Committee sends a message to Congress

BY BILL GUIDA
bguida@kenoshanews.com

The City Council’s Public Safety and Welfare Committee voted 4-1 to approve resolutions calling for congressional action.

Voting Rights Act

The first, introduced by committee member Alderman Anthony Kennedy, asks Congress to “re-effectuate the preclearance provision of the Voting Right Act of 1965.”

Before joining Kennedy in the majority vote, Alderpersons Chris Schwartz, Michael Orth and Rocco LaMacchia Sr., signed onto the resolution as co-sponsors.

Kennedy’s resolution was triggered by last month’s Supreme Court decision effectively striking down the heart of the Voting Rights Act, freeing nine states, mostly in the South, to change their election laws without advance federal approval.

The court divided 5-4 along ideological lines. At the core of their disagreement was whether racial minorities continue to face barriers to voting in states with a history of discrimination.

Citizens United

The second, introduced by Alderman Curt Wilson, asks members of Wisconsin’s Legislature, Gov. Scott Walker and congressional members of the House and Senate to amend the Constitution to bar corporate wealth from unduly influencing elections.

Wilson’s resolution was triggered by the Supreme Court’s 5-4 2010 decision in the Citizens United vs. the Federal Election Commission case holding it unsconstitutional to ban free speech through the limitation of independent political communications by corporations, associations and unions.

In commenting to the committee, Wilson said: “Let the voices of everyday people be heard. ... Eliminate the ‘dark’ money ... where millionaires can donate undisclosed amounts of money” without any reporting requirements.

Alderman Kevin Mathewson, the lone dissenter in both votes, said he agreed with the principles espoused in the resolutions, but he felt they were out of the Council’s purview and that “our time is better spent on other issues” involving the city.

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