to stop dictating school days and hours
… During a recent visit to a school in Waukesha to talk up his budget proposal, he said: “To me, the [annual DPI] report card is the ultimate measure. It’s not how many hours you are sitting in a chair.” The reaction? WISN reported: “A [DPI] spokesperson … said the agency has no official position on the governor’s plan but said that overall students need more access to learning, not less.” … Wisconsin and Ohio in recent years moved to using the hour as a unit of measure rather than days — but if Walker has his way, that will go by the wayside too.

Election prospects brighten for incumbents Scott Walker and Tammy Baldwin
… Both saw their ratings improve last month in [MU Law] poll … Both have seen potential front-line challengers take a pass … quite possible neither will draw a well-known opponent. Each officeholder has vulnerabilities. Each race involves two huge unknowns: the identity of the challenger and the nature of the political climate next fall. This is not an attempt to handicap either contest. … [brief on declining ticket-splitting in WI over this century] What are the ingredients for a split outcome in 2018? … One reason Baldwin looks less vulnerable now than she did a few months ago is her party’s presidential defeat last fall. … the better the national climate is for Democrats such as Baldwin, the worse it is for Republicans such as Walker. But Walker will be well-funded and well-organized, has three statewide wins under his belt and has no formidable opponents on the horizon. … if their races are close enough, or if either or both of them fail to draw a strong challenger, then Wisconsin could break a near-20-year pattern and deliver a top-of-the-ticket victory to each political party.

Trump Considers Major Shake-up of Senior White House Team
Crisis in Syria has sharpened president’s desire to cut some of the drama out of West Wing … Two people close to the White House said … Trump is specifically evaluating whether to keep [Priebus, Bannon] in their current positions. … Trump is “trying out different names with his friends,” one of those people said. … Priebus has absorbed some of the blame for these early missteps. … Bannon has sparred both with [Kushner and Cohn] … Kushner and Cohn spring from an internationalist, establishment wing that isn’t a natural fit with Mr. Bannon’s more pugnacious nationalism. … Continued infighting has “a very short life cycle,” the administration official said, adding that the president is expected to make a decision soon. … Possible candidates for Mr. Priebus’s job include Mr. Cohn … [who] has told the president he would be an eager and able chief of staff … Cohn said the reports about a shake-up are “completely false. Reince is leading our team effectively,” Mr. Cohn said. More Bannon analysis. Pollster Caddell comments.

Priebus tries to broker peace between Steve Bannon and Jared Kushner
… infighting between Bannon and Kushner reportedly came to a head on Thursday as Mr. Trump was weighing military action against Syria. … “Reince had the two sit down with him to clear the air and agree [on focusing] on the agenda and ending the back and forth,” a White House official [said]. … The meeting in Palm Beach, Florida, comes in the wake of reports that Mr. Trump may be considering a major shakeup in his top staff, and that Priebus and Bannon’s jobs are in danger. The White House has pushed back on those reports. … Bannon and Priebus both find themselves in the unenviable position of clashing with a member of the Trump family. … Bannon’s name was removed from the National Security Council’s Principals Committee earlier this week … Meanwhile, Kushner’s role has been … increasing input in policymaking, most notably in foreign affairs, where Kushner has virtually no experience.

Ryan Seeking Win After Health Care Loss
… “I don’t know that the Lord himself could unite our caucus,” said Rep. Mike Simpson, R-Idaho. Ryan, R-Wis., will need all the clout he can muster to succeed with those upcoming bills and with continuing attempts to resurrect the health care legislation. He cannot afford another reversal without risking further erosion of his own power, though no one says his hold on the speakership is in imminent jeopardy. … [facing late-April govt shutdown, need to pass budget filler] … Trump and his allies want it to include money for his proposed border wall with Mexico and a boost for the Pentagon. Ryan may encounter conservative opposition and need Democratic votes to pass it — a tactic that got Boehner in trouble with his party’s right wing. … [but] Republicans have yet to heal from the events of March 24, when Ryan abruptly canceled a House vote on the health care … Ryan said that going forward, “It means we have to talk things out much, much, much more thoroughly.” … Also ahead is tax legislation. Republicans are divided over a Ryan-backed proposal to tax imports and which tax provisions to end to help lower rates. Ex Senate Leader Lott, GOP Rep. Ross, Dem Rep. McGOvern comment.

Ryan makes ‘personal’ fundraising request for Ron Estes
… Estes, the two-term Republican state treasurer, is facing Democrat James Thompson and Libertarian Chris Rockhold in the race to replace Mike Pompeo [Trump’s CIA director.] … “I am personally reaching out to you today to help strengthen our House majority by electing Ron Estes in Kansas’ Fourth Congressional District,” Ryan [email to GOP donors sent out last week.] … warns that Thompson’s campaign “will be well-funded by liberal special-interest groups in Washington and their vast resources.” … Ryan’s fundraising email preceded NRCC plan to spend about $92K for online and TV ads in the final days and Sen. Cruz plan to campaign for Estes’ on Monday in Wichita. Late GOP push suggests tighter race than expected in district a Dem has not won in more than 20 yrs.


– 9 a.m.- 7 -.m. .:U.S. Rep. Sensenbrenner holds town hall meetings. Various locations,

– 5 p.m.: A reception with state Rep. Dale Kooyenga.

– 5:30 p.m.: U.S. Rep. Pocan town hall. Janesville.

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