As you’re probably aware, shit just got real in Wisconsin. Their Tea Party governor, Scott Walker, created legislation that would eliminate collective bargaining power from the state’s unions. That’s kind of the point of unions: they collectively bargain. So people have been protesting. All the Democratic legislators left the state so that the state government can’t reach the quorum needed to vote on a budgetary measure.
But now that everyone’s had a few days to digest the headliner on this bill, people have started to read through the rest of it and have discovered that it is just all-around awful. For instance! It includes a provision that would let Walker sell the state’s power plants and heating and cooling facilities to anyone at any time for any price. Literally.
The department may sell any state-owned heating, cooling, and power plant or may contract with a private entity for the operation of any such plant, with or without solicitation of bids, for any amount that the department determines to be in the best interest of the state. Notwithstanding ss. 196.49 and 196.80, no approval or certification of the public service commission is necessary for a public utility to purchase, or contract for the operation of, such a plant, and any such purchase is considered to be in the public interest and to comply with the criteria for certification of a project under s. 196.49
Fun facts: the Koch brothers (who are the primary funders of the Tea Party) already own a number of similar facilities in the state. And they were Walker’s second-largest contributor in his campaign. I’ll let you draw your own conclusions there.
A reader sent me another part of the bill that relates to the LGBT community:
[State contracting agencies] shall include in all contracts executed by them a provision obligating the contractor not to discriminate against any employee or applicant for employment because of age, race, religion, color, handicap, sex, physical condition, developmental disability as defined in s. 51.01 (5), sexual orientation as defined in s. 111.32 (13m), or national origin and, except with respect to sexual orientation, obligating the contractor to take affirmative action to ensure equal employment opportunities.
I’m honestly not 100% sure what that means. You can’t discriminate against people applying for a job … unless you disagree with their sexual orientation? I imagine this provision also includes trans* people: even though gender identity isn’t really a “sexual orientation,” they get lumped in when it comes to that sort of discrimination.
The worst part is that this is just what people have uncovered so far. Who knows what we’ll find in that budget bill next? With the Koch brothers busing in Tea Party members to counter-protest and starting websites like Stand With Scott Walker, it seems like they’ve got a pretty big stake in all of this.