GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: GOP field now down to three for those wanting to replace Ron Kind
The field of Republicans hoping to replace U-S House Democrat Ron Kind of La Crosse got a little smaller yesterday. Chris Anderson pulled out of the race, leaving three other G-O-P hopefuls to square off in an August primary for the right to challenge Kind in November. Anderson, a former aide to U-S Senator Ron Johnson, is joining Tony Kurtz's House campaign as his finance director. Anderson said he'd rather support Kurtz -- a Prairie du Chien business owner and retired Army veteran -- because of his conservative ideas. The other G-O-P candidates are Karen Mueller of Chippewa Falls and former Mauston alderman Ken Van Doren. Kind, a 14-year House veteran, did not comment on Anderson's withdrawal from the race. He said earlier this month that campaigns start too early, and he'll focus on doing his job for now.
Starting tomorrow, it could be three times as expensive for able-bodied Wisconsinites to speed up their errands by parking in spaces for the disabled. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill yesterday raising the minimum fine from 50-dollars to 150. The bill was among 55 the Republican Walker signed in private ceremonies in his Madison office. The maximum penalty of 300-dollars won't change. Also, building owners can no longer escape their obligation to let the disabled park close to their front doors. Building owners and tenants with at least 26 parking spaces must reserve disabled spaces -- or they'll be fined 150-to-300-dollars.
About two dozen people looked on as Governor Scott Walker signed the bill to force larger police departments to use outside personnel to investigate deaths involving their officers. Friends and-or relatives of Michael Bell, Derek Williams, and Paul Heenan attended yesterday's private bill-signing ceremony. All three were killed by officers who were never charged for their actions -- and that prompted lawmakers of both parties to force departments like Milwaukee, Madison, and Green Bay to stop investigating themselves. Also, Walker signed a bill requiring police to get warrants before they track suspects by tapping into their cellphones. The governor also agreed to have local police notified when out-of-state sex offenders move into their communities. The requirements are similar to what's now in place when in-state offenders move to a community.
Wisconsin food, paper, and sewage plants can buy up to 20 years of extra time to comply with the state's limits on phosphorus emissions. Governor Scott Walker signed a bill yesterday allowing waste-water discharge facilities to get up to four five-year exemptions from the state's tough new restrictions on phosphorus releases. But first, the state would have to get federal approval for a statewide exemption from the requirements the D-N-R first adopted in 2010. For each individual exemption, discharge limits would get more stringent. When lawmakers first passed the new limits, communities and businesses said they would have to spend millions of dollars on sewage upgrades. The Republican Walker put a temporary halt to the new rules after he became governor in 2011. The bill was among 55 Walker signed yesterday in his Madison office. Others will strength state laws against human trafficking, and give victims a chance to escape penalties for any crimes they commit while being trafficked. Also, Walker agreed to ban anyone under 18 from officiating at weddings.
Wisconsin U-S Senator Tammy Baldwin says she wishes her fellow Democrats would start speaking more proudly about the successes of Obama-care. The Affordable Care Act is sure to be one of the biggest issues in this fall's elections. Repubilcans have been ridiculing the Democrats' health program on the campaign trail, as an example of government overreach. Baldwin spoke at a forum at Marquette University in Milwaukee yesterday. She admitted that the roll-out of Obama-care was botched -- namely the online sign-up system. But Baldwin says it's time for Democrats to explain how the law has made things better. As an example, she insurance companies can no longer deny coverage based on pre-existing conditions. With all House members and a third of the Senate up for re-election this fall, Baldwin said Democrats need to make sure that people understand what Obama-care has accomplished. She predicted that G-O-P candidates would campaign on a pledge to de-fund or kill the law -- something she calls futile. Baldwin also predicted that Democrats would keep control of the Senate after November. Her term won't be up for another four-and-a-half years. Baldwin also said Congress should raise the minimum wage, and adjust it for inflation so they don't have to revisit it.