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Author: Wisconsin Watch

How bad bills become law: Fast tracking makes state legislative process less participatory

The length of time bills were deliberated dropped significantly soon after Governor Scott Walker and Republican legislators took control in 2011, diminishing the public’s opportunities to influence lawmaking, records and interviews show. An analysis of all bills enacted into state law over the past two decades shows an overall decline in deliberation time — with the most dramatic drop happening just after Walker took office. In Walker’s first two years in office, average deliberation time was 119 days, compared to a 20-year average of 164 days. During that 2011-12 session, one out of every four bills, including some of...

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Democracy in Decline: Wisconsin residents feel discontent with state and federal government

Seven years ago, at age 73, Sheila Plotkin stepped onto the glossy tiles of the Wisconsin State Capitol with a protest sign in hand and her husband by her side. She saw a sea of law enforcement. Due to increased security, police officers escorted the couple and other members of the public to the Senate. There, Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald was signing a contempt order for 14 Democratic senators who fled the state to avoid voting for the controversial budget repair bill — later called Act 10 — that all but ended collective bargaining rights for public sector employees...

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Security experts warn Wisconsin’s voting systems can be hacked

Even machines disconnected from the internet can be breached, demonstrations have shown — but state and local officials say not to worry. Visiting Wisconsin on June 28, President Donald Trump tweeted “Russia continues to say they had nothing to do with Meddling in our Election!” It was not the first time the president cast doubt on Russian interference in the 2016 election, contradicting conclusions of the FBI, CIA and National Security Agency, as well as reports by bipartisan committees in both chambers of Congress. But Russians have been testing the vulnerability of elections in Wisconsin and other states for...

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Local parents forced by Wisconsin Legislature to work for FoodShare benefits

The Republican-run Legislature has expanded the work mandate to parents of school-age children and increase requirement to 30 hours a week. Jim McLaughlin is an instructor at Just Bakery, located in a one-story brick building on Madison’s East Side. McLaughlin, a burly man in a white apron, works for a program that partners with Dane County to help unemployed people earn college credit and certification as commercial bakers. McLaughlin said the goal of Just Bakery is not necessarily to churn out more bakers. Instead, his mission is to train people to hold down a job. “Our goal is to...

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Suspicious patterns in frequent Wisconsin lottery winners points to fraud

Since 2009, Khalil Audi of Cudahy, Wisconsin, has cashed in lottery tickets 33 times to the tune of about $80,000. His $10,000 win from Badger Cash Blowout? A one-in-72,000 chance. When he bought a $30 Super Millions scratch-off ticket, he had a one-in-200,000 shot of winning $5,000 — the same odds as giving birth to conjoined twins. But that ticket cashed, too. With wins as recent as 2017, Audi’s luck has not run out. Along the way, he has won Pick 4 a handful of times. Audi’s wins are surprising, but he is not even the luckiest person in...

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Brain injury proof piles up while Wisconsin football players downplay warnings

Doctor of ‘Concussion’ movie fame and former Badger, NFL player Chris Borland, agree: It is time to get honest about the dangers of brain injury in sports. It was a freak hit — a blow to the back of University of Wisconsin fullback Austin Ramesh’s helmet by an opposing Illinois player. Ramesh described being “a little dazed” as he walked off the field. He had suffered a concussion in Wisconsin’s Oct. 28 matchup against Illinois and ended up missing a week of practice and the next game against Indiana. Ramesh, a senior who had gotten used to violent collisions...

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