Tag Archives: bipartisan

Wisconsin Dems look to make gains in Legislature

Come Election Day, all eyes in Wisconsin will be on the presidential race between Donald Trump and Hillary Clinton. But voters face a choice likely to shape their lives closer to home — whether to hand Republicans or Democrats control of the state Legislature.

Here are the key things to know about state legislative races:

WHO CONTROLS THE LEGISLATURE RIGHT NOW?

Republicans have had complete control of state government since 2011, when Scott Walker won the governor’s office and the GOP won majorities in the both the Senate and Assembly. The GOP enters Election Day with a 63-36 advantage in the Assembly and a 17-14 edge in the Senate.

WHY IS CONTROL SO IMPORTANT?

The majority sets the political agenda. Walker isn’t up for re-election until 2018, so if the GOP keeps both houses they’ll be able to pass anything they can agree on and Democrats will be powerless to stop them for the next two years. If the Democrats wrest control of either house, they can block Walker’s initiatives and create gridlock in Madison. The Legislature’s first task will be putting together the state budget; divided control could delay the spending plan’s approval beyond the beginning of the next fiscal year in July.

DO THE DEMOCRATS HAVE A SHOT IN EITHER CHAMBER?

Not in the Assembly. All 99 seats are up, but Republicans’ majority appears insurmountable. Seventeen GOP incumbents don’t even have opponents.

Things look a little brighter for Democrats in the Senate. Eight seats are in play, including five held by Republicans and three by Democrats. The Democrats need to take six of those eight to win the majority.

DO ASSEMBLY DEMOCRATS BELIEVE THEY CAN MAKE ANY HEADWAY?

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca has his sights on three open seats. He’s banking Mandy Wright can defeat Republican Patrick Snyder for a seat representing north-central Wisconsin. Wright held the seat until she lost it to Republican Dave Heaton in 2014. Heaton is not running for re-election. He also has high hopes that Dennis Hunt can beat Republican Rob Summerfield for an open seat representing northwestern Wisconsin and Scott Nelson can defeat Republican Shannon Zimmerman for an open seat representing the Hudson area across the border from Minnesota’s Twin Cities.

As for targeted GOP incumbents, there aren’t many. Democrats want to unseat freshman Todd Novak in southwestern Wisconsin’s 51st district and two-termer Kathy Bernier in the 61st, which includes parts of Eau Claire, Chippewa and Clark counties.

WHAT ABOUT THE SENATE?

Democrats have targeted an open seat in the 18th Senate district, which includes parts of Winnebago and Fond du Lac counties. Democrats have put their faith in Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris to defeat Fond du Lac Republican Dan Feyen. Walker signed a bill earlier this year barring county executives from serving simultaneously in the Legislature, which means Harris would have to trade his $102,800 county job for a $50,950 senator’s salary. Democrats complained the bill was designed to make Harris quit the race but Harris has refused to drop out.

Democrats also believe Sen. Luther Olsen, a moderate Republican from Ripon, Sen. Tom Tiffany of Hazelhurst, who made a name for himself by writing a bill that relaxed Wisconsin’s iron mining regulations, and Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls are vulnerable.

HAVE REPUBLICANS TARGETED ANY SENATE DEMOCRATS?

They’re going after the Democrats’ most powerful figure in the chamber, Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling. She faces a challenge from Dan Kapanke for her seat representing the La Crosse area. Shilling took the seat from Kapanke during the 2011 recall elections spurred by anger over Walker’s public union restrictions.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Republicans also are targeting Julie Lassa, who represents the Stevens Point area, and Dave Hansen, who represents the Green Bay area.

Fitzgerald said he believes support for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump will ripple down the ballot and help the state GOP. He predicted Republicans will come back with 19 seats again this session.

Aid for wrongfully convicted could make open records problem

A bill that would increase compensation for people wrongly convicted of crimes has open records advocates worried over what it would do to court records.

The bipartisan bill from Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, and Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, would help the wrongly convicted with up to $50,000 per year spent behind bars, plus transitional services and access to state health insurance.

Another provision requires a court to seal all records related to the conviction if it’s requested by the person freed. Open records advocates say that would make it hard to examine the case to figure out where it went wrong.

“Do we really want to hide from public view the court file in cases where an injustice was done by the justice system?” said Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council president Bill Lueders.

