In 1886, Wisconsin Governor Jeremiah Rusk went down in state history as the most corporate, most corrupt governor when he ordered state militia to fire upon striking workers, killing eight of them, in what became known as the Bay View Tragedy..
Move forward 132 years and Scott Walker has taken that title with both money-grubbing fists of his by signing three outrageous stabs at democracy in an effort to undermine the midterm elections.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel provides an outline of what these laws will now do to Wisconsin and to democracy:
- Limits early voting to two weeks.
- Gives Republicans more say over the Wisconsin Economic Development Corp.
- Puts lawmakers in charge of litigation, allowing them to keep alive a lawsuit to overturn the Affordable Care Act.
- Gives lawmakers — instead of the attorney general — control over how court settlements are spent.
- Makes it easier for lawmakers to hire private attorneys at taxpayer expense when they are sued.
- Eliminates the solicitor general's office, which oversees high-profile litigation.
- Modestly lowers the state’s income tax rates next year to offset about $60 million in online sales taxes from out-of-state retailers that Wisconsin recently began collecting.
- Requires Evers to get permission from lawmakers to ban guns in the state Capitol.
- Bars judges from giving deference to state agencies’ interpretations of laws when they are challenged in court. That could make it easier to win lawsuits challenging how environmental regulations and other laws are being enforced.
- Broadens lawmakers' powers to block rules written by the Evers administration.
- Requires the Evers administration to report if the governor pardons anyone or his aides release anyone from prison early.
- Forces Evers to get permission from the Legislature before asking the federal government to make any changes to programs that are run jointly by the state and federal governments.
- Requires Evers to go along with a plan aimed at reducing premiums for insurance plans offered through the Affordable Care Act’s marketplaces for individuals.
- Channels federal money into a smaller number of state road projects, so that other projects could avoid having to comply with federal environmental and wage laws.
But wait! If there's one thing the gentle reader should have learned over the years is that with all things Walker, there's more. There's always more.
Before signing these corporate-approved bills into effect, Walker had to do one more thing to cement his legacy as the most corporate and most corrupt governor in state history - he signed a sweetheart deal which did an end run around the legislature and gave Kimberly Clark, a company with ties to US Rep. James Sensenbrenner, a $28 million check. Kimberly Clark demanded the payment after seeing the $4.5 billion to Foxconn and wanted their own piece of the action.
Keep in mind that the Republican controlled state senate tried to pass this piece of corporate welfare for nearly a year but every time they wanted to bring it to a vote, there wasn't enough support. But as Walker is wont to do, he ignored the will of the people to do it himself, claiming it as his legacy:
Walker announced the deal with Kimberly-Clark Thursday afternoon at the company's Cold Spring plant. He was joined by Senate President Roger Roth, R-Appleton, and several Kimberly-Clark executives and employees. The facility, located in Fox Crossing, manufactures hygiene products including Depend undergarments and Kotex pads.
"To me, if there is any talk about a legacy, I want this to be my legacy," Walker said, addressing Cold Spring employees.
What is not clear is whether Walker wants corporate welfare or adult diapers and maxipads to be his legacy. Either way, it seems appropriate.