A recent Democracy Campaign report, “Gagging Democracy,” shows wealthy special interests that want to trash local land use, salary and public health laws that cost them money have contributed seven times more to legislative campaigns than groups that oppose preemption laws. Majority Republicans have accepted about 13 times more from special interests that oppose local control than those that favor it.
An aside the report doesn’t identify are legislators who have supported seizing local control even though they represent communities that want their own standards.
Topping the list was Assembly Majority Leader Michael Huebsch of Onalaska. He represents five of the 21 local governments that have passed laws to regulate smoking in bars and eateries, including Onalaska, the city and county of La Crosse, Holmen and West Salem. Yet Huebsch voted in favor of a bill to strike down local smoking ordinances.
It’s probably just a coincidence that Huebsch accepted 75 percent, or $49,544, of his large individual campaign contributions in 2003-04 from special interests outside his district.
Others who voted for the proposed state smoking standard but represent communities with tougher laws include Republican Representatives Leah Vukmir, Dean Kaufert, Mary Williams, Kitty Rhoades, Terri McCormick and Greg Underheim, and Democratic Representative Dave Travis. The proposal awaits action in the Senate.
Six representatives voted in favor of a proposal signed into law by Governor Jim Doyle that prevents communities from setting minimum wages higher than those dictated by the state, even though they represent some of the communities that set higher wages before the new state law. They are Republican Representatives Mark Honadel, Curt Gielow and Vukmir and Republican Senators Dan Kapanke, Alberta Darling and Tom Reynolds.