Money & Politics Column

Sen. Schultz exits, shaking his head

Schultz, a Republican who is stepping down after 32 years in the Legislature, most as a state senator, is dumbfounded: “Who’d have ever thought you’d be at a Republican function and have to defend Abraham Lincoln?”

Big money backfires in local races

One day before the U.S. Supreme Court opened new spigots of campaign cash, well-funded groups seeking to sway elections in two northern Wisconsin counties, Polk and Iron, inadvertently drove home another point: Throwing money into the process can hurt as well as help.

Lobbyist bill draws sharp reactions

“No one outside of the Capitol Square in Madison has been clamoring for increasing the ability of lobbyists to make campaign contributions to legislators,” declared Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin.

Titans clash, worker’s comp changes die

The Wisconsin Medical Society and others mobilized against the bill. What ensued was a massive behind-the-scenes clash of special interest titans.

State needs openness advocates

As part of national Sunshine Week, March 16-22, the columnist wants to reflect on the importance of journalists and others being more than mere spectators in the tug of war that perpetually plays out over these issues.

Gun background check bills languish

Jeri Bonavia, executive director of Wisconsin Anti-Violence Effort, likens the status quo to an airport security system with two lines: One with full screening for passengers, the other where anyone can board without scrutiny. “You get to decide” which line to use.

Locals lose their tower power

A provision passed in last year’s state budget bill greatly restricts the ability of local communities in Wisconsin to reject broadcast towers. Any denial must now be based solely on public health or safety concerns, backed with “substantial written evidence.”

Mental health option hits snag

Grothman wants to bottle up the bill to expand treatment alternatives and diversion programs to people with mental illness, but the bill could still pass over his objections. That’s because, aside from Grothman, the idea has overwhelming support.

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