Reading the tea leaves of voting records

YOURCOUNTY
Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

As discussed in last week’s “Your County” column, at the end of a legislative period many special interest groups provide voting records on how the legislature voted on issues its organization favored or opposed.

These lists allow groups to inform both their members and public. It can helpful to for the general public to look at these voting lists to get an understanding on how legislators, especially their legislators, responded to the issues before them.

“Voting Records” are important but voters need to understand that the issues listed may be critical to one group and not to others and they are certainly not the only issues legislators vote on.

But with our lakeshore area having a competitive Congressional election this fall to replace 6th District Congressman Thomas Petri who is retiring, “Voting Records” can be a helpful tool for many people to review some votes taken by legislators who are running for this office.

This column intends to report on a number of these “Voting Records”.

Hopefully the examples will encourage readers to do additional background research on their own.

It should be pointed out, some who are running for Congress may not have served in the legislature and will not have a recorded voting record. For those individuals, the special interest groups will send questionnaires asking for their position on what they consider important issues - this information may or may not be provided to the general public. But this does not take away from the importance of knowing how legislators who are running for Congress have voted.

Who is running? On the Democratic ticket, Mark Harris, Winnebago County Executive, is running unopposed for the Tuesday, August 12th primary. He is not a state legislator.

On the Republican primary side, candidates include: Tom Denow, a technical college instructor; Glen Grothman, State Senator; Joe Leibham, State Senator and Duey Stroeber, State Representative.

The last three listed are legislators who will have voting records listed by any number of special interest groups which may or may not be available for public view.

Tom Denow is not a legislator and does not have a legislative voting record.

The first special interest legislative voting record I would like to share with readers is that from the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO.

In the state Senate they listed 14 important issues . These included: raising the minimum wage (to $10.10/hr), unemployment changes, equal pay enforcement (effects everyone especially women), buy Wisconsin/USA products, public sector collective bargaining, Homestead Tax Credit, and pay-to-play to mention a few.

The AFL-CIO voting scorecard record is as follows:

- Senator Glen Grothman is listed as voting wrong on 13 of 14 issues, or a 7% vote this session, a life-time vote of 20%.

- Senator Joe Leibham is listed voting wrong on 13 of 14 issues, or a 7% vote this session, a lifetime vote of 22%

As a comparison, Republican Senator Dale Schultz had a 64% vote this session, a life-time vote of 34 % and Senator Michael Ellis had a 7% vote this session, a life-time vote of 41%.

In the Assembly, the AFLCIO reviewed 17 key votes this legislative session. They included: raise the minimum wage to $10.10, unemployment changes, buy Wisconsin, buy U.S.A, Homestead Tax Credit, pay to play, and Pregnant Workers Fairness Act to mention a few.

- Representative Duey Stroeber is listed as voting wrong on 17 of 17 issues, or a 0% vote this session, a life-time vote of 4%.

As a comparison, Republican’s Representative Dean Kaufert had a 0% vote this session and a lifetime vote of 27%; Representative Travis Tranel had a 0% vote this session and a life-time vote of 12%.

Many voters may find the minimum wage, buy American, buy Wisconsin, Homestead Tax Credit (for low income people), or pay-to-play issues which labor and business should be able to work together for the common good. But that did not happen this legislative session.

Next week the this column will review another “Voter Record” by a special interest group.

Hopefully, this column and others will encourage readers to begin their own research.


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