GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Assembly leaders haven't decided yet to remove Kramer from office
MADISON -- Wisconsin Assembly leaders have decided not to consider removing Waukesha Republican Bill Kramer from office. A spokeswoman for Speaker Robin Vos said they did not want to interfere with a criminal case filed against Kramer a week ago. He's charged with two felony sexual assault charges for allegedly pushing, kissing, and groping a female congressional aide in Muskego three years ago. His lawyer says Kramer will plead innocent when he appears in court on April 14th. Kramer lost his Assembly majority leader's post last month, after he entered treatment amid reports that he groped one woman and verbally harassed another on a recent G-O-P fund-raising trip to Washington. Kramer has said he will not run for re-election in November, but he refuses to quit now. In a letter yesterday, Assembly leaders again called on Kramer to resign -- and they noted his constituents could recall him if they don't. Democratic Minority Leader Peter Barca says it would be impractical to pursue the long recall process, with the next scheduled election just seven months away. Barca said it's a mistake for the Republicans to give up the possibility of removing Kramer.
Governor Scott Walker will not take sides in a U-S House primary that could offer a Republicans voters a choice between tea party conservatism and a more moderate G-O-P tradition. State Senate Republican Glenn Grothman of West Bend, one of the Legislature's most outspoken conservatives, says he'll run against 35-year House incumbent Tom Petri of Fond du Lac. Walker said the only campaign he's focusing on is his own. Grothman said yesterday that Petri represents a Republican establishment that has not done enough to slash federal spending. Grothman condemned the size of the national debt, growing numbers of food stamp recipients, and increases in claims for job disability payments. In various interviews yesterday, Grothman said he would work to end Obama-care and remove what he called a "dis-incentive to work." Petri says his record of quote, "pragmatic conservatism" speaks for itself, and he expects to win his G-O-P primary on August 12th. Grothman predicted that other Wisconsin House Republicans would get behind their colleague -- and both Paul Ryan and Sean Duffy endorsed Petri late yesterday. Democratic state Assembly leader Peter Barca said the race would be quote, "a real bellwether to see how far the Republican Party moves to the right."
Wisconsin's most populated towns will soon get the same tax incremental financing powers as cities and villages. Governor Scott Walker will sign the measure at noon today, in a ceremony in the business-heavy town of Rib Mountain just west of Wausau. The T-I-F powers would be extended to just over two-dozen urban towns that have at least five-thousand residents and total land values of a half-billion dollars or more. Supporters say it would give outlying communities the same ability as cities and villages to expand their tax bases with new business growth. Under T-I-F funding, municipal governments create zones in which the increased property tax revenues from new projects are used for things like nearby streets and sewers. Once the amenities are paid off, only then would schools, counties, and technical colleges get a share of those additional taxes. Senate Republican Jerry Petrowski of Marathon sponsored the T-I-F town bill, after a special measure was created last session to grant the financing powers so mail-order distributing firms could locate near freeways south of Milwaukee.
The head of the state Senate's mining committee has asked officials to investigate the legality of a mining opponent's vote on Tuesday. Republican Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst wants the Justice Department and the Government Accountability Board to review a vote made in Iron County by Nick Vander Puy. He's the administrator of a mining protest camp, which the Iron County Board recently voted to remove from public land near the proposed Gogebic Taconite iron ore mine. W-S-A-U Radio in Wausau said Vander Puy wrote on social media about voting as a homeless person at Upson in Iron County. Tiffany said he wanted to know if Vander Puy has a permanent address, and whether he voted from that address as well as the place where he's been camping in Iron County. The protest camp spent 11 months on the county-owned property before the board evicted them, for not following a requirement to limit their stay to 14 days at a time. Camp organizers recently told the Northland's T-V News Center they were in the process of setting up a camp across the street from the old site on private land. The T-V report said structures at the old site could stay, and the land would still be open to people wishing to use it.