Saturday, December 9, 2023
Saturday, December 9, 2023

Milwaukee Press Club 'Excellence in Wisconsin Journalism' 2020 & 2021 Award Winners

Wisconsin Legislature Sends New Carjacking Law to Gov. Evers’ Desk


The new proposal would make carjacking punishable by up to 60 years in prison.

Wisconsin’s governor will determine whether he supports a new carjacking law approved by the State Assembly on Tuesday.

The bill aims to add felony carjacking to the list of Wisconsin’s laws.

This comes at a time when Milwaukee Police are reporting a drastic increase in carjackings, from 77 YTD in 2021 to 127 YTD in 2023, a whopping 65% increase.

New carjacking law
Milwaukee police crime statistics as of 4/19/2023.

Rep. John Sppiros, R-Marshfield, said current state laws already make carjacking a crime, but there isn’t a carjacking law.

“Carjacking is not defined by state statute,” Spiros explained. “It could be burglary to a vehicle, robbery, burglary, things like that.”

The new proposal also makes carjacking a Class B Felony if someone uses a weapon.

“Typically a carjacking is a vehicle that is occupied,” Spiros explained. “It is occupied by a person, and somebody is forcefully taking it.”

Much of the debate over the new plan centered on Milwaukee, with some Republicans criticizing the city as unsafe.

“I don’t think you could pay me to go down there now,” Rep. Paul Tittl, R-Manitowoc, said of Milwaukee during Tuesday’s debate.

The new proposal would make carjacking punishable by up to 60 years in prison.

Democratic state Rep. Ryan Clancy, D-Milwaukee, said 60 years in prison is more prison time than someone would get for other violent crimes.

“What we are doing when we take one arbitrary charge, and we highlight that above all of these others as Class C and B felonies,” Clancy said. “We [are suggesting] that carjacking, with even the hint of a weapon being involved, is more heinous than any of these.”

The proposal passed the Assembly on a 80-18 vote that saw both Republicans and some Democrats vote in favor of the new charge. The State Senate passed the same legislation along a similar 23-8, bipartisan vote.

The plan now heads to Gov. Evers’ desk. The governor’s office says he supports the new proposal.

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Act 10

Scott Walker: Ending Act 10 Would Give Wisconsin Schools Back to Union Bosses

(The Center Square) – The man who signed Act 10 into law is predicting an expensive turnaround if the Wisconsin Supreme Court overturns it.

Former Gov. Scott Walker was a guest on Madison television over the weekend. He told Channel 3000’s For the Record that ending Act 10 would weaken voters, parents and communities, and give more power to Wisconsin’s public sector unions.

"I want to make sure that in this school district and every other school district across the country and every other municipality and county, that the people that we elect locally are the ones in charge, that we don't go back to a system where a handful of union bosses called the shots across the state," the former governor said.

A handful of public sector unions last week asked the new liberal-majority court to overturn Act 10. The unions argue the law creates two groups of public sector union workers, and therefore violates the Wisconsin Constitution’s equal protection clause.

Walker became extremely unpopular with unions, particularly Wisconsin’s teachers’ union, when he signed Act 10 in 2011.

The law limits Wisconsin’s teachers union to negotiation only for raises and caps those raises at the rate of inflation.

Walker said Act 10 has saved at least $16 billion since 2011.

“I think there's a whole lot of other hard-working taxpayers in the state – not only because of the tax savings, but more importantly because of the shift in power away from special interests back to the hard-working people, I think that's incredibly important – and certainly we're going to be exploring everything we can do with other like-minded people across the state,” Walker said. "My hope is that the new majority on the Wisconsin Supreme Court doesn't cave to political pressure but rather follows the precedent that was set at both the federal and the state level in the past, which is more than just about a court case, it's really about ensuring that school districts and local governments continue to be in charge of what they do and not a handful of special interests.”

Walker’s interview came after the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty on Friday promised to defend Act 10 wherever it needs to be defended.

“For the better part of the last 12 years, no piece of legislation has loomed larger in public policy debates in Wisconsin than Act 10, the collective bargaining reform law passed in 2011. The ‘Budget Repair Bill,’ introduced by Gov. Scott Walker in the first weeks of his first term, represented a fundamental break with the past and a new era for state and local governments in the Badger State and the country,” WILL’s Rick Esenberg said in a statement. “Since then, WILL has been on the forefront of examining the impact of Act 10 on education, the teaching workforce, and puncturing the myths that persist about the law. Now with a new lawsuit, we stand ready to defend the law in the court of law and in the court of public opinion.”

