January 31, 2015

Fitzgerald: right-to-work should be considered along with budget

The Republican leader of the Wisconsin state Senate is calling for debate on a right-to-work bill to take place as lawmakers in Madison consider the state budget plan Governor Scott Walker will release next week. Senator Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), who had indicated as recently as last week that the earliest the bill would come up in the Senate would be after the April election to fill a vacant seat, said in a release on Thursday that the debate should happen sooner.

“As we enter into a budget process that we know will present some difficult financial challenges, we have an obligation to the taxpayers to make every effort to ensure that Wisconsin remains an attractive site for business and to foster economic growth. With broad support throughout the state, it would be a missed opportunity to leave the workplace freedom debate out of that equation.”

Communications Director Myranda Tanck said Fitzgerald anticipated that the right-to-work debate in the Senate would be “somewhat simultaneous” with the consideration of Walker’s budget, and that a bill could be ready once the vacant seat in the 20th District is filled.

Fitzgerald cited the results of a survey on the issue which was released Thursday by Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce. The findings of a poll conducted by The Tarrance Group claimed that 69 percent of Wisconsin voters – and 51 percent of union households – support right to work legislation.

Governor Scott Walker has continued to maintain that in his view, right-to-work legislation would only serve to distract lawmakers from what he’s identified as his core issues. “I’ve never said I was against it. When I was a legislator I was a co-sponsor. I’ve said it’s a distraction because I ran on a series of things,” Walker said Wednesday. “That’s my focal point. I didn’t want the legislature distracted from that.”

Walker says he won’t reconsider Kenosha casino decision

WRN photo

WRN photo

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker won’t be reconsidering his rejection of a proposed Hard Rock Kenosha casino. That’s despite a request from a bipartisan group of ten lawmakers from southeastern Wisconsin, asking the governor to do just that.

“I had a hundred million reasons I had to say no,” Walker told reporters in Madison on Wednesday. “That would cost us, if I had approved the casino . . . about $100 million right now, and potentially two to three to four times that in the future.”

The lawmakers contend that Walker could rescind his rejection prior to the February 19th deadline by which the federal Bureau of Indian Affairs expected a decision. Walker doesn’t believe that’s possible. “My understanding is, and we’ll again verify that, is it’s like signing a bill. You don’t get to go back and un-sign a bill. Once you’ve notified the Bureau of Indian Affairs if your decision, that’s it.”

Walker rejected the Menominee Tribe’s project last Friday, citing concerns about potential litigation and back-payments the state may owe the Forest County Potawatomi.

Wisconsin lawmakers argue over EPA carbon emission targets

epaPartisan positions held the day at a Capitol hearing on the Obama administration’s proposed carbon emission limits. It was an informational hearing – there’s no legislation being considered to counter new EPA new standards, although Governor Scott Walker’s Department of Justice is preparing a lawsuit.

Madison Democrat, Representative Melissa Sargent argues the new limits, aimed at reduction of greenhouse gasses, will address real concerns. “I’m hearing concern about the health of the people in our state, asthma in children and older people in astonishing numbers. I’m concerned about our environment and our climate,” Sargent said.

“Bascially what we have here is an unfunded mandate from the federal government, the Obama adminstration, saying that we need to do these things, which is going to cost anywhere between $3 billion to $13 billion here in the state of Wisconsin to achieve those goals,” said state Senator Rick Gudex, a Fond du Lac Republican. “One of the intended consequences of this unfunded mandate is that the ratepayers are going to pay more money. One of the unintended consequences is that we could in a way stifle our economy.”

The Environmental Protection Agency announced carbon dioxide emissions targets for all 50 states last year, and Wisconsin would be expected to reduce emissions by more than 30 percent in just 15 years. “The idea that we’re going to make transformative changes to our energy generation and distribution system in Wisconsin in such a short time frame, I think underscores how ill-suited the Clean Air Act is as a vehicle to regulate greenhouse gas emissions,” said Scott Manley with Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce.

Walker announced in his state of the state address that he will work with Republican Attorney General Brad Schimel to prepare a lawsuit against the federal government over the EPA carbon emission reduction targets.

Menasha Corporation will build new corporate HQ in Neenah

Menasha Corporation wants to build a new global headquarters in Neenah. Mayor Dean Kaufert, who helped present the proposal to the city council during a special meeting Tuesday night, said it will keep the corporation in the Fox Cities. for decades to come. “Having Menasha Corporation willing to reinvest in Neenah is going to be a win-win for the company, for the community and for the employees,” Kaufert said.

With a projected price tag of million dollars, Kaufert says the city would create a TIF district and pay the company up one-point-five-five million dollars. The 100,000 square foot facility would double as the corporate offices for Menasha Packaging. Menasha Corporation plans to add about 25 jobs.

“This solidifies Menasha Corporation’s standing here in the Fox Valley for generations to come” said Kaufert. Neenah would also spend 400-thousand dollars on road improvements and a pedestrian path. Menasha Corporation hopes to start work in April.


Right-to-work not dead in Wisconsin

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald

Sen. Scott Fitzgerald

The controversial right-to-work legislation might not be on a fast track in Wisconsin, but it’s also not a dead issue. That’s according to state Senate majority leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau). “It’s still out there. I think it’s still something that deserves debate. The votes are probably there in the Assembly, which is odd that there’s so much focus on the Senate I guess, but that’s fine. I’m not counting noses, I’ve said all along. I’m still talking to members about how they feel about the issue.”

Fitzgerald says he understands that Governor Scott Walker is concerned about the Capitol becoming full of chaos and sending a message to people outside the state that once again we have an unstable state government in Wisconsin.”

It’s “premature” to say a right-to-work bill for Wisconsin isn’t going anywhere in the legislature, according to Fitzgerald, who says, “We’ll continue to talk about the issue.”

The earliest the bill would come up in the Senate, he says, would be after the April election to fill a vacant Senate seat. Under right-to-work, employees of private companies are not required to join unions or pay union dues.