Daily Archives: December 4, 2018

AFP: Urges legislature to pass regulatory reform legislation

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2018

CONTACT: Eric Bott, [email protected]

MADISON, Wis. – Americans for Prosperity-Wisconsin (AFP-WI) on Tuesday urged the legislature to pass regulatory reform legislation that would bolster legislative oversight and bring about more transparency to the administrative rule-making process. The legislation builds on the reforms implemented by the REINS Act, which the legislature passed in 2017. Lawmakers are expected to consider the reforms during the extraordinary session.

AFP-WI State Director Eric Bott issued the following statement:

“This legislation would be a win for democracy, a win for good government, and a win for the Wisconsin citizen. These reforms would strengthen the separation of powers, bolster transparency, and expand legislative oversight by restoring authority to the legislature – the people most accountable to Wisconsin voters. We look forward to working with the legislature and Governor-elect Tony Evers in the coming years to advance more reforms that shift power back to the people.”

AG Schimel: Announces $6 million settlement with Encore Capital, Midland Credit Management, and Midland Funding to reform debt buying and collection practices

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MADISON, Wis. – Attorney General Brad Schimel announced today that Wisconsin has joined 41 other states and the District of Columbia in reaching a $6 million settlement with Encore Capital Group Inc. and its subsidiaries Midland Credit Management, Inc. and Midland Funding, LLC, one of the nation’s largest debt buyers.

Debt buying involves buying and selling overdue debts from creditors and other account owners. Often purchased for pennies on the dollar, debt buyers seek to recover the full balance from consumers through collection attempts by phone and mail. Debt buyers, including Midland, also take consumers to court to collect the debts they purchase. However, people are often unable to afford attorneys to defend the allegations and cases result in default judgments, hurting credit and putting people in jeopardy of having their wages garnished.

The settlement resolves the states’ investigation into Midland’s collection and litigation practices. Much like the conduct witnessed during the mortgage crisis, the agreement settles claims that Midland signed and filed affidavits in state courts in large volumes without verifying the information printed in them, a practice commonly called robo-signing.

The settlement requires Midland to reform its affidavit signing and litigation practices. Midland must carefully verify the information in affidavits and present accurate documents in court proceedings. When Midland files a lawsuit, it must have account documents about the debt before they file the case, including the amount of the debt, proof of an agreement, and an explanation about why any additional fees are justified.

The settlement offers protections to consumers Midland is collecting from even if they are not being sued. All consumers must receive accurate information about valid debts. If a consumer disputes a debt Midland is collecting, the settlement requires Midland to review original account documents before it continues its collection efforts. Midland must provide these substantiating documents to the consumer for no charge. The settlement requires Midland maintain proper oversight and training over its employees and the law firms that it uses. The agreement prohibits Midland from reselling debt for two years.

As part of the settlement, Midland will completely eliminate or reduce the judgment balances of 16 Wisconsin consumers for a value of $23,554 in cases where Midland used an affidavit against them in court between 2003 and 2009. Midland will notify impacted consumers by mail of the balance reduction and no further action is necessary from the consumer.

Midland has also agreed to set aside a limited fund for additional restitution to eligible consumers. Consumers who disputed a debt with Midland but were sued and had a judgment entered against them in a case where Midland provided an affidavit between January 1, 2003 and September 14, 2009, and have not made any payments to Midland in connection with the debt, are eligible for a credit against any outstanding balance on the judgment. Consumers with questions about this additional set of limited funds may contact the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions at 608-264-7969.

https://www.doj.state.wi.us/news-releases/ag-schimel-announces-6-million-settlement-encore-capital-midland-credit-management-and

Democratic Governors Association: Statement on GOP power grabs

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For Immediate Release:

December 4, 2018

Contact: Jared Leopold, 202-772-5600, [email protected]

Today, Democratic Governors Association Chair Governor Gina Raimondo (RI) released the following statement on the attempts by Republican lawmakers to restrict elected Democratic governors in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Changing the rules when you don’t like the outcome is a move befitting a playground bully, not elected leaders in the world’s greatest democracy. Yet unfortunately, that’s exactly what we’re seeing lame-duck Republicans attempt in Wisconsin and Michigan.

“Governors-elect Gretchen Whitmer and Tony Evers both won elections to serve as governor. Yet, Republican legislators are contradicting the will of the voters and attempting to undo the election results. That is a dangerous assault on our democracy.

“It’s time for Republican governors to join Democrats in condemning these attempts to weaken the office of the governor. This is a threat to checks-and-balances in state government, and every governor should speak up regardless of party.”

Gov. Walker: Appoints Burnett County District Attorney

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018
Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839

MADISON –Governor Scott Walker today appointed Attorney Joseph Schieffer to the position of Burnett County District Attorney. Schieffer will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of William Norine.
“I am pleased to appoint Joe Schieffer as Burnett County district attorney,” said Governor Walker. “I am confident that his legal acumen and dedication to the rule of law will serve the people of Burnett County well and build on Joseph’s success as a district attorney.”

Joseph Schieffer works as a special prosecutor currently in the Burnett County District Attorney’s Office. In this role, Schieffer appears on behalf of the State of Wisconsin and Burnett County in cases involving juveniles, domestic violence, theft, and various other felony and misdemeanor level offenses. Prior to this role in the community, Schieffer was a sole practitioner at his Cumberland based firm, Schieffer Law, LLC. Schieffer successfully managed a heavy caseload involving cases in civil litigation, criminal defense, and family law. Schieffer was also an associate attorney at Smith & Smith Law, LTD, and an assistant district attorney in the Barron County District Attorney’s Office.

