Sunshine, Showers, Hungry Badgers and Smoking Guns

In this update: 1. No repeat performances, please 2. It ain’t over 'til it's over 3. A chance for the IRS to be the average taxpayer’s friend 4. How it is and how it should be Sunshine, Showers, Hungry Badgers and Smoking Guns

Email date: 3/16/12

In this update:
1. No repeat performances, please
2. It ain’t over ’til it’s over
3. A chance for the IRS to be the average taxpayer’s friend
4. How it is and how it should be

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No repeat performances, please
What is being described in respectful understatement as “one of the roughest legislative sessions in Wisconsin history” has finally drawn to a close. Thank goodness.

One state senator summed up the final regular day of the session this way: “The legislative session is over and if you feel like you need to take a shower, you’re not alone.”

This legislature certainly was one of the most contentious in memory. After budget actions threw the state into political turmoil, both houses were largely paralyzed and produced little thereafter.

As the legislative session is ending, so is Sunshine Week. But this legislature’s actions served as a forceful reminder that the cause of open government needs more than a weeklong commemoration.

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It ain’t over ’til it’s over
Although this week was the last general legislative floor period and thus marks the end of regularly scheduled lawmaking until after the fall elections, Governor Scott Walker reportedly wants to bring legislators back into special session to pass a mining bill if the votes can be found. Then there is, as Paul Harvey always said, the rest of the story. The fact that the governor turned up recently in Palm Beach, Florida and the fact that a certain mining baron happens to live there might just provide some insight into why Walker wants lawmakers to come back to work.

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A chance for the IRS to be the average taxpayer’s friend
The letters IRS don’t generally summon warm feelings or fond recollections. But the tax-collecting agency has a rare opportunity to do a good turn for American taxpayers. Political groups masquerading as charitable organizations are gaming the tax code to keep the public in the dark about their campaign fundraising while at the same time forcing taxpayers to subsidize the political agendas of the millionaires and billionaires who fund these electioneering operations. Up to now, the IRS has looked the other way. This week the Democracy Campaign gave the agency an opportunity to reverse course and put a stop to this kind of cynical scam. A blog we posted Wednesday – “Will the IRS notice angry badgers with smoking guns?” – lays out how and why the tax collectors should act.

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How it is and how it should be
As the Minneapolis Star Tribune reported this week, Wisconsin’s upcoming recall elections promise to be campaign spending orgies. There is a better way.