Was Anyone Heard at Yesterday’s Hearing?
Email date: 6/5/13
In this update:
1. Anti-democracy legislation gets “public” hearing; committee vote coming
2. Whose side are they on?
3. Another state takes stand against Citizens United
Anti-democracy legislation gets “public” hearing; committee vote coming
Yesterday’s hearing on Assembly Bill 225 was par for the course when it comes to what passes for public hearings nowadays at the State Capitol. Oozing contempt for the general public, the Assembly’s Campaigns and Elections Committee meeting was timed to conflict with the Joint Finance Committee’s action on some of the most controversial budget issues. As usual, it was really more of a legislator and lobbyist hearing than a public hearing, as Capitol insiders spoke first and were allowed to talk for as long as they wanted.
After being made to wait for as long as six or seven hours, citizens were told to limit their remarks to three minutes. The whole production was a carefully choreographed dog-and-pony show designed to make the bill look like a restrained and reasonable attempt to protect voting rights and its authors look like they are sincerely interested in incorporating citizen feedback and amending the bill to make it bipartisan. In one breath the committee chair welcomed ideas that could make the bill better, but in the next said she intended to have the committee vote on AB 225 tomorrow and refused to even wait for a fiscal estimate to be prepared so members would know the bill’s cost to taxpayers before voting on it. She later backed off that timeline, signaling that a committee vote would come sometime next week.
For the most part, Democratic members of the committee acted like they believe those pushing this extreme proposal are being sincere and reasonable. None of them seemed willing to call a spade a spade. They left that task to citizens who testified long after most people in the packed hearing room had left.
If you have the stomach for it, you can watch the whole bloody thing courtesy of WisconsinEye. The Democracy Campaign’s testimony comes just after the four-hour mark of the video, which lasts more than seven hours.
Whose side are they on?
In his testimony on AB 225 yesterday, Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe said, “it’s not hard to see whose side this bill is on.” In his latest column, veteran journalist Dave Zweifel says it’s not hard in general to see whose side the Legislature as a whole is on.
Another state takes stand against Citizens United
Architects of AB 225 loaded the bill with ways to make it certain corporate money will continue to freely flow in Wisconsin and make it easier for special interest groups to influence state elections while keeping the public in the dark about their election campaigning. They are swimming against the current. AB 225 goes in exactly the opposite direction of what voters in 14 other states and close to 500 American communities say they want. Illinois just became the 14th state to call for the U.S. Supreme Court’s infamous ruling in the Citizens United case allowing unlimited election spending to be overturned and for sensible limits on money in politics to be put in place.