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Walker Turns Back on Pardons PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Lena Taylor, State Senator, 4th District   
Sunday, 07 February 2016 11:12

scottwalker-dreamMILWAUKEE - The Wisconsin Constitution states, “The governor shall have power to grant reprieves, commutations and pardons, after conviction…” Yet, the only person in the entire state who has the power to grant a pardon, Governor Scott Walker, has refused to do so. It is appalling that someone who has taken an oath to honor the constitution would deliberately evade their responsibilities as the leader of our state.

Republican Governor Tommy Thompson issued 148 pardons during his years in office. Democratic Governor Jim Doyle issued nearly 300 pardons. But it's not about how many people get a pardon. It's about the principle. The duty of the government is to serve its people first and foremost, and we cannot do that without first lending our ears. If we do not even listen to those who have served their sentence and repented their crimes, we deny them an opportunity for full rehabilitation and restoration of their citizenship.

I have recently introduced a bill to create an independent pardon council. This bill would create a panel of nine judges from around the state to consider each application for a pardon and make recommendations to the governor and the legislature. Although Walker has been neglectful to his people, this bill would allow hundreds to have their voice heard and allow them to get another chance.

 
Is what’s good for your 401K good for democracy? PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Mike McCabe, Blue Jean Nation   
Monday, 01 February 2016 16:50

money-hording

Are the strategies we’ve employed for building retirement nest eggs transferable to self-government? Is a democratic republic compatible with the political industrial complex? Is it possible for the ordinary citizen to reclaim a meaningful and influential role in the political system?


ALTOONA, WI - Mutual funds exist for good reasons. When people are saving up for retirement, if they are lucky and if they are smart they have something more than what they’ve paid in to Social Security. Maybe they have a 401(k). Or maybe a 403(b). Or an IRA of some kind. Or a SEP. Whatever they have, they typically don’t have enough time on their hands to research where best to invest the funds or to execute the transactions. Nor do most of us feel qualified to manage these accounts.

mike-mccabeSo we put our money in a mutual fund, in the hands of professional money managers. This way, you can invest your money without the time or the experience needed to invest wisely. Theoretically at least, you should get a better return by giving your money to a professional than you would if you chose investments yourself. There is still risk. There’s always risk. But it beats stuffing your life’s savings in a mattress.

For roughly the same reasons, politics has largely been handed over to professionals. As populations continue to grow and life gets more complicated and communications technologies become more advanced and demanding, it is more and more challenging for someone with a life outside of politics to be an active and involved citizen. Increasingly, people who don’t practice politics for a living feel they have neither the time nor the qualifications to be actively engaged. Consequently, democracy has been outsourced to professional managers. A vast political consulting industry has  enveloped our political system, and it has become a multi-billion dollar racket.

There are survey research professionals to measure public opinion. There are messaging professionals to write scripts and put words in the mouths of candidates for office and elected officials. There are marketing professionals who sell policies and politicians the way beer and potato chips are sold. There are electioneering professionals who turn voter identification, persuasion and turnout into an intricate, algorithmic science. There are policy professionals who sit in offices on one coast and write laws for states and local communities on the other side of the country and all points in between. And, of course, there are the professional money managers who make sure all the consulting fees get paid and the obscene profits get turned.

All of this begs a number of questions:

Are the strategies we’ve employed for building retirement nest eggs transferable to self-government?

Is a democratic republic compatible with the political industrial complex?

Is it possible for the ordinary citizen – the amateur – to reclaim a meaningful and influential role in a political system presently overrun by professionals?

My answers:

No.

Absolutely not.

It has to be. The alternative is too dismal a fate.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 February 2016 17:06
 
Attacking Planned Parenthood Is Attacking Women PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Chris Taylor, State Rep. 76th Assembly   
Monday, 01 February 2016 10:42

women's healthThe Wisconsin Senate passed SB 238/AB 311 last week, a bill that could effectively shut down one of Wisconsin’s oldest and most trusted women’s health care centers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin. Republicans fueled their arguments with misleading and untrue videos released last summer, but this is really about women having the ability to control their own destiny, free from intrusive politicians who think they know better.


MADISON - Last week, the Wisconsin Senate passed yet another bill, SB 238/AB 311, aimed at shutting down one of Wisconsin’s oldest, largest and most trusted women’s health care centers, Planned Parenthood of Wisconsin (PPWI). This most recent attack on women’s health care will make it more difficult and expensive for health centers to provide birth control and other critical health care services to Wisconsin’s women. This disastrous legislation creates a double standard among health care providers and treats the women they serve as second-class citizens.

SB 238/AB 311 requires certain reproductive health centers to bill Medicaid for the actual acquisition costs and dispensing fees for prescription drugs. In Wisconsin, there are over 700 hospitals, clinics, hemophilia centers, and HIV/AIDS organizations that are 340B covered entities. Of those 700 hospitals and clinics, PPWI is the only health care provider who will experience a slash in reimbursement prices.

Though Republicans attempted to fuel their obsession with shutting down Planned Parenthood with heavily edited and misleading videos released this summer, reality struck this week when a Texas grand jury cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and indicted the creators of the videos for paying money for fetal parts. In fact, officials in 10 other states have cleared Planned Parenthood of wrongdoing and another 8 have declined to investigate due to a complete lack of evidence.

Make no mistake, when this legislature attacks PPWI, they are really attacking women’s ability to access life-saving health care, to plan and space pregnancies, and to decide for themselves if and when they become parents. At the end of the day this struggle over reproductive health care is really about women having the ability to control their own destiny, free from intrusive politicians who think they know better.

Last Updated on Monday, 01 February 2016 11:17
 
On the 7th Anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Act PDF Print E-mail
State & Local
Written by Democratic Party of Wisconsin, Brandon Weathersby   
Friday, 29 January 2016 15:19

martha-laningMADISON - The Democratic Party of Wisconsin's Chair Martha Laning made the following statement on the 7th anniversary of the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act:

obama_ledbettersigning"Seven years ago today, President Barack Obama signed his first piece of legislation into law, the Lilly Ledbetter Fair Pay Restoration Act, empowering women to recover wages lost to pay discrimination.

"The President's actions were a critical step forward in closing the wage gap, but the fight is far from finished.

"Women make just 78 cents for every dollar paid to their male counterparts, a figure that has barely budged in more than a decade. When race and gender are considered, African American women make 64 cents, and Latinas only 56 cents for every dollar paid to white, non-Hispanic men.

"Women typically lose over $400,000 during a 40-year career due to the wage gap. Here in Wisconsin, we've lost out on a critical economic stimulus due to the failure of Republican leaders to address pay equity.

"Democrats in Wisconsin understand that a fair day's work deserves a fair day's pay, and believe that women should always be paid the same as men for doing the same work. We will continue to fight to ensure women in our state receive fair pay for the work they do."

 
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