U.S. National Debt Inflation Continues to Rise National debt Wisconsin Taxpayers

U.S. National Debt Surpasses $100K Per Person

The rapidly growing debt of the U.S. federal government has hit another milestone, topping more than $100,000 in debt per person.

While the U.S. population and the U.S. national debt are large numbers that are difficult to calculate, the rough debt estimate and rough population estimate end up at about $100,000 of federal debt per person in the U.S.

The U.S. Census population clock estimates the U.S. population at nearly 336 million. Meanwhile, the U.S. Treasury Department estimates the national debt is nearly $34 trillion.

“The national debt just exceeded $100,000 per citizen,” Rep. John James, R-Mich., wrote on X, formerly known as Twitter. “This should send a message to the White House that this reckless federal spending is at a breaking point.”

The U.S. Treasury confirmed in the middle of last month that in the first month of this fiscal year, the federal government had a deficit of $67 billion.

Concern about rising debt has grown along with the debt and recent international credit downgrades for the U.S.

The federal government received a credit downgrade from Fitch Ratings, one of the top international credit rating agencies in the world. The rating went from AAA to AA+.

Moody’s, one of the other top three credit rating groups, announced last week that it was lowering its evaluation of the U.S. credit from “stable” to “negative.”

The trust funds for Medicare, Social Security and highways are facing insolvency within a decade as the federal government borrows billions of dollars per day.

Despite these red flags, federal deficit spending, which has been elevated since the COVID-19 pandemic, Congressional spending shows little sign of slowing down. Deficits spiked during the pandemic, and while they have decreased from their COVID-era peaks, they still remain higher than before the pandemic.

This graph from the Treasury Department shows the trend:

Monthly Payments to President Biden Hunter Biden laptop story Investigation into Biden Family Hunter Biden Plea Deal

New Evidences Shows Monthly Payments to President Biden From Hunter Biden’s Business

House Oversight Committee Chair Rep. James Comer, R-Ky., released evidence Monday of regular monthly payments from one of Hunter Biden’s business entities to his father, President Joe Biden.

Comer released bank records obtained via subpoena that allegedly show direct monthly payments from one of Hunter Biden’s business entities, Owasco PC, which is also under investigation by the Department of Justice tax-related charges.

Owasca PC was Hunter’s joint venture with a Chinese national that received $5 million from from Northern International Capital Holdings, an entity which is linked to the Chinese government.

“Today, the House Oversight Committee is releasing subpoenaed bank records that show Hunter Biden’s business entity, Owasco PC, made direct monthly payments to Joe Biden,” Comer said in a video released Monday. “This wasn’t a payment from Hunter Biden’s personal account but an account for his corporation that received payments from China and other shady corners of the world.”

According to bank documents provided by the committee, the payments appear to be monthly for $1,380.

This is the latest development in a steady stream of pieces of evidence released by the committee as part of the impeachment inquiry into the president. Comer also released copies of two checks from the Biden family to the president totalling $240,000.

Comer alleges that the timing and shuffling of money between accounts shows that a portion of the money given to the Biden family and associates via overseas deals was eventually funneled to the president.

IRS testimony, bank records, and an interview with Hunter Biden associate, Devon Archer, show that the Biden family and business associates received more than $20 million from entities in China, Ukraine, Russia and more.

That testimony also showed that the president participated in group phone calls with Hunter Biden and his business partners and that the Department of Justice pressured IRS investigators to back off interviewing the president for Hunter Biden’s tax crime investigation.

“When Joe Biden was Vice President, he spoke by phone, attended dinners, and had coffee with his son’s foreign business associates,” Comer said. “He allowed his son to catch a ride on Air Force Two at least a dozen times to sell the ‘Biden Brand’ around the world.

Hunter Biden requested office keys to be made for his ‘office mate’ Joe Biden in space he planned to share with a Chinese energy company,” Comer added.

Hunter Biden is expected to meet with the committee this month.

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Remove Trump From Primary Ballot

GOP AGs Argue Colorado Courts Can’t Remove Trump From Primary Ballot

A coalition of 19 attorneys general filed a brief with the Colorado Supreme Court arguing an appeal to keep former President Donald Trump off the primary ballot can’t be decided by the courts.

