Friday, December 9th, 2016

The cost of l’affaire Sheridan

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We’ve been having some fun with Assembly Speaker Mike Sheridan’s affair with a lobbyist, but there are real consequences for Wisconsin, as the MacIver Institute’s Brian Fraley points out,

There are two scenarios as to how the next few days/weeks will play out, and neither one is good for Wisconsin’s business community.

Scenario one has Mike Sheridan maintaining his position as Assembly Speaker. Maintaining his hold on power, however, would require him to appease the more liberal members of his caucus.

Scenario two has Sheridan being ousted by those same liberal members, who would be empowered to show that such a change delivered more results than the shuffling of offices in the Capitol.

Either way, look for the State Assembly to appease their labor union base during this turmoil and take up and pass three key pieces of legislation whose fates had otherwise been uncertain prior to “Gal Gate.”

  • Wage Lien –  Establish the priority of a wage lien over the pre-existing lien of commercial lenders. This would remove the current $3,000 cap in the state’s wage claim lien law (already the most generous in the nation). This would make it impossible for a lender to calculate how much of a business’ collateral can be pledged against a line of credit or other loan. This severely hampers businesses’ access to credit at a time when we need businesses to expand and provide more jobs.
  • Minimum Wage – Increase the state minimum wage from $6.50 per hour to $7.60 per hour and indexes the rate as of June 1, 2009. In addition, the bill repeals the state preemption of local living wage ordinances in Wisconsin. Making it more expensive to create entry level jobs will prolong Wisconsin’s participation in the current economic crisis.
  • Mental Health Parity – Require all group health plans to provide mental health and substance abuse disorder benefits at the same level as benefits for physical conditions. This would make it more expensive to employ any and every person, if the employer provides medical health benefits. Employers will either stop providing the benefits, or employ fewer people as they absorb this new cost.
  • Sheridan’s campaign finance reports are now under question:

    The campaign finance report Sheridan filed with the state this week shows he reimbursed himself $5,608 between July and December for travel that had little or no explanation.

    Sheridan recently acknowledged he had dated Shanna Wycoff, a lobbyist for the payday loan industry. Sheridan announced in the fall he had softened his stance on regulating payday lenders, but he has insisted this week that dating Wycoff has had no influence on his views on the issue.

    An aide to Sheridan said late Thursday that his campaign will amend his report to provide more detail.

    Legislators and other candidates for office are required to report what hotels and airlines received any payments, said Reid Magney, spokesman for the Government Accountability Board, which oversees the state’s election laws.

    “They should disclose who was being paid – that’s the idea of disclosure,” Magney said.

    Rebekah Sweeney, a campaign aide to Sheridan, said Sheridan told the board he would amend his report as soon as possible.

    Sweeney did not provide any details about what the spending was for. She said she did not know if Wycoff was at the same events Sheridan traveled to, but she noted that Sheridan’s campaign did not pay for any expenses for Wycoff.

    Sheridan used his campaign account to reimburse himself 20 times in the second half of last year, for a total of $7,963.

    If there’s an undisclosed flight to Argentina, he’s in deep trouble.

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