Viewpoint: Special interest the only ?voice? Madison hears
Have you ever wondered about the legislation that is enacted by the Republican controlled legislature and signed into law by Gov. Walker?
As I did research for this letter, I found that most of the legislation passed from 2011 through 2013 was written with “help” from special interests.
1. Republican Representative Joel Kleefisch recently introduced legislation written especially for a campaign donor, Michael Eisenga. Eisenga, a millionaire, along with his attorney directed Kleefisch’s office to design legislation that would dramatically reduce the amount of money wealthy people would pay for child support. This legislation was a result of Eisenga not wanting to pay more for child support. Eisenga contributed $3500 to Joel Kleefisch and $7000 to Joel’s wife, Lt. Gov., Rebecca Kleefisch.
2. Mining legislation to weaken environmental standards across the state, but especially in the Penokee Hills, was drafted by Gogebic Taconite (GTac), Gov. Walker’s office, and the Legislative Reference Bureau in January of 2011 according to an open records search by Rep. Roys with records released May 13, 2012. Sen. Scott Fitzgerald was heavily involved in the process as was Sen. Tom Tiffany, who introduced the “revised” bill which was signed into law by Gov. Walker. GTac’s president, Bill Williams, is facing legal action in connection with arsenic contamination from the Cobre Las Cruces mine in Seville, Spain. Williams’ company has never operated an iron ore mine. Williams complains the DNR wants too much information regarding the extreme impact the proposed mine would have on the people and the area. Special interests that backed loosening mining regulations for the Cline/GTac group have contributed $15.6 million to Republican legislators and the governor from 2010 to April 23, 2012.
3. The American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a pro-business group, listed 43 Wisconsin lawmakers, all of them Republicans except one. In the 2011-2012 legislative session 32 bills were modeled after ALEC legislation. I volunteered at a “Personal Needs Center.” In 90 minutes, 30 people most of them with families came through, in near blizzard conditions, to choose essential items such as toilet paper. As I watched a mute man being aided by a friend, I kept wondering: What “voice” does this needy man have to influence legislation that would directly benefit him? Clearly, his “voice” and the “voices” of so many hurting people will never be heard unless we become the “voices” for them and speak up.
Joyce Luedke, Rothschild
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