Lueders pointed to the recent “Making a Murderer” Netflix documentary series about Manitowoc County native Steven Avery, who served 18 years in prison for sexual assault before he was exonerated. A few years after his release, Avery was sentenced to life in prison for the 2005 death of photographer Teresa Halbach. Under the current bill, Lueders said, much of the information about how the sexual assault case was handled would not have been public, giving Avery sole discretion on what to divulge.

“Sealing it all up conceals not only the fact that it happened, but also the misconduct that occurred in the case,” said Madison media law attorney Robert Dreps.

Hebl said he’s a strong supporter of open records and transparency, but in the case of people who were wrongly convicted, the records can hurt their chances to remake their lives.

“The fact that they’ve gone through this horrible travesty of judgment and spent so much time in prison for something they didn’t do, I think it’s incumbent upon us to give them some reasonable rights,” Hebl said.

The state Assembly passed the bill unanimously Tuesday and the Senate could take it up this week.

Lueders is pushing for the Senate to remove or amend the language on records. Hebl said he hasn’t heard from any legislators interested in doing that.

Hebl noted defendants could share their records with the public or with media if they want, but Dreps said giving that right only to defendants raises First Amendment concerns.

“I don’t sacrifice my constitutional rights to a defendant’s whim,” Dreps said.

He instead suggested attaching a note to any court records or online records when a case is overturned. Lueders said for most of those, shielding information won’t help with the reputation of the person involved. Many are high-profile cases with extensive media coverage that would still live online.

“You’re not going to make it go away by hiding certain court records,” Lueders said.

Human trafficking cases rise in Wisconsin, U.S.

New data show a 17 percent increase in the number of human trafficking cases handled in Wisconsin in 2015 and an increase of 24 percent nationwide.

Polaris, a leader in the global fight to eradicate modern slavery, released data earlier in February from the National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline and the BeFree Textline. The organization’s numbers do not represent the full scope of the problem, but rather the incoming calls for help.

There were 50 cases of human trafficking reported to the hotline from Wisconsin in 2015, including 45 cases of sex trafficking and three cases of labor trafficking.

In 2014, Polaris reported 43 cases of human trafficking from Wisconsin.

Since 2007, the organization has received reports of 205 cases in the state.

Nationwide, the increase in the number of cases was larger — 24 percent from 2014 to 2015 and an increase of 519 percent since 2008.

There were 5,973 cases of human trafficking reported to the hotline and the BeFree textline in 2015. Most of these cases involved reports of sex trafficking and about 30 percent of the survivors or victims were identified as U.S. citizens.

“From the domestic servant forced to work for little pay who required emergency shelter to the young girl made to sell sex online against her will who texted us for crisis support, survivors of human trafficking are reaching out to the national hotline more than ever,” said Bradley Myles, CEO of Polaris. 

Also, recent research by Northeastern University funded by the National Institute of Justice found that posting the number to the hotline in public areas is one of the most effective ways to increase the number of human trafficking arrests. The hotline has collected more than 6,500 tips since 2007.

Myles said, “More survivors calling the national hotline means more women, children and men are being connected to life-changing support through the incredible work of more than 3,000 service-provider partners across the country.”

In Wisconsin, those partners — prosecutors, police officers, social workers, educators, victims advocates, lawyers and other professionals — have begun meeting as a task force to address eradicating modern-day slavery. The task force consists of 37 members representing public and private agencies and is co-chaired by Wisconsin Attorney General Brad Schimel and Department of Children and Families Secretary Eloise Anderson.

At the task force’s first meeting in late 2015, the attorney general’s office shared the case of a 15-year-old girl rescued from sex-traffickers by Department of Justice agents. Undercover officers found information for the girl, missing from her home for months, posted on an Internet site under “escort.” 

“We challenged everyone in the room to make this a true working group — one that works to improve training, law enforcement, prevention, awareness, advocacy, resources for victims seeking help, sensible legislation, counseling and other direct services to survivors, housing for survivors and aftercare,” Schimel said after the meeting.

Task force members emphasized their work on this issue requires putting aside partisanship and politics.

“We have an amazing multi-disciplinary group from all across the state,” Schimel stated. “If anyone can accomplish something, it is this group.”

A month after the task force’s first meeting, legislators introduced SB 618, legislation intended to make certain that child victims of human trafficking can access services. Through a loophole in the law, child victims of human trafficking are not automatically eligible for services made available to victims of child abuse. 

The measure also would require the reporting of suspected abuse — child prostitution and sex-trafficking — to a law enforcement or social services agency, possibly leading to earlier intervention in cases.

