News Politics

Scott Walker Says He Supports Equal Pay, Despite Having Repealed It

Nina Liss-Schultz

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 quietly repealed equal pay protections for women. You wouldn’t know that from a recent Walker campaign ad.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker in 2012 quietly repealed equal pay protections for women. You wouldn’t know that from a recent Walker campaign ad in which Lt. Gov. Rebecca Kleefisch criticizes Democratic opponent Mary Burke, saying she finds it “insulting” that Burke would suggest Walker is “trying to make it harder for women to earn equal pay.”

In the ad, Kleefisch says:

I find it insulting that Mary Burke would say that we’re trying to make it harder for women to earn equal pay. Under Scott Walker, workplace discrimination will always be illegal, for any reason. Mary Burke wants to create more opportunities to sue, we want to create more opportunities for women to succeed.

The law repealed by Walker in 2012 gave teeth to the state’s Fair Employment Act, which outlaws gender-based discrimination in the workplace.

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The Equal Pay Enforcement Act gave workers more power to hold their employers accountable by allowing “individuals to plead their cases in less costly, more accessible state circuit court system, rather than just in federal court.”

Walker repealed the bill quietly and without a press release explaining his decision.

Polls show that the race between Walker and Burke is deadlocked, with Burke leading Walker among women voters. Walker could be a 2016 GOP presidential candidate after becoming a right-wing hero in the wake of draconian collective bargaining crackdowns, among various other far-right policies he’s pushed through as governor of purple Wisconsin.

Walker isn’t the only Republican trying to appear “pro-woman” while glossing over their history.

Colorado U.S. Senate candidate Cory Gardner proclaimed his support for over-the-counter birth control, even though he wants to repeal the Affordable Care Act, which provides full coverage of birth control to women with insurance.

Gardner also claimed that a fetal personhood bill he co-sponsored doesn’t exist. And in New Hampshire, Republican Scott Brown called himself “pro-choice” in an ad, despite having said in the past that he opposes legal abortion, even in cases of rape or incest.

Watch the full Walker campaign ad:

News Violence

Gun Rights Extremist Says Voter ID Laws Stopping Firearm Owners From Using ‘Bullet Box’

Michelle D. Anderson

Larry Pratt sought to clarify his comments in an interview published by ThinkProgress Thursday, saying a surge in gun violence likely wouldn’t take place because several states have passed voter ID laws in recent years.

A gun rights extremist attempted to clarify during an interview with ThinkProgress a recent remark that some in the United States would resort to gun violence, or the “bullet box,” if Supreme Court nominees who do not support gun rights are appointed by the next presidential administration.

Larry Pratt, executive director emeritus of the Gun Owners of America lobbying group, said on his “Gun Owners News Hour” radio show Saturday that some citizens may resort to using the “bullet box” if a Democrat is elected president and appoints Supreme Court justices who may not rule in favor of gun rights.

“I’d much rather have an election where we solve this matter at the ballot box than have to resort to the ‘bullet box,’” Pratt said.

In the May 28 program, Pratt also implied gun violence would be a viable method to reassert “proper constitutional balance” and referred to the historic Roe v. Wade decision as an “usurpation.”

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Pratt has made comments in the past seeming to support violence against government officials. Earlier this year, after President Obama nominated Judge Merrick Garland to the Supreme Court, he implied the prospective justice could be assassinated for his stance on the Second Amendment, according to a report by Right Wing Watch.

Pratt sought to clarify his comments in an interview published by ThinkProgress Thursday, saying a surge in gun violence likely wouldn’t take place because several states have passed voter ID laws in recent years.

“I didn’t say that would happen, but I would say that’s why we have a Second Amendment,” Pratt said, referring to the “bullet box” comment. “If elections are compromised, that could happen. I don’t think we’re at that point. We haven’t lost that much control, I don’t think, of the electoral process. We have actually been making some progress in recent months with voter ID and that hopefully is going to cut down on some of the voter fraud that could potentially occur.”

“Pratt said he is not inciting violence. In fact, he claims the government would be inciting violence if elected officials told people to pay taxes and obey laws that they didn’t have a voice in shaping,” ThinkProgress’ report continued.

