October 23, 2014

Senator Tammy Baldwin doesn’t see need for Ebola travel restrictions

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin says Congress needs to debate a policy towards ISIS. “I certainly believe that there is a role that the Congress of the United States should have already played, but we still have opportunities to have a full debate on what the nature of that engagement will be,” the Wisconsin Democrat said in Madison Monday.

Baldwin said the Obama administration is relying on a pair of resolutions on use of force that were passed by Congress more than a decade ago – which are “ill-suited” to the current problems in Iraq and Syria. “I do believe that there’s a role for debate, and have concerns that if we don’t have that, this could end up being an open-ended military engagement. Baldwin said “Iraq has to be able to stand up and fight for itself” and if it can’t, no international coalition will be able to do that for the Iraqis.

Baldwin also doesn’t see the need to ban travel to West Africa in response to the Ebola epidemic there. “I agree with the scientific community that says that it would be unwise, in terms of our ability to contain the epidemic in the three west African countries where it originated,” Baldwin said.

Wisconsin Republicans, Senator Ron Johnson and Representative Reid Ribble, where among the politicians who voiced support for such a ban.

“The measures that have been taken to increase screening at entry points in the United States where we receive passengers that might have been in west Africa are the right way to go,” said Baldwin.

Attorney General Van Hollen drops effort to restore Voter ID requirement before election

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen

The state Department of Justice is no longer pursuing an effort to restore a Wisconsin law that requires voters to show a government-issued photo identification to obtain a ballot, before the November 4th election.

After the U.S. Supreme Court issued an order putting the law back on hold earlier this month, Wisconsin Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen had said he would explore alternatives to address the high court’s concerns so the requirement could be reinstated for the November 4 elections. Van Hollen did not indicate he hoped to accomplish that goal.

On Monday, DOJ spokeswoman Dana Brueck said they now do not expect to have the law restored before the election, although she declined to say what alternatives the agency had explored. In an email, Brueck said that the fact that the requirement will not be in effect is “unfortunate as it is a constitutional piece of common sense legislation that is overwhelmingly supported by the people of Wisconsin.”

Wisconsin’s voter ID law has been the subject of a long legal battle since it was first enacted by Republicans in 2011. It was only in effect for a single primary election in early 2012, before a Dane County judge put it on hold. Further state and federal court challenges have kept it tied up since then, until an appeals court ordered it put back in effect in early September. State and local election officials had been working to educate voters about the requirement, prior to the Supreme Court’s order earlier this month putting the law on hold again.

A federal appeals court earlier this month did rule that the law is constitutional. The case is currently being appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

Walker, Burke make closing arguments in final debate

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke and GOP Governor Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

The two candidates for governor field questions about jobs numbers, the state budget, education costs, taxes, the Kenosha casino, the economy, and whether to criminalize first offense drunk driving.

The city of Milwaukee gets a lot of attention, with questions about central city violence, unemployment among African Americans, and an arena for the Milwaukee Bucks.

Governor Scott Walker’s predecessor sees even more attention from the current chief executive. “In the last three years,” Walker says while defending his jobs numbers, “we created twice as many jobs as were created during the three years that my opponent was in charge of the Department of Commerce under Governor Doyle.”

In an effort to compare his Democratic challenger Mary Burke to former Governor Jim Doyle, Walker references Burke’s former boss multiple times. “With the number of times that Governor Walker has mentioned Jim Doyle,” Burke quips, “it’s clear that he’d be running against him than me.”

Burke and Walker differ on drunk driving

Burke says first time offense for driving drunk should be a misdemeanor, saying there needs to be more consequences for the thousands of alcohol-related crashes on Wisconsin roadways. In addition to avoidable deaths, “This is costing our society a lot of money along with the type of personal injury that it causes.”