The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held a hearing on the measure on Feb. 1.

On the line

The National Human Trafficking Resource Center hotline is 1-888-373-7888. Reach the Polaris BeFree textline at 233733.

Recognition in Racine

Karri Hemmig on Feb. 2 received the first “Unsung Hero Award” from Racine Mayor John Dickert for her work with the Racine Coalition Against Human Trafficking. “I don’t know that people realize that for years, Karri worked without a salary to make sure the lives of our women and men, boys and girls who have become victims of human trafficking are rescued from a perilous future,” Dickert said.
— L.N.

Poll: Veterans reject Koch brother’s push to privatize VA health care

A poll released just before Veterans Day shows veterans don’t support the push by Concerned Veterans for America, a Koch brothers front group, to private the VA health care.

CVA is pressing the Republican candidates for president to take up its call to replace the VA health care system with a voucher system.

The poll released on Nov. 10 and published in the Military Times shows two-thirds of veterans surveyed oppose a voucher system.

The poll also showed that 57 percent of veterans surveyed would be less likely to support a candidate who backed “privatizing the VA health care system.”

The poll was conducted for Vet Voice Foundation by Lake Research Partners and Chesapeake Beach Consulting, with a goal of having bipartisan results.

The survey found a majority of veterans opposed to privatization, regardless of party, age, or branch of military.

Demand clean, open gov’t

Differences of opinion are inevitable in government. Disagreements between Democrats and Republicans over public investments, funding for schools or the fairness of our tax code are common.

Despite these differences, everyone can agree that an open, transparent and accessible government is essential to democracy.

Throughout Wisconsin’s history, both Democrats and Republicans have supported laws to protect citizen access, prevent political corruption and maintain high ethical standards.

Unfortunately, this historical bipartisan agreement is nearing an end.

Republicans who control the Legislature in Madison are pushing a package of bills that severely limit the ability of Wisconsin citizens to have their voices heard and hold officials accountable.

These bills follow the recent attempt by Gov. Scott Walker and legislative Republicans to gut Wisconsin’s open record laws. These misguided efforts to limit disclosure of public documents were abandoned only after newspapers, media outlets and citizens responded with overwhelming opposition.

Now, less than three months after the failed attempt to restrict open record access, the GOP is using an end-run tactic to rewrite long-standing campaign finance, ethics and anti-corruption laws.

Walker privately signed the first of these bills, Senate Bill 43, into law on Oct. 23. This law makes it more difficult to prosecute political corruption by exempting politicians from Wisconsin’s John Doe criminal investigation laws.

A second bill completely rewrites Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws allowing corporations to contribute directly to political parties and eliminating important disclosure requirements. The sweeping changes in this bill go beyond the controversial Citizens United Supreme Court decision and will result in even more TV ads, robocalls and special interest attack mailers during campaign season.

Finally, a third Republican proposal dismantles the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections and ethics laws. The board would be replaced with political appointees using a flawed model that encourages partisan bickering and gridlock rather than actual oversight.

Taken together, these bills make sweeping changes to many long-standing good government protections. This trio of bills is so troubling that one prominent government watchdog group recently called it “a massive, coordinated blitzkrieg on democracy and transparency.”

At a time when students, families and seniors across Wisconsin continue to face serious challenges, we should be focused on strengthening our state’s economy and improving financial security.

These misguided attacks on Wisconsin’s long-standing, bipartisan tradition of open and clean government are a threat to our democratic institutions and will only serve to further polarize Wisconsin’s political environment.

Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling represents the 32nd Senate District. 

Senators press leadership to extend student loan program

Wisconsin Democrat Tammy Baldwin and 53 colleagues pressed the Senate leadership in late October to extend the federal student loan program that expired on Sept. 30.

The House unanimously voted on Sept. 28 for an extension but the Perkins loan program expired with the new fiscal year due to Senate inaction.

Baldwin, Democratic Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania and Republicans Susan Collins of Maine and Rob Portman of Ohio led a bipartisan coalition in sending a letter to Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and Minority Leader Harry Reid demanding reauthorization of the program. 

The letter was signed by 54 members, including 11 Republicans, demonstrating a bipartisan majority supports an extension.

Since the program expired more than a month ago, senators twice attempted to reauthorize the loan program with a “unanimous consent” request.

