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26
Jan
2016

critical-illnessDespite public support, Senate Bill 385’s future uncertain in GOP-controlled Senate.


MADISON - While family dynamics have changed significantly since the 1950's, many workplace policies haven't kept pace. In order to update worker protections and increase workplace flexibility, Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-Evansville) and 35 other Democratic lawmakers are pushing a bill to modernize Wisconsin’s Family Medical Leave law.

The proposal, Senate Bill 385 (SB 385), has received broad public support but faces an uphill battle in the Republican-controlled legislature.

jennifer-shilling“Families in Wisconsin are working harder than ever, but our laws simply haven’t kept pace with changes in the modern workplace,” said Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling (D-La Crosse). “Whether it’s a worker trying to care for an ailing relative or a parent needing to stay home with a sick child, we need to look at commonsense reforms that address modern workplace challenges. By reforming outdated policies and expanding workplace flexibilities, we can strengthen our middle class and enable businesses to be more competitive.”

SB 385 expands coverage for workers who take leave to care for a grandparent, grandchild or sibling and creates new protections for relatives of active duty service members. Additionally, the proposed legislation creates new options for private sector employees to voluntarily purchase coverage through a Family Medical Leave Insurance program.

“We know that access to sick leave helps prevent the spread of contagious diseases and improve workplace productivity,” added Shilling. “All businesses, from Fortune 500 companies down to local mom and pop stores, benefit from a safe and healthy workplace. With simple, commonsense updates to Wisconsin’s Family Medical Leave law, we can create new opportunities for families and increase our ability to compete in a 21st century global economy.”

A public hearing on SB 385 today attracted broad public support, however, many Republicans remain opposed to the plan. Republican leaders have indicated they intend to adjourn the 2016 legislative session in February or March, leaving only a short window to advance legislative proposals.

***

Legislative writer Tony Palese contributed to this story.

Written by Wisconsin Senate Democrats   
 
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26
Jan
2016

walker-senate-signingDuring the Senate debate to pass the bill dismantling our 100-year-old civil service system, senators told of secret meetings held with state workers where supervisors intimidated employees and forbid them to talk with their elected representatives. A LAB Hotline established is valuable in cases of intimidation.

Written by Kathleen Vinehout, State Senator 31st District   
 
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23
Jan
2016

john-belushi-as-blutoALTOONA, WI - I hear it or see it every day. Somebody says it at a meeting. Or posts it as a comment on an Internet message board or social media site. It’s imbedded in a question asked at some public forum. It is on a sign at a demonstration.

Democracy in America has been killed. It’s dead. It’s over.

I disagree for a whole bunch of reasons, not the least of which is that democracy is more verb than noun and verbs can’t be killed. Democracy lives as long as there are at least some among us who are doing it.

There’s no overlooking the fact that democracy is gravely ill in many respects, however. Democracy is dependent on many things, but none more important than the consent of the governed. What passes for consent of the governed nowadays is frightening when you consider what most Americans think of those doing the governing and further consider how elected officials demonstrate that they don’t care what the general public thinks.

The two major parties have very different ways of dealing with these troubling conditions. The Democrats run scared. There is a long list of things they believe but won’t say and things they would like to do but don’t. The Republicans run roughshod. Their answer for pretty much everything is more tax cuts primarily benefiting the rich and more government deregulation. Regardless of what the public wants, that’s what Republicans do. They are one-trick ponies, even though the trick has only made the rich vastly richer, the poor poorer, and the middle class disappear. For decades now it hasn’t produced the widespread prosperity they promise, yet they don’t try anything different. They double down on their one trick.

Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
 
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22
Jan
2016

conference-roomMADISON - The state Senate approved and sent to the governor a bill on Wednesday that changes the longtime hiring process for 30,000 public sector jobs. The measure was backed by powerful business and conservative ideological groups that have spent millions of dollars since 2011 to help Republican lawmakers, who control the legislature, and GOP Gov. Scott Walker keep their jobs.

The measure, Assembly Bill 373, overhauls the state’s 110-year-old civil service hiring process by eliminating the requirement that job applicants take exams; shortening the process used by employees to appeal their discipline or dismissal by more than half; and prohibiting senior employees from avoiding termination by bumping less-senior workers from their jobs.

AB373, which was approved on a party line 19 to 14 vote in the Senate, was passed in October by the Assembly, and now goes to Walker, who supports it, for his signature.

Backers of the bill say the civil service process needed to be changed because it takes too long to hire and fire people. Opponents of the measure say the changes will hurt the quality of the state’s workforce by bringing political patronage and corruption back into the hiring of public employees.

The special interests behind the bill are generous backers of Republican legislators and Walker.

AB373 is backed by the state’s largest business group, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC), and Americans for Prosperity, a conservative ideological group created and funded bybillionaire brothers Charles and David Koch.

Written by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign   
 
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