Wisconsin voters embrace pot; nearly 1 million vote yes on medical, recreational use

Wisconsin voters embrace pot; nearly 1 million vote yes on medical, recreational use
Unions Helped Beat Scott Walker And Bruce Rauner, But Only After The Damage Was Done
Labor unions are celebrating the downfall of two of their worst enemies this week: Govs. Scott Walker of Wisconsin and Bruce Rauner of Illinois. The pair of Republicans lost their re-election bids to Democrats, ending Walkers gubernatorial stint after two terms and Rauners after one.

The AFL-CIO  could barely contain its glee over Walkers defeat, with the labor federations president releasing a six-word dagger of a statement: Scott Walker was a national disgrace.

During the midterms on Tuesday, November 6, Governor Rick Scott (R) of Wisconsin lost his reelection bid to Democrat Tony Evers in the narrowest margin the state has seen for 50 years. With 99% of precincts reporting the next Wednesday morning, Evers led Scott 49.6% to 48.4%, a margin of 1.2%. With just 31,000 votes separating the winner from the loser, Governor Scott probably would have loved a recount to swing some votes his way. Sadly, a law he signed in 2016 bars him from asking for one.

Meanwhile, the American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees touted Rauners loss. Rauners attacks on the freedom of working families have backfired, the unions president proclaimed.

After the 2016 Presidential elections, in which Donald Trump beat Hillary Clinton by only 23,000 votes in Wisconsin, Governor Scott signed a law which allowed recounts only when the two candidates were within 1% of each other. At the time, it may have seemed like a good way to guarantee victory for Republican candidates who narrowly edge out their Democratic opponents, but it has now ended Scott’s race once and for all.

Video: Walker concedes defeat to Democrat Evers

While organized labor may revel in the outcomes, their jubilation has its limits. After all, unions may have won this weeks big game, but only after Walker and Rauner forever changed the rules by which the game is played.

Walker’s campaign spokesman, Brian Reisinger, had previously claimed that Walker wanted an examination of “damaged ballots,” as well as an official canvas of the vote which shows results from absentee and provisional ballots. It seems those things may not come to pass without the recount Walker himself outlawed.

Long after Walker leaves the governors mansion, Wisconsins politics will be shaped by Act 10. Thats the 2011 law Walker pushed through the GOP-controlled legislature that stripped collective-bargaining rights from most government employees. The law has severely reduced public-sector union membership, weakening the states labor movement and, by extension, progressive political causes in the state.

After kneecapping public-sector unions, Walker and his Republican allies had an easy time enacting a right-to-work law for the Wisconsin private sector just four years later. Such laws bar contracts between unions and employers that require all the workers in a particular bargaining unit to help cover the costs of representation. The laws can lead to what unions derisively call free riding: workers avoiding such representation costs while enjoying the benefits of a union-negotiated contract.

Walker’s lieutenant governor, Rebecca Kleefisch, at one point told press she was getting ready for a “long, drawn-out recount.” She’s probably glad that, thanks to Walker’s legislation, she can take some time off and relax.

Walkers successful battles to degrade organized labor made him a darling of the conservative movement and inspired other Republican governors to take a hard line on unions.

Video: Tony Evers planning transition to Wisconsin governor

A key piece of Rauners legacy will be the Supreme Court case Janus v AFSCME. In that monumental 5-4 decision, issued in June, the justices ruled that public-sector workers cannot be required to pay fees to the unions that represent them, deeming such fair share fees to be compelled speech.

Mason supported the Foxconn deal while he was still in the state legislature, giving up to $4.5 billion of taxpayer's money to Foxconn if the tech giant meets agreements to build a large facility and hire up to 13,000 workers.

The ruling applied right-to-work to the entire U.S. public sector, giving government workers the chance to opt out of paying fees to unions that nonetheless must bargain on their behalf.

Rauner originally brought that case as governor, though a judge later ruled he did not have standing since he was not represented by a union. In stepped Mark Janus, the Illinois health department employee represented by AFSCME who ultimately won the case.

The Janus decision has already cost public-sector unions thousands of previously dues-paying members. It has also forced them to divert time and money to organize the workers they already represent, rather than putting all their resources into organizing new workplaces. It is arguably the worst Supreme Court ruling for unions in decades.  

Act 10 and Janus are not temporary setbacks for unions. They structurally weaken them by making it harder to retain members. And by doing so the laws politically benefit Republicans, who loathe the influence of unions and the ground game they lend to Democrats in elections.

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When Donald Trump won Wisconsin in the 2016 election ― one of the critical states that ultimately delivered him the presidency ― the anti-union and anti-tax activist Grover Norquist drew a direct line back to Act 10. He attributed Trumps win in Wisconsin to unions diminished capacity in the state.

As for the political effects of right-to-work, a recent study by the National Bureau of Economic Research showed that such laws can drive down the share of Democratic votes in a presidential election by 3.5 percent.