The Perkins program has existed with bipartisan support since 1958 and has provided more than $28 billion in loans to students in all 50 states. In the last academic year, more than 500,000 students received $1.1 billion in loans, according to Baldwin’s office.

The program provides low-interest loans to help low-income students finance the costs of post-secondary education at about 1,700 participating institutions.

In Wisconsin, Baldwin said the program “provides more than 20,000 low-income students with more than $41 million in aid, and it is my top priority to fight to ensure it continues for generations to come.”

University of Wisconsin System president Ray Cross said in a statement that the program helped about 15,800 of the system’s students go to school in 2013–14, providing nearly $29 million in loans. The program helps about one in every 11 students enrolled in the UW System.

“The expiration of the Federal Perkins Loan Program today is a loss for students in the University of Wisconsin System and across the United States,” Cross said. “We will continue to work with our delegation and others in Congress to explore any alternative avenues to maintain the program.”

Baldwin urged the Senate leadership to “heed this bipartisan call” and immediately act to reauthorize the program.

U.S. Sen. Ron Johnson, R-Wis., also signed the letter, which said, “Thousands of current and future students face uncertainty and hundreds of institutions are struggling to find another way to help their neediest students afford their education.”

Senators reach deal on criminal justice overhaul

A bipartisan group of senators has reached a long-sought agreement on changes to the criminal justice system that would reduce prison sentences for certain non-violent drug offenders.

In the deal struck between some of the Senate’s most conservative and liberal members, judges would have the discretion to give sentences below the mandatory minimum for non-violent drug offenders. Some current inmates could get their sentences reduced by as much as 25 percent by taking part in rehabilitation programs, if they are deemed a low risk to offend again.

The bill would eliminate mandatory life sentences for three-time, non-violent offenders.

The bill was unveiled yesterday. It would exclude violent offenders, sex offenders and inmates convicted of terrorism charges. Members of organized crime syndicates and major fraud offenders would also be excluded.

The package, which was years in the making, should have momentum in the Senate. It was negotiated by some of the most powerful senators.

The White House hasn’t commented on the bill. But in July, President Barack Obama became the first president to visit a federal prison while in office. He called for changes in the criminal justice system, saying a distinction had to be made between young people doing “stupid things” and violent criminals.

Among the senators’ goals: make the sentencing system fairer, reduce recidivism and contain rising prison costs.

Since 1980, the federal prison population has exploded, in part because of mandatory minimum sentences for non-violent drug offenders. In 1980, the federal prison population was less than 25,000. Today, it is more than 200,000.

“My childhood was spent hearing, ‘Just say no to drugs,’ and look, the thought behind that movement had merit,” said Holly Harris, executive director of U.S. Justice Action Network. “But unfortunately, we went too far.”

Harris, whose group has been pushing for an overhaul of the criminal justice system, said she was encouraged by how broad the proposal is. She said the political climate has changed dramatically from the 1980s and ’90s, when many politicians were afraid to appear weak on crime.

“In my book, this isn’t a tough vote,” Harris said. “People are educated on this and they want these reforms.”

Among the Republican backers of the bill: Sen. John Cornyn of Texas, the No. 2 Republican in the Senate; Sen. Chuck Grassley of Iowa, chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee; Sen. Mike Lee of Utah; and Sen. Lindsey Graham of South Carolina, who is running a longshot campaign for president.

Among the Democrats: Sen. Dick Durbin of Illinois, the No. 2 Democrat in the Senate; Sen. Chuck Schumer of New York, the No. 3 Democrat; Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse of Rhode Island; and Sen. Cory Booker of New Jersey.

The bill would require all eligible inmates to undergo regular assessments to determine the likelihood of committing another crime. It would not authorize any new spending. But it would encourage inmates to take part in rehabilitation programs and other productive activities, such as working prison jobs.

Inmates deemed to be a low risk for a repeat offense could get their prison sentences shortened by 10 days for every 30 days they participate in a rehabilitation program. These inmates could serve the last part of their sentences in community-based programs in which they would be supervised by authorities.

The bill would reduce enhanced penalties that apply to repeat drug offenders. However, the penalties would still be applied to offenders with prior convictions for violent and serious drug felonies.

Illinois House approves statewide rules for police body cameras

Illinois could soon establish statewide rules for the use of police body cameras, but the proposed legislation would not require officers to have the devices.

A package of police reforms passed the Illinois House on May 28 with a 107-3 vote and was headed back to a Senate committee.

Supporters of the bipartisan package say it is designed to help improve relations between police departments and the community.

