cur-mud-geon: anyone who hates hypocrisy and pretense and has the temerity to say so; anyone with the habit of pointing out unpleasant facts in an engaging and humorous manner
The third edition will begin with Rep. Wasserman's response since Senator Darling batted lead-off last edition:
Do you support the right of properly-trained and screened citizens to carry a concealed weapon? If so, why and if not, why not?
The devil is in the details on this one. Our Constitution protects the right to bear arms. We also have a State Supreme Court ruling upholding the right to protect ourselves in our homes and our businesses.
Logically there must be some way of transporting guns in between these two places. I feel very strongly that we could have passed a bill, but the last couple of times we voted on concealed carry, extremists on both sides of the issue refused to compromise.
Yes. The concealed carry bill debated in the legislature last session would have permitted individuals to carry a concealed weapon only after passing a criminal background check and completing a training and safety course.
One under-appreciated aspect of this debate is the 2003 ruling of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in Wisconsin v. Hamdan. In that decision, the court ruled that a business owner had a constitutional right to have a concealed weapon at his business for his protection and defense.
Understanding that there are likely to be additional challenges to the current law banning concealed weapons, the Court asked the legislature "to consider the possibility of a licensing or permit system for persons who have a good reason to carry a concealed weapon."
Without that system, additional court decisions striking down the ban on concealed carry may ironically lead to what opponents of the bill fear most - the ability for anyone to carry a concealed weapon anywhere in Wisconsin, with no limits on eligibility, no requirements for safety or training and no registration.
Still, I would not support this bill if the result would be an increase in public incidents of violence. Fortunately, we can look to the experiences of 48 other states that already have concealed carry laws (with millions of permit holders over many decades) that have not seen licensees contribute to increased levels of gun violence. Rather, as a group, permit holders have proven to be remarkably law-abiding. I find it particularly telling that no state has ever repealed its concealed carry law, which speaks to the fact that the safeguards inherent in these permitting systems work as intended. I do not expect that Wisconsin permit holders would be any less responsible or trustworthy.
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A. What would you do to cause technical colleges to be more responsive to the taxpayer? B. And, do you support Germantown's expected petition to move from the MATC tax district to either the MPTC or WCTC districts?
A. I support legislation to make technical college board members elected, not appointed. Local elected representation is critical. Any board that gets to levy a tax should be accountable to the taxpayers.
B. I've long been a supporter of local control. Madison doesn't always know best, and if I wanted to be a local official making local decisions, I would run for local office. And as with membership of technical college boards, this should be a local decision.
A. I would make technical college board members elected officials. Unelected technical college boards are one of the last few entities with the authority to tax without any direct accountability to taxpayers. Members of technical college boards are named through a convoluted appointment process that sets aside seats based on race, gender and employer. These unelected technical college boards have lately been approving property tax hikes that vastly outpace the tax growth of other local governments who, not coincidentally, are run by elected officials.
That is why I introduced a bipartisan bill that would end the insulating appointment process for technical college board membership and replace it with an election process similar to most other local government positions. The rationale is simple. I believe technical college board members would feel more pressure to lower their taxing and spending if they had to answer directly to the voters who foot the bill.
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Once again, I want to thank both Rep. Wasserman and Sen. Darling for their participation. We are looking for other reader questions, so please don't be bashful.
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One last item for today: we have received Assembly Candidate Randy Melchert's commitment to participate in a similar 'debate' that may be a bit lopsided unless he has an opponent. So far, there is no indication of any other activity on either the Republican or Democrat sides of the aisle. The seat in the 24th District has long been thought to be a solid Republican seat, but one would think this might be the time that gets tested.
Since we don't know how Randy Melchert sees all the issues, it seems appropriate to have this discussion even if he remains unopposed.