In addition to his legal experience, Schieffer is on the board of directors on Kinship of Cumberland & Turtle Lake. Schieffer was previously the treasurer of the Barron County Bar Association.

Burnett County Circuit Court Judge Melissia Mogen wrote in support of Schieffer, “Mr. Schieffer will be a great asset to those involved in the Burnett County criminal justice system. In the time that he has been special prosecutor for Burnett County, he has shown that he has a positive work ethic, integrity, and the professional experience to serve the people of Burnett County well.” Judge Mogen adds, “The experience Mr. Schieffer gained from being an assistant district attorney in Barron County and as a special prosecutor for Burnett County is valuable and will help him make decisions that are critical in his new role as district attorney.”

Barron County Sheriff Chris Fitzgerald recommends Schieffer stating, “Joe is seen as an attorney with integrity and unwilling to compromise his principles. Although he has more recently been a criminal defense attorney, the respect he has shown law enforcement while at the same time advocating for his clients has allowed him to maintain the respect of our deputies. He treats everyone with respect.”

Schieffer received his juris doctor from Marquette University, his undergraduate degree from the University of Wisconsin – Oshkosh, and his associates degree from Chippewa Valley Technical College.

He resides in Cumberland with his wife Hilary.

Gov. Walker: Appoints Columbia County District Attorney

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018
Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker today appointed Attorney Tristan Eagon to the position of Columbia County District Attorney. Eagon will fill the vacancy created by the resignation of Jane Kohlwey.

“Tristan Eagon is a respected community leader who has distinguished herself in her career as a state public defender and civil litigator,” said Governor Walker. “I am confident that her tireless work ethic, integrity, and judicial philosophy will serve the people of Columbia County well.”

Tristan Eagon currently works at Sterling Law Offices, LLC where she practices family law. Eagon previously worked at the Wisconsin State Public Defender’s Office. In her role as an assistant state public defender, Eagon appeared as defense counsel in juvenile delinquency proceedings and adversarial counsel in CHIPS/JIPS cases. She also appeared as advocacy counsel in Wisconsin Chapter 51, Chapter 54, and Chapter 55 cases. Prior to this role, Eagon worked at Richard B. Johnson & Associates, LLC where she represented clients in civil litigation, criminal defense, family law, mediation, bankruptcy, and medical malpractice cases. In addition to her litigation experience, Eagon was a police legal advisor at the Lansing City Attorney’s office in Michigan, a police officer at the Surfside Beach Police Department in South Carolina, and a former law enforcement officer in Bryan, Ohio.

Eagon is a team member and volunteer on the Columbia County OWI Treatment Court. She is a member on the Junior League of Madison, the Experimental Aircraft Association (EAA), and the Women in Aviation. Eagon is also a volunteer with the American Legion.

Columbia County Assistant District Attorney Crystal Long wrote in support of Eagon, “Attorney Eagon is a zealous advocate for her clients and defends their rights to the fullest extent of the law. She is also realistic in her expectations and does not make frivolous motions and/or unreasonable demands.”

Attorney Ronald Benavides of the State of Wisconsin Public Defender’s Office recommends Eagon stating, “she is a person and a lawyer of high integrity and ethics, and that she relates to and communicates with people of every station in life effectively and with a sense of humanity.” Attorney Benavides adds, “Tristan is a very talented negotiator, and she is very effective in the courtroom”

“I am thoroughly impressed with her understanding of the law, and her ability to articulate even complex legal issues in a manner that makes them easy to understand,” said Attorney Todd Snow. “She is a staunch advocate for her clients, and proponent of the rule of law. Her work ethic and dedication to the legal profession are unparalleled.”

Eagon received her juris doctor degree from Thomas M. Cooley Law School, her bachelor’s degree from Muskingum University, and her associate’s degree from Zane State College.

Gov. Walker: Appoints Racine County judge

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018
Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker today appointed Attorney Maureen Martinez to serve as a judge on the Racine County Circuit Court, replacing retiring Judge Emily Mueller.
“I am pleased to appoint Maureen Martinez to the Racine County Circuit Court,” said Governor Walker.

“Martinez has established herself as a distinguished and respected attorney in Racine County for over 20 years. Her reputation for integrity, legal acumen, and commitment to the rule of law give me great confidence that she will be an excellent judge.”

Maureen Martinez has practiced law since 1996, serving as an Assistant District Attorney in Racine County and currently as Deputy District Attorney. During this time, Martinez has specialized in felony cases involving the sexual assault of children and adults, homicides, child abuse, and neglect. In addition, Martinez represents the office on the statewide Drug Endangered Child Committee to increase awareness about the effects of drug use and abuse among children. Martinez also serves as an office representative on the county’s Child Death Review, the Multidisciplinary Team, the Sexual Assault Response Team, the Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, the Juvenile Justice Coordinating Committee, and the Juvenile Alternative to Detention Initiative.

In addition to her vast legal experience, Martinez is a board member on the Caledonia Conservancy and a tutor for middle school students at the John Paul Center at the St. Patrick’s Parish in Racine.