Many of the ideas in it came in response to killings by police in Ferguson, Missouri., and elsewhere. Backers of the Illinois measure said the state would be the first in the country to implement statewide rules for police body cameras.

However, the cameras aren’t seen by all as a magic solution for solving difficulties between law enforcement and the public.

“These cameras will not be the panacea that many people think they will,” said Sean Smoot, director of the Police Benevolent and Protective Association of Illinois. “They’re not going to be the Pandora’s box that officers fear.”

Smoot serves on President Barack Obama’s Task Force on 21st Century Policing, which recently released a report featuring several recommendations that were incorporated into the Illinois measure.

The body cameras run all the time, but officers have to push a button to start recording. Videos would not be subject to viewing by the public except in notable cases, according to the measure, which also mandates how long the videos would be kept and when the camera needs to be turned on or off.

The proposal also prohibits police from using chokeholds, except when deadly force is justified.

Last year, a grand jury decided not to indict a New York City officer who used a prohibited chokehold in the death of Eric Garner.

Other reforms include requiring independent review of officer-involved deaths and annual training for officers. It also clarifies the state’s eavesdropping law.

Medical marijuana bill offered in U.S. Senate

U.S. Sens. Rand Paul, Cory Booker and Kirsten Gillibrand, standing this week with patients, their families and advocates, announced their sponsorship of new bipartisan legislation to allow the use of medical marijuana in states where it is legal without fear of federal prosecution.

The Compassionate Access, Research Expansion and Respect States Act would reschedule marijuana from a Schedule I to Schedule II drug to recognize it has accepted medical use, and would amend federal law to allow states to set their own medical marijuana policies, according to a news announcement.

The bill also would allow VA doctors to prescribe veterans medical marijuana to treat serious injuries and chronic conditions.

The legislation would not legalize medical marijuana in all 50 states. Instead, it would respect the states that set their own medical marijuana programs and prevents federal law enforcement from prosecuting patients, doctors and caregivers in those states, according to the senators.

Currently, 23 states plus the District of Columbia have legalized medical marijuana.
 
“For far too long, the government has enforced unnecessary laws that have restricted the ability of the medical community to determine the medicinal value of marijuana and have prohibited Americans from receiving essential care that would alleviate their chronic pain and suffering. I am proud today to stand with Sens. Gillibrand and Booker to introduce a bill that will fundamentally change our nation’s drug policies and have a positive impact on the lives of our Veterans and children,” said Paul, a Republican from Kentucky.
 
“We need policies that empower states to legalize medical marijuana if they so choose — recognizing that there are Americans who can realize real medical benefits if this treatment option is brought out of the shadows,” stated Booker, a Democrat from New Jersey. “Doctors and patients deserve federal laws that are fair and compassionate, and states should be able to set their own medical marijuana policies without federal interference.  I am thankful to Senators Gillibrand and Paul as well as the Drug Policy Alliance for their hard work on this common-sense bill to make medical marijuana accessible to the millions of Americans who could benefit from it.”

Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York state, added, “Current federal law turns its back on families in need of this medicine, which doctors want to prescribe to ease pain and suffering. Senators Booker, Paul and I agree that it’s time to modernize our laws and recognize the health benefits of medical marijuana. The CARERS Act will no longer put politicians between doctors and patients. It will let doctors do their job and give parents every available option to comfort their children.”
 
The senator’s say the CARERS Act would:

• Amends the Controlled Substances Act so that states can set their own medical marijuana policies. The patients, providers and businesses participating in state medical marijuana programs will no longer be in violation of federal law and vulnerable to federal prosecution.
 
• Reschedule marijuana from Schedule I to Schedule II, recognizing “accepted medical use” of the drug. Marijuana is currently listed as a Schedule I drug, meaning it does not currently have accepted medical use in the United States. The CARERS Act moves it to Schedule II, recognizing what Americans already know: marijuana has a legitimate medical purpose.
 
• Amends the Controlled Substances Act to remove specific strains of CBD oil from the federal of definition of marijuana. This will allow youth suffering from intractable epilepsy to gain access to the medicine they need to control their seizures.
 
• Provides veterans access. Doctors in Department of Veterans Affairs facilities are currently prohibited prescribing medical marijuana. The CARERS Act would allow VA doctors to recommend medical marijuana to military veterans.
 
