Boots & Sabers

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Tag: Scott Fitzgerald

GOP Leaders Respond to Evers’ Order

I watched all but the very end of the Q&A of the governor’s press conference. It was a mess. No details. No definition of “essential” businesses. No reason for the change of policy. Evers admitted that he hadn’t even spoken to the legislative leaders. Several times the governor’s legal counsel jumped in to answer on behalf of the governor. I don’t know about you, but I’d like to hear from my actual elected governor on these things. Overall, I was not left with any sense of comfort that the people now micromanaging our lives are competent enough to be doing so.

In any case, it appears that the GOP leadership is pushing back a little, but I want more than better communication from our governor. I want competent decision-making that takes into account all stakeholders’ interests and protects out civil liberties.

“The governor’s announcement has created mass amounts of confusion. For days, Governor Evers took a measured approach and reassured business owners that a shelter-in-place order may not be necessary. Legislative leaders even complimented him for it. The governor’s sudden change of course and lack of specific guidance have increased the level of uncertainty and anxiety in our state. The people of Wisconsin deserve clear communications during a public health emergency.

“There also needs to be a better understanding as to why the decisions are being made, because of the impact on the economy, businesses and residents of the state.

“It appears at the end of the governor’s press conference, there are more questions than answers. We would ask the governor to answer the following questions for the people of Wisconsin:

  • What are the metrics that this decision is based on?
  • What is considered an essential and non-essential business? How is that being determined?
  • What changes need to happen for the order to be lifted?

“The governor’s executive order came as a surprise to the legislature. It was a complete reversal from his repeated assurances. It should be noted that legislative leaders have asked on a daily basis whether or not this was the direction the governor was headed, and we were told it was not.

“We all want what’s best for Wisconsin. We want people to stay safe and follow CDC guidelines. We would ask the governor to do a better job communicating to the people of Wisconsin.”

Fitz Stands Alone in 5th

On the Republican side.

It has been two months since U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner announced his retirement, an event political insiders once thought would trigger a succession battle royale in his staunchly conservative suburban Milwaukee district. Yet only one Republican has emerged to run for the seat.

That Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has so far cleared the Republican field a year before the election is a testament to his political savvy and a streak of conservative political victories going back more than a decade.

“Fitz,” as he’s known at the Capitol, credited his position in the race to his experience and conservative politics.

I am disappointed that this is shaking out to be an ascension. Fitz has been a solid part of the Conservative revolution in Wisconsin and is a quality candidate for this office. I could dicker over a few things, but on the whole, I would feel comfortable voting for him to represent me in Washington.

But Sensenbrenner has represented the 5th CD for 40 years. He has been a great representative, but a lot has changed in 40 years. As a solid Republican seat, this was a chance for a robust primary debate about the state of the Republican Party, the needs of the 5th CD, and what the citizens want to see out of their representative. Is the 5th CD more populist now? Traditional conservative? Libertarian? What about the issues about which conservatives have legitimate disagreements?

The citizens of the 5th CD are being deprived of that internal debate because the Republican Party has aligned behind Fitz. And even if it is not the case, it reeks of smoky back room deals and political cronyism.

It is not too late to still have a robust primary debate, but the window is closing. I hope some good Republicans will consider getting into the race to give the voters a real choice.

Evers Calls Special Session to Restrict Civil Rights

This is the correct response:

[Madison, WI] — Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald released the following statement today regarding the special session announcement from Governor Evers:

“Liberals across the country are upping their rhetoric in support of taking guns from law-abiding citizens. After the governor opened the door to a long-term plan of gun confiscation at his press conference last month, it’s easy to see how today’s action could just be the first attack on the Second Amendment. The Senate will not be part of a drawn-out strategy to infringe on constitutional rights.”

Cabinet Appointments At Risk Because of Evers Power Play

Good. If Evers wants to play bare-knuckle politics, the Republicans shouldn’t be afraid to punch back.

Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Tuesday several of Tony Evers’ cabinet picks were in danger of being rejected by Senate Republicans following the guv’s decision to rescind appointments to the PSC, UW Regents and other bodies.

