Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Critical Political Reform Issues to be Explored at March 18th Beloit Forum

Press Release
March 13, 2013

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


Monday Evening, March 18th

6:30 - 8:00 PM

Beloit College - Science Center Atrium
801 Pleasant Street, Beloit, WI

Over the last two years, Wisconsin – a state the eminent American Jurist and Supreme Court Justice Louis Brandeis characterized 100 years ago as the nation’s “laboratory of democracy” – has undergone tumultuous change in the way it conducts elections and considers public policy. As a result, the core political fabric of Wisconsin – once heralded as a national model – has been dramatically transformed.

Are these changes detrimental to our state’s political process or were they needed and will they improve it?

In 2011, Wisconsin experienced the most secretive, partisan redistricting process the state has ever seen – resulting in dramatically less competitive voting districts for both the U.S. House of Representatives and for the Wisconsin Legislature. Should redistricting be taken out of the hands of partisan legislators and put into the hands of a non-partisan entity to draw congressional and legislative voting districts before the next redistricting process in 2021?

Tens of millions of dollars were spent by outside interest groups on advertising leading up to last fall’s general election. But the citizens of Wisconsin are still in the dark about who was really behind much of this avalanche of “outside” campaign cash and the constant barrage of interest group “phony issue ads” we saw during the election season.

Is this lack of disclosure a protection of "free speech" or is it a perversion of democracy? Do citizens have the right to know who is paying for these ads?

And what about Wisconsin’s photo voter ID law – arguably the most extreme and restrictive such measure enacted into law in the nation in 2011? For now, it has been blocked by the courts. But is it needed? Is there really voter fraud or is this a voter suppression measure?

Prior to 2011, public financing of statewide and legislative elections helped ensure that our legislators and our state’s highest court were beholden to the public rather than private interests with deep pockets. Yet last year, Governor Walker opted to gut the state’s public financing system, while at the same time, increasing the limit on individual campaign contributions to Supreme Court candidates from $1,000 to $10,000!

With so much outside money flowing into Wisconsin's Supreme Court races, should we continue to elect or consider appointing our State Supreme Court Justices?

And finally, the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2010 decision in Citizens United vs Federal Election Commission allows corporations, labor unions and other interest groups (and their "Super PACs") to use unlimited money from their general treasury coffers to flood our airwaves with negative messages, giving them far greater influence on the outcome of elections. How has the Citizens United decision affected Wisconsin and does it matter?

These vital reform issues will be the focus of discussion in Beloit this coming Monday evening during one in a series of "reform forums" held across the state by Common Cause in Wisconsin:

"What Ever Happened to Good Government
in Wisconsin?
And How Can We Fix It?"
Panelists will include:

State Senator Tim Cullen (D-Janesville)
Former State Senator Tim Weeden (R-Beloit)
Bill Barth, Editor of the Beloit Daily News
Political Science Professor Georgia Duerst-Lahti of Beloit College
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin

History Professor Beatrice McKenzie of Beloit College will serve as Moderator.

Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively discussion.

Full details can be found here.

Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Is it possible to have JATV record this for a Channel 12 viewing audience? I'd love to be there but have another commitment.