April 27, 2015

Walker: National right-to-work law a ‘legitimate’ goal

Gov. Scott Walker talks with Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson.

Gov. Scott Walker talks with Radio Iowa’s O. Kay Henderson.

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker says he has the “courage…and capacity” to take on powerful interests, including unions, at the federal level.

Walker, a Republican who is likely to enter the presidential race soon, signed a “right-to-work” law in Wisconsin this year and he sees a need for a similar federal law.

“As much as I think the federal government should get out of most of what it’s in right now, I think establishing fundamental freedoms for the American people is a legitimate thing and that would be something that would provide that opportunity in the other half of America to people who don’t have those opportunities today,” Walker said during an interview with Radio Iowa.

Twenty five states, including Iowa and Wisconsin, have “right-to-work” laws that forbid organized labor from forcing non-union workers to pay union dues or fees in a workplace where employees have voted to unionize. Soon after he was elected governor in 2010, Walker gained attention and plaudits from Republicans and business interests across the country by pushing to make changes in tenure and benefits for teachers and public employees in Wisconsin.

“Really what we did wasn’t just fight unions. It was fight the stranglehold that big government special interests had on state and local governments,” Walker said today. “I think in Washington we need that even more.”

The federal government has “grown too much,” according to Walker, and, if elected president, he’d seek changes in the civil service system for federal employees.

“For example, we got rid of seniority and tenure. You can hire and fire based on merit. You can pay based on performance,” Walker said. “We found in our schools and our local and state governments you can put the best and the brightest in those positions.”

Walker and eight other potential competitors for the Republican Party’s 2016 presidential nomination will speak this evening to the Iowa Faith and Freedom Coalition. It’s an organization that represents evangelical Christians, an important voting block in the Iowa GOP. Walker, who is the son of a Baptist minister, said his faith impacts how he conducts himself and how he listens to others.

“My faith is not a litmus test. I don’t get a Ten Commandments handed down to me on a tablet, saying: ‘You should be this on this issue and that on that issue,’” Walker said. “…I’m a Christian. I’m a follower of Jesus Christ. I firmly that someone can be a fellow believer and have different views than I do on policy and I don’t think that makes them any less of a believer if they differ. I just think you get to it in different ways.”

Walker vaulted into the national spotlight in January after a well-received speech at Congressman Steve King’s “Iowa Freedom Summit” in Des Moines. When asked today about his choice to literally roll up his shirt sleeves for that and other key political appearances over the past four months, Walker — whose suit jacket was hanging on the back of the chair in which he was sitting during the Radio Iowa interview — laughed.

“I give a few speeches in a coat,” Walker said, then he offered up the reason why he often goes coatless: “You’ll get the simple truth out of me. It’s usually just because I’m hot.”

Contributed by O. Kay Henderson, Radio Iowa.

Walker not feeling pressure to announce presidential plans

Gov. Scott Walker addresses an NRA convention in Tennessee.

Gov. Scott Walker addresses an NRA convention in Tennessee.

Despite several Republicans announcing they are running for president in 2016, Governor Scott Walker says his attention remains on other priorities.

Even though several Republicans have already made their plans public, Walker says he’s not feeling any pressure to push up his decision. During a stop in Appleton this week, Walker said “I’m focused on the state budget. I won’t make any decision until after the budget is complete.”
That may not happen until the end of June.

While he’s not an announced candidate, the governor hs continued to travel the country to speak with conservatives. He said he’s been getting good feedback on his message during those trips and has found that “certainly people want leaders who both fight and win for hard-working taxpayers.”

The governor is on the road again this weekend, with several stops planned in Iowa.

Wisconsin Democrats propose universal background checks

Rep. Berceau

Rep. Berceau

Proposed legislation would require universal background checks for gun purchases. It’s from Representative Terese Berceau (D-Madison), who’s introduced it for the past two years. “Law abiding citizens follow the rules and buy through licensed dealers,” Berceau said. “They know they can pass background checks. Criminals and those with criminal intent cannot, and right now we allow them to evade any rules.”

The Capitol press conference to introduce the measure came just two days after Senate passage of a bill to repeal the state’s 48 hour waiting period for handgun purchases, and amid a spike in fatal shootings in Milwaukee neighborhoods.

“For us not to bring up this bill would say that we don’t care about the gun deaths,” said state Representative Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee). “It is a moral imperative for us to introduce this bill as often as it takes.”

Berceau said background checks could deter street sales of guns which are often used in crimes. The bill is unlikely to receive a public hearing in the Republican dominated Wisconsin legislature. “I think that they’re wrong when it comes to this,” said Berceau. “Surveys that we’ve got from throughout the state show that people support closing this loophole. But that’s not what they’re looking at. What they’re looking at is what is the NRA going to do to them at the next election?”

Ron Johnson among Senate Republicans supporting Loretta Lynch

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (WRN Photo)

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson (WRN Photo)

Ten Republicans, including Ron Johnson of Wisconsin, joined the U.S. Senate’s 44 Democrats and two independents, as the chamber voted to confirm the nomination of Loretta Lynch to become the attorney general of the United States. Thursday’s vote came five months after President Obama submitted the veteran New York prosecutor’s nomination to Congress.

“Ms. Lynch has extensive experience both as a private practitioner and as a U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of New York,” said Johnson. “According to all reports and evidence, she has performed her duties in those positions capably and in a professional manner. Although I share the concerns many of my colleagues have expressed over portions of her testimony during confirmation hearings, elections matter and the president has the right to select members of his cabinet. As a result, I voted to confirm Ms. Lynch as attorney general.”

Obama nominated the 55-year-old Lynch to replace Eric H. Holder Jr. in November, when the Senate was under Democratic control. The Senate did not act on the nomination at that time, electing instead to to focus on judicial appointments that Democratic leaders feared would stall in a Republican-controlled Senate.

“I am very disappointed that Senate Republicans played politics with Loretta Lynch’s nomination and our nation’s safety and security,” said  Wisconsin Democrat, Senator Tammy Baldwin. “Loretta Lynch waited for a vote longer than the last seven Attorneys General combined, but after 166 days of having this vote held up by politics she has finally made history and will become our nation’s next Attorney General.”


Governor Walker says restoring education funding a priority

Gov. Scott Walker

Gov. Scott Walker

Governor Walker says lawmakers should focus on public schools first, if upcoming revenue projections are better than earlier estimates.

The nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau is expected to release new figures in early May. During a stop in Appleton Wednesday afternoon, Walker said he expects to have at least some money to reduce a proposed $127 million cut that was included in his state budget. “There will be a little bit of revenue for us to work with, but I don’t think there’s gonna be a huge amount,” Walker said. “Our number one priority gotta to be make sure that we make K-12 schools, public education in the state, a priority to make sure they’re held whole.”

Beyond that, Walker says his other priorities would be transportation and reducing the $300 million cut to the University of Wisconsin System.