Although there is little evidence that prevalent voter fraud exists, many conservative legislators and citizens have advocated for and passed voter laws that disproportionately affect low-income individuals and people of color.

In May, a former political aide testified in the research organization One Wisconsin Institute’s federal civil lawsuit against Wisconsin’s 2011 voter ID law, saying several Republican senators were excited about the law because it would impede upon some citizens’ rights and help their party in an upcoming election, according to WisPolitics.

The verdict in that case is being decided by the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin and is expected in July.

As reported by Rewire, a judge noted in 2014 that Republican Gov. Scott Walker’s administration was unable to name “a single instance of voter impersonation in order to justify its argument” that the state’s voter ID law is necessary.

In addition to Wisconsin, as many as 33 other states may have voter ID laws in place this November, according to data compiled by the National Conference of State Legislatures.

News Law and Policy

Scott Walker Could ‘Bankrupt Food Banks’ in Wisconsin

Jenn Stanley

Changes to Gov. Scott Walker's 2013-2015 budget have dropped at least 15,000 out-of-work Wisconsin residents from the state's food stamps program.

Wisconsin food banks are struggling to feed an additional 15,000-plus out-of-work residents who have lost their food stamp benefits under Gov. Scott Walker’s new policy.

Walker’s 2013-2015 budget created a law that requires able-bodied people with no children at home who receive food stamps from the state’s FoodShare program to work at least 80 hours a month, or look for work, to stay in the program. The law went into effect in April and at least 25 percent of the 60,000 people who fit that description have lost their benefits, according to Department of Health Services (DHS) data.

About 770,000 people in Wisconsin received FoodShare benefits as of September, according to DHS. Though the law automatically enrolls eligible recipients in a job placement program called FoodShare Employment and Training (FSET), only about 4,500 people found jobs through the program. About half of the able-bodied and childless adult recipients live in Milwaukee County. Seven percent of those people were placed in jobs through FSET.

Walker argued that the FoodShare work requirement was intended to make people more self-sufficient. In a statement about the work program, Rep. Mark Born (R-Beaver Dam), chairman of the Wisconsin State Assembly’s Committee on Public Benefit Reform, said that it is working as intended.

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“The FSET program was created to help guide able-bodied adults back into the workforce, or put them on the path to gainful employment while remaining on FoodShare,” Born said. “So far we have seen thousands of individuals follow the FSET program and secure employment as a result. It is important we continue to enact reforms and transition people from reliance on government to independence.”

The federal food stamp program requires able-bodied recipients to work, but the requirement is often waived in states where economic conditions are not favorable to those seeking jobs. Wisconsin was one of those states before the 2013 requirement was passed.

Wisconsin has 14 counties, including Milwaukee County, in which the labor market is too weak for the federal government to enforce job requirements for food stamp recipients. Those counties contain about a quarter of the state’s overall population and half of the state’s people of color. Milwaukee’s unemployment rate stands at 6.3 percent while the overall state unemployment rate is 4.3 percent.

Advocates pointed out that the loss of food stamps does not create more jobs, but increases Wisconsin’s food insecure population.

Sherrie Tussler, executive director of the Milwaukee-based Hunger Task Force, a supplier of food pantries, soup kitchens, and homeless shelters with emergency food, told the Wisconsin State Journal that the program will bankrupt the state’s food banks. In October, Tussler sent a letter to DHS Secretary Kitty Rhoades, Walker, and lawmakers asking that the time limit to find work be waived because of the high unemployment rate.

“The Department of Health Services must understand that a substantial increase in the need for emergency food caused by a loss of food buying power (FoodShare) will result in wide scale shortages in Milwaukee,” Tussler wrote in the letter.

“They will bankrupt our food banks,” Tussler told the Wisconsin State Journal.

Some Wisconsin food banks are already seeing an increase in need. Jenny Czerkas, director of the River Food Pantry in Madison, told Rewire that the pantry began seeing a higher volume of clients in the beginning of the summer.

“The changed requirements is definitely the most logical explanation for it,” Czerkas said. “But we’re trying to be more creative with our fundraising efforts and our newsletters. We’re trying to tell people that there’s a bigger need and that the need is increasing.”