While that measure is in limbo, Republicans are talking about doing much more, including kneecapping Evers before he takes office. In addition to reducing his rule-making authority, they could also look at making it more difficult for leaders of stage agencies to get confirmed and reducing the number of political appointees the governor can make. Other gubernatorial powers, like his extensive veto authority, are protected by the state constitution and would require a vote of the people to undo.

The good news for Wisconsin unions is that the state will now be under divided government. Republicans are retaining control of both chambers of the statehouse, but the new governor ― union ally Tony Evers ― will wield veto power.

But there is no undoing Act 10 or the right-to-work law, at least anytime soon, said Paul Secunda, a labor law professor at Marquette University Law School in Milwaukee.

GOP Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said in an interview on WISN-AM that Republicans were discussing limiting the governor’s authority over a process of enacting rules that have the power of law. The Legislature increased Walker’s authority over that process shortly after he took office in 2011. Republicans have been in complete control of the Legislature and governor’s since that year.

Wisconsin needs $2 billion more to cover existing programs and schools in next budget

Obviously, if the legislature is Republican and the governor is Democratic, it puts a full stop on any further type of anti-worker legislation, Secunda said. But at the same time, it doesnt put things back to where they were.

Walker hasn’t said whether he would sign any such bills into law before he leaves office on Jan. 7. His spokeswoman, Amy Hasenberg, didn’t immediately reply to a message seeking comment. Such a move has precedent: Republicans in North Carolina two years ago limited the number of appointments that the Democratic governor-elect, Roy Cooper, could make once he took office.

Vos names pre-existing conditions coverage as top priority, wants to find balance with Evers

Union membership in the U.S. has been trending downward for decades. When the Labor Department first started tracking membership in the early 1980′s, more than 20 percent of U.S. workers belonged to unions. As of last year, that rate was down to 10.7 percent.

“There’s some obligation on a governor in that situation to not just be a partisan player anymore and be a protector of the office, and I hope the governor does that,” Doyle said. “I think that’s how many governors would see it. You’re no longer just a party operative, you’re somebody who has to look at the bigger picture.”

The drop in Wisconsin has been precipitous under Walker, from more than 14 percent in 2010 (the year he was first elected) to around eight percent in 2015, where it has hovered since.

The Latest: Former Gov. Doyle accuses GOP of bad form

With a Democrat in the governors mansion, unions in Wisconsin will at least have a check on any legislation aimed at weakening them further. But they still find themselves in the same position as unions in so many other states, where maintaining the status quo counts as its own kind of victory.

Being our semi-regular weekly survey of whats goin down in the several states where, as we know, the real work of government gets done, and where you do what you must do, and you do it well.

We begin in Wisconsin, where Scott Walker, the goggle-eyed homunculus hired by Koch Industries to manage this particular midwest subsidiary, was turfed out on Tuesday in favor of earnest liberal educator Tony Evers. The election was very close, and Walker found himself ridden out of office partly by his own hand.

You see, back in 2016, Walker signed into law a measure by which the recount requirement in Wisconsin elections was tightened up. Now, you had to have come within less than one percentage point of your opponent in order to qualify. On Tuesday night—Im sorry, but the schadenfreude is up to my knees here at the moment—Walker finished 1.2 percentage points behind Evers. I hope the view from atop his own petard is to Walkers liking.

However, almost immediately, because the Democrats failed to flip Walkers pet state legislature, the Republican speaker of the state assembly announced that he might move immediately to take away from Evers the powers that the legislature had handed so freely over to Walker. From The Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel:

This, of course, would be an utterly shameless thing to do, but not an unprecedented one. Last year, when Democrat Roy Cooper took over as governor of the newly insane state of North Carolina, his Republican legislature tried to do much the same thing. In fact, that effort continued right up to Tuesday nights state election. From Governing:

Tony Evers Speaks on UWSP Budget Crisis as Election Approaches

It turns out that, according to the Times, folks in those rural areas are facing a genuine crisis in their drinking water.

Its here where I point out that Juneau County, where Armenia is located, gave Walker, who cut enforcement and people, 56 percent of its vote for re-election, and that the Republicans in the state legislature strengthened their majorities.

We are a bit bughouse on the subject of water here at the shebeen. Its one of those things that those of us of a certain age took for granted for which the government would look out. We figured that no politician who allowed the drinking water to go foul ever would be re-elected. Times change.

Republicans look to limit new governors powers | Paywall

I hope to live long enough to see the day when this kind of things doesnt change every time a governorship (or a presidency) change

And we conclude, as is our custom, in the great state of Oklahoma, where Blog Custom Saddle Detailer Friedman of the Plains brings us yet another battle with history. From Readfrontier:

OK, as curator of the shebeens Bad Analogy Museum, Im going to have to see how she manages this one.


Posted in Madison