The Capital Times, Madison, July 22

If Ron Johnson wants to honor John Lewis, he should support voting rights

Toward the end of last year, Rep. John Lewis presided over the U.S. House vote on the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019. It was a poignant moment in which one of the great champions of voting rights — the last remaining speaker at the 1963 March of Washington for Jobs and Freedom — led the chamber in moving to restore protections that had been undermined when the U.S. Supreme Court’s Shelby v. Holder decision “gutted” the Voting Rights Act.

Wisconsin Democratic House members Gwen Moore, Ron Kind and Mark Pocan sided with Lewis on that day, while Wisconsin Republican House members Bryan Steil, Mike Gallagher, Glenn Grothman and James Sensenbrenner shamed themselves by opposing what their Democratic colleague from Georgia described as a sacred mission to protect “one of the most important blessings of our democracy.”

Since the House endorsed the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, it has languished in the Republican-controlled Senate for more than 225 days.

When Lewis died July 17, Republicans such as Sen. Ron Johnson rushed to celebrate the congressman’s historic work on behalf of civil rights. But Johnson’s tribute was an empty one. Until the senator from Wisconsin joins the effort to secure full approval of the Voting Rights Advancement Act of 2019, he is failing to honor the life and legacy of John Lewis.

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Kenosha News, July 26

A national honor for connecting with and helping the community

It isn’t every day when a Kenosha County resident is honored on a national stage.

So when Kenosha County Sheriff David Beth received the DARE America law enforcement executive of the year, it didn’t go without notice here.

Department staff nominated Beth for the award, which honors one law enforcement executive a year for his or her work and commitment to the drug education program.

“I can’t think of anyone who would be more deserving,” said Jeff Smith, of the DARE America organization.

Beth, who served as the county’s first DARE officer, has worked with students in elementary, middle and high school in the program for many years. When he became sheriff, he remained committed to the program and even created fundraisers during times of budget cuts.

Speaking after receiving the award, Beth said the program is more than drug education.

“The DARE program is one of the connections that keep law enforcement and children and the community together,” he said.

County Executive Jim Kreuser thanked Beth for his commitment to programs that serve children in the community, including DARE, Boys and Girls Club and the Frank Neighborhood Project. Kreuser said Beth has helped provide programming for “ thousands and thousands” of children.

“Your core values never wavered,” Kreuser said.

Beth has been at the forefront in the battle against drugs and in developing relationships between law enforcement and children

In these times of political battles in states, a virus pandemic and protests about police brutality, it’s good to have a law enforcement executive who stays focused and works for the community.

Congratulations, sheriff.

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The Journal Times of Racine, July 26

New federal relief bill must reduce jobless benefit, add liability protections

While much is still unknown about coronavirus, it appears certain that this virus is not going away any time soon.

Because of that, it’s right that Congress is working on a new coronavirus bill to help the country continue to get through this pandemic.

When the new bill is finalized it should include some liability protection for businesses. It also needs to reduce the $600 weekly unemployment benefit.

The extra $600 per week was supposed to be a serve as a bridge for people to get through the early part of the pandemic. It wasn’t supposed to be a new, long-term income source. For someone getting $200 from the state per week, plus the $600 from the federal government, that adds up to $800 per week or $20 per hour for 40 hours. That is more than many people receiving the benefit normally earn when they were working. And for many the $800 is closer to $900. Help is still needed for many, but the amount needs to decrease.

It’s not sustainable for the federal government and taxpayers, and it’s not sustainable for businesses that are reopening and need their workers back.

It’s also not fair for those essential workers, who are making $10-$15 per hour and have been going to work every day in the midst of the pandemic. They are making less than those who are not working.

There still needs to be help for citizens who are unable to work. But continuing the $600 weekly unemployment bonus, in that amount, is not the answer.

For our economy to move forward, businesses cannot be expected to sit it out and wait another year or two to reopen. To help those businesses reopen, the government needs add incentives to get back to work and to add liability protection into whatever bill it passes.

This past week, 21 Republican governors sent a letter to leaders in Washington advocating for liability protections for businesses, educators and health care workers.

In part the letter read, “When Americans take sensible steps to implement public health best practices, they should have confidence that they will be secure from unreasonable claims. Liability protections must be predictable, timely, targeted, and shield employers from legal risk when following the appropriate standard of care to protect employees, customers and students.”

It goes on to say, “To be clear, liability protections are not a license for gross negligence, misconduct, or recklessness … As public policymakers, it is our duty to provide clarity, consistency, and stability to our citizens and their businesses, and the uniformity that federal law provides is critical to America’s industries that work across state lines.

If a company blatantly ignores the law or knowingly has someone work who has been diagnosed with the coronavirus, and co-workers get sick, then that would be another story. There could be a case there.

But if one person goes into a bar or restaurant, store, school or wherever, and reasonable precautions are taking place, then that establishment shouldn’t be liable if someone gets sick.

Even with the best tracing, it’s nearly impossible to tell definitively where someone caught the virus.

For now people and businesses need to take what precautions they can. But on top of all their other worries, they shouldn’t have to worry about a frivolous lawsuit.