14 Days at Work, and Proud of It

No More Gavel In, Gavel OutGavel in, gavel out” rallies the GOP

The Majority Party in the Wisconsin Legislature is working hard to avoid work. And when they do convene, Rep. Voss and Sen. Fitzgerald call to order, only to adjourn immediately with no action – gavel in, gavel out.

It held only 14 session days during 2019. Intentions are to hold only 20 session days this year. In 2019 only 21 laws were passed, well below the annual average of 300 in recent decades.

Why not bring bills to the floor for a vote? Why adjourn without an agenda? The strategy of obstruction is one way to avoid dealing with issues that people have time and again indicated they support, such as Red Flag laws and universal background checks for gun sales. Issues rangiong from fair maps to affordable health care to progressive farm bills are all going without hearings or votes.

The Republican-controlled legislature won’t allow bills to come to the floor in fear of going on record in opposition to the will of the people.

Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) puts it this way, “There isn’t really a lot of interest in addressing and tackling the big issues out there.”

It’s not the low number of session days or bills that became laws that is so problematic; it’s that necessary work that Wisconsinites say is a priority has been left unaddressed.

In passing Act 9, the mandatory biennial state budget for 2019-21, Republicans removed 131 items from Evers’ proposed budget and has yet to bring these back for debate or action. Those items included:

  • an expansion of Medicaid that would benefit 82,000 Wisconsinites,
  • decriminalizing small amounts of marijuana,
  • raising the state minimum wage to $10.50 over three years
  • raising taxes on high earners.

“We have an obligation… to do our best to create opportunity, to try to manage the bigger issues that are impacting people, whether it’s groundwater, whether it’s stagnant wages, whether it’s access to affordable childcare, whether it’s access to affordable health care,” says Hintz. “And I don’t think anybody can say that the agenda pushed in the legislature remotely comes close to addressing those issues.

Credit for this story, and for more – we thank and follow Melanie Conklin, Wisconsin Examiner.

Update: Some of the bills being ignored:

  •       Coverage Protections for Pre-Existing Conditions (SB 37)
  •       Child Care Affordability (LRB 3366)
  •       Medical Cannabis (SB 507)
  •       Family Medical Leave Act (LRB 0323)
  •       Chronic Wasting Disease Testing Sites (SB 474)
  •       Medicaid Expansion (SB 361)
  •       Close Corporate “Dark Store” Tax Loopholes (SB 130)
  •       Clean Water Protections (SB 302)
  •       Closing the Gun Show Loophole (AB 431)
  •       Funding for Homeless Shelters (SB 122)