Tag: pipeline

Wisconsin Republicans pass awful state budget, and how legislators should handle criticism of their legislative proposals

The Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Assembly passed the most awful state budget in American political history in a 52-46 vote, and the budget is currently on Republican Wisconsin Governor and presidential candidate Scott Walker’s desk.

When I say that the Wisconsin budget that the Republicans passed is the most awful state budget in American political history, it’s not hyperbole, it’s the cold hard truth. The Wisconsin budget, among many other things, demonizes the working poor in Wisconsin by replacing the words “living wage” with the words “minimum wage” in state statutes, fast-tracks an expansion of a tar sands oil pipeline in Wisconsin and Illinois that will be even bigger than the Keystone XL pipeline would be, cuts funding to public K-12 and higher education in Wisconsin, effectively prohibits Wisconsin wineries from hosting weddings, and gives Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele even more unchecked power to sell off public property in Wisconsin’s largest county to his political cronies. This budget does a lot to pander to far-right voters that Scott Walker is trying to win over in his bid for the Republican presidential nomination and does virtually nothing to benefit the people of Wisconsin in any way. You can read press releases from Democratic Wisconsin State Representatives Melissa Sargent of Madison, Dianne Hesselbein of Middleton, Amanda Stuck of Appleton, LaTonya Johnson of Milwaukee, andĀ Andy Jorgensen of Milton, as well as fromĀ Minority Leader Peter Barca of Kenosha, at the links in this sentence.

However, prior to the Republicans in the Assembly passing the state budget, Katrina Shankland, the Assistant Minority Leader of the Wisconsin State Assembly from Stevens Point, tried to amend the state budget to require that future proposals of non-fiscal policy measures in future state budgets get their own separate public hearing before a standing legislative committee (the Republicans rejected Shankland’s amendment). I criticized Shankland’s proposal, because it would not outright prohibit Walker or whoever else is Wisconsin Governor once Walker leaves office from proposing public policy in state budgets. Shankland responded to my criticism of her proposal via Twitter:

Anyone who holds political office, is running for public office, or is thinking about running for public office should take note of Shankland’s response to my criticism of her. She didn’t talk down to me, she didn’t belittle me, she didn’t attack me, and she didn’t try to change the subject. Instead, she directly addressed my criticism of her proposal by saying that she thinks that policy measures don’t belong in state budgets, and she defended her proposal by saying that the Republicans voted against allowing public hearings on policy proposals.

Katrina Shankland has been very respectful to me, even when I’ve disagreed with her, which isn’t often.

A vote for Keystone XL is a vote against American sovereignty

Make no mistake about it, those in either house of Congress who support the Keystone XL pipeline are effectively voting against American sovereignty.

If approved and built, the Keystone XL would not only hurt the environment in more ways than one, it would effectively make the United States of America a puppet state of Canada. Keystone XL would only add a few dozen or so permanent jobs (it’s not clear how many of those would be in the United States) and pump tar sands oil from the Canadian province of Alberta to the Texas Gulf Coast in order for the oil to be shipped to China. Therefore, Keystone XL is of no real benefit to the United States, since the risks of the proposed pipeline vastly outweigh any benefits of the pipeline to this country, and would leave this country at the mercy of TransAmerica, the Canadian company who wants to build and operate the pipeline.

I’m not going to sit idly by and watch America’s political and economic sovereignty be systematically destroyed by Republicans and corporate Democrats. I strongly encourage members of the U.S. Senate to vote NO on the bill to fast-track the Keystone XL pipeline.