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February 28, 2015

Walker says Act 10 protests prepared him to take on terrorists

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker used his remarks at the annual Conservative Political Action Conference in Washington, D.C. on Thursday to suggest that the people who participated in 2011’s Act 10 protests at the Capitol in Madison weren’t all that much different from radical Islamic terrorists.

Walker was asked how he would deal with the Islamic State, were he to be elected president.

“Sometimes people in the media don’t understand that as a governor, I should get a threat assessment from the FBI and from my adjutant-general,” Walker said. “For years I’ve been concerned about that threat not just from abroad but here on American soil.”

Walker – who noted that he has yet to declare that he’s a candidate for president – said he “wants a commander-in-chief who will do everything in their power to ensure that the threat from radical Islamic terrorists do not wash up on American soil.” He said the next president needs to lead, and “send a message” to protect American soil and “freedom loving people anywhere else in the world.”

“We need a leader with that kind of confidence. If I can take on 100,000 protesters, I can do the same across the world,” Walker said, drawing applause from the crowd. Walker was well received at the event, and was briefly interrupted by a “run Scott run” chant.

Walker defends shift on taking up right-to-work (AUDIO)

Gov. Scott Walker (Photo: WRN)

Gov. Scott Walker (File photo: WRN)

As a proposal to make Wisconsin a right-to-work state rushes through the Legislature, Governor Scott Walker is defending a shift in his position on taking up the bill during the current legislative session.

Walker insisted on the campaign trail and before the start of the session that right-to-work would only be a distraction this spring, and that he was urging lawmakers not to act on the measure because it would draw attention away from more important issues. After Republicans announced last week that they planned to fast-track the bill and pass it within two weeks, the governor’s office announced he would sign the bill if it makes it to his desk.

Democrats have criticized Walker for the change in rhetoric. During a Capitol press conference on Thursday morning, Assembly Democratic Leader Peter Barca (D-Kenosha) called it “unbelievable” that the governor would reverse his position on taking up the bill. Pointing to an interview from last September in a Milwaukee newspaper, Barca said “I don’t know how much more clear you can be. I don’t know what any person, voter or citizen in this state, could think when a person says I’m not pursuing it, I’m not supporting it.”

AUDIO: Rep. Peter Barca (:47)

Speaking to reporters in Milwaukee Thursday morning, Walker maintained that he has always supported right-to-work legislation, but felt introducing the bill early on in the session could be a distraction from the roll-out of his state budget plan. Now that the budget has been introduced and lawmakers are waiting to start marking up the bill, the governor said he believes it’s the “right time” to act on right-to-work.

AUDIO: Gov. Scott Walker (1:02)

Democrats have also criticized Republicans for rushing through the bill and silencing debate, after a public hearing on Tuesday was cut short while several people were still waiting to testify. Walker claimed that the legislation is getting plenty of exposure and was the focus of a “lengthy debate” in the state Senate this week.

Walker also pointed to a budget repair bill Democrats rushed through without a public hearing while Governor Jim Doyle was in office, claiming that it’s a “hollow argument” to say Republicans the bill is moving too quickly.

State Representative Cory Mason (D-Racine) fired back at Walker Thursday, calling it “absurd” for Walker to continue blaming Doyle when things don’t go his way. Gaming compacts the Doyle administration had negotiated with the Forest County Potawatomi were also recently blamed for Walker’s decision to reject the Menominee tribe’s proposed Kenosha casino. Mason said “the reality is, he’s the governor. He needs to take the responsibility for what’s happening now.”

The state Senate passed the right-to-work bill on Wednesday night. An Assembly committee is scheduled to begin a public hearing on the bill Monday. It remains unclear when the legislation will go before the full Assembly.

Packers release LB A.J. Hawk (Video)

A.J. Hawk

A.J. Hawk

After nine seasons with the Green Bay Packers, linebacker A.J. Hawk has been released by the team today.

“A.J. is a consummate Packer and we are grateful for all that he has given and how he represented the organization over the past nine seasons,” GM Ted Thompson said.  “He was a durable and consistent contributor to our success, but more importantly, he is a great person and teammate.  The Packers are grateful for all that he has done on the field and in the community.  We wish A.J., his wife Laura, and the rest of their family all the best.”

Hawk was selected by the Packers in the first round (No. 5 overall) of the [Read more…]

Wisconsin union groups rally against right-to-work (VIDEO)

Unions protest right-to-work legislation at the Wisconsin Capitol. (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Unions protest right-to-work legislation at the Wisconsin Capitol. (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Four years after massive crowds of protesters surrounded Wisconsin’s Capitol building during the fight over collective bargaining legislation, chants of “this is what Democracy looks like” could once again be heard floating around the building on Tuesday.

Union groups find themselves once again fighting a battle against Republicans, who this time are seeking to make Wisconsin the 25th state in the country to adopt right-to-work legislation. The bill would prohibit requiring workers to pay union dues or join a union as a condition of employment.

As lawmakers kicked off a hearing on the proposal Tuesday morning, crowds of protesters filled the building and rallied on the steps of the Capitol during the noon hour. Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt called on opponents of right-to-work to make their voices heard by registering to testify against the measure. Neuenfeldt said “we gather here today to join together in solidarity, to raise our voices for the future of Wisconsin, for the future of our communities, and for the future of our entire middle class.”

The state Department of Administration estimated about 2,000 people were at the Capitol during the rally. The number is significantly less than some of the crowds that appeared four years ago during the fight over Act 10, Governor Scott Walker’s legislation that stripped most public employees of their collective bargaining powers.

Opponents of right-to-work argue the measure will drive down wages and reduce the ability of workers to have a voice in workplace issues. Those pushing the legislation argue the change is needed to spark economic investment in Wisconsin, and argue other states have seen their labor market improve after adopting right-to-work laws.

Nass promises ‘orderly and thoughtful’ hearing on right-to-work

Wisconsin State Capitol (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Wisconsin State Capitol (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

As lawmakers prepare to hear a day of testimony on proposed right-to-work legislation at the Capitol, the chair of the committee is promising the bill will be the subject of “an orderly and thoughtful process.”

Senate Labor and Government Reform Committee chairman Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) says the bill, which would prohibit requiring workers to pay union dues as a condition of employment, will be the focus of a nine hour hearing. An executive session on the bill is then expected to take place “shortly after” 7 p.m. this evening.

Nass says the bill is a “clean and simple proposal,” which has “been debated for years and now is the time for Wisconsin to make a decision. I believe every employee should have the right to determine membership in a private organization and that decision should not cost them their livelihood.”

The hearing is expected to attract a long line of people waiting to testify, while union groups have also scheduled a protest on the Capitol steps, which is set to start at noon. Wisconsin AFL-CIO President Phil Neuenfeldt said on Monday that they will be encouraging those attending the rally to stop by the hearing afterwards and register their opposition.

The right-to-work legislation is on the fast track at the Capitol, with a vote in the full Senate expected this week and the Assembly set to take up the measure next week. Governor Scott Walker has indicated he will sign the bill if it makes it to his desk. If adopted, Wisconsin would become the 25th state to enact such a law.