Sweeping changes to Wisconsin Bill of Rights would undo Act 10, eliminate voter residency requirements, and bring back the GAB
A MacIver Analysis By Bill Osmulski
If there were ever any doubts over what designs the Democrat Party has for Wisconsin should it regain power, look no further than Rep. Chris Taylor’s (D-Madison) proposed amendments to the state constitution released Friday.
The joint resolution would make broad changes to Wisconsin’s Bill of Rights to include open ended promises that government cannot possibly deliver and shifting power away from the Legislature and governor to the bureaucracy. In general, the changes seek to undo everything Republicans have accomplished since 2011 and make it difficult for them to ever be in control again. The role of government would expand uncontrollably, as voters would lose influence over state officials.
Here is a breakdown of Taylor’s manifesto:
- The Second Amendment And Local Gun Ordinances. In a transparent attempt to undermine the Second Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, Taylor’s Bill of Rights claims to maintain the right to bear arms, but it allows local governments to regulate the carrying of arms. This would effectively gut the constitution, the right to keep and bear arms and the state’s concealed carry law, because local ordinances would supersede state and federal law.
- Right To An Abortion. This isn’t surprising given Taylor’s history as Planned Parenthood’s policy director in Wisconsin. Of course, in true Orwellian fashion, she calls it “the right to reproductive freedom.”
- Right To “Access Quality, Affordable Health Care Services.” Democrats always claim this is their goal, but their actions consistently undermine it. This goes well past their rabid defense of Obamacare, which resulted in the mandated purchase of health insurance, fewer coverage choices, and skyrocketing premiums costs – 36 percent last year alone. Wisconsin Democrats voted against reforms like direct primary care that are proven to lower costs and increase quality. They also promote ideas like “BadgerCare for All,” which the Legislative Fiscal Bureau warns would decrease access and increase cost. Their ideas will never result in quality and affordable healthcare, but they’ll happily destroy the state’s finances as they try anyway.
- Right to A Living Wage. Forget about the “Fight for $15.” Taylor’s living wage could push the minimum wage in places like Madison or Milwaukee to over $25 an hour, based on an MIT study. As Taylor puts it, “Every person has the right to a just and fair wage that ensures for the person and the person’s family an existence worth of human dignity and a sufficient standard of living.” Working hard to achieve that is not a part of Taylor’s math, nor is the impact this would have on employment. A 2014 MacIver Institute Study found 91,000 Wisconsinites would lose their jobs if the minimum wage was raised to $15. Considering that many of those are entry level jobs, a “living wage” mandate would close countless opportunities to young workers just getting started in their careers.
- Right To The “Highest Quality” Education. Here’s another vague goal. A conservative might interpret this as school choice for all, but Taylor’s no conservative. In fact, this “right” contradicts another one of her proposed changes to the constitution that would ban state funds from going to religious schools. She doesn’t say what she considers to be the “highest quality” education, but it probably doesn’t have anything to do with test scores. The only thing liberals care to quantify when it comes to public schools is funding, and it’s never enough. The real question here is how high would Taylor raise your taxes to pay for this?
- Right To Equal Pay. First off, we agree that it is wrong to discriminate against someone because of their gender. Remember, too, that it is currently against the law to pay someone less based solely on their gender. Studies that examine the gender pay gap don’t support the liberal narrative. An often-cited study by the American Association of University Women claims women in Wisconsin make 78 cents for every dollar a man makes. However, the report also said that can be explained by considering life choices like college major, occupation, hours worked, and taking time off to raise children. So would this amendment force employers to make gender the primary consideration for determining wages regardless of experience, education, and position? Liberals like Chris Taylor never let questions over implementation get in the way of a good narrative, and this is just one more example.
- Eliminate Residency Requirements To Vote. Right now you need to live in a district for 28 days before an election with no intent of moving afterwards. This change would eliminate the need to be a “resident” and only require that you “reside” in the district for 10 days before an election. That’s right. She literally removes the word “resident” from the voting requirements. That would mean out-of-state hotel guests could (and would) vote in our elections.
- Reinstate The GAB. The Government Accountability Board proved itself incapable of impartiality in overseeing Wisconsin’s elections. It looked the other way when fraudulent signatures appeared on recall ballots, elections officials reported irregularities and breaks in the chain of custody, and it actively participated in the John Doe witch hunt that violated the constitutional rights of conservatives throughout the state. The Wisconsin Legislature did the responsible thing by eliminating this political weapon of the left. Of course, Taylor and her allies want it back.
