State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
With a little less than two weeks still remaining in 2007, Wisconsin has already surpassed the number of traffic fatalities from last year. An increase in the number of motorcycle deaths is being blamed.
The Associated Press reports, “With the busy holiday traveling season still ahead, Wisconsin has already suffered more traffic crash deaths than a year ago, in part because more motorcyclists died, the state Department of Transportation reported Monday. There were 717 people killed on state roads as of Monday morning — 33 more than a year ago at this time, the agency said.”
The Wausau Daily Herald has more details.
As a motorcyclist, I’ve been very concerned about the number of motorcycle fatalities.
My friends at ABATE are also concerned but caution that statistics about motorcycle deaths should be reviewed carefully.
The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (DOT) reports there are about 17,000 vehicle crashes during winter when roads are covered with ice, snow, or slush. The crashes kill, on average, nearly 80 people and injure more than 7,000 people. Many of the accidents occur because people are driving too fast for winter conditions.
With winter on the way, the DOT suggests some tips to remember when driving in inclement weather:
- Stay off roads until they are plowed.
- If you have to venture out, slow down, leave plenty of room between vehicles, and anticipate stops and turns.
- Be prepared for the unexpected. Remember: If there's ice and snow, take it slow.
- Give snowplows plenty of room to work. They're big and hard to see around.
- Don't pass a working snowplow - they can throw up a cloud of snow that could cause a whiteout and disorient you.
- Also, it's tough for snowplow drivers to see you. Don't crowd the plow. Make sure you can see the driver's mirrors so he can see you. Remember, it's the law that you stay at least 200 feet behind a working snowplow.
- And always remember to wear your seatbelt, drive sober, and keep your speed appropriate for the conditions - all essential when winter weather hits.
I’ve updated my biz blog. “Taxes go up, people move out,” appears in today’s Small Business Times.
The state Senate Committee on Education that I serve on held a public hearing on a bill that requires that every school board’s instructional program in state, national, and world history include information on the history of organized labor in America and the collective bargaining process.
I am deeply concerned about the prospect of the state mandating this type of instruction. What’s next? Requiring instruction on the birth of the Republican Party in Wisconsin and how important the Party is to American politics?
The Green Bay Press Gazette shares my concerns. The newspaper editorializes:
“We're troubled by legislation that seeks to mandate curriculum. The same argument for mandating the teaching of the labor movement could be used to promote the history of agriculture, forestry, tourism and papermaking. And so on. There are any number of special interests that can convincingly present the case for the role they've played in the history of Wisconsin.”
Here’s the entire editorial.
This week, the state Senate approved for the second time a constitutional amendment to do away with the Frankenstein veto power of Wisconsin governors. Voters will get to decide on the issue in a statewide referendum April 1, 2008.
Another related constitutional amendment cleared its first hurdle this week when the state Assembly approved Assembly Joint Resolution 34 (AJR 34) on a vote of 91-6.
AJR 34 would prohibit state lawmakers from raiding segregated funds to fill budget holes and prevent funds from being used outside their original intent.
Here is an analysis of AJR 34 from the Legislative Reference Bureau:
“This proposed constitutional amendment, proposed to the 2007 legislature on first consideration, permits the creation of a state fund, or program revenue appropriation account thereof, other than a fund or account related solely to the issuance or payment of public debt or other obligation, only if two−thirds of all the members elected to each house concur therein.
Any state fund, or program revenue appropriation account thereof, created by law before, on, or after the date of ratification of this amendment remains in effect until abolished by law, and the purpose for which the fund or account was created may not be changed by law.
The proposal also provides that a state fund, or program revenue appropriation account thereof, created before, on, or after the date of ratification of this amendment may not be lapsed, transferred, or expended in any manner that would conflict with the purpose of the fund or account. If a state fund, or program revenue appropriation account thereof, is abolished, all unencumbered moneys in the fund or account as of the date the fund or account is abolished are transferred to the general fund of the state.”
After the 2005-07 state budget was approved by the Legislature, Governor Doyle partially vetoed 752 words out of a large section of the budget to create a 20-word sentence. The result was a raid of $427-million from the Transportation Fund to pay for schools, an appropriation the Legislature never authorized.
The 2007-09 state budget transfers $200 million from the state's Patient Compensation Fund to the general fund. The Wisconsin Medical Society is now suing the state because of the raid that could be illegal.
This is the first consideration of AJR 34. The amendment must still pass the state Senate in this legislative session, then be approved by both houses of the Legislature in the next legislative session before going to voters in a statewide referendum.
When citizens pay a tax or fee designated for a specific purpose, they expect the funds will be used in that manner. The use of funds for other programs or services other than those the funding was intended for is a serious breach of faith and trust with the public. These raids are wrong and must be stopped.
I support AJR 34 and will vote in favor of the amendment if it is scheduled for action in the state Senate.