Racine County Circuit Court Judge Robert S. Repischak wrote in support of Martinez. “She has
exhibited a strong knowledge of the law; a passion for the administration of justice, especially for
the safety and well-being of children.” Judge Repischak adds, “she has the personal and professional
temperament to sit on the bench.”

Martinez received support from Racine County Circuit Court Judge Faye M. Flancher who said, “she has prosecuted hundreds of cases in all of the criminal courts. She has obtained convictions for some of the most dangerous criminals in our county.” Judge Flancher adds, “Maureen is always prepared and always on time. She has the highest ethical standards.”

Martinez received her juris doctor degree from Marquette University, her masters degree from the University of Illinois, and her undergraduate degree from St. Mary’s College of Notre Dame. She resides in Racine with her husband Michael.

Gov. Walker: Lights Capitol Christmas Tree

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018
Contact: Amy Hasenberg, (608) 266-2839

MADISON – Governor Scott Walker lit the 2018 State Capitol Christmas Tree today at the Wisconsin State Capitol. The balsam fir is decorated with “Wisconsin’s Dairyland” themed ornaments made by students from throughout the state.
“This year’s Capitol Christmas Tree is a symbol of many of our state’s strong traditions,” said Governor Walker. “The tree itself stands as a symbol of our state’s history in the logging industry, the ornaments represent our state’s ever-important dairy industry, and everyone coming together to decorate and visit the tree represent the sense of community we all love about Wisconsin. Thank you to everyone who helped with this year’s tree including the hundreds of students who helped decorate and Don and Mary Miller of Plainfield who donated the tree.”

The 2018 State Capitol Christmas Tree was coordinated by the Great Lakes Timber Professionals Association and arrived earlier this month. The tree is between 35 and 40 feet tall.

Gov.-elect Evers: Testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance opposing extraordinary session legislation

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 3, 2018
Contact: [email protected] or 608-267-2560

MADISON – Today, Governor-elect Tony Evers released his testimony to the Joint Committee on Finance in opposition to legislation before the committee for extraordinary session.

Members of the Joint Committee on Finance:

Thank you for the opportunity to submit written testimony on the legislation before you today.

For the past year, I spent time traveling around the state talking with people about the things that matter most to Wisconsin families—issues like fully funding public education, fixing our crumbling roads and infrastructure, and ensuring that health care is affordable, accessible, and maximizes protections for people who have pre-existing conditions. The bottom line, though, is that the election this November was not just about these issues, and it was bigger than any name on the ballot.

The election was not about Republican values or Democratic values—it was about our Wisconsin values of decency, kindness, and finding common ground. It was about solving problems, not picking political fights.

On November 6th, Wisconsinites said they agree that we are more than the sum of our differences, and they said it is time for a change from divide-and-conquer politics. The people of Wisconsin asked us to stop putting politics first, they asked us for a government that works for them, and they asked us to set aside partisanship and political ambitions to work together on the pressing issues facing our state.

Yet, the legislation before you today and the spirit of this extraordinary session are unfettered attempts to override and ignore what the people of Wisconsin asked for this November. This is rancor and politics as usual. It flies in the face of democratic institutions and the checks and balances that are intended to prevent power-hungry politicians from clinging to control when they do not get their way.

That’s why today I am submitting this testimony in opposition to this legislation and the extraordinary session. I urge you to stop any and all attempts to override the people of Wisconsin by opposing any extraordinary session legislation, and to stop the extraordinary session going forward.

Wisconsinites expect more from our government than what is happening here today. I’ve said all along that I believe we can work together. I believe there is a lot of common ground we can find. I remain hopeful that we can rise to the occasion. That is what the people of Wisconsin expect from us, and that is what the people of Wisconsin deserve.

Gov.-elect Tony Evers: Calls on Governor Scott Walker to withdraw last-minute appointments

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2018
Contact: [email protected] or 608-267-2560

MADISON – Today, Governor-elect Tony Evers released the following letter he sent to Governor Scott Walker asking him to withdraw the nearly fifty appointment referrals submitted to the State Senate:

The Honorable Governor Scott Walker

115 East Capitol

Madison, WI 53702

Via Hand Delivery

Governor Scott Walker:

The list of nearly fifty names you submitted yesterday for appointment to the State Senate that are expected to be voted on yet today is the latest example of putting politics before people.

In the midst of this already-extraordinary legislative session, it is extremely disappointing to see more attempts to further override the will of the people of Wisconsin. It is in these very times that the public expects so much more from us as elected leaders.

These appointments should be fully vetted in the next legislative biennium. Many of them have had no public hearing and some have not filed a statement of economic interest. Given the rushed timing and the fact that many of these appointments have gone unfilled for extended periods of time, I must request that you withdraw this slate of names to allow ample time for full review, not only for the State Senate, but for the people of Wisconsin, too.

As Governor, you have had the privilege for eight years to appoint Wisconsin citizens to more than 200 boards, commissions, and other bodies. Recognizing the important role these individuals play in affecting the lives of the people of this great state, these appointments should not be jammed through without transparency and time for full consideration by the people of Wisconsin and the State Legislature.

Respectfully,

Governor-elect Tony Evers

JFC approves three extraordinary session bills along party lines

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The Joint Finance Committee voted 12-4 along party lines early Tuesday to approve three GOP-authored extraordinary session bills after making several tweaks to the legislation.

The bills, which the Legislature plans to take to the floor today after they were introduced Friday, would make a series of changes to state law to give the Legislature more oversight of the incoming Tony Evers administration and say over the decisions of AG-elect Josh Kaul.

