Guest Editorial : What was the extraordinary session about? | By Rep. Rick Gundrum

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Dec. 15, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – I want to clarify what was accomplished in the extraordinary session and why I voted to accept the proposals.

 

The provisions I voted for are far from groundbreaking. Roughly half of the measures had been previously introduced as legislation, codified existing administrative rules, were part of recent state budget proposals, drew from settled case law, or aligned state law with changes to federal law.

 

In short, we ensured Governor-elect Evers does not undo what was already passed into law.  He did not run on overturning laws that already exist.

 

Governor-elect Evers will maintain the same Constitutional powers granted to Governor Walker. He continues to have one of the strongest veto pens in the nation. He will still be able to issue executive orders and appoint over 200 executive branch officials.

 

The Attorney General’s office has no powers specified in the state Constitution. The job of the Attorney General is to enforce and defend the laws that the legislature has passed. The Attorney General’s office continues to operate as it has in the past, which has always included legislative oversight as specified in the Wisconsin Constitution.

 

However, I am concerned with Governor-elect Evers indicating he wants to shut down the successful Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). This agency plays a vital role in job creation and economic development. Over the past eight years, WEDC has awarded Washington County businesses over $9 million, and it is projected to create over 1,000 additional jobs. I voted to support the nine-month transition plan for WEDC to ensure current projects are completed throughout the state.

 

The statewide offices of Governor and Attorney General were elected by a mere 1-percent margin with the majority of the votes from Madison and Milwaukee districts. My election to the Assembly was a mandate from the voters of the 58th Assembly District.  I have not wavered from the positions I took prior to the election. I was clear about where I stood on the issues such as protecting the most vulnerable in society, defending our Second Amendment rights, funding all levels of education, maintaining local control, and holding the line on taxes.

 

Through conversations with my Republican colleagues in the Assembly and Senate, I sense a genuine willingness to work with Governor-elect Evers, Attorney General-elect Kaul, and our Democratic colleagues on issues we can find agreement on. I share that sentiment. Conflict and disagreement are inherent to our constitutional republic and democratic process. The first step, however, is making sure everyone has an equal seat at the table.

 

Governor Walker shared his approach to assessing the merits of each bill as they were signed into law stating: “My criteria when evaluating these bills were simple: Do they improve transparency? Do they increase accountability? Do they affirm stability? And do they protect the taxpayers? The answer is yes.”

Respectfully submitted,

 

Rick Gundrum

State Representative
58th Assembly District

 

 

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Rep. Gundrum,
    Thank you for your public service. I do have to take exception to your explanation for supporting these lame-duck bills. As you know, elections have consequences. If 51% of Wisconsinites vote for something, that should be honored for the state (Obviously, urban areas such as Milwaukee and Madison do have more voters because they have higher population, which does not mean their voices should not be heard and their votes honored). Interestingly, I believe Dem margins statewide reached almost 55% (margins above the Rep votes totals in either 2014 or 2012).
    Some other points here are not strong ones: the WEDC has been saddled with problems since its formation. Because of this bill, there are even fewer accountability measures provided. The point about eagerness to work with incoming Gov. Evers and AG Kaul seem hollow because this lane-duck legislation includes removing current powers from each. Transparency seems lessened, too, in new environmental rules or allowing lawmakers to hire private attorneys. This bill even makes voting harder for Wisconsin citizens.
    As you also know, Doyle’s outgoing lame-duck legislation did not do this, even leaving unfilled appointed positions for the new Governor.
    Perhaps the largest concern is how this was passed. Our Governor once said he would pass legislation to prevent overnight voting because “nothing ever good happens after 10 PM.” He said it was so that the citizens of Wisconsin could be properly apprised of that for which their representatives are voting. To me, it doesn’t appear that this fits that definition.
    Please continue to keep the citizens of your district in mind, but not to the detriment of democracy.

  2. So, a Republican power grab. He says, “In short, we ensured Governor-elect Evers does not undo what was already passed into law. ” They could have done it at any time, but they did it now because it’s absolutely about party politics. They had absolute power for eight years, and then in the last month decided to rob the the next guy coming in of some of the power they enjoyed. He can claim all day that it was altruistic, but it wasn’t. He says, “well, these guys won by a small margin, so it’s okay to do this.” No. No, it’s not. What would have been enough? 5%? 10%? The rules of democratic elections are clear. Whether you win by 1 vote or 1 million votes, you’ve won. The inability of these legislators to own that is evidence of to what extent they are willing to lie to themselves in the name of party politics, and the extent to which they are only trying to serve Republicans instead of ALL people of Wisconsin.

    On the AG stuff, Which he doesn’t talk much about because it goes even less with this malarky altruism narrative, the bills actually increase costs to the people and decreases transparency, as Republican lawmakers can now choose private attorneys for the biggest cases, and, because they are private attorneys, they will not have to share their case documents with democratic lawmakers, or the people. Again, that’s great if you’re a lawyer with Republican friends, but hardly good for the people of Wisconsin. All power grab. Republicans don’t want to govern, they want to win. They lost, so they’re changing the rules.

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