Republican Governor Scott Walker says it’s a “tragic” issue, but criminalizing first time offenders isn’t the answer. He says the focus needs to be on those who are on the road multiple times driving drunk. “That’s something we have to crack down on,” he says, “Those first time offenders … criminalizing that isn’t the answer. It’s going after repeat offenders.”

Walker says this is an issue that Republicans and Democrats at the Capitol can work on together.

AUDIOOne non-scripted moment came when the clock malfunctioned. :44

Disagreement on the Kenosha casino debate

The high-stakes issue of expanding gaming in Wisconsin gets a lot of attention among the two gubernatorial candidates. Burke says an impartial study is needed before making a decision on a proposal for an off-reservation casino in Kenosha, saying it’s important to look at the impact on Kenosha, Milwaukee, and the state over all.

“I have said that if it shows that it creates a significant number of new jobs and it adds to Wisconsin’s employment and tax base, that I would approve that casino.”

Burke says she will make a decision and won’t “kick the can down the road” like her opponent.

Meanwhile, Walker says he’s done a lot to increase jobs in the area, but says the biggest issue holding up the Kenosha casino project is the tribal compacts his predecessor Governor Jim Doyle negotiated. Walker says he’ll take the time to get it right, so the state doesn’t lose money on the deal. “We’re gonna take the full amount of time that we need to … to make sure we can get to a point where we can create those jobs. We can have a win, win, win. Create the jobs there, protect the jobs in other parts of the state, and make sure we do that without creating a $100,000 hole in the state budget.”

AUDIO: Burke closing argument 2:47

AUDIO: Walker closing argument 3:06

The small percentage of independent voters have just two weeks to make up their minds before Election Day. Walker and Burke continue to say a win in this hotly-contested race will depend largely on voter turn-out. Both candidates have been running head-to-head in polls, with the most recent Marquette University Law School Poll showing them at 47 percent each among likely voters.

The two candidates met in Milwaukee for an event that was sponsored by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and was broadcasts statewide on television and radio. Burke and Walker were questioned by a panel of broadcast journalists. Burke and Walker met the week before for their first debate in Eau Claire.

Walker, Burke differ on significance of abortion debate among voters

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Mary Burke, Scott Walker (PHOTO: Jackie Johnson)

Republican Governor Scott Walker, who is pro-life, says voters don’t want to belabor the abortion issue. “You guys are asking a lot of interesting questions that quite honestly I don’t hear anyone ask.” He says people who talk to him on the campaign trail prefer to talk about jobs and education.

During a meeting with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel editorial board on Tuesday (jsonline video), Walker said people who talk to him on the campaign trail have other priorities. The following day, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Mary Burke, who is pro-choice, met with the same editorial board, whose meeting was streamed live on its website.

Burke said people do want to discuss women’s health — and abortion. “I think people do care. And the fact that there are ads running on TV I think indicates that it is a subject that is important to people.”

And not just women. Burke says men who have daughters want them to have options, the right to make their own decisions about their bodies.

Some arguments include a mandated 24-hour waiting period before having an abortion, a required ultrasound, and bans on abortions after 20 weeks. Walker and Burke agree on parental consent of minors.

The two candidates meet for the second of two debates tonight in Milwaukee.

Governor Scott Walker may request Ebola travel ban

Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker said Friday that he’d consider requesting travel bans in response to Ebola. With some members of Congress calling for a travel ban from west African nations beset by Ebola, Walker was asked to weigh in.

It’s something he’d consider – and which may come up as he meets up with state health officials and representatives from the health care sector. “I want to get their assessment as to whether they think that would be effective,” Walker told the media after addressing the Wisconsin League of Municipalities in Middleton.

The governor noted that it’s not a decision that can be made at the state level. “That would have to be . . . a matter of speaking out and asking the federal government to do that.”

Wisconsin Senator Ron Johnson has called for travel restrictions and quarantines for air passengers from Ebola-striken nations, and congressman Reid Ribble has suggested a travel ban to the region and emergency action by Congress.