Various Direct Links

11 April 2012

FollowUp 22: Wisconsin Republican Dirty Tricks

On Thursday 5 April 2012, as many of us were preparing for significant religious holidays, Governor Walker quietly signed about fifty bills into law.  Some of these bills are ideas that I can support, such as SB 547 [that] allows school busses to be equipped with a supplemental mirror system to enhance visibility of the driver.  But there are a number that one would not expect so soon before an election.
·         SB 237 was authored by State Senator Lazich and Representative Thiesfeldt and relates to providing instruction in human growth and development. 
·         SB 306 was authored by State Senator Lazich and State Representative Litjens and relates to voluntary and informed consent to an abortion. 
·         SB 92 was authored by State Senator Zipperer and State Representative Vos and relates to prohibiting coverage of abortions through health plans sold through exchanges. 
·         SB 202 was authored by State Senator Grothman and State Representative Litjens and relates to elimination of compensatory and punitive damages for acts of employment discrimination or unfair honesty or genetic testing. 
·         SB 386 was authored by State Senator Grothman and State Representative Theisfeldt and  relates to voter registration at high schools and certain tribal schools. 
SB 237 reintroduces abstinence education to the schools, despite the fact that it doesn't work.

SB 306 ensures that women give voluntary consent before any abortion, including establishing failure to follow the state directives precisely as a felony offense for a physician.

SB 92 prohibits health exchange insurance plans for covering voluntary abortions.

SB 202 removes much of the power of the Wisconsin equivalent of the Lilly Ledbetter law.  "This bill eliminates the awarding of compensatory and punitive damages to persons who have been discriminated against in employment or subjected to unfair honesty or genetic testing."

SB 386 makes it more difficult to register to vote for students at teachers at high schools.

SB 237 and SB 386 are of tremendous concern to me as a teacher.  I see each as having deleterious results for students.  The other three are being characterized as a continuation of the Republican War on Women, with many pundits writing about them.

Prominent conservative Milwaukee radio pundit Charles Sykes wrote that there is no war on women.
But simply put, there is no great sex-discrimination problem in Wisconsin workplaces that is not being addressed by federal law and preexisting state laws. Further, by making it easier to extract punitive damages from businesses, the 2009 law made Wisconsin companies vulnerable to frivolous claims.
The facts suggest that Wisconsin does have a problem with a gender gap in wages (ranking 36th in the country in 2009).  When women are discriminated against, they do not consider it frivolous.  The punitive damages are intended to provide a disincentive to discrimination, a disincentive that no longer exists.  State Senator Glenn Grothman, author of the repeal of the teeth of the anti-discrimination law, offered the Daily Beast his reasoning.
For the law’s critics, though, even the threat of lawsuits put an intolerable burden on business. “If tomorrow you woke up and some policeman is at your door giving you a summons for something, the fact that you’re innocent wouldn’t make you happy, because you have to show you’re innocent at some considerable time and expense,” says Republican state senator Glenn Grothman, a major driver of the repeal.
Grothman says companies are being bombarded with false accusations of discrimination. “It’s an underreported problem, but a huge number of discrimination claims are baseless,” he says. “Most of them are filed by fired employees, and really today almost anybody is a protected class.” As a result, he says, many companies are forced to pay fired employees to go away. He argues that the Wisconsin law, which allowed for damages of up to $300,000, the same amount as in federal law, raised the cost of doing business in the state to intolerable levels. “It just puts Wisconsin way out of whack with other states,” he says. “I’m not sure there are any other states this bad off.”
Actually, there are—according to data from 9to5, 33 other states have either no cap on damages or the same $300,000 cap as Wisconsin. Still, even if the law isn’t an outlier, it’s not surprising that Grothman would see it as unjust, because he believes that the whole idea of pay discrimination against women is fraudulent.
Whatever gaps exist, he insists, stem from women’s decision to prioritize childrearing over their careers. “Take a hypothetical husband and wife who are both lawyers,” he says. “But the husband is working 50 or 60 hours a week, going all out, making 200 grand a year. The woman takes time off, raises kids, is not go go go. Now they’re 50 years old. The husband is making 200 grand a year, the woman is making 40 grand a year. It wasn’t discrimination. There was a different sense of urgency in each person.”
He continues, “What you’ve got to look at, and Ann Coulter has looked at this, is you have to break it down by married and unmarried. Once you break it down by married and unmarried, the differential disappears.”
As the Daily Beast notes, Mr. Grothman is wrong.  Mr. Grothman has a local reputation of supporting any business and no tax (similar to Jim Sensenbrenner who represents the same area in the United States Congress).  That he places the needs of businesses above the needs of his female constituents is no surprise at all.

