Also this week: The special session that just might tie together childcare help, a new tax cut, and stadium renovations for the Brewers. And the state superintendent rips DEI critics.
Republicans in the Wisconsin Assembly have begun circulating a resolution that calls for the impeachment of Meagan Wolfe, administrator of the state Elections Commission—adding her name to President Joe Biden and state Supreme Court Justice Janet Protasiewicz as impeachment targets based on misinformation and partisan motivations, rather than documented misdeeds.
The 23-page resolution calling for Wolfe’s impeachment is a catalog of false claims about the 2020 presidential election in Wisconsin—won by Biden and reaffirmed in numerous recounts and court cases. The authors try to paint Wolfe as responsible for irregularities that did not actually happen.
By introducing an impeachment resolution, the Assembly authors—by intention or accident—bolster the impression outside the Capitol that a recent Senate Republican resolution that claims to fire Wolfe would not stand up to the court challenge filed by state Attorney General Josh Kaul.
“Legislative Republicans are completely out of control,” said Rep. Greta Neubauer (D-Racine) the Assembly minority leader. “They are clearly willing to sink to incredible lows to cement their power and undermine the will of the people.”
Wolfe continues her duties as administrator during the faceoff. In a statement reacting to the impeachment report, Wolfe criticized those who are still telling lies about an election, nearly three years later.
“The claims in this resolution have been thoroughly examined through numerous audits, investigations, and lawsuits, and they have shown that Wisconsin’s elections are run with integrity,” Wolfe said. “It’s irresponsible for this group of politicians to willfully distort the truth when they’ve been provided the facts for years.”
Republicans have already come under criticism from across the country for talk of impeaching Protasiewicz and appearing to undermine the results of April’s election, when she handily defeated conservative Dan Kelly. Similarly, a faction of congressional Republicans has come under fire for seeking a presidential impeachment despite a total lack of evidence that could support allegations and rumors about Biden and his son Hunter.
The authors of the Assembly resolution include Rep. Janel Brandtjen (R-Menomonee Falls), who was barred from caucus meetings last year and replaced as chair of the Elections Committee for supporting a primary challenge to Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester). Brandtjen was also the recipient of fraudulent military ballots sent by a Milwaukee elections official who was fired over the episode.
Special Session Survives
The impeachment discussions have taken attention away from other issues that were supposed to be the focus of a special session of the Legislature called by Gov. Tony Evers for this week. Surprisingly, Republicans did not kill the session within seconds as they have nearly a dozen other times. The Legislature must heed the call to begin a special session, but Republicans during Evers’ tenure have usually then adjourned the sessions immediately without even debating the merits of the issue before them.
Evers called on legislators to consider matters that include the childcare crisis, a middle class tax cut, and additional support for the University of Wisconsin System. By not calling an instant end to the special session, Republicans leave room to speculate on whether negotiations could lead to agreements on these and a number of other outstanding issues.
“I am pleasantly surprised that they did not gavel in, gavel out,” said Joe Zepecki, a Democratic strategist, during his weekly appearance on UpNorthNews Radio. “But let’s also not give Republicans too much credit because they have had an opportunity to address this for months.”
“Maybe the fact that we’ve still got a tax cut out there. We’ve still got a UW [College of] Engineering bill out there. There’s still the stadium financing deals and this childcare issue.” Zepecki said. “Maybe there is enough that is still at stake in this fall session that there are some backroom conversations happening—not in a nefarious way, but to try to figure out between the two parties who’s going to get the wins on what they want and how’s the other side going to get what they want.”
Underly Rips DEI Critics in State of Education Speech
In the wake of Republicans cutting UW System funding and now threatening to withhold pay raises for 41,000 UW employees in an effort to force cuts in Diversity, Education, and Inclusion (DEI) programs, state superintendent of public instruction Jill Underly used this week’s annual State of Education address to accuse them of trying to “homogenize learning in a way that is just not reflective of historical or current reality, or of a child’s lived experience.”
“This is a good moment to remember that curriculum which reflects the diversity of the human struggle and progress is, in fact, reflective of the history of this country, and that affirming that the lives of our Black, Indigenous and students of color matter is not political. It is a statement of fact,” Underly told an audience in the Capitol rotunda. “It bears remembering that safety is a requisite for every kid, and creating safety for LGBTQ kids is not controversial. It is the bare minimum.”
Underly was sharply critical of attempts to remove materials and lessons that are inclusive to the LGBTQ community and assist students who are struggling with questions of self-identity.
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