Dems slammed the bills as a power grab, while Republicans insisted they were just an attempt to balance the power between the executive branch and the Legislature.

“You rig the system when you win and you rig the system when you lose,” said Rep. Chris Taylor, D-Madison. “How is it you lose an election and you add more power after you lose?”

But JFC Co-chair John Nygren, R-Marinette, said 19 of the 45 proposals before the committee were either in the 2017-19 budget, would codify existing administrative rule, or update existing state law to reflect court decisions or federal law.

He said Gov.-elect Tony Evers didn’t this fall saying he would reject the waiver of a work requirement under the Medicaid program. But he is bringing it up now. If Evers really wants to work with Republicans, who will continue to control both houses of the Legislature next session, it would be best if they’re as equals.

“Him being able to undo what we’ve done with a simple signature is not a co-equal branch of government,” Nygren said.

Republicans originally released five bills, including one that incorporated all of the provisions in the other four. But the committee didn’t take up the omnibus legislation.

JFC also didn’t take up a bill that would move the 2020 presidential primary off the April ballot and to a new election day in March. That bill also included two provisions on absentee voting. Those pieces on absentee voting were instead added to another extraordinary session bill.

Nygren said he doesn’t believe Republicans have the votes to approve the primary change and he believes GOP leaders don’t intend to take up the bill on the floor today.

Other changes the committee made to the legislation include:

*removing a provision that would’ve exempted the Department of Public Instruction from administrative rules requirements that are part of the package. The state Supreme Court has ruled that DPI isn’t subject to changes Republicans made to the administrative rules process in 2011, though a conservative group is now pushing the justices to reconsider that decision. Some conservatives had raised objections to the provision exempting DPI because it would’ve codified that earlier Supreme Court ruling.

*keeping a window of about two weeks for in-person absentee voting as proposed in the original package. But the committee deleted restrictions on the time of day it can be offered and specified that clerks or election commissioners could offer more than one voting location. The GOP motion also made clear that in-person absentee voting can be offered every day over the two-week period. Previously, Republicans limited the hours it can be offered and prohibited clerks from offering it on Sunday. But a federal judge issued an injunction banning enforcement of those restrictions.

*modifying a provision that would give the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization the authority to appoint a special counsel to say the body would have to make the appointment in the consultation with the Department of Justice.

*adding a prohibition on local governments from using their own workforce or contract with another political subdivision for a local road or bridge project funded, in whole or in part, with state money. The provision also says local governments would have to to bid out any local road or bridge project funded with state money.

One Wisconsin Now: Will Republican legislature risk contempt with scheme to enact new limits on early voting?

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 4, 2018

MEDIA CONTACT
Mike Browne, Deputy Director
[email protected]
(608) 444-3483

GOP Anti-Voter Plot Would Directly Contradict Court Decision Protecting Early Voting Rights

MADISON, Wis. — A 2016 federal court ruling in the voting rights case One Wisconsin Institute, et. al. v. Thomsen, et. al. struck down racially-motivated restrictions on the hours and days of early voting imposed by Wisconsin Republicans. Attorney Bruce Spiva, a partner with the law firm Perkins Coie, who was on the legal team that argued the case, noted the legislature and its Republican leaders could find themselves in contempt of the court ruling if they follow through with a new effort to limit early voting after historic losses in the November midterm elections.

“Republicans aren’t just showing contempt and disrespect for Wisconsin voters by attacking early voting, again,” said One Wisconsin Now Executive Director Scot Ross. “This time they’re doing it with the full knowledge that they are thumbing their noses at a court order.”

As reported yesterday: On a conference call with reporters, Spiva said Monday one way to fight the limit if it passes is with a contempt motion. “If the Legislature is again contemplating the hours and the days of early voting, that would directly conflict with the injunction that Judge Peterson put in place,” he said.

Legislators pondering the voting restrictions are doing so with the knowledge they are running afoul of the federal judiciary. An analysis provided to the legislature by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau about the provision noted the decision of federal Judge James Peterson in One Wisconsin Institute et. al. v. Thomsen et. al. held the previous GOP imposed limits imposed on days and times of early voting were unconstitutional.

In addition, a drafting attorney who prepared the language of the bill at the direction of Assembly Republican leader Robin Vos noted that the previously imposed state limits on the days and hours of in-person early voting were found to be unconstitutional.

In his 2016 decision striking down those limits, federal Judge James Peterson found, “… Wisconsin’s restrictions on the hours for in-person absentee voting have had a disparate effect on African Americans and Latinos. The court also finds that the legislature’s justification for these restrictions was meager, and that the intent was to secure partisan advantage.”

Rep. Anderson: Power tends to corrupt, absolute power corrupts absolutely

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:

December 4th 2018

Contact: Logan Vidal [email protected] (608) 266-8570

Madison – Rep. Jimmy Anderson released the following statement on the Extraordinary Session scheduled for today.

“Republicans have demanded that we hold a special session of the legislature and to do what? To make health care more affordable or accessible? No. To fix our crumbling roads? No. To invest in our schools? No. What Republicans want to do is spend millions of taxpayer dollars to rig an upcoming election and strip Governor elect Evers of powers that Governor Walker enjoyed for eight years. We won’t stand by and allow Republicans to cheat the system. The people of Wisconsin deserve better.”

