When Scott Walker formally announces his bid for the presidency on Monday evening, he'll be promising "reform, growth, and safety" — basically things he's been promising for 20 years.
Walker is essentially a career politician, particularly in local and state politics; he spent a decade as a state assemblyman before becoming the Milwaukee county executive. Based on an extensive BuzzFeed News review of his legislative record, Walker's main priorities during those years were tough-on-crime politics, upping punishments for certain types of offenses, legislation to stop abortion and vice, and changing welfare policies in ways that fit pretty squarely under the "reform conservatism" banner.
BuzzFeed News has reported on it, but it bears repeating: Walker staked his reputation as a state lawmaker as cracking down on crime.
He championed the sweeping Truth in Sentencing Act and "get-tough" measures for juvenile offenders. But he also pushed legislation like:
• Walker introduced a bill that would have banned prisoners and guards at state prisons from using equipment or weights for body-building or weight training.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have authorized "a chain gang work program in which inmates are assigned to work away from the grounds of the institution while joined together in a group by a length of chain," and allowed the Department "to restrict the recreation activities and privileges of an inmate who is in the program, subject to the constitutional rights of inmates."
• Walker introduced a bill to make it more difficult for juvenile offenders to petition the courts to expunge their records if the offense would have been a felony if committed by an adult, and would have raised the age from 17 to 21 at which they could attempt to do so.
•Walker introduced a bill that would have required the Department of Corrections "to charge prisoners for the costs of providing postsecondary educational courses or programming."
• Walker repeatedly introduced bills that would have eliminated or chipped away at laws against employment discrimination "based on conviction record," and allowed employers to fire or refuse to hire individuals on such grounds.
Walker also had a big interest in "penalty enhancers" — or, in other words, aspects of crimes committed that would have added to the punishment.
• Walker introduced a bill that created penalty enhancers for violent crimes committed on or within 1,000 feet of a school or school bus. The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that created a distinct penalty for abuse of a "vulnerable adult" resulting in death, and increased the maximum penalty for abuse of a vulnerable adult resulting in significant injury. The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that created a penalty enhancer for sentencing violent felonies committed against people age 62 or older in their residences, increasing the maximum sentence by up to five years. The bill eventually became law.
• Walker co-sponsored a bill that would have imposed mandatory minimum sentences, and eliminated the possibility of probation, for certain serious sex offenses (primarily those involving children and/or authority figures).
Walker backed a series of measures to change the state's welfare system, ranging from a total overhaul to the creation of a tax credit for low-income individuals.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have required applications for general relief or Aid for Families with Dependent Children to be sworn and notarized.
•Walker introduced a bill that would have created a non-refundable individual income tax credit of up to $400 for individuals making less than $12,300 a year.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have exempted pregnant women and those under the age of 19 from the requirement that an individual must have assets below a certain level in order to be eligible for Medical Assistance.
• Walker introduced a bill that eliminated the time limit within which the Department of Veterans Affairs was required to reimburse veterans for the cost of part-time higher education courses. The bill eventually became law.
Walker supported a wide array of anti-abortion legislation, including banning certain procedures outright and prohibiting organizations that receive public funds from affiliating with organizations that provide or advocate for abortion.
• Walker introduced a bill that made performing a partial-birth abortion a Class A felony, punishable by life in prison — excluding cases in which the mother's life is in danger. The bill eventually became law.
•Walker introduced a bill that expanded the legally-required information that must be communicated to a woman seeking an abortion to include, among other things, "the probable anatomical and physiological characteristics of the unborn child" and "the details of the medical or surgical method that will be used in performing or inducing the abortion." The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have limited to parents or legal guardians the authority to sign an abortion-seeking unemancipated minor's "parental consent" form, required that the signature on the consent form be notarized, and eliminated the existing exception to the "parental consent" requirement arising "if a psychiatrist or psychologist states in writing that he or she believes that the minor is likely to commit suicide rather than seek consent or a judicial waiver."
• Walker introduced a bill that would have barred providers and nonprofits that engage in "abortion-related activity" from participating in Wisconsin's "volunteer health care provider program."
• Walker introduced a bill that would have prohibited schools and their employees from "dispensing, prescribing, or administering" contraceptive prescription drugs or devices to pupils.
He also used his post as a state legislator to try and encourage adoption, ranging from extending tax credits to families who adopt children, to a sweeping bill extending legal protections to parents who relinquish a newborn infant into state custody.
• Walker introduced a bill that created a nonrefundable individual income tax credit of up to $800 "for certain expenses incurred relating to the adoption of a child." The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that loosened the regulations concerning adoption services provided by smaller counties and the adoption of foreign or non-marital children.
• Walker introduced a bill that allowed parents to relinquish a newborn child (72 hours old or younger) to law enforcement/government custody. The bill also guaranteed the privacy of all parties involved, prohibited any state employees from attempting to locate or identify a parent who relinquishes an infant, and immunized a parent who does so (and any law enforcement officer who assists in the process) from any related civil and criminal liability in the future. The bill eventually became law.
From repeatedly attempting to ban smoking on the state capitol grounds, to trying to impose new restrictions on the ways that the state lottery could be advertised, Walker was pretty ready to go for legislating against vice.