- GAB Would Be In Charge Of Redistricting. Not only does Taylor want to resurrect the GAB, she wants to give it the responsibility of redistricting. Currently, the Legislature is responsible for drawing new district boundaries after each U.S. Census. Taylor wants to take the power away from elected officials and give it to unaccountable bureaucrats, who historically have aligned themselves with liberal politics. She’s betting this will sideline voters and give Democrats a permanent edge, whether or not they can actually win elections.
- Reinstate Straight Ticket Voting. Before 2012, Wisconsin voters could simply vote for a party and automatically cast votes for every candidate in that party on their ballot. It undoubtedly gave an edge to Democrats. In Milwaukee, for example, Democrat voters were six times more likely to vote straight ticket than Republican voters. The impact of doing away with this practice was immediate. During the Racine Recall Recount in 2012, many voters only voted in the top race and left the rest blank. Only nine states still allow straight ticket voting, and surprisingly they’re all Republican states.
- Require The State To Use A Progressive Income Tax. A flat tax would make Wisconsin more competitive and help reduce tax migration that results in $460 million of income leaving the state annually. Taylor prefers the antiquated progressive income tax that punishes success.
- No Tax Exemptions. Not only would the state be required to have a progressive income tax, Taylor’s plan would eliminate all exemptions. While a simple and clean tax code is a goal we can agree on with Taylor, that is not what Taylor proposes. She wants to eliminate only certain tax code carveouts that she deems unnecessary or unworthy. The tax carveouts that advanced her political agenda and her ideology would stay of course.
- Right To “Clean Air.” So what exactly would qualify as “clean air?” If I get seasonal allergies would the Wisconsin Constitution protect me from pollen? What would be the standard for “clean air?” Just this year, the EPA tried to shut down economic growth in southeastern Wisconsin because of high ozone levels, which had drifted into the area from Chicago and Gary. Would the “right to clean air” clear that up, shut down industry, or force everyone to move? Chances are these questions would be left to unelected bureaucrats and the standards would always be changing.
- The Superintendent Of Public Instruction Gets Representation In The DNR. What does DPI have to do with the DNR? Nothing, but the state superintendent is usually a liberal. Taylor wants to expand DPI’s reach in state government. She would reduce the seven-member Natural Resources Board to five members, selected by the governor, attorney general, state superintendent, treasurer, and secretary of state. So the state superintendent would have just as much influence in the DNR as the governor? Makes sense to a liberal.
- A Natural Resources Board Would Pick The DNR Secretary, Not The Governor. About twenty years ago, the Natural Resources Board got to pick the DNR secretary instead of the governor. Of course that meant the department was dominated by radical environmentalist policies with no counter voice. That’s exactly the system Taylor wants to go back to – one where the voters are as far removed from state environmental policy as possible.
- The State Superintendent, Not The Legislature, Would Determine Funding Levels For Public Schools. Under the manifesto, DPI would decide how much schools need, rather than the Legislature weighing the support schools need and other important budget priorities. Like health care. Or higher education. Or public safety. In other words, Taylor would take budgeting out of the budget process.
- Religious Schools Can’t Receive Public Funds. Overall, religious schools outperform public schools, and that’s why students use the school choice system to attend them. It’s far more important to Rep. Taylor that kids receive a public-school education rather than a good education. Clearly Rep. Taylor believes the term ‘public education’ refers to government institutions and the plight of educrats, not what it should be. ‘Public education’ should be about what every child in Wisconsin needs to be successful.
- Right To Collective Bargaining. Before Act 10, Governor Doyle and the Democrat-controlled Legislature created a $3.6 billion budget gap. Act 10 fixed that, then saved the state $5 billion over the next five years, gave local governments the tools to balance their budgets, created regular surpluses, and eliminated state worker furloughs. Taylor and her allies would undo all of that. They would make it is a constitutional right for public and private workers to “organize and collectively bargain through representative of their own choosing on subjects including but not limited to wages, hours, and working conditions.” That means eliminating Act 10 and Right To Work, and reinstating prevailing wage… and massive budget deficits. It would be like the past 8 years never happened.
Getting all this into the state constitution would be no easy task. Amendments must be passed by two consecutive sessions of the Legislature and then pass a statewide referendum. One might question why she introduced this plan with Republicans in charge when it has no chance of passing this session.
In the past couple weeks, Democrats have introduced dozens of items in the Senate and Assembly, even though the session is essentially over. One Democrat representative told MacIver News, in reference to a different bill, that they know their late session bills won’t get passed this year. They are setting the stage in the event they are able take back control of the Legislature and governor’s office.
Should that happen, Rep. Taylor’s plan shows how far liberals are willing to stretch our laws to meet their goals. The Wisconsin Constitution was written to empower the people and limit the government. Taylor’s Amendments would fundamentally alter that relationship to limit the people and empower the government.