“When you’ve gerrymandered yourself into a permanent majority, stripped power from a governor-elect to curtail his influence, and worked to suppress the vote, you’re no longer legislating for the state of Wisconsin, you’re legislating for yourself. We’ve had 8 years of 1 party dominance that has been used to enrich allies and thwart the will of the people. Republican leaders have tasted power, and it’s corrupted them through their core.”

Rep. Crowley: GOP seeks to undermine (reject) the voice of Wisconsin voters

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For Immediate Release

December 3, 2018

Contact: Rep. David Crowley 608.266.5580, 920.915.0479

MADISON, WI – State Representative David Crowley (D-Milwaukee) made the following statement in response to Wisconsin Republicans special, lame-duck session to subvert the will of the voters with the expressed goal of maintaining and expanding their chokehold on political power.

“On November 6, Wisconsin voters made their voices heard loud and clear: they wanted an end to the regressive policies and corporate giveaways put in place by their Republican government. Now, it seems the Republicans are doing whatever they can to undermine those voices.

“Governor-elect Evers was duly chosen by the people of Wisconsin to represent them, with the understanding that his powers would be the same as the outgoing governor. It is curious that Republicans had no problem with the powers of the Office of the Governor as long as a Republican was in it. Don’t buy the GOP lip service about wanting to ensure they’re “at the table negotiating” – they still control (by virtue of a horribly gerrymandered map) both chambers of the legislature. Call this what it is: a desperate grab by sore losers to cling to power despite an electorate that increasingly rejects their agenda.

“This election was a clear announcement that the time to stop these sort of partisan stunts has come. I urge my Republican colleagues to respect the will of the people of Wisconsin, and allow Governor-elect Evers to go into his term with the same powers and freedoms that were afforded to his predecessor. We have all been elected by the will of the people and the people deserve representatives more concerned with the future of our state than the future of their own political ambitions.”

Representative Crowley invites constituents to contact his office at (608) 266-5580 or by email at [email protected]

Rep. Hebl: Statement on lame duck session

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FOR MORE INFORMATION, CONTACT: Rep. Gary Hebl, (608) 266-7678

(MADISON) – Today Rep. Hebl issued the following statement on the lame duck session called by legislative Republicans to curb the powers of incoming Governor Tony Evers and Attorney General Josh Kaul:

Last month, Wisconsin voters decided that they wanted Tony Evers as Governor and Josh Kaul as Attorney General. In a nakedly partisan move, the Republican leaders of the State Senate and State Assembly have decided that they know better than 2.6 million Wisconsin voters, and are maneuvering to override the will of the voters by smashing the balance of power in Wisconsin. They will not stand idly by as the democratically-elected Evers and Kaul take the powers that they so desperately crave. This is an affront to the peaceful transfer of power, of the separation of powers, and of common decency.

These Republicans are willing to risk it all to maintain the power that they have convinced themselves they are entitled to. They refuse to ensure affordable access to healthcare, quality education, or clean air and clean water, yet have no problem spending taxpayer money to pay for the inevitable lawsuits that will come from ramming through these bills.

For the past eight years, the legislature has been engaged in a Red Tape Review to streamline the rule making process. With this package of bills, Republicans will be adding layers of bureaucracy and oversight that will grind rulemaking to a halt. There is a difference between small government and bad government; passing these bills will prove once and for all that “small government” conservatives do not exist.

We have front row seats to the circus that is unchecked Republican control in Wisconsin. They show, once again, that there is one thing they care most about: power. Not governing, protecting our planet, or making lives easier for Wisconsinites. For Wisconsin Republicans, it is, and always has been, about maintaining their power.

Their ability to get whatever they want is coming to an end, and they are running scared. This is their final, desperate attempt to rig the system in their favor. The tides are turning, though, and I am optimistic that in short time we will return to a fair Wisconsin that treats all citizens equally, and the majority in the legislature once again works for the people and not for themselves.

 

Rep. Neubauer: Statement on lame duck Joint Finance Committee hearing

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

December 4,
2018

Contact: Rep.
Greta Neubauer, 608-237-9166

[email protected]

Lame-duck bills are a transparent, last-ditch attempt to consolidate Republican power

MADISON, WI – Today, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) met to discuss the five-bill lame-duck package authored and introduced by Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), which propose sweeping changes to the balance of powers, voting rights, and the social safety net in Wisconsin. Shortly after midnight, four of the five bills proposed passed through JFC on partisan lines. Representative Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) issued the following statement in response:

“On November 6th, Wisconsinites told Republicans they’d had enough of single-party government in Wisconsin. But instead of reaching across the aisle, Republicans decided to overrule the people’s votes and rewrite the rules. Now they’re trying to gut checks and
balances, the very system designed to prevent power-hungry politicians from desperately clinging to control when they are voted out of office,” Neubauer stated.

“But here’s the thing: Wisconsinites are smart. Hundreds traveled to the Capitol today to share their testimony with the Joint Finance Committee. Thousands more called, wrote, tweeted, and Facebooked their legislators. We see this lame duck session for what it
is: a desperate, eleventh hour bid to consolidate Republican power,” Neubauer continued.

“This lame-duck rush is an abuse of power,” she continued. “Speaker Vos and Senate Majority Leader Fitzgerald need to stop playing political games, and start working with the incoming administration to build a stronger Wisconsin. While the Republicans of the Joint
Finance Committee chose to pass these bills through today, I hope my colleagues across the aisle in the Assembly and the Senate will have the courage to stand up for democracy and vote against this package.”

