GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Assembly panel states Common Core standards should not be thrown out
It appears that Wisconsin's Common Core educational standards will not be thrown out. Members of a state Assembly review panel suggested yesterday that the standards do more to protect student privacy. They also said the standards should get a periodic review, to make sure they're tailored to Wisconsin public schools. However, the panel did not recommend scrapping the voluntary standards adopted three years ago -- which call for stronger math-and-English requirements used in 45 states. The Assembly panel will outline in its final recommendations in a report to be released by the end of the year. Supporters say the Common Core standards are already improving the quality of instruction, with the goal of getting students readier for college and work life. Critics said the standards amount to a national curriculum. Assembly panel members said too much has been invested to throw out the Wisconsin version of the Common Core standards -- but they did say they could be improved.
Republicans will keep control of two Wisconsin Assembly seats, after their candidates won special elections yesterday to fill a pair of vacancies. In central Wisconsin, Stratford roofer Bob Kulp got a whopping 67-percent of the vote in defeating Democrat Ken Slezak and Independent Tim Swiggum with almost seven-thousand votes cast. In the south Milwaukee suburbs, G-O-P school choice advocate Jessie Rodriguez picked up 56-percent of the vote in eliminating Democrat Elizabeth Coppola will around eight-thousand votes cast. Kulp -- a small business owner for three decades -- says he wants to focus on Governor Scott Walker's efforts to create jobs and make it easier to do business in Wisconsin. Kulp replaces Scott Suder, the former G-O-P majority leader who resigned in early September. Rodriguez replaces Republican Mark Honadel, who also left in mid-September. The G-O-P's Assembly majority is now 59-to-39.
There was also a G-O-P primary yesterday in another suburban Milwaukee Assembly district, where long-time Republican Jeff Stone left to take a job with the state Public Service Commission. Franklin Alderman Ken Skowronski eliminated three other candidates, as he picked up half of the 36-hundred votes cast. Skowronski will now face Democrat John Hermes in a general election December 17th. Hermes is the village president in Greendale.
The state Assembly will meet two weeks from today to consider Governor Scott Walker's proposals to delay Obama-care for almost 100-thousand Wisconsinites. The Republican Walker asked lawmakers last week for a three-month delay in dropping 77-thousand Badger-Care recipients with incomes above the poverty line. They're supposed to sign up for coverage on the federal government's purchasing exchange by December 15th. But Walker cited the Internet problems in getting folks signed up online -- so he wants to delay the dropping of those Badger-Care recipients, so they can have a new deadline of March 15th to sign up for Obama-care. Also, the state's high-risk insurance pool was due to end in January, leaving about 20-thousand other residents without coverage. Those people would also get a three-month delay under bills the Assembly plans to take up on December fourth. The measures face an uncertain future in the Senate, where G-O-P Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said he'd rather have month-to-month extensions.
Wisconsin U-S Senate Democrat Tammy Baldwin is supporting a plan to reduce sexual assaults in the military -- and she wants to expand it to include college R-O-T-C programs. Baldwin spoke on the Senate floor yesterday in favor of New York Democrat Kirsten Gillibrand's measure. It would end major criminal prosecutions against U-S troops by the military's chain-of-command. Independent officials would obtain the power to decide on those charges. Baldwin wants to add a study of sexual violence in R-O-T-C programs, plus a review of how R-O-T-C monitors the conduct of its cadets. Gillibrand's proposal is an amendment to a defense spending package. Senate Democratic Majority Leader Harry Reid threw his support behind the measure yesterday. However, it's still not known whether it has the 60 votes needed to pass. Gillibrand's aides say about 20 Democrats are undecided. Other senators have come out against the plan, fearing it would strip authority from military commanders. An bi-partisan alternative measure has been introduced, cracking down on sexual assaults without changing the chain-of-command.
State officials have re-opened a registry for people who want to be notified when somebody in their neighborhood hires a pro to apply pesticides on their lawns. The agriculture department is now taking free registrations online. The deadline to sign up is February first. Notices about the pesticide applications will be given out starting March 15th. The registry began 20 years ago. Five-hundred-70 people with 64-hundred properties are now on the directory. For more information, go to the state Agriculture Department's Web site, accessible at Wisconsin-Dot-Gov.