Governor Scott Walker
Wisconsin’s 106-year-old labor commission would vanish and Gov. Scott Walker’s administration would decide workplace disputes, including workers’ compensation disputes, in its place under a budget proposal being considered by the Legislature’s finance committee.
Walker’s plan to eliminate the Labor and Industry Review Commission could create uncertainty in applying Wisconsin labor law, raising questions about whether the commission’s precedent-setting decisions would evaporate and whether his pro-industry administration could fairly weigh cases.
The commission was formed in 1911 as the State Industrial Commission. The panel of three governor’s appointees considers appeals of administrative law judges’ rulings in fights over unemployment benefits, worker’s compensation and equal rights in the workplace.
The finance committee is a key testing ground for the budget. Its changes to Walker’s two-year, $76 billion proposed budget will solidify the spending plan for full Senate and Assembly votes. The full Legislature rarely makes changes to what the committee submits.
Walker’s budget would eliminate the commission and its 26.5 positions in January to save an estimated $5.1 million. Its work would be handled by the Department of Workforce Development and the Department of Administration’s Division of Hearings and Appeals — both Walker cabinet agencies.
Congressman Mike Gallagher
A northeastern Wisconsin group will hold an 8th Congressional District town hall meeting May 30, even though Rep. Mike Gallagher will not be there. Forward Action Wisconsin Network-Fox Valley scheduled the town hall at the Brown County Central Library, 515 Pine St., and invited Gallagher, R-Green Bay, to attend. Sumner Truax, one of the organizers, said Gallagher was invited. Gallagher declined the invitation, citing a prior commitment. Truax said the group would cancel the town hall if Gallagher scheduled his own at a later date. Gallagher’s communications director, Madison Wiberg, responded that Gallagher takes citizen input seriously, but questioned the town hall organizers’ motives.
Source: Green Bay Press Gazette
Senator Tammy Baldwin
Sen. Baldwin, a member of the Senate Commerce Committee, introduced the Domestic Maritime Centers of Excellence Act to help address the critical need for trained workers in the maritime industry. The legislation would authorize the Maritime Administration (MARAD) to designate community and technical colleges with maritime training program as centers of excellence and allow the Administration to provide technical assistance and other support to these institutions as they train the domestic maritime workforce. The bipartisan measure passed the Senate Commerce Committee as a part of the Maritime Administration Authorization and Enhancement Act for FY2018.
The full Senate will now consider the bipartisan legislation.
“It is an honor to represent a state with a long and proud maritime manufacturing tradition,” Baldwin said. “I am proud to introduce this bipartisan legislation that will help ensure the future of our maritime workforce.”
Source: Baldwin press release
Senator Ron Johnson
Sen. Johnson says he’s trying to slow down part of the effort to repeal and replace the Affordable Care Act. The Wisconsin lawmaker spoke May 21 at a forum outside Milwaukee. He said as the Senate takes up the House-passed overhaul of the Obama health care plan, he wants quick action to stabilize health insurance markets and hold down premiums. But Johnson said other parts of the new legislation should wait, partly to make sure people retain coverage. “So then what we can do is take a more thoughtful approach to make sure we’re not pulling the rug out from anybody,” he said, adding that the rising cost of health care also needs to be addressed.
President Donald Trump
Both Republican and Democratic lawmakers rejected President Donald Trump’s proposed budget blueprint even before it was formally released Tuesday, saying that the cuts are too steep and the accounting is too unrealistic. Lawmakers said the document, which reflects the president’s broad vision, will go nowhere in Congress.
Trump’s proposal, which is the more complete version to the “skinny budget” the White House released in March, seeks to dramatically cut programs for low-income Americans while exponentially increasing defense spending. It also makes drastic cuts to environmental protection programs, agriculture and a host of other programs that senators say go too far.
Sen. John Cornyn, the second ranking Republican in the Senate, called it “dead on arrival.” “Almost every president’s budget proposal is basically dead on arrival, including President Obama’s,” Cornyn said, making the point that such proposals are more statements of priorities than legislation. He added that Trump’s budget “may find a similar fate.”
Source: NBC News