Fitzgerald said some members of his caucus wanted to vote down the picks to show their anger at the guv’s moves. Fitzgerald said he planned to see how the legal fight over those appointments plays out before deciding how to proceed, but he made clear Senate Republicans wanted to see the picks to the PSC and Board of Regents, among others, restored.

“I think some of those cabinet members are going to be in trouble,” Fitzgerald said.

Fitzgerald Responds to Evers’ Proposed Assault on School Choice

Yup. Evers’ budget is shaping up to be a liberal manifesto with little room for compromise.

[Madison, WI] — Following Governor Evers’ announcement that he plans to freeze voucher school enrollment for low-income students, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald released the following statement:

“Governor Evers’ plans would do immense harm to the voucher program and create uncertainty for schools, students, and their families. The program has expanded educational opportunities throughout Wisconsin and helped children escape failing schools.

“For nearly ten years Governor Evers helped to implement the choice program as the head of the Department of Public Instruction. He has turned his back on the very families the policies he enacted sought to help. Why are some of the first targets of his budget minority families, low-income students, and parochial schools from around the state?

“Wisconsinites should have more choices when it comes to the education of their children, not fewer. Budget leaks of far-left proposals like these only make bipartisan compromise more difficult. Republicans in the Legislature have spent years helping build the voucher program. We will not support a budget that includes this proposal.”

Big Fitz Backs Walker on Pre-Existing Conditions

Unpopular opinion: the government mandating that private companies cover pre-existing conditions is still horrible public policy that inflates prices, distorts the market, hurts consumers, and undermines the entire concept of insurance. The whole point of insurance is to cover something that might happen… not something that already has happened. It’s a shame that Republicans have adopted this as part of their platform. Obama moved the line closer to socialism with Obamacare and the Republicans followed.

Speaking with reporters after a Q&A luncheon, Fitzgerald raised doubts about whether there would be enough votes in the Senate’s Republican majority to pass legislation requiring insurance coverage for people with pre-existing conditions. But several hours later, after media reports on his comments, he released a statement saying the Senate would, in fact, pass such a bill if needed.

“Pre-existing conditions are covered right now, and I support that policy. If it becomes necessary to cover them in the future, the senate would pass a bill to do so,” Fitzgerald said in a statement released early Tuesday evening.

Walker has promised throughout his re-election campaign that he will preserve insurance coverage for Wisconsinites with pre-existing conditions, even if the federal requirement to do so under the Affordable Care Act is struck down. With Walker’s approval, Wisconsin is part of a multi-state lawsuit seeking to overturn the Obama-era health care law.

Legislative Leaders Call for Resignations


Republican leaders of the state Legislature are urging the chief staffers of the state Elections and Ethics commissions to resign, citing “widespread concerns over partisan influence remaining” from their predecessor, the former Government Accountability Board.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald made the calls in separate letters to Mike Haas, administrator of the Elections Commission, and Brian Bell, administrator of the Ethics Commission.

“Due to past errors in judgment by leadership and staff at the recently disbanded Government Accountability Board, there are still widespread concerns over partisan influence remaining at the top of” the commissions, Vos and Fitzgerald wrote in letters to Haas and Bell, released by the lawmakers late Thursday. “You have lost the confidence of our caucuses to be an impartial administrator.

“Therefore, we believe that it would be appropriate at this time for you to tender your resignation.”

Vos Isolated on Transportation Tax Increases


Assembly Republicans have floated the idea of raising revenues for transportation work to hold down borrowing and avoid project delays, but Fitzgerald noted Thursday that Walker has committed to using his extensive veto powers to block such a move.

“You’ve got to live within the parameters of what he’s already laid out,” Fitzgerald said of Walker, adding that it would be pointless to oppose his own party’s governor. “How’s that productive? You’re going to have to work with the governor.”

One way to resolve the dispute would be to cut other taxes so the gas tax could be increased, he said. But coming up with a way to cut other taxes could prove tricky when state finances are tight.