Rep. Shankland: Opposes the GOP attack on women-owned construction businesses

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For Immediate Release Contact: Rep. Katrina Shankland

December 4, 2018 Office: (608) 267-9649

(Madison, Wis.) — Yesterday, Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee caved to Senator Duey Stroebel’s attack on federal transportation funding, voting late last night to advance the “Swap Bill,” section 17 of 2017 AB 1069, to be debated and voted on during today’s extraordinary lame duck session of the Wisconsin Legislature. The legislation guts requirements that protect small Wisconsin construction-related companies. Stripping federal funding from all but the largest transportation projects means that many fewer projects will be required to participate in the federal Disadvantaged Business Enterprise (DBE) Program. The DBE Program ensures that nearly 650 women-owned businesses certified for the DBE Program have a shot at bidding on transportation projects.

“I bought my construction business less than two years ago, and the DBE Program was a significant factor in my decision to risk my life savings,” said Anna Prinsen, owner of Modern Crane of Onalaska, Wisconsin. “Had I known what Senator Stroebel planned to do to the DBE Program, I may have made a different decision. If this bill goes through, it will impact the future of my company. This bill is very anti-woman.”

“The DBE Program is intended to help small women-owned and minority-owned businesses in Wisconsin break into the construction industry,” said Rep. Katrina Shankland, a member of the Joint Finance Committee. “Many of these companies simply are not equipped to work on mega-projects. By forcing so many federal dollars into the largest projects, Senator Stroebel’s bill could essentially regulate small business out of many transportation projects in Wisconsin.”

Christy Wade, owner of Endeavor-based Arbor Green, said she was “blindsided” by the Swap Bill. “The DBE program helped my company secure work on the Marquette Interchange – a three-year job that was a turning point for my business,” said Wade. “Without the DBE Program to help network with big contractors over the course of several years, I wouldn’t have been able to gain the experience needed to work on a big project like the Marquette interchange.”

“Why Senator Stroebel would seek to limit opportunities for women-owned businesses is beyond me,” said Rep. Shankland, “But the bottom line is that fewer DBE projects means fewer opportunities for small businesses. If Senator Stroebel intended his Swap Bill to gut the DBE Program without telling the rest of us on Joint Finance, then shame on him, and if he proposed the Swap Bill without knowing enough about the DBE Program to understand the negative impact on small, Wisconsin businesses, then shame on him for that too. Either way, his political machinations have devastating consequences for Wisconsin businesses.”

“Simply put, Senator Stroebel’s Swap Bill is bad for women-owned businesses in Wisconsin. Democrats are united with Wisconsin’s DBE-certified business owners,” said Rep. Shankland. “It’s incredibly disappointing that Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee voted in lockstep to advance this proposal.”

Rep. Subeck: Statement on the extraordinary session

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE

DATE: December 4, 2018

CONTACT: Michael Tierney, 608-266-7521(office)

MADISON – State Representative Lisa Subeck (D – Madison) released the following statement today regarding the extraordinary session:

“The people of Wisconsin made it crystal clear on November 6 that they are sick and tired of politicians who put politics ahead of people. Yet here we are back in the State Capitol where Republicans are ramming through sweeping changes in an unprecedented power grab that totally and completely undercuts the will of the voters.

Despite an onslaught of Republican attempts to rig the rules in their own favor, the people voted for new leadership in our state. Now, Republicans are changing the rules again in a desperate attempt to cling to their own power despite the will of the people.

Wisconsinites want us to come together to solve the problems facing our state. Instead of putting politics and power ahead of people, Republicans should work with our incoming administration for the good of Wisconsin.”

Rep. Vruwink: Statement on extraordinary session

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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: CONTACT: Rep. Don Vruwink

December 4, 2018 608-266-3790

Rep. Don Vruwink (D-Milton) issued the following statement today as the Assembly prepared to act on four bills that would change long-standing laws about how state government operates. The bills are being fast-tracked through the legislative process a month before a new governor and attorney general are sworn into office.

“I’m disappointed that this is how the Legislature starts off with a new governor and I’m disappointed that we are arguing over power. I was hoping that with a Democratic governor and a Republican-controlled Legislature, we could create a lot more bipartisan legislation. I believe government works best when we have a balance of power. In my experience, the most effective legislation comes when we work together in a bipartisan manner.

“In my discussions with Governor-Elect Evers, it is clear that he wants to work well with legislators on both sides of the aisle. His priorities are not Democratic nor Republican, but taking care of the needs of Wisconsin.”

Sen. Hansen: Statement on GOP power grab

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For Immediate Release Contact: Sen. Hansen
December 3, 2018 608-266-5670

“Having been rejected by the voters, Scott Walker and his lackeys in the legislature are resorting to doing what they do best: rigging the system any way they can for their own benefit and the benefit of their corporate donors at the expense of the people.

“True to form they hatched this scheme behind closed doors, sprang it on the public at the last possible minute and are now doing everything they can to ram it through before Governor-elect Evers and Attorney General-elect Kaul take office and before the public realizes what happened.

“The truth is that Scott Walker and the Republican Party do not believe in democracy. They do not believe in bi-partisanship, respecting our system of government, fair play or the will of the people. They believe in only one thing: their own political power.

“If any doubts remain after what we’ve witnessed over the last 8 years, tomorrow’s lame duck session should dispel them once and for all.”

