September 18, 2014

Erpenbach assails Walker drug testing plan

Erpenbach WRN file photo

Erpenbach WRN file photo

There’s some criticism for the governor’s drug testing plan. Governor Scott Walker’s proposal to require drug testing for adults getting unemployment and food stamps is drawing fire from at least one Democratic lawmaker.

“You really have to take a look at why that proposal would even be there,” said state Senator Jon Erpenbach of Middleton. “It might sound good to someone, until they lose a job and have to go urinate in a cup to get food stamps.”

Erpenbach believes the proposal would do nothing to create jobs and could end up costing the state money. “This is an expensive proposal in the name of job creation, which won’t create a single job. If you’re going to do this, how are you going to pay for it?”

If elected to a second term, Walker wants to require drug testing for childless adults requesting unemployment and food stamps. They’d also be required to participate in employment training or part-time work. “Our economy is hurting here in the state of Wisconsin, and the governor wants to drug test someone who’s just lost their job in order to get their food stamps,” Erpenbach said.

Cross touts UW System to a nationwide audience

UW System President Raymond Cross

UW System President Raymond Cross

University of Wisconsin System President Ray Cross touches on policy issues, economic impact, tuition cost, and the number of Nobel Prizes connected to the university (18).

Despite the cost, Cross says, “of course” a college education is worth it. “College graduates earn more — considerably more — than their none college counterparts. In addition to that the unemployment rate for college graduates is roughly half of what it is for none-college graduates. There’s a definite distinguishing characteristic economically.”

Though, Cross says, its worth should not be measured solely by its economic value. He says, “It’s important to understand what it means to have an educated citizenry.” He says earnings are important, as well as economic impact on the family and state. Cross says he’s working to connect the UW system to the needs of corporations in Wisconsin. “I think it’s also important in the state of Wisconsin where we have about 150,000 to 170,000 vacant job positions right now, it’s important for the university to help develop high-impact talent to address some of those needs.”

Cross’s conversation was part of a series of interviews with university officials across the nation during a C-SPAN Bus Big Ten Tour of the universities of the Big Ten Conference.

Wisconsin absentee voters will need to show photo ID (AUDIO)

GAB director Kevin Kennedy (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

GAB director Kevin Kennedy (Photo: Andrew Beckett)

Thousands of Wisconsin voters who have already requested absentee ballots, and in some cases already turned them in, will have to provide a copy of a valid photo ID for voting before the November 4th election. Otherwise, state election officials say no ballots will be issued to them or counted on Election Day.

The state Government Accountability Board on Tuesday laid out its response to a court order from last Friday, which lifted an injunction that had been blocking Wisconsin’s Voter ID law from being enforced. Agency director Kevin Kennedy says officials plan an “extraordinary response” in the remaining days before the election, as they work to educate local clerks and voters about what will be required of them at polling places across the state.

Kennedy says the immediate concern is the more than 11,000 absentee ballot requests clerks had taken in before last Friday. Clerks have been instructed to contact those voters in writing to inform them that they must submit a copy of a valid government-issued photo ID for voting. If they do not, a ballot will not be issued. If an absentee ballot was already submitted, it will be treated as a provisional ballot on Election Day.

AUDIO: Kevin Kennedy on absentee ballot requests (:25)

Kennedy stresses that the vast majority of the voters in Wisconsin will not need to do anything special to cast a ballot in the election. He says “most voters already have the ID they need to vote. A driver’s license, a state issued ID card, a passport, a military ID, or a tribal ID are the most common…most people do not need to get a separate ID card to vote.”
For those who do need an ID to vote, the state Division of Motor Vehicles is stepping up efforts to supply individuals with the free card they will need to show at the polls. For those lacking a birth certificate or other documentation, a new system is in place to verify that information at no cost to the voter.

Kennedy says Friday’s court decision was not entirely unexpected, and the GAB had been working on how to implement the voter ID requirement quickly in the event the injunction was lifted. While those challenging the law have asked for a hearing before the full 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago to revisit the order, Kennedy says the GAB is moving forward as if the requirement will be in place on Election Day. He says those plans will change only if there’s a court order.

Kennedy notes that much of the groundwork for training local clerks on how to check IDs was already done after the law was passed in 2011. The voter ID requirement was used in a single election in early 2012, before a Dane County judge issued the first injunction blocking further enforcement. Court cases have kept it tied up since then. He says not having to “reinvent the wheel” will help with the process of getting local clerks ready for the requirement in the remaining days before the election.

Candidates Grothman and Harris debate

(Photo: KFIZ)

(Photo: KFIZ)

The candidates in the 6th congressional district race staked out some of their priorities, during a debate in Fond du Lac Monday.

Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris is running as a Democrat. He says Congress needs to focus on real solutions to improve the economy.Republican state Sen. Glenn Grothman of Campbellsport says he wants to reform the welfare system. He says right now, single parents have too much to lose by trying to get off of it.
Grothman and Harris are running to replace Congressman Tom Petri of Fond du Lac. The Republican is retiring, after serving for 36 years.

Walker wants more from Wisconsin assistance recipients



Governor Scott Walker wants more from recipients of unemployment assistance and food stamps. In a second term, Walker would require drug testing for those requesting unemployment assistance. At a stop in Wausau on Monday, Walker said that’s what employers want.

“They tell us they have basic, entry level jobs, where they’d be happy to hire people and train them themselves, except for two problems. They have people that have basic employability skills, and they have people that can’t pass drug tests,” Walker said.

Drug tests would also be required for able bodied adults requesting food stamps. And working-age childless adults receiving food stamps or unemployment benefits would have to participate in employment training or part-time work.

“Over the next two year budget cycle we actually believe it would save us money, because we believe there would be fewer people who would stay on assistance than there have been in the past,” Walker said. “Our goal with all this is ultimately to transition more people into the workplace, because we think it’s better for them, it’s better for employers, and it’s most importantly probably better for the taxpayers.”

The requirements are part of Walker’s “Continuing Wisconsin’s Comeback” outline for the next four years. Walker said he will also:

  •  Cut property taxes so the levy on a typical home in 2018 is lower than it was in 2010.
  •  Reduce income taxes so they are lower in 2018 than they are today.
  •  Provide tax relief for manufacturing and agriculture.
  •  Fight Obamacare, which is raising health insurance premiums for many in Wisconsin.
  •  Expand worker training investments.
  •  Freeze technical college tuition and continue the UW System tuition freeze.
  •  Establish accountability measures for all schools receiving public funding.
  •  Establish high standards for students at the local and state level as an alternative to measures set by people outside of Wisconsin.
  •  Put common sense limits on the time able-bodied, working age childless adults can be on public assistance.