The Wisconsin spring primary election will be held tomorrow, Tuesday, February 16. Polls will be open from 7 am to 8 pm statewide. Photo identification is required to vote.
UW-Madison professor Ken Mayer and others in the Political Science Department will study how voter identification rules affect the length of time it takes to cast a vote and work with local clerks to improve efficiency in future elections.
A primary election for the Wisconsin Supreme Court is the only statewide race on the ballot. Supreme Court Justice Rebecca Bradley faces challengers Joe Donald, Milwaukee County Circuit Judge and JoAnne Kloppenburg, State Court of Appeals Judge. Governor Scott Walker appointed Bradley to the court in October following the death of Justice David Prosser. The top two vote-getters will face off on Tuesday, April 5.
The United States Supreme Court ruled 6-3 last night to block implementation of Wisconsin’s voter identification law. Further action on the case is not expected until after the November election, meaning voters will not need to show identification at the polls next month.
Last month, a panel of the Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Wisconsin’s law could be implemented while the court considered the constitutionality of the law. Opponents of voter identification legislation filed an emergency request to block the law with Supreme Court Justice Elena Kagan, the justice responsible for the Seventh Circuit. Kagan took the case to the full court, which ruled last night. The court must now decide whether or not to hear the case.
The ruling is here.
PROFS opposed this legislation.
Last week, the United States Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit reinstated Wisconsin’s voter ID law (2011 Wisconsin Act 23), which had been on hold since first signed into law in 2011. The three member judicial panel found that recent changes made by the state to ease the process to obtain a free photo ID made the law acceptable.
The ruling means that all voters must show a valid form of photo identification in order to cast a ballot:
- Wisconsin driver’s license
- Wisconsin photo identification
- University of Wisconsin voter identification
- United States passport
- United States military identification
- Federally-recognized tribal identification
UW-Madison will begin issuing voter identification cards at the Wiscard office in Union South next week. The new ID is for voting purposes only and does not replace the Wiscard. More information is here. UW System’s student voting guide is here.
Voters may obtain a Wisconsin photo identification card at their local Department of Motor Vehicles office, and may apply to receive an approved identification card even if they lack the appropriate documents. DMV has said they will to process requests for identification without documentation in about 7 business days. More information is here.
Voters who vote absentee must show photo identification if voting in person or separately mail a photocopy of photo identification.
Opponents of the law have asked the full ten-member appeals court to reverse the law and suspend voter ID until a decision is rendered. They argue the application process is cumbersome and may take too long for voters to receive an approved ID. In addition, several thousand absentee ballots have been mailed without instructions about voter ID, complicating an election process already underway.
PROFS registered against AB 7, legislation that became the state’s voter ID law in 2011.
2015-17 Biennial Budget
Last month, Governor Scott Walker directed state agencies to prepare their 2015-17 biennial budget requests, and the Board of Regents approved UW System’s budget proposal last week. The proposal includes $95.2 million for the “Talent Development Initiative,” the implementation of new performance measures, and statutory language changes related to compensation, including the ability to offer merit pay increases.
Budget request highlights:
- $30 million for a competitive grant program targeting six areas critical to the state’s economy: agriculture, finance, insurance/real estate, healthcare, manufacturing, transportation, and water research.
- $27.3 to cover a pay plan funding gap. Historically, UW System funds about 30 percent of a pay plan increase with tuition dollars. The two-year tuition freeze has led to a funding gap, with many campuses holding insufficient reserves to cover the pay plan.
- $24.4 million to increase the number of college graduates statewide, with much of the funding directed to the Course Options program, a program that allows high school students to earn college credits. Additional funding would expand the Flex Option degree program, improve the credit transfer system, and assist working and first-generation college students.
- $22.5 million in one-time funding to assist with the creation of STEM (science, technology, engineering, and math) jobs. The money will be available to individual campuses through a competitive grant process.
The budget process is lengthy, beginning with formal introduction in January and final passage in late June. PROFS will be involved throughout the entire process and communicate regularly with faculty.
Last spring, Governor Walker announced an additional two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition. The governor said his proposal was a direct result of the disclosure that UW System would finish 2013-14 fiscal year with almost $1 billion in reserve. The governor first called for a tuition freeze after UW System was found to have just over $1 billion in reserve.
Governor Scott Walker faces challenger Mary Burke, former Secretary of Commerce and Madison School Board member. Earlier this week, former UW-Madison professor Charles Franklin released a new poll showing the race continues to be a toss-up.
The legislature will experience its largest turnover since the 1970’s. Six state senators and 21 members of the assembly announced their retirement earlier this year. The fall primary was held earlier this month, and the outcome of one primary — the 17th Senate District — is still unclear.