Sen. Taylor: Believes GOP are taking career ending votes

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For more information, contact: Aidan McMorrow (608) 266-5810

(MADISON) – Monday night, despite a gathering of at least 1,000 protestors at the State Capitol, Wisconsin GOP members on the State’s Budgetary Committee moved forward with three bills that would seriously limit the abilities of Governor Elect Tony Evers as well as incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul.

The bills were set to be discussed in an Extraordinary Session starting today at 11:00 am. However, over the course of the day, Senate Republicans have asked for more time and repeatedly met behind closed doors. In response to the ongoing delays Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement:

“I suspect that Republican leadership is having trouble convincing their own members to vote yes for some of the provisions in the remaining democracy killing bills. In addition to forcing this on voters, they have likely tried to ram them through their own caucuses. My fear is that these closed door sessions mean the bills could actually get worse.

But, people are fighting back. Whether members of the public, who were kicked out of the gallery today for wanting transparency or the consistent barrage of phones calls received from around the state demanding that legislators vote no on these bills. They may not think so now, but these are potentially career ending votes that Republicans are about to take.”

“I urge the people of Wisconsin to continue to push back on this outrageous disregard of voter’s wishes. Call Republicans, call Speaker Vos and Senator Fitzgerald, and let them know that Wisconsin made their decision on November 6th, and that those votes need to be respected. We expect our children to play by the rules, be gracious in defeat, and respect the process. We should demand no less from our legislators.”

Sen. Taylor: Recognizes life and legacy of President Bush

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FOR IMMEDIATE ADVISORY: For more information, contact:

December 3, 2018 Aidan McMorrow (608) 266-5810

(MADISON) – Late Friday evening former President George H.W. Bush passed away at the age of 94. After hearing the news, Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) released the following statement:

“I join the nation in recognizing the life and legacy of President George H.W. Bush. In learning of the letter that Bush left for Bill Clinton after the hard fought 1992 presidential election, I was so moved by him telling Clinton that “Your success is now our country’s success. I am rooting hard for you.” It is at once both a reminder of how political discourse and campaigns have changed, as well as the way things are supposed to be.”

“I did not agree with many of the policies of the 41st President, including his vote against the 1990 Civil Rights Bill and the racially charged use of the Willie Horton ad. However, when given a choice to serve his country or serve himself, he chose country every time.”

Senate and Assembly approve waiver bill

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The Assembly and Senate approved along party lines requiring the Department of Health to receive permission from the Legislature before asking the federal government for a waiver or to change an existing one.

The bill that cleared the Senate 18-15 and the Assembly 59-32 was pared back from an earlier version that would’ve applied the requirement to all agencies.

The change focuses the requirement on healthcare and would prevent the Department of Health Services from applying for a change to the Medicaid program without getting legislative approval. Under Gov. Scott Walker, Republicans have rejected accepting federal money through the Affordable Care Act to expand Medicaid. But Gov.-elect Tony Evers has pledged to see that money.

Other provisions in the bill including putting into statute provisions from federal waivers on drug screening and testing in the food stamp program and work requirements for able-bodied adults on the medical assistance program.

A coalition of healthcare groups had urged lawmakers to drop provisions in the bill, saying they were too complex to accurately gauge the full impact considering how quickly lawmakers were pushing them through the Legislature.

“It could not be further from the truth that my colleagues across the aisle care about health care,” said Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point. “There’s a reason why almost every single health care group that has an interest on this bill asked us to either slow this down or stop it in its tracks.”

Many Republican speakers in the Assembly debate focused on the importance of enacting work requirements for able-bodied Medicaid recipients.

Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, said these requirements would “help people get off the benefit program and into the workforce, at a time where we need people to participate more than ever.”

 

 

Senate approves 82 Walker appointments despite Evers plea to pull them

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The Senate voted 18-15 along party lines to approve 82 of Gov. Scott Walker’s appointments, including DOA Secretary Ellen Nowak returning to the Public Service Commission as chair.

The other appointments included attorney Scott Beightol to the UW Board of Regents. He replaces Republican Bryan Steil, who won a seat in Congress last month.

Dems objected to the appointments, saying many hadn’t received a public hearing or submitted a statement of economic interest. That, Dems argued, meant the votes were premature.

But Republicans pushed through the appointment on party lines even as Gov.-elect Tony Evers urged Walker to withdraw 50 appointments submitted yesterday to the Senate, saying they hadn’t been properly vetted.

“Recognizing the important role these individuals play in affecting the lives of the people of this great state, these appointments should not be jammed through without transparency and time for full consideration by the people of Wisconsin and the State Legislature,” Evers wrote in a letter to Walker.

Walker’s office didn’t immediately respond to an email seeking comment.

 

 

Senate Republicans still working out final details of extraordinary session bills

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The state Senate briefly returned to the floor after a lengthy delay as GOP leaders tried to work out final details on the remaining extraordinary session bills.

The Senate began looking at the bill dealing with legislative oversight of waivers from the federal government. But Dems requested a return to caucus to look at the proposed changes.

Before hitting the floor, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told WisPolitics.com Republicans had agreed to limit that oversight to federal waivers dealing with healthcare. An amendment to the bill was introduced that would apply the section on waivers only to the Department of Health.

Fitzgerald also said the caucuse was still working through the other extraordinary session bill, which deals with administrative rules, among other provisions. He also said caucus didn’t yet have agreement on changes to absentee voting, which the Joint Finance Committee added to that bill.

