Hamilton Political Tidbits – April 15, 2016

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Political Tidbits
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The Hamilton Consulting Group
April 15, 2016

The pace in Wisconsin politics is a lot slower now that the state legislators have returned to their districts and the presidential primary has moved on to the east coast. Instead, this week's headlines have been dominated by several recent court decisions from the local, state and national level. In this week's Tidbits, read about the Dane County Circuit Court Judge who struck down Wisconsin's right-to-work law, the U.S. Supreme Court's ruling on "one person, one vote," and a case brought against Wisconsin's Voter ID law.

Also in this week's Tidbits, a recap on last week's Wisconsin presidential primary and an update on state legislative races coming up in November.

If you wish to receive additional information about a topic addressed in  Tidbits,  please do not hesitate to contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting Team.

Wisconsin Leaves a Mark on the National Elections

When the dust settled after last week's elections Wisconsin proved to be more relevant than usual in shaping the direction of the Presidential primary elections.

Turnout was higher than the state had seen in decades for an April election as around a million people cast their vote on each side of the presidential primary producing results that were definitive. Ted Cruz stifled Donald Trump and John Kasich gaining a significant plurality of the votes. Cruz won the state with 48 percent of the vote, Trump had 35 percent and Kasich 14 percent. As it seems to be the case in every state, there are the voting results, and then there are the delegate results. Cruz took 36 of the 42 possible delegates while Trump took the remaining six.

Read more about the presidential primary results in Wisconsin.

Dane County Circuit Court Judge Strikes Down Wisconsin's Right-to-Work Law, Appeal Anticipated

Friday, April 8, Dane County Circuit Court Judge C. William Foust struck down 2015 Wisconsin Act 1, Wisconsin's Right-to-Work law.  Under 2015 Wisconsin Act 1,

"No person may require, as a condition of obtaining or continuing employment, an individual to do any of the following:
  1. Refrain or resign from membership in, voluntary affiliation with, or voluntary financial support of a labor organization.
  2. Become or remain a member of a labor organization.
  3. Pay any dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses of any kind or amount, or provide anything of value, to a labor organization.
  4. Pay to any 3rd party an amount that is in place of, equivalent to, or any portion of dues, fees, assessments, or other charges or expenses required of members of, or employees represented by, a labor organization."
Wis. Stat. s.  111.04 (3).

Milwaukee Legislators Shuffle for November Elections

With new retirements and challenges being posed, there could be a bit of shuffling among Milwaukee's legislators this election cycle.

Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) announced on April 11 he will challenge Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) in the Democratic primary in August. In a  statement Barnes called for "fresh, transformational leadership" and said his campaign will focus on public education, gun violence, and creating opportunity for communities.

Rep. LaTonya Johnson (D-Milwaukee) has announced her candidacy for the 6th Senate District, left open after Sen. Nikiya Harris Dodd (D-Milwaukee)  announced she will not run for reelection. Johnson was first elected to the assembly in 2012 and has served in that position since. The 6th district covers much of Milwaukee's northwest side.

Meanwhile, David Crowley, a Policy Director for Sen. Harris Dodd has announced his candidacy for the 17th Assembly District left open by Rep. Johnson's State Senate candidacy. Crowley is a former candidate for Milwaukee Alderman.

Read more about the candidates and races.

Whitford v. Nichol - How much partisan bias is too much?

Last Thursday, April 7, a three judge panel ruled that a group of voter's challenge to Wisconsin's 2012 redistricting map can head to trial.

The Wisconsin Department of Justice had filed a motion for summary judgment on behalf of the defendants in the case. The Court ruled that deciding the case, as a matter of law "would be premature because there are factual disputes regarding the validity of plaintiffs' proposed measurement for determining the existence of a constitutional violation." Therefore, the case will move forward toward trial.

Read more about the case.

Evenwel v. Abbott - "One Person, One Vote"

The Supreme Court unanimously rejected a challenge by two Texas voters to the "one person, one vote" principle. The plaintiffs argued that Texas violated the Equal Protection Clause by drawing districts that contained approximately the same total population, but varying amounts of eligible voters. Justice Ginsburg writing for the Court held "based on constitutional history, this court's decisions and longstanding practice, that a state may draw its legislative districts based on total population."

Texas' current redistricting practice is to count total population numbers, not just registered voters. The plaintiffs, Sue Evenwel and Edward Pfenninger, argued that their votes were worth less than those of voters in districts with large populations of people ineligible to vote and asked that only eligible voters be counted when drawing legislative and other electoral districts. Justice Ginsburg responded to the argument by stating that nonvoters have important policy interests such as public education, receiving constituent services, and help navigating bureaucracies. By counting those ineligible to vote, such as children, legal and illegal immigrants, and people who have been convicted of certain criminal offenses, they are given a stake in policy debates. Further Justice Ginsburg said using total population numbers is more efficient.