Perhaps even more striking than Mr. Grothman's defense of his legislation is Governor Walker's defense of these bills, as reported by Channel 3000.
The president's campaign even joined the fray, accusing Walker of waging a "war against women." The governor refutes the claim and said his approach is all about job creation.
"We care about their future," Walker said. "That's really what we need to be waging our time and efforts on and that's why when I do public signings, I focus on bills that I think will make a better future for our state."
"Most of the legislation signed by the governor today makes tremendous advances in the protection of women, so I would submit it's just the opposite of what you suggest," said Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen, answering Walker's critics.
The governor said the criticism is the same old out-of-state special interest talking points which he said "seem to have a total disregard for what the facts are."
Of the five separate bills that I choose to focus on, only one has anything to do with business.  None of them will result in new jobs.  None will protect women and by limiting access to abortion they may hurt women.  For a governor who has spent tremendous amounts of time out of state raising money to complain about "out-of-state special interest talking points" is rich.  The facts are fairly clear and Mr. Walker's talking points seem to be out of sync with those facts.

Wrapping up this blog post, former State Senator Mordecai Lee, now a professor of politics and the University of Wisconsin -- Milwaukee, thinks that this may push Governor Walker into the limelight enough to be the running mate of Governor Romney.  Of course, Mr. Walker will have to survive the recall election first ... although Professor Lee thinks otherwise.
Lee said that Walker is a household name nationwide, he can energize the Republican base, isn't a Washington politician and would satisfy both social and fiscal Conservatives.
"In a sense, Scott Walker is the perfect Sarah Palin without her liabilities," said Lee.  "If he loses the recall, he'll be the martyr hero of the Republicans."
Despite all the controversy surrounding Scott Walker, the recall race and John Doe investigations, Lee believes that Walker isn't a risky bet for Republicans to stand behind. 
I am the last person who Mr. Romney might listen to for advice on picking a running mate.  But I can think of few better than the extreme Governor Walker.  Better, that is, for President Obama.

16 November 2011, Original Pedantic Political Ponderings post.
30 November 2011, FollowUp 1.
4 December 2011, FollowUp 2.
11 December 2011, FollowUp 3.
14 December 2011, FollowUp 4.
15 December 2011, FollowUp 5.
30 December 2011, FollowUp 6.
13 January 2012, FollowUp 7.
17 January 2012, FollowUp 8.
25 January 2012, FollowUp 9.
2 February 2012, FollowUp 10.
9 February 2012, FollowUp 11.
12 February 2012, FollowUp 12.
18 February 2012, FollowUp 13.
22 February 2012, FollowUp 14.
6 March 2012, FollowUp 15.
12 March 2012, FollowUp 16.
16 March 2012, FollowUp 17.
30 March 2012, FollowUp 18.
31 March 2012, FollowUp 19.
3 April 2012, FollowUp 20.
4 April 2012, FollowUp 21.

14 April 2012, FollowUp 23.
17 April 2012, FollowUp 24.
21 April 2012, FollowUp 25.
29 April 2012, FollowUp 26.
2 May 2012, FollowUp 27.
6 May 2012, FollowUp 28.
10 May 2012, FollowUp 29.
13 May 2012, FollowUp 30.
23 May 2012, FollowUp 31.
24 May 2012, FollowUp 32.
30 May 2012, FollowUp 33.
2 June 2012, FollowUp 34.
4 June 2012, FollowUp 35.
5 June 2012, FollowUp 36.

No comments:

Post a Comment

No longer open for freely commenting.