Update from Rep Gruszynski

As I mentioned in my update at the monthly meeting, in the month of February we have voted on nearly 300 bills during only three floor days in the span of just ten days. With all of that work, there are a few big projects that we have been able to get across the finish line in the Assembly with broad, bi-partisan support that will be wins for the 90th Assembly District and will bring major improvements to the environment as well as the economy of Green Bay. There is also one bad PFAs bill that was introduced by Assembly Republicans in the dead of the night that we need the Senate to vote against. If you care about these projects please you’re your state senator. We can’t afford to fall behind on fighting PFAs in Northeast WI.

Senate Bill 295 – Cole piles are an issue that has plagued downtown Green Bay for decades. Moving this bill through the Senate will be good for our environment and our local economy. SB295 would provide Green Bay with a harbor assistance grant of 1.5 million dollars in order to make improvements related to port expansion and relocation of coal piles. This funding would allow Green Bay to repair the aging dock walls, replace a bollard and be the largest port expansion on the Great Lakes in two generations with an estimated 200 million dollars in economic impact. After receiving bi-partisan support in the Assembly, and support from the City of Green Bay, this bill has been in a holding pattern in the Senate for three months.

Senate Bill 721 – Tourism is an economic driver in our community, creating important jobs and bringing in an estimated 5.7 million annual visitors. That has an incredible impact on our community with over a billion dollars of economic impact. This bill would provide the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitor Bureau with an interest free loan to complete the funding for the construction of a new visitor and education center. With countless stakeholders in this project and much to be gained, this bill has passed the Assembly and it is important that the Senate gets this bill scheduled for a vote so it can be sent to the Governor’s desk.

Senate Bill 559 – Protecting Wisconsin families from the harmful effects of PFAS should be at the top of everyone’s priorities in Wisconsin. Sadly, this bill does nothing but hurt Wisconsin communities where PFAS are an extremely concerning issue. Rather than bringing the preferred CLEAR Act to a vote, or even the compromise bills AB842 and AB843, Assembly Republicans attached a poison pill amendment. With the amendment added this bill will significantly undermine the department of health and add redundancy in the DNR’s process. The CLEAR Act would have provided funding that they need for more testing and staff, and tools for remediation and protecting local communities. We also need to match the aggressive standards for PFAs that have been put forward by other states. We cannot move backwards on this emerging contaminant PFAs and I urge you to call your Senator and tell them to vote NO.

ALEC – Right Wing Bill Mill

Nancy Wakefield, Howard

ALEC (American Legislative Exchange Council) is really, really scary. It is an organization of conservative state legislators and private sector corporations originally founded by Wisconsin native Paul Weyrich. Weyrich also founded the conservative Heritage Foundation.
Corporate representatives craft and share models of state-level legislation for distribution among state governments in the USA. Then the state can customize the legislation and introduce it for debate in their own state legislature. When we look back at the lame-duck session here, this rings a bell. The bills proposed in Wisconsin and Michigan show a pattern of similarity that cannot be accidental. Look how quickly a large number of bills were submitted by Wisconsin Republicans. This shows that they had been discussing this plan for a long time and were ready to act immediately after the election.
ALEC is funded by the extreme right and large corporations. Thousands of lawmakers pay $50 a year for membership. Corporations pay between $7,000 and $25,000 annually with some giving hundreds of thousands of dollars more. The lawmakers get “scholarships,” the New Yorks Times reported, to attend an annual ALEC convention where they work in task forces with corporate representatives. The task forces write model bills that the lawmakers introduce in legislatures. An ALEC membership brochure reported in 2012 that its legislative members introduce more than 1,000 bills a year.
I suggest that you go to the website of the Center for Media and Democracy, , and read more. Some well-known Wisconsin lawmakers have had ties with ALEC: Tommy Thompson, Scott Walker, current House Speaker Robin Vos, current Senate Majority leader Scott Fitzgerald, Rep. John Nygren, and Leah Vukmir. I urge you to really take some time to find out all that the website has found.
Rep. Robin Vos and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald have come out against Gov. Evers, the Green Bay Press Gazette reported. They are vowing to change everything that Evers wants in the budget; he will veto their bills; and then we will have a royal mess. So much for finding one thing we can work on together. It looks to me that they are going to war with the newly elected Democrats using all the skills they learned from ALEC meetings.
How can we fight ALEC for our state business and the next election? Mainly we need to expose those who have been members and hold them responsible for their behavior. Of course, we must vote them out. Another thing to do is to have a good number of people contact legislators by phone (best) or email. One or two calls will not work. We need a lot of people to be aware of what is coming up and be ready to act.
If readers have more suggestions, please write your letters. We are going to have to fight hard because these legislators are already years ahead of us.