• Permits financial services and banking for marijuana dispensaries. Right now, medical marijuana business is a cash business. The CARERS Act provides a safe harbor to banks and credit unions, their officers and employees that provide financial services to marijuana-related businesses that engage in activities pursuant to state law.
 
 • Expands opportunities for research. The CARERS Act removes bureaucratic hurdles for researchers to gain government approval to undertake important research on marijuana.
 
The Institute of Medicine of the National Academy of Sciences conducted a two-year review of data and found widespread agreement that medical marijuana can treat nausea, pain and anxiety. A conclusion from another study through the University of California found evidence that medical cannabis can treat certain types of pain syndromes caused by injury or diseases of the nervous system, and possibly for painful muscle spasticity due to multiple sclerosis.

“I am so happy to support this bill. As the mother of a child with a severe seizure disorder, anxiously waiting to get access to a medication that is already helping thousands of others is unbearable,” said Kate Hintz, a New York resident who has advocated for CBD to treat her daughter and others to treat epilepsy and seizures. “After persistent advocacy in my home state of New York, we finally saw a medical marijuana law passed last summer.  Yet individual state’s laws, including New York’s, will not succeed until we lift the current federal restrictions surrounding this plant. I applaud Senators Gillibrand, Booker and Paul for taking this bold step forward and insisting the federal government take action.  Let’s end the fear and stigma associated with marijuana, and instead allow this bill to provide research, medicine, and long needed relief to so many. It cannot come fast enough, especially for my daughter.”

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Republican mayors urge passage of LGBT nondiscrimination bill

A group of Republican mayors — including Appleton Mayor Timothy Hanna — is encouraging the GOP-led House to pass a bill to ban workplace discrimination against LGBT people.

The Log Cabin Republicans, a gay GOP group, announced the endorsement of the Employment Non-Discrimination Act, which passed with bi-partisan support in the U.S. Senate but then stalled in the U.S. House, where Republican leaders have refused to allow any action.

In recent weeks, support has fizzled for the bill among civil rights leaders concerned about its broad religious exemptions, especially in light of the U.S. Supreme Court’s ruling in the Hobby Lobby case that businesses can have religious beliefs.

However, the president, Senate leaders, Democrats in the House and some advocacy groups want to see ENDA enacted this year.

To reach that goal, Log Cabin Republicans launched a campaign to collect endorsements from Republicans across the U.S.

“In a workplace environment, people should be judged on their merit and the quality of their work product,” Mayor Brian Smith of Irvington, New York, said in a news release on July 30. “This is an issue that started for me 40 years ago when one of the greatest Mayors, Ed Koch, was pushing for this while he was in Congress. The fact that it hasn’t been passed in 40 years is a disgrace. I believe history will look poorly on anyone who doesn’t support ENDA, whether it’s 50 years from now or 10 years from now. America is — and should be — a place where the freedom to be who you are should not be a barrier to your ability to have a job and provide for your family.”

Log Cabin Republicans executive director Gregory T. Angelo said, “Right now, in a majority of states, there are no state laws prohibiting an employer from firing or refusing to hire someone simply because of their sexual orientation or gender identity. It is time for the House to hear the message of these Republican mayors: pass ENDA now and give all hard-working Americans the workplace protections they deserve.”

Republican mayors backing ENDA include, in alphabetical order:

• Scott Avedisian of Warwick, Rhode Island.

• Robert Blais of Lake George, New York.

• Dale Berman of North Aurora, Illinois.

• Jim Brainard of Carmel, Indiana.

• William Brown of Riverton, New Jersey.

• Kevin Burns of Geneva, Illinois.

• Frank Catalina of Peekskill, New York.

• Suzette Cooke of Kent, Washington.

• John Dennis of West Lafayette, Indiana.

• Nicholas DeSantis of New Stanton, Pennsylvania.

• Mark Epley of Southampton, New York.

• Timothy Hanna of Appleton, Wisconsin.

• Sophie Heymann of Closter, New Jersey.

• Scott Kaupin of Enfield, Connecticut.

• Marvin Natiss of North Hills, New York.

• Michael Nohilly of Interlaken, New Jersey.

• Sarah Reinhardt of Spring Park, Minnesota.

• Angelo “Skip” Saviano of Elmwood Park, Illinois.

• Sarah Sherwood of Abbeville, South Carolina.

• Brian Smith of Irvington, New York.

• Jill Techel of Napa, California.

• Pam Triolo of Lake Worth, Florida.

• Bruce Kennedy of Sea Cliff, New York.