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Today is the day that Wisconsin's collective bargaining law goes into effect. Right before public employees lose their rights to negotiate benefits and other terms of their employment, Gov. Scott Walker commented in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel saying he should have prepared the public for this law sooner to help ease some of the tensions that have erupted over it.
Walker says, however, that people should have been aware this was coming based on his campaign for governor in 2010. He doesn't see the elimination of collective bargaining rights as a rights issue at all, instead it's just "an expensive entitlement." Walker also doesn't see haw he ever attacked teachers, a group that has come out strong to protest the collective bargaining law, blaming it on them receiving misinformation from union leaders. Now that the law is enacted, recall elections are in motion to replace some of the legislators who voted for it. Read more of Walker's comments in the Journal Sentinel's article.
On Monday, the Supreme Court issued a 5-4 decision in the case Arizona Free Enterprise Club v. Bennett that deems public financing of campaigns as a means to level the playing field is a violation of the freedom of speech of wealthy campaign contributors. Arizona had developed a "two-tiered public financing system. Candidates receive additional funds if their opponent or corporate interest groups overwhelm them with attack ads, and thus candidates who are determined not to be tainted by the corrupting influence of major donors are not left defenseless." But this system was deemed unconstitutional, even though it was an attempt at battling corruption in elections.
According to the majority decision, this system "offended the rights of the wealthy donors" who are trying to give an advantage to the candidates they support. But elections are not supposed to be based on who has the highest monetary advantage and can launch the best ad campaign. Arizona's matching system for public financing was going to help even out that issue, especially after the Citizens' United ruling in 2010 that judged limits on campaign donations from large corporations were also unconstitutional. Both of these rulings have increased the influence of income inequality on our elections.
Yesterday afternoon, Governor Scott Walker of Wisconsin signed a two-year $66 billion budget which is going to lead to cuts in many areas such as education, health care and programs for low-income families. A big part of these cuts is also pulling all of the funding from Planned Parenthood across the state. It also
In an attempt to send an anti-abortion message to the state of Wisconsin, Walker will now be denying health care to 12,000 women in the form of birth control, STD testing, cancer screening and annual exams. Think Progress pointed out that "because Planned Parenthood is already barred from receiving federal funds for abortion services, Wisconsin lawmakers did nothing to advance an 'anti-abortion' agenda. Instead, they succeeded only in dismantling access to essential reproductive health care such as birth control, cancer screenings and HIV and STD testing for tens of thousands of women who rely on Planned Parenthood." Wisconsin will be the fourth state to pull the rug out from Planned Parenthood because of conservative groups targeting of abortion services, which in reality only makes up a small percentage of what Planned Parenthood does for women.
In the fight for fair redistricting in Florida, while the people have voted in favor of three "Fair District" amendments, state legislatures are fighting against these amendments. Citizens were questioning why there was $30 million on reserve to deal with these redistricting battles, which
While the New Hampshire House and Senate were finally getting close to agreement on budget talks last week, House Speaker O'Brien was busy making plans of his own. O'Brien was recently in D.C. meeting with special interest groups, including the Heritage Foundation that is largely funded by the tobacco company Philip Morris, after which he returned to New Hampshire and demanded that cuts to taxes on cigarettes be included in the budget plans. According to a new report, the tax cut will
It’s shaping up to be the week of class action lawsuits, as the Florida Education Association has followed the women of Wal-Mart’s lead in filing a suit against Governor Rick Scott for now requiring 3% of public workers income to go into retirement funds. The FEA is arguing that Scott’s new law is unlawful and unconstitutional as it disregards the conditions that people who signed up to work for the state government agreed on when it came to their retirement funds. Mandatory contributions from public employees’ salaries have not been a requirement in Florida, but are now being seen as necessary to compensate for budget shortfalls.
There are currently two other lawsuits on the table for Scott in regard to his controversial election reforms and the executive order to randomly drug test state employees. This class action suit will not likely be the last that Governor Scott will have to deal with in the wake of the current reforms and cuts he's making. Read more here.
Yesterday the Supreme Court reversed the decision of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in San Francisco dismissing a case of sex-discrimination against women workers at Wal-Mart. The case Wal-Mart vs. Dukes was a class action suit seeking to battle discriminatory pay and a flawed promotion policy that promoted men before women despite performance evaluations.
The Supreme Court decision on this case was a huge victory for big businesses like Wal-Mart but it was also a "devastating defeat" for people fighting for equality in the workplace. Justice Antonin Scalia, leading the majority opinion in a 5-4 vote, said that there was not enough convincing proof of "companywide discriminatory pay and promotion policy" and that there were just too many women holding jobs at Wal-Mart to wrap it all into one lawsuit. The examples of segregating departments, for instance, with women working in the baby departments and men working with the electronics and pay disparity between those departments and low management promotion rates among women in spite of performance was apparently not enough support for the case against Wal-Mart.
Further analysis of the majority opinion leads to the precedent being set that discrimination will only be prosecuted if it appears in tangible policy or bylaws. Large companies will no longer have to worry about being held accountable for discrimination in the workplace, as this decision is "stripping away important legal protections, the Supreme Court has sent a loud-and-clear message to the American people: you're out of luck and on your own," according to American Association for Justice President Gibson Vance.
Politicians are supposed to serve as representatives of the people who pick them through election. However, with current laws that are being passed attempting to crack down on voter fraud, the politicians are trying to hand-pick their electorate instead. In the Washington Post this weekend there was a great opinion piece discussing the numerous laws from voter ID to eliminating election day registration and the goals behind conservative disenfranchisement of millions of voters. Read more here.
Despite numerous protests and 14 Democratic senators leaving the state for three weeks, the Wisconsin Supreme Court signed off on Gov. Scott Walker's law that eliminates collective bargaining rights for public employees. The law will now take effect on June 29, leaving public employees without any rights to collective bargaining.
Dane County District Attorney Ismael Ozanne, a Democrat, sued to block the law from taking effect on the ground that the open meeting policy was not observed and the meeting in which the law was passed was not announced 24 hours in advance. A Circuit Court judge, Maryann Sumi, agreed and passed a permanent injunction on the law on May 27th, preventing it from taking effect. The Supreme Court decided that her action "usurped the legislative power which the Wisconsin Constitution grants exclusively to the legislature." Now it is only a matter of a few weeks and waiting for the ruling to be reviewed before public workers start to feel the effect of these restrictions on collective bargaining.