In Wisconsin, Legislators Listen to Grassroots and Manufacturers

From The Associated Press, “Assembly Democrats back away from liability change,” reporting that Wisconsin Assembly Democrats have voted to remove Gov. Jim Doyle’s budget proposal to expand joint and several liability, which would encourage deep-pocket lawsuits against businesses and others.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, an NAM affiliate, has been leading the fight against the provision sought only by trial lawyers and their political beneficiaries and a serious threat to the Wisconsin’s already struggling economy.

“It’s the classic victory for grass roots lobbying,” said James Buchen, vice president of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, the state’s largest business lobbying group. “If enough people make enough calls and write enough letters, legislators will do what the people want them to do.”

Darn right. WMC is on the mark in terms of policy, but it also has its act together in organization and PR efforts. On the front page of its website,, is a June 10th column from its president, James Haney, “Defining Moment in Wisconsin State Government.”

In comparison, the latest news release on the website for the trial lawyers, the Wisconsin Association for Justice, is dated April 23. Not very good when you’re trying to plead your case.

There’s more education and persuasion to come. Senate Democrats may have other ideas than their brethren in the other chamber, and the joint and several provision — why is it in the budget? — is far from dead.

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