Walker won’t pursue union bills in next session –

Walker won’t pursue union bills in next session

The Associated Press
Updated:   12/15/2012 04:50:32 PM CST

MILWAUKEE—Republican Gov. Scott Walker said labor legislation would be a “huge distraction” from his priorities and signaled he won’t pursue any new bills on public or private unions in the coming legislative session.

In an interview with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel (, Walker said he gave that message to leaders from his party. He said his core priorities are helping the state’s economy, improving schools and training workers.

“This is not a wink and a nod thing. I’m not saying, ‘I’m not going to push it, but you guys go ahead,'” Walker said of lawmakers.

He said it would hurt job growth to have another round of debate like the one that accompanied his plan to repeal most collective bargaining for most public workers.

The topic has been again in the news as Republicans made Michigan a right-to-work state, approving bills that will prohibit requiring nonunion employees to pay unions for negotiating contracts, representing them in grievances and other services.

Walker also said he’s set an extremely high bar for approving a casino for the Menominee tribe in Kenosha. The tribe already has a small casino on its Keshena reservation northwest of Green Bay. All proposals for off-reservation casinos in Wisconsin must be approved by the federal Department of the Interior, which is considering it now, and then Walker.

Walker said a proposed casino would need to have the support

of the local community, which Kenosha arguably has demonstrated in voter referendums. He also said he’d also like consensus among the sovereign tribal nations.

The biggest opposition comes from the Forest County Potawatomi tribe. It operates a Milwaukee casino that had a net win of about $368 million last year but argues that a Kenosha casino would cut its revenue by $150 million a year.

The third factor would be whether a new casino could be squared with 1993 advisory referendums in which voters supported existing forms of gambling but strongly opposed expansions of gambling, Walker said.

“How do you honor that? Does that mean closing an operation on the Menominee (reservation)? We haven’t really had a real measure of where the public is on that,” Walker said.

Closing the Keshena casino would keep the number of gambling establishments the same but would replace a small operation with a much larger one.

The Menominee tribe has been seeking a casino in Kenosha since the 1990s.


Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.comWalker won’t pursue union bills in next session –

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