Here are some of the measures he proposed:
• Walker introduced a bill that would have raised the legal age for gambling from 18 to 21.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have changed obscenity law to specify that either actual or simulated sexual conduct can qualify as "sexual conduct [shown] in a patently offensive way" when determining if materials are obscene.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have prohibited the sale, marketing, possession with intent to use, and use of "masking agents" designed to produce false negatives on drug tests.
• Walker introduced a joint resolution that would have called for an "advisory referendum" on the abolition of the state lottery.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have created an exemption from the requirement that a school official keep confidential a student's disclosure of substance use or of problems arising from substance use, "if the school employee has reason to believe that the pupil revealing the information or a pupil about whom information is revealed possesses alcohol, a controlled substance or controlled substance analog."
He also proposed an array of anti-taxation measures, and repeatedly pushed measures designed to make it more difficult to raise taxes, and proposed tax credits and exemptions of all sorts.
• Walker co-sponsored a bill that would have expanded the income tax exclusion for long-term capital gains, to include "100% of the net long-term capital gains realized from the sale of assets held for at least one year."
• Walker introduced a bill that would have created a tax credit "for businesses that pay tuition for an individual to attend a university, college, or technical college if the individual is enrolled in a degree-granting program."
• Walker introduced a bill that would have created a "tax-me-more" fund, into which any taxpayer could voluntarily contribute, and which was to be used only to reduce the state's revenue shortfalls.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have indexed the state estate tax to the federal estate tax, on the assumption that the federal estate tax would be phased out over the next 10 years.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have exempted all cities, villages, towns, or counties in the state from the excise tax on gasoline or diesel fuel.
Walker backed an array of measures relating to mental health and the mentally ill.
• Walker repeatedly introduced legislation that would have created a new plea/verdict of "guilty but mentally ill," for defendants who were mentally ill at the time of their crime but were still able to understand and control their actions.
• Walker introduced a bill that amended the statue requiring that those placed "protectively" in mental health care be placed in the "least restrictive" care necessary, to require instead the least restrictive care necessary and affordable within specific financial constraints. The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that prohibited anyone not certified by the "psychology examining board" from providing psychological services, and expanded the definition of psychological services to include marriage counseling, psychoanalysis, treatment for alcohol/substance abuse, and more. The bill eventually became law.
• Walker co-sponsored a bill that would have made a number of changes to the law surrounding mental health treatment of minors, eliminating the distinction between minors over and under the age of 14 (current law required minors over 14 to give consent for some treatment, while consent for minors under 14 was to be given only by parents/guardians), and eliminating many rights of minors over 14 to object to their treatment. The bill also would have allowed a minor's parents to have them tested for drugs or alcohol without their consent.
Walker backed a many measures concerning older Wisconsinites -- from a bill that would have exempted individual retirement plan income from taxes, to a measure that would have required background checks on prospective employees at elder-care facilities.
• Walker introduced a bill that required the state college systems "to allow a Wisconsin resident who is 60 years of age or older to audit a course without paying an auditor's fee if space is available in the course and the instructor approves." The bill eventually became law.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have prohibited elder-care facilities from employing anyone with access to patients without performing a criminal background check and a check of the elder-care abuse/negligence registry, brought state guidelines for reporting such abuse into line with federal guidelines, and made the universal $25 65-and-up tax credit only available to seniors below a certain income level in future years.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have exempted from taxation all retirement plan income received by an individual.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have changed the law surrounding nursing home care, replacing the requirement that nursing homes "provide each resident of the nursing home a minimum number of hours of nursing care per day according to the level of nursing care the resident requires" with a required ratio of on-duty nursing staff to the number of residents of the home.
Walker's record on public-sector unions and collective bargaining began early on in his legislative career.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have allowed school districts to hire properly-licensed non-employees to teach, but only after first attempting to collectively bargain with any relevant unions related to the position.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have exempted services provided by part-time, seasonal, and temporary state employees from coverage under the federal Social Security Act, and required the Department of Employee Trust Funds to establish an alternate plan providing comparable benefits for such employees. The bill also would have prohibited these employees from collective bargaining over their exclusion from Social Security or their participation in the new alternate plan.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have prohibited employers or labor unions from giving employees more money for the express purpose of making political contributions, discriminating on the basis of a failure to give a political contribution or support a particular political position, withholding pay for the purposes of making a political contribution without the written consent of the employee, or using any monies obtained from non-members to make political contributions without express authorization.
• Walker co-sponsored a joint resolution that honored AFL-CIO leader Jack Riehl for his "service [...] to working men and women."
And finally, Walker backed term limits, early voter ID laws, and other electoral measures.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have made it illegal (and punishable by a $1,000 fine) to knowingly disseminate information that a candidate for elective office had answered a verbal or written question in a certain way, if the candidate had not actually done so.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have required anyone attempting to register or vote at the polls on election day (or applying in-person for an absentee ballot) to present a valid photo-ID, and eliminated corroboration by another voter from the same municipality as a valid form of identification.
• Walker introduced a joint resolution that would have begun the process of amending the state constitution to impose 12-year-consecutive-service term limits on state officeholders/members of the state's congressional delegation.
• Walker introduced a bill that would have eliminated the requirement that Milwaukee have a county executive, instead allowing that "any county may, by resolution of the board or by petition and referendum, create the office of county executive. In addition, the office may be abolished by petition and referendum."
Ilan Ben-Meir is a political reporter for BuzzFeed News and is based in New York.
Contact Ilan Ben-Meir at email@example.com.
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