The 41-page brief, led by Republican Attorneys General Patrick Morrisey of West Virginia and Theodore Rokita of Indiana, argues Congress should decide any alleged violation of the 14th Amendment of the U.S. Constitution. The brief states the “courts have no business second guessing Congress’s decisions to enforce – or not enforce—the Clause,” referring to the insurrection clause in the amendment.

“The Fourteenth Amendment entrusts Insurrection Clause questions to Congress—not state officials or state courts,” the brief states. “The Amendment vests Congress with ‘power to enforce’ the Insurrection Clause ‘by appropriate legislation’ and power to ‘remove [the] disability’ it imposes.”

The brief was filed on the same day as a brief by three Republican secretaries of state arguing the case should be dismissed because District Court Judge Sarah Wallace described Trump as an “insurrectionist.”

Judge Wallace ruled in favor of Trump earlier this month. Although she wrote Trump’s speech on Jan. 6, 2021, “incited imminent lawless violence,” his words didn’t meet the amendment’s requirement of “engagement.”

The attorneys general argue the definition of “insurrection” shouldn’t be decided by the courts.

“For example, the term ‘insurrection’ is hardly as well defined as the district court let on,” the brief states. “And allowing each state and its courts to determine eligibility using malleable standards would create an unworkable patchwork of eligibility requirements for President.”

“… In truth, an ‘insurrection’ is more serious than the district court’s definition supposes. Where the Constitution uses the term ‘insurrection,’ that term appears alongside terms like ‘invasion’ and ‘rebellion.’”

The brief aligns with arguments submitted by the secretaries of state regarding a prediction of “electoral chaos” if a party’s presidential candidate appears on some state primary ballots but not on others.

The brief states the Trump’s impeachment by the House of Representatives after Jan. 6, 2021, and subsequent acquittal by the Senate shows Congress hasn’t found him guilty of an infraction under the constitution.

“Congress, then, has rendered its judgment – and it disagrees with petitioners’ view that former President Trump engaged in insurrection,” the brief states. “Petitioners want this Court to try again, but ‘[f]ailure of political will does not justify unconstitutional remedies.'"

Attorneys general from Alabama, Alaska, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Missouri, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Oklahoma, South Carolina, South Dakota, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, and Wyoming joined Morrisey and Rokita in filing the brief.

The Minnesota Supreme Court ruled in favor of Trump in a similar case and an appeal in Michigan is ongoing.

First Woman Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O’Connor Dead at 93

(The Center Square)– Former Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day O'Connor died at 93 on Friday morning in Phoenix.

O'Connor died because of "complications" with dementia and "a respiratory illness," according to the court's news release. She was appointed to serve on the high court by late President Ronald Reagan in 1981, and she retired in 2006.

“A daughter of the American Southwest, Sandra Day O’Connor blazed an historic trail as our Nation’s first female Justice. She met that challenge with undaunted determination, indisputable ability, and engaging candor," Chief Justice John Roberts said in a news release. "We at the Supreme Court mourn the loss of a beloved colleague, a fiercely independent defender of the rule of law, and an eloquent advocate for civics education. And we celebrate her enduring legacy as a true public servant and patriot.”

The former justice was born in Texas, but she spent much of her life in Arizona. In the 1960s she was the former Deputy Attorney General of Arizona before serving in the state Senate in 1969. She then served on the Maricopa County Superior Court and the Arizona Court of Appeals until she made her way to the Supreme Court, the news release states.

National and Arizona leaders reacted to her death by reflecting on her unique legacy.

"Justice Sandra Day O'Connor– Arizona's original cowgirl– paved the way for countless women like me in law and life," Sen. Kyrsten Sinema said in a post to X, formerly known as Twitter. "She was fiercely independent just like Arizona, and she worked tirelessly to do what's best for our state and country. Arizona and and America are grateful for her service and leadership."

Former Arizona Gov. Doug Ducey shared a photo of the pair together in his reflection.

"Ronald Reagan put it best when he called Justice O’Connor a 'person for all seasons.' Her life and career are a testament to hard work, determination, Western grit and the American dream," Ducey tweeted. "From the Arizona Senate to the United States Supreme Court, she broke barriers and shattered any ceiling that stood in her way. Justice O’Connor was a force of nature, with a keen grasp on basic common sense. Her legacy must be remembered, and her life and lessons learned by every American child. Angela and I pray for her entire family. May she rest in peace."

