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UW-L professor jokes he’s re-teaching civics because of Wisconsin’s hyper-politicization, as GOP’s expected to bail on special session without debate

Rick Solem

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For the first time since mid-April, the Republican-controlled Wisconsin state legislature will meet, after Gov. Tony Evers called a special session.

Evers wants the Legislature to meet Monday, and take up nine bills related to  police policies and training, which were proposed back in June.

Don’t expect much, University of Wisconsin-La Crosse political science professor, Dr. Anthony Chergosky, said Friday on La Crosse Talk PM.

Chergosky

“What we’ve heard, is that when the Wisconsin State Senate gavels in on Monday, it’s just gonna gavel right out,” Chergsoky said. “So, it doesn’t appear like any action in response to Kenosha, or any action in response to criminal justice reform more broadly, is particularly imminent.”

The gavel in-gavel out strategy seems to be the game plan again for Republicans, who do not wish to express any opinions such things.

“It’s not fashionable nowadays,” Chergosky said on actually debating in government. “That’s just how things are done right now, and I don’t think that’s a particularly effective, or a transparent way to go about lawmaking.

“Election year politics are, for sure, are going to play a role in whatever decisions are made,” Chergosky added, hinting no decisions will be made.

Debate, hearing from experts, seeing how those voted into office feel about Evers’ bills would be something the public might find interesting.

“In theory, we would like to have deliberation, right?” Chergosky said. “And we would like to have some debate on these issues.”

In fact, Chergosky joked he almost has to re-educate his students on how government works — or doesn’t work — anymore.

“That’s one thing that I have to do in my classes,” Chergosky said. “I have to unwind a lot of that, sort of, classic civics, high school knowledge from students — how American government works. 

“It just doesn’t apply in this era of intense partisanship and brinkmanship that we have.”

Chergosky was bothered when he saw some news outlets talk about how the Milwaukee Bucks strike had forced the Legislature to meet and make some decisions in Madison on matters surrounding Kenosha.

“That’s not at all what happened,” Chergosky said. “The legislature is required to go into session when a special session is called by the governor, but they are under no obligation to debate any proposal or vote on any proposal.”

He added the governor knows this is the game. It was the game months ago, too, when Republicans gaveled in and out of a special session on gun legislation back in November without putting their opinions on record or voting on any measures.

“I think Tony Evers is aware that Republicans aren’t going to take any action,” Chergosky said. “I think the point of calling a special session is to generate public attention and to try to generate public pressure,” Chergosky said.

Chergosky has also pointed out before that there is no worse place for issues like this than in Wisconsin.

“The trends you see see nationwide — hyper-partisanship and polarization — those trends are in Wisconsin, but just on steroids, compared to what they’re like nationwide,” he said. “I mean, we definitely see that in the relationship between the governor and the legislature.”

The idea from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos gave to create a task force, was another thing brought up with Chergosky, who said it’s sort of an illusion of making an effort to do something.

“Sometimes people feel that, with setting up a task force, it’s just when you want to avoid the issue, you want to delay action,” Chergosky said, noting Democrats were pointing that out on Vos right away. “. 

“But, of course, Vos was saying, ‘We need to deliberate. We need to bring people together. We need to gain information about this.’ But, sometimes task forces are what you do when you want to maybe stall a little bit.”

Host of WIZM's La Crosse Talk PM | University of Wisconsin-Stevens Point graduate | Hometown: Greenville, Wis | Avid noonball basketball player and sand volleyballer in La Crosse