However, the Court did not mandate that total population numbers be used, only that it is not required that states only use eligible voters when making population based district. All 50 states currently base districts on total population.

Read more about the justices' opinions.
Tom Nelson Announces Run for the 8th Congressional District

On April 7, Outagamie County Executive Tom Nelson declared his candidacy for the 8th Congressional District in northeast Wisconsin. The seat is open after Rep. Reid Ribble's  retirement announcement last fall.

Nelson served in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2005 to 2011 and was the Assembly majority leader in the 2009-10 legislative session. In 2010, Nelson chose not run for the Assembly again and instead ran as lieutenant governor with Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett. After an unsuccessful bid, Nelson was elected as Outagamie County Executive in 2011, a position he has held since.

Read about the other candidates for the 8th Congressional District.

Frank v. Walker: Case Questioning Parts of Wisconsin Voter ID Law Receives Hearings

The Frank case is the progeny of the 2014 case where the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals declared 2011 Act 23, Wisconsin's Voter ID law, constitutional. One set of plaintiffs from that case petitioned the federal district court to take up a series of issues that had not been resolved in the first case. Specifically, the plaintiffs' wanted the court to address whether or not "some persons...qualified to vote are entitled to relief because they face daunting obstacles to obtaining photo ID." The district court refused to do so. The plaintiffs appealed to the 7th Circuit, who agreed with the plaintiffs and remanded the question to the district court (other uncontested issues were vacated).

The case will now return to the district court for further hearings.

Read more about the case.

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News Clips 
Economic Development
Wisconsin saw strong job growth in February : Wisconsin Public Radio, April 15, 2016.
Mortgage rates hit lows not seen in nearly three years : Washington Post, April 14, 2016.
State continues to lag in venture capital : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Wisconsin added an estimated 13,000 jobs in March : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Latest jobs numbers depict a tightening labor market : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Bucks: Team agrees to 30-year lease for new Milwaukee arena : Wisconsin State Journal, April 13, 2016.
Businessman repays taxpayers dime on dollar for troubled WEDC loan : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 13, 2016.
Wisconsin lags in growth of women-owned businesses : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 12, 2016.
Tool manufacturer looks to add nearly 600 jobs with WEDC support : Wisconsin Public Radio, April 11, 2016.

DNR sends 100,000 registration renewal cards with possible errors : Wisconsin State Journal, April 15, 2016.
No hot-button issues at DNR hearings : Eau Claire Leader-Telegram, April 14, 2016.
Drooping milk prices strain Wisconsin dairy farms : Oshkosh Northwestern, April 14, 2016.
Scott Walker signs law changing managed forest program : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Spring hearing attendees want to repeal mining law : Minneapolis Star Tribune, April 13, 2016.
A pollutant's potential: MU prof tries to recycle phosphorus : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 13, 2016.
DNR to study if frac sand mining contaminates groundwater : Wisconsin Public Radio, April 12, 2016.
DNR reworks frac sand mining permits : Wisconsin Public Radio, April 12, 2016.
Tax credits proposed for lead pipe removal : Green Bay Press Gazette, April 12, 2016.
Lead pipe removal, $18M development : Green Bay Press Gazette, April 11, 2016.

Interim chair named for new Biomedical Engineering Department : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Illinois death tied to Wisconsin bacteria outbreak : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 13, 2016.
Jobs in health care remain plentiful over decade : Appleton Post Crescent, April 13, 2016.
Top Republicans: Zika funding on hold until September : Wisconsin State Journal, April 13, 2016.
Regulators: 5 big banks get failing grades for crisis plans : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 13, 2016.
Gov. Walker signs bills to aid assault victims : Green Bay Press Gazette, April 12, 2016.
Insurer UnitedHealth starts pruning ACA exchange business : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 12, 2016.
Scott Walker to sign bill giving abuse victims confidential addresses : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 11, 2016.

Rural road safety remains a priority : DeForest Times-Tribune, April 15, 2016.
60-year-old Malchine Road bridge being replaced this summer : Racine Journal Times, April 14, 2016.
State DOT working to reduce fender-benders at roundabouts : Wisconsin Public Radio, April 14, 2016.
State hires Laughlin Constable to market Milwaukee-Chicago train service : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Delta drops fee for tickets bought on phone or at airports : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 14, 2016.
Incentives offered to charge up sales of electric vehicles : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 12, 2016.
Train derails near Home Depot in Wauwatosa : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 11, 2016.

Utilities and Energy
Greening business shifts from saving energy to assessing climate risks: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 13, 2016.
Study: No evidence wind turbines cause health issues : Fond du Lac Reporter, April 12, 2016.
PSC: Smart thermostat discounts won't expand statewide : Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 11, 2016.

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