“Just get it done!” The farmer was referring to a bill to change rules on high capacity wells. I listened. The chances of passing the bill are dim. Solving groundwater problems in Wisconsin is complex.
Farmers from all over our Senate District recently came to visit me as part of Ag Day at the Capitol. They came to share thoughts, seek answers and spur me to action.
The farmers wanted a bill to protect high capacity wells already drilled. However “just get it done” is not that easy.
One by one Senators stood on the Senate floor and told of secret meetings held with state workers. Supervisors had forbid employees to talk with their elected representatives. Employees felt intimidated. They wanted to improve state services but were afraid of losing their jobs if they raised questions of mismanagement.
Late in the evening, the Senate passed a bill to dismantle our over 100-year-old civil service system put in place by Governor La Follette to ensure that ‘the best shall serve the state’.
The dismantling of protections for state service workers seemed already done as I listened to debate on AB 373. Prior to the vote, I heard some of the most disturbing testimony I’ve ever heard on the Senate floor. Testimony shared by Senators who spoke directly to intimidated workers with knowledge of mismanagement and abuse.
“Yesterday, ahead of President Obama’s final State of the Union Address, Politico released its third annual analysis on ‘The States of the Union.’ For the third straight year, Politico ranked Minnesota one of the two strongest states in the nation,” touted the Office of Minnesota Governor Mark Dayton. Wisconsin ranked 11th moving up from 17th last year in Politico’s ranking.
Our 31st Senate District covers over a third of the 300-mile border between Minnesota and Wisconsin. Just how do we stack up against our western neighbor?
“How can we digest all your work in this short amount of time?” Senator Bewley asked the Chair of the housing committee and author of the bill before her. An amendment replacing the bill was released just before the hearing on that bill.
“How can we have a thoughtful and intelligent discussion...we just got this stinking thing a few hours ago.”
The bill, SB 464 (which has an Assembly companion - AB 582) was complex. The bill’s author said he wanted to avoid “moving the goal post” on a development project. Among other things, the bill froze in place laws on an industrial development once a minor approval (like a driveway permit) was granted even if the project would not be completed for years.