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We are grateful for all the work you have done the last 48-hours. We are making progress on a number of fronts in getting the arena funding bill passed. We put together a new FAQ below to help keep you informed as to where we stand as of 8:30pm on July 7th— and what to do next. Read on!
Q: Will there be a vote in the Senate tomorrow (Wednesday)?
A: Given that the State Senate has not put this on the calendar yet tonight, the bill might not get introduced and heard tomorrow. However, we wouldn’t necessarily read anything negative into that. The GOP has been bogged down trying to sort out their own issues over the Open Records Law and Prevailing Wage the past 24-hours. We wish that weren’t the case, but it is.
Q: Why are we so focused on the State Senate and not the State Assembly? Both Houses must pass the bill for it to become law–right?
A: What we are being told is that the State Senate has been the sticking point on the arena for some time now. It has been reported that once the State Senate gets things ironed out, they likely will vote on the arena funding bill first. Given that the Senate appears to be the lynchpin and we’ve only got 33 members to lobby there, we are focused on the Senate for now. Also call your Assembly representative, but we’re tracking the Senate at the moment.
Q: Do we have the 17 votes to pass the bill in the Senate?
A: We’re keeping a scorecard at this link over at RealGM. Right now we think there are 12 “Yes” votes with 16 legislators who have either said they are undecided or haven’t definitively said “no”. We need five votes out of the undecided category.
Q: Can we get those five votes?
A: We think so, and we think those five votes have potential to come from this subgroup of eight:
Sen. Mary Lazich R-New Berlin, Sen. Leah Vukmir, R-Wauwatosa, Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, Sen. Jon Erpenbach, D-Madison, Sen. Tim Carpenter, D-Milwaukee, Sen Frank Lasee, R-Door County, Sen. Janis Ringhand, D-Evansville, Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green.
Q: Why did you select those Senators?
A: It is our read of the tea leaves based on the very valuable intel you are reporting when you call these legislators. Your feedback in our twitter feed is extremely important.
Q: What about the four Milwaukee area State Senators? And you have Sen. Chris Larson and Sen. Nikiya Q. Harris Dodd as “yes” votes—is that the case?
A: We’ve gotten enough intel from you, their constituents, that we believe Sen. Larson and Sen. Harris Dodd will ultimately vote for the plan. Especially if you keep calling them. Right or wrong, we are putting them in the “yes” column for the moment. We’ve got faith in them.
The other two Milwaukee area Senators present more of a challenge. Sen. Lena Taylor did a great deal of talking at the Joint Finance Committee yesterday that would lead one to believe she won’t support the arena. That said, we believe in the end she will vote yes. This project is so critical for the City of Milwaukee. The other reason we think she will vote yes is you. If the Bucks were to leave due to failure of the arena bill, with Sen. Taylor voting “no”, she will face massive feedback from her constituents who support this. Massive.
Sen. Tim Carpenter is the other Milwaukee area Senator we need to focus on. We understand Sen. Carpenter’s frustration that he was not part of formulating the bill. Because of this, he’s been highly critical of the plan the past month. That said, tonight on WISN-TV he said that his “constituents don’t support the bill“. To us that sounds sort of like a “George Costanza” excuse because he personally feels boxed in by his earlier comments on the bill itself. We don’t question that some constituents in Sen. Carpenter’s district are against the bill. But we think he’s overstating that opposition perhaps for reasons related to his prior comments. Sen. Carpenter has Miller Park in his district for goodness sakes. His district has benefited tremendously from this type of project.
In the end, we need those of you in the Milwaukee area to call Sen. Carpenter’s office tomorrow at 608-266-8535. The arena and related Park East development is critical for Milwaukee and Milwaukee County. If you are a Milwaukee County resident, we believe you have enough of an interest in Carpenter’s vote for his district office to take the call even though you may not actually live in his district (map here).
Same for Lena Taylor. Call her office at (414) 342-7176. It does us no good for Sen. Larson and Sen. Harris Dodd to vote for the arena only to be canceled out by Sen. Carpenter and Sen. Taylor.
Q: So why are these 4 Milwaukee area Democrats so important?
A: The positions of these four Senators are viewed by GOP legislators as important as to whether they (GOP) support the bill. The belief being why an out-state GOP rep should vote for a $1 billion dollar development project in Milwaukee if the local reps in Milwaukee County won’t vote for it.
We would also hope that Mayor Tom Barrett is calling these four Senators hourly to convince them to vote for the bill. By all accounts, Mayor Barrett did significant negotiation on behalf of the City for this plan. Ditto for County Executive Chris Abele. Again we understand some frustration with being left out of the process until now. That said, this is a bipartisan plan. As we’ve noted many times, the fact people at both ends of the spectrum take issue with aspects of it tells us the deal is fair.
Q: Seems like you’re putting all the pressure on the Milwaukee Democrats?
A: Yes and No. The plan doesn’t make it unless some key Milwaukee area GOP Senators vote for this as well. We’ve gotten good feedback from you that Sen. Leah Vukmir (R- Wauwatosa) will likely vote “yes” but her district neighbor, Sen. Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) still is undecided. Sen. Lazich is needed to put this over the top. Her district map is here and her office number to call tomorrow is (414) 425-9452. Lazich voted against Miller Park. We hope the success of that project can bring her over for the new arena project.
Q: What about Senators you have in the “no” column? Should I call them in the first instance even?
A: Yes. Make the call. First, your calls are bringing over Senators who were leaning “no” as recently as a few days ago. Secondly, by voicing your opinion, it may have the positive effect of lessening the public dissent of said Senators, which will help the process overall.
Q: What more can we do?
A: If you’ve already made your calls, then find two friends or family members who support the arena and the Bucks. Have them read our tutorial (link here) on how to call your legislators and guide them through the process. If each of you can get just TWO more people to call their reps, you’ve increased your influence on the process massively.
We’re close here. Keep the faith and keep the pressure on. Our reps in Madison are listening!
We can foster a new paradigm where a win-win bipartisan project gets done. Something very important for the State, the County and the City. Let’s use this issue to bring us together for once. Republican and Democrat. Liberal and Conservative. Tell your representatives you are tired of the fighting and game-playing from both sides on every issue facing our State. Tell them that you want them to put this in the “win column” and move FORWARD!
This is going to happen because of YOU! These calls are changing opinions.
Your SOB Editor