As the dispute over union rights drags on in Wisconsin, lawmakers from both the left and the right are seeking media attention to prove their side is actively seeking a compromise. At the same time, both sides are pointing fingers, calling the other party out for grandstanding in front of the press.
Republican Gov. Scott Walker yesterday evening released a series of e-mails to prove he's tried to negotiate over union rights with "reasonable" Democratic state senators, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel first reported. One of those "reasonable" senators, however, was quick to denounce the public release of the e-mails, suggesting it undermined their talks.
"I've never seen negotiations be done successfully in public," said Democratic state Sen. Bob Jauch. "I thought they were bargaining in good faith."
Jauch is one of two Democratic state senators who in recent days has met with the state Senate Majority Leader and Walker aides. He downplayed the meetings, pointing out they never reached a deal with the Republicans.Continue »
Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker on Monday night said that "union bosses in D.C." were likely to blame for the stalemate he has seemingly reached with Wisconsin Democratic lawmakers over legislation that would impact union rights.
After nearly three weeks, all 14 Wisconsin Senate Democrats remain out of state to prevent a vote on Walker's so-called "budget repair bill."
Democratic leader Mark Miller yesterday sought to arrange a meeting with Walker and the state Senate Republican leader to reach a compromise over the bill, but the two Republicans rebuffed the offer. Walker called Miller's request for a meeting at the Wisconsin-Illinois border "ridiculous" and charged that Miller is "the person standing in the way of progress."
Reports over the weekend suggested that Miller and other Democrats were ready to return to Wisconsin -- even without the changes they wanted to the budget repair bill -- but Miller's letter made clear Democrats want to continue negotiations. Walker last night speculated that Miller changed his tune because of the influence of national union leaders, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports.Continue »
Republicans in the Texas House will demonstrate their newly-gained power today when they give the official approval of a bill that would require women to get a sonogram before having an abortion.
The legislation survived lengthy debate and exhaustive efforts from Democrats to amend the bill on Thursday. The Texas House needs to take one more procedural vote this afternoon and then send the bill to the Texas Senate, where a similar, less stringent sonogram bill already passed.
In an example of the aggressive anti-abortion rights battles that conservatives are mounting at the state level, the sonogram bill was the first major piece of legislation taken up by the Texas legislature this year. It was one of five measures given "emergency" status by Republican Gov. Rick Perry, in order to hasten their passage. Like the sonogram measure, the other "emergency" items are relatively partisan and politically charged: a voter identification measure, a bill indicating state support for a balanced federal budget amendment to the U.S. Constitution, an eminent domain measure and a ban on "sanctuary" cities.Continue »
Updated at 4:50 p.m. ET
Wisconsin Democratic senators want to meet in person with Republican Gov. Scott Walker, as well as the Republican state senate leader, as soon as possible, they said in a letter sent to the governor today.
The Democratic lawmakers fled to Illinois on Feb. 17 to stall the passage of Walker's so-called "budget repair bill," which would, among other things, scale back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights. With Republicans in the majority, the bill was sure to pass, so the Democrats fled to deprive the state senate of the quorum needed to pass the bill.
In the weeks since, there have been massive protests at the state capitol building in Madison, and serious recall efforts have been launched -- against all 16 state senators (eight Republicans and eight Democrats) legally vulnerable to a recall this year.Continue »
Plans to build a high speed rail line between Tampa and Orlando died Friday, when the Florida Supreme Court sided with Republican Gov. Rick Scott, who has argued he has no obligation to accept federal funding for the project.
The 84-mile rail line was expected to be a highlight of the Obama administration's infrastructure investments, but the new Republican governor turned down the $2.4 billion in federal funds allocated for the project. Department of Transportation Secretary Ray LaHood had tried to convince Scott to take the money, but in a statement today, LaHood confirmed the money will now go to other states investing in high speed rail.
"The Obama Administration's bold high-speed rail plan will not only create jobs and reinvigorate our manufacturing sector in the near term, it is a crucial and strategic investment in America's future prosperity," LaHood said in a statement. "I know that states across America are enthusiastic about receiving additional support to help bring America's high-speed rail network to life and deliver all its economic benefits to their citizens."Continue »
With negotiations over the state budget and union rights still stalled in Wisconsin, Republican Gov. Scott Walker said today he could start sending out layoff notices to state workers tomorrow, the Associated Press reports.
