You can get to know the players by reading the scorecards

Jim Baumgart  Sheboygan County Supervisor

The search for a fair review of a candidate’s voting background on the issues can come from many sources. As reported in last week’s column, special issue groups often provide a “Voting Record” on how the legislature/ legislators reacted to issues that the organization favored or opposed.

It is a tool that voters can use to provide additional background and away from the normal political ads or news releases run by the candidates seeking public office.

That earlier column reminded voters that “Voting Records” listed by special interest groups are not the only issues legislators vote on but they may be key for understanding a candidate.

Because of the importance of the upcoming Congressional 6th District election, this column is meant to provide some special interest “Voting Record”lists.

Two of the five Candidates running for the 6th District Congressional office of retiring Congressman, Thomas Petri, are not legislators. They will not have a legislative voting record but special interest groups will likely survey these candidates on the positions and issues they feel important; hopefully that information will release to the public and the press.

The two non-legislators include: Democratic candidate, Mark Harris, Winnebago County Executive and Republican candidate, Tom Denow, a technical college instructor.

Three of the five candidates running for 6th District Congressional seat are presently in the Wisconsin Legislature and have voting records that are often listed by different special interest groups. They include: Glen Grothman, State Senator; Joe Leibham, State Senator; and Duey Stroebel, State Representative.

In last week’s column we looked at the AFL-CIO “Voting Record” for the three legislators listed above. The AFL-CIO is a special interest labor group that promotes good working conditions, fair wages, safety as well as many other work related issues.

This week, the column will look at the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters’ “Scorecard”, a special interest group dedicated to wide range of environmental issues including the protection of our air, water, land and natural resources. This writer selected this subject area because of his interest and background as well as the high priority most Wisconsin citizens put on protecting and improving our state’s resources.

The Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters listed six legislative Senate votes they felt important. Three I thought were easy votes for most Senators; AB 173 allowed Trout Unlimited to have a special volunteer auto plate where each plate would provide an additional $25 to go for stream improvement projects; SB 190, a modest clean water bill that would improve and protect our streams and rivers from run-off ; and SB 597, which would add waterways to the existing Aldo Leopold Legacy Trail System, thus boosting the status of boating, canoeing, and Kayaking in Wisconsin.

Three other bills, Open-Pit mining, Shoreline Zoning, and Managed Forests, were a concern because it was felt the legislation decreased protection or fell far short of its intended goals. The Senate conservation voting record is as follows:

- Senator Glen Grothman is listed voting wrong on five out of six votes, or a 17% vote this session, a life-time vote of 29%.

- Senator Joe Leibham is listed voting wrong on four out of six votes, or a 33% vote this session, a life-time vote of 41%

As a comparison, Republican State Senator Dale Schultz had a 67% voting record this session, a life-time vote of 51%.

The State Assembly had seven votes listed by the League of Conservation Voters as important. They include the same six listed for the State Senate but also listed AB 448, a drug disposal bill that was past and signed into law by the Governor that will help protect the public and aquatic organisms such as fish from drugs being released from our homes and into our waterways.

- Representative Duey Stroebel is listed voting wrong on three of seven votes, or a 57% vote this session and a life-time vote of 37%.

The review of this “Conservation Scorecard” by the Wisconsin League of Conservation Voters, is yet another way for readers to measure and understand how they are being represented.

But it is not the only measurement. Legislators take many votes so everyone needs to look at these as well as other issues.

The public does have a right to know.

Hopefully, looking at the different special interest groups scorecards and how legislators voted is helpful and will encourage readers to do additional reviews on their own.

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