Here is my full column that ran in the Washington County Daily News this week:
Everyone assumes that Gov. Tony Evers will just veto any bills that the Republicans in the Legislature send to his desk. Evers does not want to give the Republicans any wins in an election year. But while the media and the public ignore Evers’ vetoes as the expected result of political gamesmanship, they are whitewashing just how terrible our governor is.
One bill that Governor Evers vetoed would have reshaped the Police and Fire Commissions for Milwaukee and Madison to require employee representation. The Police and Fire Commissions are the civilian boards that govern the police and fire departments. Under current law, all of the commissioners for boards in Milwaukee and Madison are appointed exclusively by the mayors of those cities.
Among other reforms, the bill that Evers vetoed would have required that one member of each board would have had to been selected from a list put forth by the employees of the police and fire departments through their unions. Essentially, the bill would have required that the employees of these organizations have one voice on the boards that govern their organizations. Evers vetoed the bill to make sure that the mayors’ commissions are not forced to listen to their employees.
Another bill that Evers vetoed would have rescinded a very simple regulation to allow rural communities to recruit and retain more people for emergency medical services. After lengthy discussions with rural EMS providers, the Republicans passed a bill to make the National Registry of Emergency Technicians exam optional. This simple deregulation would have removed this barrier for rural EMS providers to recruit medical personnel while still allowing them the tools to ensure quality services. Evers’ refusal to make government regulations a little more flexible means that rural communities will continue to have this barrier that limits their ability to fully staff their emergency services. A third bill that Evers vetoed would have made the age of admission for early grades equal for government and school choice schools. Under current law, a government school can allow a child to enter pre-kindergarten, kindergarten, or first grade if they are younger than the prescribed age through use of an early admission policy. This is very simply to allow children who are ready for the higher grade to join that grade even if they are a little younger than the required age. This is often used for those summer babies who missed the Sept. 1 age cutoff by a smidge but are able to join their peers.
This tool for early admission is not allowed for children who participate in any of the state’s school choice programs. The bill would have permitted choice schools to have the same rules as government schools. Governor Evers is and always has been a passionate advocate for forcing all kids to attend their local government school even if that school is failing them. Evers’ goal is not education. His goal is to ensure that the government school bureaucracy continues to have an endless supply of tax dollars pumped into it.
Perhaps worst of all in this batch of vetoes, Governor Evers vetoed a bill that would have made it easier for law enforcement to prosecute rioters when they tear down our cities. It is not easy to forget how Governor Evers reacted too slowly to the riot in Kenosha as rioters set downtown Kenosha on fire and roiled the city in waves of violence. Kenosha was merely the worst of the riots that plagued other Wisconsin cites and are sure to happen again.
After those riots, it was difficult for law enforcement to hold rioters accountable under current law. Americans love a good protest and to use civil unrest as a means of political action, but there is a line where civil unrest becomes a riot. That line is when people start destroying property and assaulting others. The problem is that Wisconsin law, unlike many other states, does not have a clear definition of what a riot is. The bill that Evers vetoed would have clarified Wisconsin law to define a riot and the penalties for people who participate in a riot.
Evers’ veto of this bill signals that he will continue to tolerate rioters when they burn down the next city. It is part of a pattern of behavior with Evers as he continues to tolerate the everyday criminals who are wreaking havoc on Wisconsin’s cities every day. As crime soars and more people fall prey to violent criminals, Evers looks for more ways to coddle criminals.
Evers’ vetoes remind us of what a terrible governor he is. As long as he is in office, Wisconsin will have no employee representation of PFC boards, fewer EMS personnel for rural communities, dumber kids who are forced to attend schools that are not working for them, and more violent crime. Evers is making his positions clear. Are you listening?