Governor Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen recently asked a federal court to reinstate the voter identification law that was passed two years ago, but never enforced as a result of several state and federal court challenges. Many legal experts believe the current federal challenge will keep the law on hold through the fall elections. PROFS lobbied against voter ID legislation.
The Wisconsin Supreme Court will issue opinions on three extremely high profile cases tomorrow morning, Thursday, July 31:
Act 10 The court will rule on the constitutionality of Act 10, a law that severely restricted collective bargaining by most public employees. Several lawsuits followed passage of the bill, but the law has been upheld every time, including in federal court. The state court is considering whether Act 10 violates workers’ rights to free assembly and equal protection under the law.
Voter ID The court will consider two cases that argue the state’s voter identification law is unconstitutional. One lower court struck down the law, while another has upheld it. Tomorrow’s ruling will not affect an earlier federal ruling that found the law unconstitutional and is being appealed.
Domestic Partnerships The court will rule whether or not the state’s domestic partner benefits passed in 2009 violate Wisconsin’s constitutional ban on gay marriage and civil unions passed three years earlier.
The 2013-14 regular legislative session ended last month and attention has shifted to fall elections.
PROFS was very active in the legislative process, registering positions on bills and maintaining regular contact with key legislators and staff on important issues like compensation, faculty governance, and funding for the university.
Classified Research AB 729, a bill that will allow classified research on UW System campuses, was signed into law. PROFS registered in favor of this bill.
Financial Reserves The legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance approved a revised plan for managing and disclosing UW System cash balances and fund reserves on May 6. The legislature directed UW System to develop a plan as part of the 2013-15 biennial budget (Act 20), and the Joint Committee on Audit requested additional changes after a plan was presented to them on November 20, 2013. The Board of Regents and audit committee approved those revisions, but the finance committee voted for several changes.
The finance committee-approved plan requires individual campuses that hold more than 12 percent of their total fiscal year expenditures in reserve to provide justification to the regents and submit a spending plan for tuition, auxiliary operations, general operations, and unrestricted program revenue. Campuses are not required to hold a minimum fund balance, but campuses with a deficit must report a savings plan to the regents. The plan approved by the regents and audit committee required minimum reserves of 10 percent and the reporting threshold was triggered when funds exceeded 15 percent of expenditures.
HR Design The legislature’s Joint Committee on Employment Relations approved new personnel plans for UW-Madison and UW System. The legislature directed the university to develop plans to be implemented by July 1, 2015 as part of the 2011-13 biennial budget, but never approved them. Chancellor Rebecca Blank told the committee she plans to request the authority to award merit raises, which are not currently allowed under state statutes.
Tuition Freeze Governor Scott Walker proposed an additional two-year freeze on University of Wisconsin System tuition. The governor said his proposal was a direct result of the recent disclosure that UW System will finish the current fiscal year with about $1 billion in reserve. Last year, the governor called for a two-year tuition freeze after the university was found to have just over $1 billion in reserve.
Voter ID Wisconsin’s voter ID law (2011 Wisconsin Act 23) was struck down April 29. United States District Judge Lynn Adelman wrote in his decision the law places an undue burden on minorities and the poor and violates the Voting Rights Act. Adelman’s ruling bars enforcement of the law. Governor Scott Walker said last month he could call the legislature into special session if the law was overturned, and State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen said he will appeal the decision. PROFS registered against AB 7, legislation that became the state’s voter ID law in 2011.
Fall Elections The legislature will experience its largest turnover since the 1970’s. Seven state senators and 22 members of the assembly have announced they will not run for reelection. Legislators must declare non-candidacy by May 23, and nomination papers must be filed by June 2.
The Legislative Reference Bureau has prepared a bulletin on tenure and turnover in the Wisconsin Legislature between 1940 and 2012.
United States District Judge Lynn Adelman struck down Wisconsin’s voter ID law (2011 Wisconsin Act 23) today, saying the law places an undue burden on minorities and the poor and violates the Voting Rights Act.
Adelman’s ruling bars enforcement of the law, which was also found unconstitutional by a Dane County judge. That decision was overturned last year and ultimately appealed to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. Members of the court heard arguments on challenges to the law in February. A decision is not expected until later this summer.
Governor Scott Walker made passing voter ID legislation a legislative priority when elected and said last month he could call the legislature into special session if the law was overturned. State Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen also said in a statement today he will appeal the decision.
PROFS registered against AB 7, legislation that became the state’s voter ID law in 2011.
The Assembly Committee on Campaigns and Elections will vote today on a bipartisan proposal that would increase campaign finance contribution limits but allow online voter registration in the state. The hearing begins at noon in Room 417 North of the…
A Wisconsin Appeals Court upheld the state’s controversial voter ID law today. The ruling reverses an earlier decision by Dane County Circuit Court Judge Richard Niess. The full decision is here.