According to the news release, she left behind three children and six grandchildren. Her husband, John, died in 2009.

Biden Rule Takes Lunch Money universal free school lunch program

Biden Rule Takes Lunch Money From Schools That Reject Progressive Agenda on Gender & Sexuality

A new Biden administration rule forces schools to comply with progressive ideology on gender and sexuality or risk losing the federal aid for free and reduced-price school lunches.

Legal observers say this is just the first in a slew of new rules on the horizon tying federal education funding to far-left policies on gender and sexuality.

The school lunch funding controvesy began in May 2022, as The Center Square previously reported, with an announcement from the U.S. Department of Agriculture, which handles federal help for school lunches.

The USDA said at the time it would change its longstanding interpretation of Title IX, the law broadly governing discrimination protections in education. USDA said it would expand its previous prohibition against discriminating based on sex “to include discrimination based on sexual orientation and gender identity.”

School lunch funding goes through the Food and Nutrition Service (FNS) of USDA.

“As a result, state and local agencies, program operators and sponsors that receive funds from FNS must investigate allegations of discrimination based on gender identity or sexual orientation,” USDA said in a statement. “Those organizations must also update their non-discrimination policies and signage to include prohibitions against discrimination based on gender identity and sexual orientation.”

That change has major legal and taxpayer dollar implications and is an unprecedented reinterpretation of the statute, according to experts. For instance, schools receiving Pell grants, FAFSA, or students who receive federally subsidized school lunch funding will be subject to the new Title IX interpretation or risk losing that funding.

“This is a significant departure from what Title IX has always been interpreted to be,” Sarah Perry, a lawyer at the Heritage Foundation and expert on this issue, told The Center Square.

With an ever-growing number of orientations and gender identities, and despite the political divide on the issue, schools will now be forced to comply on the complex and highly politicized gender and sexuality issue.

“This is no small change,” Perry said. “This is a significant interpretation to say that sex equals sexual orientation and gender identity when Title IX, we know, dates back to 1972 and the women’s liberation movement, and at the time there was an entire campaign by LGBTQ activists to be included in anti-discrimination law indicating that they themselves did not believe that they were protected in these particular contexts.”

Practically, that could lead to schools being forced to allow transgender girls use facilities reserved for biological girls or to toe the line on preferred pronoun usage, among other things.

Senate Republicans tried and failed 47-50 to overturn the USDA reinterpretation via the Congressional Review Act.

“Don’t be fooled here, the Biden Administration is the only player in this policy fight that is taking away lunches from children,” U.S. Sen. Roger Marshall, R-Kans., said after the effort failed. “There is real-world evidence that USDA’s policy has already taken away school lunch funding from low-income children.

“Weaponizing school lunch money in pursuit of their radical agenda and putting students in the crosshairs is unconscionable, and we will not stand for it,” he added.

Nearly two dozen states filed a joint legal challenge to the USDA reinterpretation and pointed out that Tennessee had success challenging a similar federal effort from the U.S. Department of Education and the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission in the past.

The court battle could become more complex when more schools challenges the new interpretation or a student or parent feels that a local school district has not complied sufficiently with USDA’s new interpretation.

A legal fight could end up at the U.S. Supreme Court, given the importance of Title IX and the nationwide implications of a potential ruling.

One Christian school in Florida filed a lawsuit of that kind and settled out of court in 2022, and the USDA announced in a memo more leeway and exemptions for religious schools on this policy.

However, another church and its preschool in California filed suit saying they lost school lunch funding for refusing to adhere to the gender identity doctrine in their employment practices.

Perry said, however, that enforcing a liberal regulatory plan on gender or sexuality in schools is far from reserved to the USDA. The Department of Education is formulating new rules of the same kind now that Perry said will come out likely in the spring 2024. Those rules, which were expected to already be finalized and may be combined into a single rule, have been delayed because of the pushback and concerns raised with the federal agency.

“I think [the Biden administration] was a little overwhelmed by criticism,” Perry said, referencing the delays.

Even beyond the new DOE rules, redefining sex to include sexuality and gender identity would have broad implications across the federal government.