WI legislative tricks, schools target racial achievement gap, high-cap wells approved, AG Schimel helps top GOP supporter in court case, and voting — not for everyone?

Of note: This week we highlight the latest story in our series, Undemocratic: Secrecy and Power vs. The People. We detail the ways in which the Wisconsin Legislature enacts major new policies and spending with little notice to the public. Among the tricks: anonymous and last-minute budget amendments and “Body Snatcher” bills in which the bill number stays the same but its contents are radically changed. Spooky.

WisconsinWeekly is produced by Dee and Andy Hall, a couple who founded the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism. Dee is the managing editor and Andy is the executive director.

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Last-minute surprises and secretive moves hide Wisconsin lawmakers’ actions from public view

Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism — October 28, 2018

The Center’s CV Vitolo-Haddad and Dee J. Hall shed light on the stealthy maneuvers that Wisconsin legislators have increasingly used since voters swept Republicans into power in 2010. The moves include last-minute amendments to budget bills without public notice, anonymous budget motions (often numbered 999) containing an assortment of changes not related to spending and so-called “Body Snatcher” bills that change the scope and impact of a bill after its public hearing has been held. Earlier from WCIJ: After Gov. Scott Walker took office, bills moved faster through the Wisconsin Legislature

Wisconsin’s largest school districts join in effort to target black-white achievement gaps

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — October 29, 2018

In an effort to narrow their schools’ black-white achievement gaps, 28 principals from Wisconsin’s largest school districts will participate in a 10-month program designed to help them recognize and address inequities in their schools and bias in themselves. The Wisconsin Urban Leadership Institute is one of 10 across the country. It is part of a joint effort led by the nonprofit Wallace Foundation, the Council of Great City Schools and the National Urban League. Previously from WCIJ: Wisconsin’s black-white achievement gap worst in the nation despite decades of efforts

Wisconsin permits wells in areas judge ruled pumping would harm trout streams

Wisconsin State Journal — October 30, 2018

In the continuing battle over the state’s groundwater, Wisconsin has dealt a blow to lakes and streams, and trout may be a casualty, say environmental advocates. The Department of Natural Resources has approved applications for high-capacity wells in areas that a judge last year ruled too risky for trout streams. The reversal comes after Attorney General Brad Schimel declared that the DNR did not have the authority to evaluate the wells’ potential cumulative impacts. Previously from WCIJ: Groundwater war pits Wisconsin farms against fish

What if everyone voted?

New York Times — October 29, 2018

Over the past decade, states’ voting rules have been sharply diverging. While some states have expanded early voting and registration options, others have increased ID requirements, and voters have very different voting experiences as a result. “Underlying that reality,” says The New York Times’ Emily Badger, “is an increasingly partisan split over whether it should be a goal at all in America to get more people to vote.” If all U.S. demographic groups voted proportionately, she reports, our election results would be very different.  Previously from WCIJ: Voter ID linked to lower turnout in Wisconsin, other states; students, people of color, elderly most affected

Wisconsin joined top GOP donor in California court case

Wisconsin State Journal — November 1, 2018

The Wisconsin State Journal reveals that Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General Brad Schimel submitted a friend-of-the-court brief last year in support of a lawsuit by Americans for Prosperity. The conservative group is suing the state of California over its requirement that such groups report their donors for tax purposes. The group is spending $5.8 million to support Republican candidates in Wisconsin’s upcoming election, including Walker, prompting Democrats and democracy advocates to accuse the two of acting in their party’s interest  — at taxpayers’ expense.

Wisconsin Watch

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.