Wisconsin Right Now Staff
(The Center Square) – The nation’s high court is set to hear oral arguments over two voting issues that originated in Arizona but could spur significant changes nationwide.
Giving arguments Tuesday before the U.S. Supreme Court justices will be representatives from Arizona Attorney General Mark Brnovich’s office, the Arizona Republican Party and the Democratic National Committee.
Brnovich and the state GOP seek to uphold a provision that disqualified ballots from being turned in outside of the precinct where the voter resides. Also to be considered is a challenge to the process known as “ballot harvesting,” in which an organization goes to a voter’s residence and collects their ballot to be turned in at a polling place.
Lower courts have had upheld the ban as legal until a full panel of Ninth Circuit appellate judges reversed the ruling, siding with the DNC. The appellate court put a stay on the ballot harvesting ruling, meaning the ban was in place during last year’s contentious general election. Brnovich indicted two Yuma women for breaking the law in that election last December.
The court specifically will answer the question about whether the ballot-harvesting ban was discriminatory against minorities who are protected under the Voting Rights Act.
Arizona banned ballot harvesting in 2016, saying it was conducive to fraud. The state law prohibits anyone who is not family or a caretaker who lives in the home from collecting an early ballot and turning it in.
“As we contend with a politically-polarized climate and battle a global pandemic, we must sustain the cornerstone of our government and ensure the will of the electorate is heard,” Brnovich said in an Oct. 2 news release.
Brnovich noted the Commission on Federal Election Reform recommended states prohibit people from handling absentee ballots, except for family members, the post office or election officials.
Democrats have contended in previous hearings that the process caters to low-income residents who don’t have the means to deliver the ballot themselves.
Brnovich’s challenge to uphold the ban is supported via “friend of the court” briefs from 20 other attorneys general.
(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s Department of Natural Resources on Tuesday said hunters and trappers in the state filled half of the state’s wolf harvest in just one day.
“A total of three wolf harvest zones have closed this season,” DNR said in a short release. The three zones will officially close Wednesday at 10 a.m.
DNR says hunters and trappers registered 60 wolves killed on Monday’s first day of hunting season. The harvest limit this year is 200 wolves, but DNR said the goal is 119 wolves trapped or shot.
The closed zones include the entire southern two-thirds of Wisconsin, parts of central Wisconsin, and a piece of the north woods.
This is Wisconsin’s first wolf season after the gray wolf was removed from the endangered species list. DNR wanted to wait until November to begin hunting and trapping, but Wisconsin law required a hunt this month.
Wisconsin’s wolf season is scheduled to run through Sunday. Although, with the success of day one, no one expects that it will be open that long.
(The Center Square) – Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed 2021 spending plan would raise taxes by more than $1 billion, increase spending by nearly $8 billion, and erase the legacy of former Governor Scott Walker.
Evers’ unveiled his proposal for Wisconsin’s next state budget Tuesday night. It includes adding 363 new state government jobs and the legalization of marijuana.
Evers also proposed significant rollbacks of Act 10 and Right to Work, two signature accomplishments of his predecessor, former Gov. Scott Walker. Act 10 saved local communities and schools millions of dollars through lower benefit costs. Wisconsin’s Right to Work law prohibits labor unions in the state from collecting dues from nonunion employees.
“When I ran to be your governor, I said it was time for a change. And I told you then as I’ll tell you tonight — that change won’t happen without you,” Evers said during his speech.
The governor said he wants to spend $8 billion more on schools, on the environment, on job training, on rebuilding after the coronavirus, and a laundry list of other priorities.
Gov. Evers is also proposing to spend more on the University of Wisconsin System, and to hire hundreds of new state employees.
His budget would raise taxes by $1 billion, and borrow $1.5 billion more. That would be in addition to any money Wisconsin gets from the federal government.
Republicans at the Capitol pronounced the governor's ideas dead on arrival.
“The Governor’s budget is completely irresponsible and unrealistic,” Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, said after the governor’s speech. “Our responsible Republican budgeting allowed our state and our people to weather the 2020 storm and come out stronger. We’ll set Evers’ bad budget aside and continue to build on our strong foundation that put our state on strong fiscal footing over the decade.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the governor budget is more a political wish list for the Madison left than anything resembling a spending plan.
“Instead of priorities to move the state forward, the governor’s budget proposal is more of a political document to fill the wish lists of his own party,” Vos said. “The spending plan contains far too many poison pills like expanding welfare, legalizing recreational marijuana, repealing Act 10 and growing the size of government.”
Government watchdogs say the last thing the people of Wisconsin need are more taxes, more debt, and more government.
“We live in tough times, where families all across the state are talking about if their job is coming back, when the state will open up, and how their children are learning in a very difficult learning environment,” the Institute for Reforming Government’s CJ Szafir said. “That's why we think the Wisconsin legislature should reject the entire budget and start over by working off of the previous budget."
Szafir added: "Limit the spending so the state lives within its means like hardworking Wisconsin families. Hold the line on taxes and look for ways to bring down Wisconsin's tax burden to encourage businesses to expand and get the state back to work again.”