Government and Political Roundup: Legislators react to President Obama's gun control measuresWisconsin News
-- Governor Scott Walker says his office will meet in a week-or-so with mental health and law enforcement experts, to see what types of mental health services need to be improved.
Governor Scott Walker says his office will meet in a week-or-so with mental health and law enforcement experts, to see what types of mental health services need to be improved. In Hartford yesterday, The Republican Walker was asked about President Obama’s gun control measures that he announced earlier in the day. The governor said the Obama’s proposals don’t get to the heart of the problem – and neither does the pro-gun view putting armed personnel in schools. Walker said it’s more important to determine how people get so mentally disturbed, that they’re capable of making what he called “tragic choices” – and that includes not only school violence, but Tuesday’s threat against people in the State Capitol in which a man claimed that he took Molotov cocktails into the building. Walker says only a limited number of people get to the point of being able to make decisions like those. He said experts need to dig deeper, and provide mental health assistance for troubled individuals before they resort to violence.
Milwaukee’s mayor says the killings of three women at a Brookfield spa might not have happened had President Obama’s new gun measures been in place. Obama unveiled a series of executive orders and congressional measures yesterday – one of which would require universal background checks for all gun sales. Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett said the universal check would have stopped domestic abuser Radcliffe Haughton from getting a gun the day before he killed his estranged wife, two others, and himself in Brookfield last October. Barrett is a co-founder of the group Mayors Against Illegal Guns. More than 800 mayors are in that group, and they’ve supported some of the things the president called for – the universal background checks, a ban on assault weapons, and limits on high-capacity magazines. Barrett says he and Milwaukee Police Chief Ed Flynn expect to hear plenty from pro-gun supporters – but the mayor says most Americans are ready for new gun control.
Milwaukee County Sheriff David Clarke calls the Obama measures meaningless. He says they’re an emotional, knee-jerk reaction to last month’s Sandy Hill school shootings in Newtown Connecticut. Clarke says judges and prosecutors need more backbone to enforce what’s already on the books. He also wants to eliminate what he calls “watered-down sentences” for crimes that involve guns. Some sheriffs around the country have said they won’t enforce the president’s gun measures. Clarke said he wouldn’t go that far.
Wisconsin Democrats will hold a news conference today to explain how they’ll try to overcome an apparent Republican advantage in the state’s elections for 2014. Graeme Zielinski of the State Democratic Party says his group will work harder to win Assembly and Senate contests next time. He said the party will spend a half-million dollars to hire political directors in the Eau Claire, La Crosse, and Fox Valley regions. And they’ll try to change what happened in November – when Democrats won the statewide votes for president and U-S Senate, but Republicans won control of the Legislature after loading enough districts with their own voters through the redistricting process. Zielinski called it gerrymandering. A panel of three federal judges said the G-O-P did meet the constitutional requirement for drawing districts with relatively equal populations – but the judges criticized the secrecy of the process, and said Republicans tried to hide the way the maps were drawn. Most of it came out through a series of judicial orders – but Democrats and others are still having databases checked to see if anything else is under wraps.
State lawmakers on both sides predict changes to a Republican bill that makes it easier to open a new mine in Wisconsin – but no one could say what the changes would be. Governor Scott Walker said his staff would work with lawmakers in both parties to craft an acceptable package. Three dozen Assembly and Senate Republicans proposed a bill yesterday that’s similar to the one that was narrowly defeated last March. It calls for a 480-day time limit for the D-N-R to approve mining applications. Environmental rules would be relaxed. Opponents could no longer challenge D-N-R decisions before a permit is issued – and afterward, the D-N-R could not be sued for not doing its homework. Assembly G-O-P Majority Leader Scott Suder called the new bill the beginning stage of the process and quote, “Our doors are open.” He denied cutting back environmental protections, but the non-partisan Legislative Council said some parts of the bill are quote, “less stringent” than current environmental laws. Senate Democrat Tim Cullen, who led a committee that drafted a more environmentally-friendly mining bill last fall, said he would unveil an alternative bill tomorrow. Republicans said their plan would create thousands of mining jobs and preserve Wisconsin’s strong mining tradition. But Cullen said the only new jobs would be for attorneys. He and other Democrats said the new bill would fall into a sea of litigation. Republican Senate President Mike Ellis said he wants elements from Cullen’s original bill to be included in the new package. So far, they’re not.