Fitzgerald said the caucus was still planning to take up that bill and protections for pre-existing conditions, which will go last. He said the Senate GOP would keep working to finish bills and there were no plans to pull plug on the session.

Senate, Assembly approve transpo extraordinary session bill

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The state Senate approved the first of three extraordinary session bills Tuesday evening after pulling a provision that Dems warned would prevent local governments from using their employees to do some road work if the project were funded with state money.

The bill also includes provisions that would make explicit in state law that new revenue from online sales will go to income tax reductions and to federalize state tax law on pass-through entities.

There was no debate on the bill in the Senate, which was approved 18-15 with all Republicans in favor and all Dems opposed. Only Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Middleton, spoke during the debate, chiding Republicans for calling the extraordinary session in the first place.

Members of the state Assembly traded barbs over the legislation and the late-night extraordinary session process, before the bill was passed 57-27.

“This attacks workers, it attacks women-owned business, it harms the environment and it just throws away opportunities for workers in Wisconsin and American workers,” said Rep. Katrina Shankland, D-Stevens Point. “This whole legislative lame-duck session is about overriding the will of the voters.”

Rep. Mary Felzkowski, R-Irma, who runs a business of her own, argued she and others like her don’t need “special treatment” to compete.

“The majority of women I know that own a business don’t need nor want a handout,” the Assembly Assistant Majority Leader said. “Again, the gentle lady from the 71st is very young; I’m sure she’s not a business owner, and thinks that we all need to be subsidized — most Millennials do.”

In the Senate, Erpenbach accused Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, of having a “Napoleanic complex.” He also chided Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, for saying he doesn’t trust Tony Evers, adding the Juneau Republican doesn’t know the Dem guv-elect.

He argued the Legislature’s actions in the extraordinary session weren’t legitimate.

“The only thing the voters are going to remember about tonight is their vote didn’t matter,” Erpenbach said.

The Joint Finance Committee amended the bill to add a prohibition on local governments from using their own workforce or contracting with another political subdivision for a local road or bridge project funded, in whole or in part, with state money. The provision also says local governments would have to to bid out any local road or bridge project funded with state money.

But that piece of the bill was removed Tuesday as GOP Sen. Duey Stroebel, who authored the amendment, said the JFC change wasn’t meant to prohibit local governments from doing their own road work.

The bill also includes a provision limiting how the Department of Transportation uses federal money for road work. In doing so, backers want to limit the number of projects that are required to meet federal standards, which can be more expensive than state benchmarks.

 

TUE AM Update: Senate, Assembly to take up lame-duck session bills today

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TUE News Summary: Walker signals support for lame-duck package; Elections Commission weighs in on moving presidential primary

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TUE PM Update: Both houses on floor for lame-duck session; Dems says legal action likely if bills pass

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U.S. Sen. Baldwin: Announces over $51 million to rebuild and improve rural water infrastructure in Wisconsin

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For Immediate Release

Tuesday, December 4, 2018

Contact: [email protected]

202-224-6225

USDA funds will be used to improve access to clean, reliable water and waste disposal systems for homes and businesses in Wisconsin rural communities

WASHINGTON, D.C. – U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin is announcing more than $51 million in United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) Rural Development funding to help rebuild and improve water infrastructure in Wisconsin communities. As a member of the Senate Appropriations Committee, Senator Baldwin has supported strong funding for infrastructure projects through USDA’s Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program and is working to reauthorize the program in the 2018 Farm Bill.

USDA Rural Development will provide $34,822,000 in loans and $16,547,000 in grant funding for seven water and wastewater projects in Wisconsin.

“Safe drinking water and reliable water infrastructure are priorities for every Wisconsin community and are essential to public health and the economic prosperity of our state. Too often, small rural communities lack the resources to solve our most pressing water challenges,” said Senator Baldwin. “I worked to secure these strong investments to make sure that our rural communities across Wisconsin have access to clean drinking water, and safe and improved water infrastructure.”

USDA is providing the funds through the Water and Waste Disposal Loan and Grant Program. The funding can be used for drinking water, storm water drainage and waste disposal systems for rural communities with 10,000 or fewer residents.

The USDA funding was awarded to the following Wisconsin communities:

· City of Waupun: $27,611,000 in loans and $9,479,000 in grants for water distribution and storm water drainage system improvements, including the addition of a phosphorus removal system making use of new technology.

· Village of Reedsville: $1,049,000 in loans and $802,000 in grants for water distribution system improvements; and $1,275,000 in loans and $813,000 in grants for sanitary sewer system improvements.

· Village of Tennyson: $1,628,000 in loans and $2,591,000 in grants for water and sanitary sewer system improvements.

· Village of Albany: $983,000 in loans and $676,000 in grants for water system improvements.

· Village of Blanchardville: $1,876,000 in loans and $1,453,000 in grants for water distribution and sanitary sewer system improvements.

· Village of Radisson: $400,000 in loans and $733,000 in grants for a new well and elevated water tower to meet residential and industrial needs after an existing well was shut down due to lead.

An online version of this release is available here.

WisPolitics Midday: Dec. 4, 2018

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On today’s Wispolitics MidDay:

  • The assembly and senate are taking up three extraordinary session bills
  • Governor Walker nominates Scott Beightol to the UW Board of Regents
December 5, 2018 | December 3, 2018
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