Capitol Notes

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The Wisconsin National Guard's top commander recently agreed to resign after a scathing federal report found he violated laws in investigating sexual assault complaints. Gov. Tony Evers asked Major General Donald Dunbar to step down. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com if there could be more political fallout from the incident.

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Concerns about school safety rocked Wisconsin last week. In both Waukesha and Oshkosh, authorities shot and wounded a student who brought a weapon to school. Threats were made in a number of other school districts. The events prompted Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to call for more mental health services and more police officers in the schools. Republican leaders welcomed Evers' proposals — after rejecting his call last month for a special session to take up gun control measures.  

Results of the latest Marquette poll raised some eyebrows last week. It shows support for impeaching President Trump — and removing him from office — is slipping in Wisconsin. It also indicates that Trump holds a slight lead over the Democratic front-runners in the 2020 presidential race. Up until now, some national polls were showing at least three challengers beating Trump if the election were held today.

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he makes of the results.  

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Last week saw a war of words at the State Capitol, at least on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' part. Evers apparently was still reeling from the Republican-led Senate's failure to confirm Brad Pfaff as state Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection Secretary. Evers reportedly told state workers that Republicans are "amoral and stupid" for essentially firing Pfaff.

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The Republican-controlled state Legislature last week essentially ignored Democratic Gov. Tony Evers' call for a special session to take up gun control measures, such as universal background checks and passage of a "red flag" law. 

In each house, only one or two GOP members came to the floor, called the session to order and then immediately adjourned it. Republican leaders say neither house had the votes to pass, but Evers says they did this at their own peril because now they have to explain their actions to voters.  

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Democrats at the State Capitol introduced yet another marijuana bill last week. This one would decriminalize possession of smaller amounts of the drug — 28 grams or less. Democrats say decriminalization would decrease racial disparities in the criminal justice system. 

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State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald joined the chorus of rebukes last week of President Trump's likening the impeachment probe to a lynching. Fitzgerald called lynching a "terrible word" and instead called the impeachment probe a "political witch hunt." 

Fitzgerald is running to replace Republican Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner, who is retiring in 2020.  He's rarely criticized Trump.

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The unprecedented powers of the Wisconsin governor went under a microscope last week. The Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed to hear a case seeking to dramatically scale back the ability of governors to use partial budget vetoes to change the intent of the Legislature. 

The Republican-controlled state Legislature got back into full swing last week, with lawmakers passing dozens of bills to kick off the fall session. One measure that drew a lot of attention: the state Assembly voted to make accommodations for Democratic Rep. Jimmy Anderson, who uses a wheelchair. Anderson would be able to phone in to meetings, instead of always having to appear in person. Anderson threatened to sue if the Assembly didn't help him.

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Republican U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson is supporting President Trump in light of an impeachment inquiry from House Democrats. Johnson says he sees nothing wrong with Trump asking Ukraine and China to investigate former Democratic Vice President Joe Biden and his son. And Johnson says it's "perfectly appropriate" for American law enforcement agencies to enlist the help of other countries.  

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he makes of Johnson's steadfast support of the president.

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House Democrats have launched an impeachment inquiry into Republican President Donald Trump — after a whistleblower claimed that Trump asked the new Ukrainian leader to investigate former Vice President Joe Biden and his son. Two of Wisconsin's Democratic members of Congress, Gwen Moore and Mark Pocan, fully support impeachment. But a third member, Ron Kind of La Crosse, stopped short of saying Trump should be impeached.

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com why Kind is taking a cautious approach.  

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Lawmakers at the State Capitol introduced a bill last week that would legalize medical marijuana in Wisconsin.  Two of the authors are Democrats but one is a Republican — state Sen. Patrick Testin of Stevens Point. 

GOP Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has said he's open to legalizing medical marijuana.  But Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald has said "no" for years and rejected the idea again last week.  

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A standoff persists between Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and Republican members of the Joint Finance committee. Kaul said last week he would not join a multi-state settlement with OxyContin maker Purdue Pharma for its role in the nation's deadly opioid epidemic. He says he'll continue to pursue Wisconsin's case against the company, which is now filing for bankruptcy.

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Longtime Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner says he won't seek reelection in 2020.  He's been serving in the U.S. House of Representatives for about 40 years and says it's time to pass the torch to somebody else.  

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Republican Congressman Sean Duffy announced last week that he is stepping down from the job. Duffy represents northern Wisconsin and says his last day will be Sept. 23. He says he wants to spend more time with his family, especially since discovering his baby will be born next month with a heart condition.

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