Vos and the Assembly leadership has been saying that tax increases might be necessary. The Governor has said “no” to any tax increase for roads that isn’t offset by a tax decrease elsewhere. Now the Senate Majority Leader is standing with the Governor. Given that Vos was going to have a very difficult time getting a tax increase passed through the conservative wing of his own caucus anyway, this pretty much kills it. A tax increase will never even make it through the Senate to get to Walker’s desk to veto.

I guess we will have to live within our means – even when it comes to transportation.

Senator Fitzgerald Advocates Against Kenosha Casino

Big Fitz has a column over on Right Wisconsin opposing approval of the Kenosha casino. He couldn’t be more wrong. His piece boils down to three arguments.

The first argument is that the state might lose a lot of money if the casino is approved. This would first be because of the clause in the existing tribal compacts that requires the state to make the Potawatomi whole should another casino cut into their profits. It’s part of the horrible deal that the former governor agreed to. But the Bureau of Indian Affairs just ruled that the compact can’t be amended to put an enforcement mechanism into the compact. In doing so, they said, “”We have never been presented with a compact or amendment that goes so far as to attempt to guarantee the continued profitability of one tribe’s casino at the expense of another tribe.” That means that while the existing compact says that the Potowatomi must be made whole if the Kenosha casino is approved, there isn’t anything in place to actually force anyone to make those payments.

That leaves the Potawatomi in a precarious place and they know it. That is why they are already filing a federal lawsuit against the BIA to reverse the ruling. They will almost certainly lose their case, thus leaving no enforcement of that part of their compact. That leads us to their only other recourse… the Potawatomi could withhold their payments to the state. Remember that the tribes don’t have to pay taxes, but the compact to which they agreed obligates them to make payments to the state. The could claim that the compact has been breached because of the non-compete clause and withhold payments, but it is likely that they would lose that in court too. Withholding payments might even force them to have to negotiate an entirely new compact – this time with a different governor who hopefully won’t give away the taxpayers’ store. At the very least, the state can be much less cooperative and make life very difficult for the Potawatomi to do business. That’s why the Potawatomi would much rather the BIA approve the amendment putting mitigation payments into the existing compact.

While the state may lose out on some money from the Potowatomi if Walker approves the Kenosha Casino, the odds are actually pretty good that the Potawatomi will not be able to back up their threats in the long term. Furthermore, remember that the new casino is likely projected to generate hundreds of millions of dollars of profit. It may more than offset any losses from the Potawatomi’s recalcitrance.

The second argument is that the Potawatomi will sue the BIA and the state if the casino is approved. So what? People are free to sue for whatever they please. That doesn’t mean they will win. In this case, all indications are that the tribe would lose. Governor Walker and the State of Wisconsin can’t fear doing the right thing just because someone might sue over it. If that were the case, we would never advance anything.

The third argument is that the casino market would become saturated. Fitz says, “history has shown that when gaming markets become oversaturated, casino revenues level off or decline.” Again, so what? What business is it of the state’s to enforce a monopoly in a specific grography for the purpose of sustaining gambling revenues? The state wouldn’t step in and oppose a new Menard’s opening up just because they think there are already too many home improvement stores in the area. Neither should they oppose the Kenosha casino for fear that the market may be saturated. In fact, the people willing to put hundreds of millions of dollars into the construction of the casino seem to think that there is plenty of market opportunity left. I’m willing to support them spending their own money in Wisconsin on that bet.

Fitzgerald seems to be more than willing to let the State of Wisconsin be bullied by a tiny tribe with a big casino. Instead of rolling over, the state should play hardball against a tribe that is playing above their grade. My worry is that Fitzgerald’s article is designed to give Governor Walker cover for a bad decision he is about to make. I sure hope not, because it is no cover at all. Walker is going to have a hard time making the case that he is “intimidated” if he kills one of the largest economic development projects in the state for fear of the Potawatomi.

Walker should  ignore Fitzgerald’s opinion and do what is right for the citizens and taxpayers of Wisconsin – approve the Kenosha Casino.




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