MADISON (WKOW) – Democrats in the House and Senate are divided over how to approach the issue of raising the minimum wage as part of the COVID-19 relief plan.

After the Senate parliamentarian ruled that wage language could not be included in the bill, more liberal Democrats sought to push the wage hike forward, ignoring the decision.

More moderate members of the party, including Rep. Ron Kind (D-La Crosse), have said they could agree to withdraw the pay rise and resume it later as his own bill.

“I don’t think this will be part of a final bill, but it still gives us time to work in a bipartisan fashion to raise the federal minimum wage,” Kind said. “Because, right now, $ 7.25 is a disgrace.”

While the bill would immediately raise the minimum wage to $ 9.50 an hour, then hit $ 15 by 2025 through annual increases, Kind said he still had concerns about the steady rise. small businesses, especially in rural areas of its western district of Wisconsin.

“We recognize that it has to be a transition,” Kind said. “It cannot be done overnight because it would be too shocking, especially for our small businesses.”

A congressional budget office report found that the measure would increase federal spending by $ 54 billion by 2031. Much of that spending increase was based on an estimated increase in the prices of goods and services resulting from rising wages.

Regarding the $ 1,400 relief checks for Americans earning less than $ 75,000 a year, Kind said he would have preferred a more targeted approach.

“For the sake of speed, we didn’t have time to make this type of adjustment,” Kind said. “But, personally, I think more average testing was warranted.”

Kind told La Crosse Tribune in a forum earlier in the week that he was opposed to the cancellation of student debt of up to $ 50,000. He maintained this position, saying it wouldn’t be fair to those who paid off their debts and added that it would also create uncertainty about what to do with prospective students.

“What do you say to the previous generations who took out student loans, worked hard and paid them off, and then suddenly the students later saw all their debts written off? Kind asked. “There is a feeling of injustice there.”

Kind said he is considering a candidacy for the US Senate in 2022, but is focusing on the short-term work of providing pandemic relief and overseeing efforts to vaccinate people before variants of COVID-19 is not becoming widespread.

“It’s all over the bridge in DC,” Kind said. “But, on the road, I’m sure we’ll take a look at this.”

Johnson faces criticism from the right

Republican Senator Ron Johnson gained national attention throughout the week after his questioning of former Capitol Building Police Chief Steven Sund during a hearing on the Jan.6 insurgency.

Johnson chose to use much of his time reading the testimony of a right-wing writer who claimed, based on body language he observed that day, that the instigators of the attack understood “provocateurs” and “false Trump supporters”.

James Wigderson, editor of the conservative Right Wisconsin site, criticized Johnson’s adherence to conspiracy theories. Wigderson said he believed Johnson was among the GOP lawmakers serving the most staunch supporters of former President Donald Trump’s party.

“I think there is a fear of the Republican base right now,” Wigderson said. “The Republican base does not want to hear that it is the supporters of Trump who [were behind the Capitol riot]. They don’t want to hear, even want to hear that Trump lost the election and Johnson bowed to that base rather than telling the truth. “

Wigderson said his greatest concern was the gravity of the savage and unfounded claims pushed by the far right; In convincing millions of Americans that their candidate had the election stolen, Wigderson said it opened the door for the type of extreme response the country experienced on Jan.6.

“The type of conspiracy theories the Republican Party is adopting right now is the type that undermines a democracy,” he said. “Because they’re the kind of people who say if everything is illegitimate then that justifies everything you do.”

Wigderson said his inbox these days is about a “50-50” mix of Tories who have said they are ashamed of the party leadership and that the livid Wisconsin right will criticize Republicans instead of Liberals.

Wigderson cited the Recent Waukesha County GOP Screening from Mike Lindell’s film claiming, through the use of demystified evidence, the election was stolen from Trump.

As to whether he himself regrets any of his past writings and whether they may have contributed to the resentment a number of conservatives feel, Wigderson said he wished he could go back a decade and push back the birthing movement that claimed former President Barack Obama. was not born in the United States.

“I never announced this theory, I never promoted this theory but at the same time, I probably should have done more to criticize this theory,” Wigderson said. “We can draw a direct line from this to the current paranoid political theories that currently exist within the Republican Party.”

Wisconsin Republican seeks to change absentee voting rules

GOP lawmakers circulated a total of ten proposals last week that would place new restrictions on how people can vote in Wisconsin. Most of the proposed bills put in place new rules on how voters obtain and submit postal ballots.

The measures would require voters to provide proof of identity each time they seek to vote by mail, would require those seeking “indefinite confinement” status to both present proof from a medical professional years, would limit where voters can get a mail-in ballot and provide additional documentation for those who wish to vote early in person.

Language restricting the use of indefinite detention was particularly troubling to advocates of the disability community.

“Many disabled and elderly voters fear using this option, even though it is perfectly legitimate,” said Denise Jess, CEO of the Wisconsin Council of the Blind & Visually Impaired.

Jess said she believed outside of 2020 when use of the provision allowing voters to avoid showing photo ID has increased dramatically statewide Amid the pandemic, voters with disabilities were more likely not to apply for status even if they were qualified.

“People get really nervous about it. They worry if they are considered confined indefinitely, if they go out to church or to the grocery store, does that count as confined indefinitely? “Jess said. “So we know that in general our people may underuse this very important provision.”

Republican sponsors of the bill said the measures would remove any doubt about the safe use of postal voting.

Democratic Governor Tony Evers has indicated he will veto any bill he says makes it unnecessarily more difficult for citizens to vote.

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