The governor has warned that he'll lay off thousands of public employees if the Wisconsin legislature doesn't pass his so-called "budget repair bill," intended to help close the state's budget shortfall. The legislation would, among other things, scale back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights. Unions have agreed to scaling back their benefits but argue that restricting collective bargaining rights won't impact the budget.
Democrats in the state Senate fled Wisconsin about two weeks ago, to deprive the legislative body of the quorum needed to hold a vote on Walker's bill. All the while, protests have raged on in Wisconsin, national groups have jumped into the fray, and recall efforts against both Democratic and Republican lawmakers have begun.Continue »
As the conflict over union rights continues in Wisconsin, influential national groups, both liberal and conservative, continue to ratchet up their presence in the debate with new television ads and campaigns.
The Republican National Committee (RNC) announced today it will begin airing an ad that urges Wisconsinites to "Stop Obama and his union bosses today."
"Families are struggling. State budgets have run dry. And the federal debt is skyrocketing," a narrator in the ad says. "But Obama and the union bosses are standing in the way of economic reform."
The ad merges the debate over national deficits with the ongoing dispute over Republican Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker's so-called "budget repair bill." The legislation would, among other things, scale back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights. Walker has said his proposals are necessary to balance the state budget, but unions say restricting collective bargaining rights won't impact the budget.Continue »
Pro-union Wisconsin protesters were effectively locked out of the Madison capitol building ahead of Republican Gov. Scott Walker's budget address Tuesday night -- so they directed their anger at a Republican lawmaker who happened to get stuck outside with them.
Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman was chased down and surrounded by protesters yesterday evening as he tried to enter the capitol. The video at left shows protesters chanting "Shame! Shame!" as they followed him. They followed Grothman until he was stuck at a locked entrance, at which point some started chanting "Peace!" to calm the crowd down.
The crowd numbered close to 200, according to the Capital Times. Democratic state Rep. Brett Hulsey, who was speaking to the protesters, ultimately assisted Grothman inside the building with the assistance of firefighters.Continue »
Pressure is building for politicians in Wisconsin to resolve the ongoing dispute over union rights. But even after the matter is settled, some state lawmakers could be subject to the ire of their angry constituents -- who are being nudged along by passionate activists who work at a national level.
National organizations, both conservative and liberal, are considering leading recall movements against Wisconsin politicians in the wake of the highly-charged debate over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's so-called "budget repair bill." The legislation would, among other things, scale back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights.
Today, the liberal groups Progressive Change Campaign Committee and Democracy for America launched robocalls in the districts of five Republican state senators to determine whether voters are interested in pursuing recall efforts against their respective representatives.Continue »
Updated at 5 p.m. ET with a response from Gov. Scott Walker's office to President Obama's statements.
With the conflict continuing in Wisconsin over public unions' collective bargaining rights, President Obama on Monday reiterated his support for public sector workers.
"I don't think it does anybody any good when public employees are denigrated or vilified or their rights are infringed upon," the president said in a speech to the National Governors Association. "If all the pain [of addressing budget deficits] is borne by only one group -- whether it's workers, or seniors, or the poor -- while the wealthiest among us get to keep or get more tax breaks, we're not doing the right thing. I think that's something that Democrats and Republicans should be able to agree on."
Protestors continued Monday to protest in the capitol building in Madison, Wisconsin over Republican Gov. Scott Walker's proposal to scale back public workers' benefits as well as many of their collective bargaining rights. Public workers and their supporters argue that eliminating most public unions' collective bargaining rights has nothing to do with the budget and that the governor should drop that element of his plan.Continue »
Back in 2007, then-Sen. Barack Obama said that if he were president, he'd be walking the picket lines in solidarity with workers if unions were ever threatened. Now, the president has that chance in Wisconsin, but the White House says President Obama has no such plans.
Massive demonstrations have gone on for days in Wisconsin, as public workers and their supporters protest Republican Gov. Scott Walker's so-called "budget repair bill," which would scale back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights.
Public workers and their supporters argue that eliminating most public unions' collective bargaining rights has nothing to do with the budget and that the governor should drop that element of his plan. Walker isn't budging, however -- meaning that the ongoing debate has more to do with ideology than the state budget.
