Saturday, December 3rd, 2016

Hard at work

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Publication:Waukesha Freeman (Conley); Date:Sep 24, 2009; Section:Opinion; Page Number:10A

Hard at work
Legislature busy with secondary issues

The economy is in the tank. Wisconsin has lost 140,000 jobs since the recession began and unemployment is over 8.4 percent. The state treasurer’s office is a disaster area. The state crime lab can’t find 12,000 DNA samples from convicts. State sales tax revenue is down.

Don’t worry. Your Democratic-controlled state Legislature is hard at work.

Last week, the state Assembly voted that the “swine flu” is no more. That’s right, an entire strain of disease was knocked out of existence by the sheer will of the state Assembly. The “swine flu” has been replaced by the H1N1 virus. Remember to ask for it by name.

The Assembly was afraid that if we did not eliminate the swine flu, Wisconsinites would stop eating pork products. Such is the low opinion they have of the people they supposedly represent.

Unfortunately, “swine flu” did nothing to discourage the pork barrel spending in Madison.

Meanwhile, the Green Bay Press Gazette reports the state Senate is expected to pass a bill that will allow the state patrol to control traffic to allow visiting football teams to get to Lambeau Field faster. Apparently we can’t get the Cincinnati Bengals into town fast enough to put Aaron Rodgers on the turf. Now visiting teams will be able to blitz through Green Bay traffic just like they’re going through the Packer offensive line.

The state Senate will be taking up the concerns of one struggling industry. Newspapers may finally get their wish to get “shield laws” enacted in Wisconsin. The “shield law” would allow journalists to protect their sources in a police investigation until a court orders them otherwise.

Don’t get me wrong. I admire and respect the work of people who work for newspapers.

But what’s a journalist? Do you have to graduate from journalism school? Is there a secret decoder ring?

Is former Clinton aide George Stephanopoulos a journalist just because he works for ABC News? What about David Letterman, who interviewed the president Monday night? What about a blogger that breaks a story, which is happening with increasing frequency? What about the two amateur filmmakers who exposed ACORN just like “60 Minutes”?

Over in the state Assembly they just passed the breast-feed-anywhere-anytime bill. Anywhere where the mom and child can be, she can breast-feed the child and literally nobody can say anything about it. I guess this helps tourism.

Both houses of the Legislature are also considering allowing members to designate between three and seven alternates in case an enemy attack kills a large percentage of them. The bill was temporarily pulled from the agenda Tuesday when state Sen. Mary Lazich, R-New Berlin, and others raised questions.

Not that I’m looking for the job, but let’s say hypothetically state Rep. Bill Kramer, RWaukesha, decided to designate me as his successor should Michigan invade and bomb the Capitol. (I’ve been to the Upper Peninsula and I don’t trust them.) When it becomes public knowledge, won’t Waukesha Freeman columnist Pete Kennedy be jealous? Won’t blogger Owen Robinson feel slighted? Wouldn’t it be great?

I’d miss Kramer, of course. After all, he was opposed to this waste of time, too.

More seriously, it will raise questions of just how I was picked. Oh, not that I would be a bad choice. But you can see where other members of the Legislature might abuse the process.

Will legislators pick their favorite staff member? Or, more likely, their favorite campaign contributor? How about their favorite lobbyist? The brother-in-law that can’t get a decent job? What about their bartender?

It also assumes that without the state Legislature functioning in Madison, state agencies would suddenly grind to a halt. What do legislators think happens when they’re away from Madison? The state Department of Transportation certainly doesn’t stop the road work. The trees don’t stop growing in the state forests.

Fish swim, the bears eat, and the deer get hit by cars. Life pretty much continues as normal when the Legislature is not in session. The idea that the state can’t wait until special elections can be held for the state Legislature is an incredible amount of hubris.

We can’t even get them to fix the real problems now.

JAMES WIGDERSON

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