Democrats Prepare For Legislative Battles In Next Session

Assembly Minority Leader Anticipates Proposed Changes To State Elections Board, Right-To-Work

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca. Photo: Peter Gorman (CC-BY-NC-SA).

After last month’s elections increased Republican majorities in the state Legislature, Democrats expect a fight over issues including elections oversight and the minimum wage in the coming session.

Republican leaders have said they plan on taking up legislation like right-to-work laws that would weaken unions. They also have plans to make changes to the Government Accountability Board, which oversees state elections.

Minority Leader Peter Barca said he’s especially concerned about proposed changes to the GAB.

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“I mean, the last thing we need in this state is to take our election and ethics watchdogs and turn them into lap dogs for the Republican party,” said Barca.

Gov. Scott Walker, for his part, has said that changing the Board and getting rid of its director is not on his radar. Walker has made similar comments about right-to-work legislation, but hasn’t said he’d veto a bill if it passed.

Barca said that in the meanwhile, his party will have to work hard to “connect the dots” — in other words, help voters realize that Democrats are more attuned to their values.

For example, Barca said a disconnect was evident in November advisory referendums on the minimum wage. Support for that measure didn’t necessarily translate into votes for Democratic candidates .

“We didn’t connect the dots because people are still voting for people who will never vote for a minimum wage increase,” said Barca. “And so it’s a challenge that we have reaching those people and getting them to understand who’s trying to build the middle class, and who’s trying to bring down the middle class.”