Empower Wisconsin | Jan. 20, 2020
MADISON — This week’s Tools are puppets.
Dem Reps. Steve Doyle of Onalaska, Beth Meyers of Bayfield, and Don Vruwink of Milton, in May broke with their party and voted for legislation that would have made it easier to become a Certified Nursing Assistant in Wisconsin.
Funny how the times have changed.
In November, Gov. Tony Evers’ vetoed the bill, sparking a Republican-led veto override attempt.
The three lawmakers last week abandoned their original support — some would argue their principles — and sided with their governor and their party to uphold Evers’ veto. Those three votes would have opened the door to the first veto override in Wisconsin since the mid-1980s.
The bill would lower nursing aide training requirements from the state’s stricter 120 hours to the 75 hours permitted under federal regulations. It was supported by health care groups and advocates such as the Wisconsin Assisted Living Association and Mayo Clinic Health System.
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) worried about the three amigos caving to political pressure despite the critical health care workforce need. Steineke in particular urged Vruwink to “again vote to do what’s right by his constituents, and not yield to strong-arming that would turn him from a representative to a party puppet.”
Looks like Vruwink and the other two vote shifters went with party puppet.
On the Assembly floor, Vruwink said he’s had a change of heart since his original vote, the result of his brother’s bout with cancer and the hospital treatment it required.
“I want the best care for him. He deserves it,” Vruwink said. “And so I’m not going to get bogged down or feel guilty because from what I observed my opinions might change. Because what’s most important to me is that my loved ones have the best care that they can get.”
Perhaps, but Vruwink didn’t just vote for the bill, he has co-sponsored it.
And the argument that 45 hours more of government-required training significantly affects quality of care collapses under the facts. At least 19 states follow the federal training standards, including Minnesota, which boasts some of the highest health care rankings in the nation.
Doyle offered the same excuse for supporting Evers’ veto, insisting he changed his vote because the bill was “not a silver bullet.” Not a silver bullet? What the hell is a “silver bullet” in legislation, particularly health care legislation?
Steineke had it right: these vote-changing Dems are political puppets. We like to call them tools.
And collectively, Doyle, Meyers and Vruwink are Empower Wisconsin’s Tool of the Week.