Conservatively Speaking

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.

Predictions of an error-filled Election Day appear to be true

On February 4, 2008, I agreed with a gloomy election forecast from Dr. Robert A. Pastor, director of the Center for Democracy and Election Management at American University in Washington, DC. I wrote the following:

Pastor says the majority of states have failed to adopt or even embrace reforms that would restore confidence and trust in America’s flawed election system. As a result, Pastor says problems with this year’s elections are inevitable.

The biggest problem according to Pastor will be voter registration lists. The Help America Vote Act (HAVA) of 2002 gave the states until January 1, 2006 to complete integrated, interactive lists. A few states have yet to comply. There has not been a thorough review to determine the quality of the lists. So a number of problems are still likely to occur in this year’s primary and general elections. Pastor also points out ‘about one third of the states have bottom-up databases that rely on counties and municipalities to retain their own registration lists and submit information to the state rather than the other way around. In contrast, top-down lists typically deliver information in real time.’

There are problems with new computerized systems that have replaced archaic punch card and lever voting. A paper trail is necessary in the event of recounts, but Congress has failed to fund and provide voter-verified paper-audit trails. Some states are so concerned that they are thinking about dumping their electronic voting systems in favor of a paper system prior to the November election.”

The Washington Post is reporting that due to mix-ups in voting systems around the country, thousands of eligible voters will be forced to re-establish their eligibility. This November is shaping up to be the most mistake-riddled Election Day in American history.

The Wisconsin State Journal gets it, for the most part

With Governor Doyle predicting a $3 billion deficit in the next state budget, I wholeheartedly agree with positions stated in a Wisconsin State Journal editorial.  The newspaper is right on writing:

"The conclusion is simple: State government has desperately been trying to live beyond its means.

It's time to stop.

It's time to recognize that to put together a sound state budget for the next two years, the governor and lawmakers need a dose of fiscal reality.

They need to get far more serious about setting priorities. The state can no longer afford everything at once…. fee and tax increases should be viewed skeptically. With recession threatening, taxpayers simply cannot afford to contribute more.”

I disagree with this statement in the editorial:

“To be sure, officials should also aim to maximize the state's revenue. Joining the multi-state Streamlined Sales Tax Project to help collect sales taxes from online and catalog sales should be an obvious choice. These are taxes the state is owned but is now unable to collect.”

The Streamlined Sales Tax would be another big, unaffordable tax increase. 

The Wisconsin State Journal editorial comments about it is time to stop are correct and should be taken to heart by Governor Doyle and every state legislator.

Wisconsin school trends

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Pro-choice, but not about light bulbs

There is great concern about the safety of fluorescent light bulbs given that the United States is phasing out the use of traditional, incandescent light bulbs and mandating the use of fluorescent bulbs. Most Americans fail to realize their choice of light bulbs has already been made in Washington.

Part of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 approved and signed into law last year calls for a phasing out of traditional light bulbs beginning in 2012 leading to an all-out ban in 2014 in favor of energy-saving compact fluorescent bulbs or CFL’s. CFL’s contain dangerous mercury. When the bulbs are broken, the mercury escapes into surroundings and must be handled with extreme caution.

Blogger John Lott and others wrote about the story of a Maine woman and her terrible experience with a broken CFL. A Maine Department of Environmental Protection employee came out to her home to check for damage and then suggested to the woman that she call in a firm that turned out to be a clean-up process costing over $2,000.  

Since this well-publicized account, other stories have reported that it is unnecessary for an environmental clean-up firm to respond to a broken CFL. Even so, pray you never break one in your home. The measures to take suggested by the state of Maine, the site of the above-mentioned story, pose one hassle after another.

During March 2008, two dozen members of the House, including Wisconsin Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner introduced the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act. The act repeals the portions of the Energy Independence and Security Act of 2007 that mandate the use of CFL’s unless the comptroller general can offer a report that finds specific financial benefits of using the bulbs, environmental benefits achieved by their use, and evidence that addresses concerns of mercury threats from CFL’s.

On March 14, 2008, the Light Bulb Freedom of Choice Act was referred to the House Subcommittee on Energy and Air Quality. Seven months later, the committee, controlled by Democrats, including committee member Tammy Baldwin (D-WI), has yet to schedule a hearing.

I find it amazing pro-choice Democrats refuse to let Americans decide what kind of light bulbs they want in their own homes.

Your lottery property tax credit could be smaller this year

There will be less money available for the lottery property tax credit this year in Wisconsin. According to the Wheeler Report, the Department of Administration has informed the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee that $119,993,410 will be available for distribution to Wisconsin homeowners this December.  The figure is $9.6 million less than last year’s total.

The amount available for the lottery property tax credit is determined by the gross revenues from the state lottery including ticket sales, retailer fees, and other operating revenues.  The average credit for 2008 will be determined after November 1, 2008 by the Wisconsin Department of Revenue.

Last year’s average credit was $85. The largest credit was $167 during 1992-93 and the smallest credit was $52 during 1998-99.

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