On the campaign trail in 2007, Mr. Obama had this to say: "If American workers are being denied their right to organize when I'm in the White House, I will put on a comfortable pair of shoes and I will walk on that picket line with you as President of the United States."Continue »
As the conflict in Wisconsin shifts from a battle over budget deficits into an ideological debate, some high-profile Republicans -- potential presidential contenders -- are lining up behind Republican Gov. Scott Walker.
Walker spurred massive protests in his state earlier this month with a "budget repair bill" that proposes scaling back public workers' benefits, as well as their collective bargaining rights, among other things. The dramatic showdown continues in the state, even though public sector unions have agreed to scale back their benefits for the sake of deficit reduction.
Public workers and their supporters argue that eliminating most public unions' collective bargaining rights has nothing to do with the budget and that the governor should drop that element of his plan. Walker isn't budging, however, and several other politicians in the GOP have his back.Continue »
The protests against Wisconsin Republican Gov. Scott Walker's efforts to roll back most union collective bargaining rights have been, thankfully, free of violence - so much so that some protesters have been spotted in knitting circles. But the same cannot be said of the rhetoric around the protests, which has included calls for firing on the protesters and for the protesters themselves to "get a little bloody" for their cause.
The call for firing on protesters came from now-former Indiana Deputy Attorney General Jeff Cox, who responded to a Tweet from a Mother Jones reporter saying riot police have been ordered to clear protesters by retweeting the news with the words "Use live ammunition." He also wrote, "You're damn right I advocate deadly force" and, one week ago, "Planned Parenthood could help themselves if the only abortions they performed were retroactive."
Cox lost his job over the Tweets; the Indiana Attorney General's office released a statement reading in part, "We respect individuals' First Amendment right to express their personal views on private online forums, but as public servants we are held by the public to a higher standard, and we should strive for civility."
In Massachusetts, meanwhile, U.S. Rep. Michael Capuano, a Democrat, is apologizing for his comments at a Tuesday rally in support of the protesters where he said, "Every once and awhile you need to get out on the streets and get a little bloody when necessary."Continue »
Republican lawmakers in Indiana have given up on a controversial anti-union bill that drove Democratic legislators out of the state, but Democrats want to see other controversial bills dropped before they return, the Indianapolis Star reports.
Like Wisconsin Democrats before them, Indiana Democrats yesterday fled their state to stall a vote on a state bill that would weaken unions. But while the legislative battle rages on in Wisconsin, the Indiana labor measure known as the "right to work" bill is now effectively dead. Republicans in the state say they will move the issue to a legislative committee for review later in the year, according to the Star.
The bill in question would have prohibited union membership or fees from being a condition of employment.
Even though the bill is dead, Democrats say they'll stay out of state -- specifically, in a hotel in Urbana, Illinois -- until Republican House Speaker Brian Bosma and Republican Gov. Mitch Daniels drop 10 other bills they oppose, all relating to either labor or education. The Democrats are primarily opposed to a measure for private school vouchers, the Star reports.Continue »
Wisconsin public sector workers and their supporters show no signs of slowing down their protests against Republican Gov. Scott Walker's anti-union legislation -- but conservative organizations are mobilizing their own robust efforts to back the governor.
More than 50 Tea Party leaders have signed a letter addressed to Walker encouraging him to press ahead with his plan. The letter comes from American Solutions, the conservative advocacy group formed by former House Speaker Newt Gingrich.
"We believe the results of the 2010 elections provided you with a mandate to implement change, so that Wisconsinites can have more jobs, more freedom, and more opportunity to pursue happiness now and for generations to come," the letter says. It criticized the "unsustainable benefits and pension plans" government employees receive, accusing unions of receiving those benefits in exchange for using their financial power to re-elect politicians.
The signatories include representatives from the Tea Party Express, the Wisconsin Tea Party Patriots, the Iowa Tea Party, the St. Louis Tea Party, Contract from America and several other groups from across the country.
Meanwhile, the conservative advocacy group Americans for Prosperity is launching an ad across Wisconsin today as part of its "Stand with Walker" campaign.
"Who decides Wisconsin's future, voters or government unions?" the ad asks. "Wisconsin voted for fiscal sanity & balanced budgets, but public employees walked off their jobs, abandoning our children. Democratic legislators don't even have the guts to show up for their jobs, hiding out in other states."Continue »