Capitol Notes

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The voter purge case took some more turns last week. An Ozaukee County judge again ordered the Wisconsin Elections Commission to immediately drop more than 200,000 names from the voter rolls. It's suspected that those voters may have moved and haven't re-registered. Then, an appeals court sided with the commission and again put the purge on hold while lawsuits continue. Meanwhile, the Wisconsin Supreme Court decided not to take the case for the time being.

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Republican and Democratic leaders met at the State Capitol last week to place names on the state presidential primary ballot. Democrats approved 14 names for the April 7 election. They include Joe Biden, Bernie Sanders, Elizabeth Warren, Pete Buttigieg and Amy Klobuchar. But GOP officials submitted and approved only one name — that of President Donald Trump, even though other Republicans have thrown their hats into the ring.  

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com about the decision in this week's Capitol Notes conversation.

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For this week's Capitol Notes, we look ahead to the political stories that'll likely make headlines in Wisconsin in 2020. Probably the biggest is Wisconsin's role in the presidential race. President Trump narrowly won the state in 2016, which means the spotlight is on Wisconsin this year, along with a few other swing states. 

WUWM's Marti Mikkelson asked JR Ross of wispolitics.com what he thinks the presidential race will look like in Wisconsin.

For this week's Capitol Notes, we examine the top political stories of the year.  It began with the inauguration of Democratic Gov. Tony Evers.  He defeated Republican Scott Walker the previous fall. 

Evers' relationship with the GOP-controlled legislature was contentious from the start.  Republicans passed laws before Evers took office, limiting Evers' powers, as well as those of new Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul.  The move sparked protests at the State Capitol and a number of lawsuits.  

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Foxconn is back in the news, with questions about whether it will qualify for up to $3 billion in state tax credits in coming years.  The Taiwanese electronics giant signed a contract with the state when the company was planning to build large LCD screens at a huge plant in Racine County, creating up to 13,000 jobs.  But Foxconn has since reduced the size of its plant and has said it'll manufacture smaller LCD screens.  It's not clear how many jobs will be created.

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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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