Guest commentary A response to Rep. Amy Loudenbeck

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The lame duck session bills lauded by Rep. (Amy) Loudenbeck (R-Clinton) in "GOP aims to protect reforms in a new era of divided government" was instead a partisan spiteful reaction to the results of the last election.

If the election results were different and Walker was reelected would Rep. Loudenbeck have voted to curb the constitutional power of the new governor and the new attorney general and make their new jobs more difficult?

It is lame for Rep. Loudenbeck to suggest "that as we enter an era of divided government we should work together," when the majority party immediately after the election set up a nasty confrontation with the new governor-elect Evers before he was even inaugurated and had a chance to appoint a cabinet or even introduce himself.

Even former Republican governor Scott McCallum called it a "power grab and poor public policy."

Republican Sen. Cowles says his party crossed the line and he voted against the bills. I don't think Gov. Tommy Thompson, Wisconsin's cheerleader, was cheering this maneuver.

Wisconsin government was once considered squeaky clean and a proud role model for other states to emulate. Wisconsin is now a national embarrassment.

The GOP leaders in Wisconsin stole this lame duck idea from the partisan playbook used by Republicans in Michigan and North Carolina after they also lost their governor elections. North Carolina is still mired in lawsuits. The voters in that state have not forgotten how democracy was trashed. I don't think we will either.

Rep. Loudenbeck downplays the significance of the lame duck legislation but the new laws will affect Wisconsin residents in many ways. The legislation was rushed in secret, fast-tracked in 2 days with little opportunity for the public to understand or comment on the lame duck bills.

Some examples: Taxpayer protection. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation, a semi-public agency, will now have less accountability on how your taxpayer dollars are spent for job creation. This is the same job agency which faced repeated criticism on its lax oversight of your taxpayer money. This lame duck law gives them more flexibility to skirt accountability allowing the recipient of the grant to say they complied with the requirements of their job grant without verification from the nonpartisan audit bureau. Is it so cumbersome to require accountability to taxpayers?

Health care. Your health care will be impacted. It takes power away from Gov- elect Evers to withdraw Wisconsin from a federal lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) which protects health care coverage for people with preexisting conditions and helps young people remain on their parents' health insurance.

During the lame duck session the Republicans even refused to vote for a bill to protect folks with preexisting conditions like cancer, diabetes, asthma or rheumatoid arthritis, or just being older from the predatory policies of insurance companies.

Voting: It affects your ability to vote. Over half a million folks voted early in Wisconsin. Success! So why not build on this successful opportunity to vote rather than putting up barriers to early voting? Apparently the Republicans didn't like the outcome of the election and didn't trust the urban voters.

Roads. Another provision will affect our roads and the money the state receives from the federal government for roads. The state will no longer have to comply with federal environmental regulations and standards and require construction crews to be paid a living prevailing wage. According to the nonpartisan fiscal bureau this provision may mean the loss of federal funds which we need badly for our road projects.

How about a little porkypie vote for a campaign donor for a 14 million dollar state grant for a questionable flood control project in Arcadia? Wet lands and taxpayers beware.

Seems this lame duck session showed little concern for constituents but enormous concern for maintaining the political power of party bosses.

Instead of spending all this time, tax money and effort focusing on maintaining political advantage, writing op-ed spin pieces, suppressing votes, curbing the job ability of new Democratic elected officials, limiting accountability for folks receiving taxpayer money, why not spend legislative time and energy more productively?

How about working on legislation to fix our roads, fund our schools and universities and make sure our citizens have affordable health care and ensure taxpayers' dollars are spent wisely. These issues are extolled proudly by all candidates during their campaigns. Working together on these issues will better foster agreement and allow divided government to better work together.

Senator Judy Robson



(Democrat Judy Robson represented Beloit for many years, serving in both the Assembly and Senate. - WRB)

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