Government and Political Roundup: Some politicians are pledging harmony, some aren'tWisconsin News
-- As Wisconsin political leaders cry-out for harmony, nine Republican legislators have pledged to seek a polarizing Tea Party agenda – some of which Democrats have called extreme.
As Wisconsin political leaders cry-out for harmony, nine Republican legislators have pledged to seek a polarizing Tea Party agenda – some of which Democrats have called extreme. The nine promised to push for a bill demanding the arrests of any federal officials who try to implement the Obama health law in Wisconsin. And eight of the nine said they’d allow criminal sexual assault charges against federal airport screeners for invasive pat-downs at airport security checkpoints. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said the nine Republicans signed pledges during their campaigns to support measures sought by the Campaign for Liberty. They also endorsed a right-to-work law in which private sector employees do not have to pay union dues – allowing sales of raw milk – ending state permits for carrying concealed weapons – and blocking state funds for the fortified “Real I-D” drivers’ licenses that Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner proposed soon after 9-11. The nine lawmakers who signed the tea party pledge include Senator Mary Lazich of New Berlin – and Assembly incumbents Chris Kapenga of Delafield, Don Pridemore of Hartford, Scott Krug of Wisconsin Rapids, Tom Larson of Colfax, and Erik Severson of Star Prairie. Severson told the group he opposed sex charges for airport screeners. Three newly-elected G-O-P Assembly members also signed the pledge – Dave Murphy of Greenville, Mark Born of Beaver Dam, and Rob Hutton of Brookfield. A couple backed off of some of their pledges yesterday. Larson told Assembly Republicans that arresting federal officials who carry out Obama-care is not possible. Pridemore says he’d love to find ways to block the federal health law, but he’s not sure about the best way to do it. As for right-to-work legislation, G-O-P leaders say they won’t push for it – and Governor Scott Walker has said he’s against it.
The Wisconsin Assembly’s new speaker has told his Republican colleagues to focus on a more cooperative future, after a tense and polarized session over the past two years. Robin Vos – a conservative hardliner – vowed to set a new tone, and work together with minority Democrats. The Racine County lawmaker was elected yesterday as the new speaker. Vos outlined an aggressive agenda that includes income tax cuts, education reforms, and incentives for mining. And he told fellow Republicans to try-and-listen to all of Wisconsin. He said a single party or chamber does not have a monopoly on good ideas. But Vos and his fellow Republicans also took a dig at Senate Democrats. They cheered loudly when they learned during their caucus that first-term Milwaukee Democrat Chris Larson was elected as the Senate’s minority leader. Vos told his colleagues quote, “Sometimes, God gives you a gift.” Larson wouldn’t respond and said quote, “I do believe we can find a way to work together.” Larson is the Senate’s biggest critics of Republican Governor Scott Walker. After last week’s elections, Larson lamented the Republicans’ return to power in the Senate, saying they treated Democrats like quote, “pieces of furniture” in the last session. When the new session begins, Republicans will control the Senate 18-to-15, and the Assembly 60-to-39.
Thanks, but no thanks. That’s how Governor Scott Walker’s office responds to the idea that Walker should move to Washington and become the next Speaker of the House. Writing in the “Weekly Standard,” former Reagan political director Jeffrey Lord made a case for Walker to try and negotiate national issues with President Obama. And Lord insists that the House is allowed to choose a speaker who’s not a member. Walker spokesman Cullen Werwie told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel that the governor is not interested. Lord said it’s time for conservatives to challenge Ohio’s John Boehner as the House speaker. And Lord said Walker would be the perfect candidate as quote, “the man who took on the forces of liberalism head-on and defeated them – the only sitting governor so-challenged to ever have emerged not simply victorious, but by a larger margin than his initial election.” Walker won his recall election by seven points in June, after being elected by a five-point margin in 2010, defeating Democrat Tom Barrett both times.
The governor’s office says it will announce tomorrow or Friday whether Wisconsin will have its own tailor-made health insurance purchasing exchange under the Obama health law. Republican Scott Walker has until Friday to tell Washington whether it will run its own exchange – or accept a standard federal template starting in 2014. Walker has been meeting privately on the subject this week with state health and insurance officials. The exchanges create a menu of health plans for individuals to choose from – and experts say states can better coordinate the packages with their own Medicaid programs if they design the system themselves. But until President Obama was re-elected last week, Walker stayed as far away as possible from the Democrats’ health package, in the hopes that a Romney administration could repeal it. Yesterday, Wisconsin’s Democrats in Washington warned that it would be difficult for Wisconsin to change its mind in the future if it lets the federal government design the exchanges now. But Walker has questioned how flexible the states can really be. And several Tea Party groups have urged Walker to keep opposing the Obama health law and not set up the exchanges. The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel said nine Republican lawmakers told the group Campaign for Liberty they would favor arresting any federal officials who tried to implement the health act in Wisconsin. At least 17 states and Washington D-C are setting up their own exchanges. Ten others have decided to let the federal government do it for them.
Republicans will have a firm three-vote majority in the Wisconsin Senate, after Democratic incumbent Jessica King of Oshkosh conceded her close election yesterday. King lost by seven-tenths-of-one-percent to Fond du Lac Republican Rick Gudex – but she wanted to see the official canvasses from last Tuesday’s voting before deciding whether to seek a recount. Gudex said he increased his lead by nine votes after the canvasses in Fond du Lac and Winnebago counties, with Dodge County’s canvass coming up today. Republicans held the seat for 35 years before King defeated Randy Hopper in a recall election last year. The G-O-P currently has a 17-15 edge, but the party is unopposed in an upcoming special election for the seat vacated by Pewaukee Republican Rich Zipperer.