Wisconsin Assembly majority leader Jim Steineke has refused to schedule votes on any resolutions proposed by Democrats — including resolutions recognizing Pride Month, Wisconsin Motherhood Month, and Gun Violence Survivor Day — apparently in retaliation for Rep. Francesca Hong’s statement on the Assembly’s failure to recognize Black History Month.
Steineke is co-chair of the Assembly’s Racial Disparity Task Force.
On May 11, the Assembly passed a resolution recognizing APIDA (Asian, Pacific Islander and Desi American) Heritage Month. Rep. Francesca Hong, the first Asian American to serve in the state legislature, issued a statement thanking her colleagues for their support of the resolution and describing its importance.
The statement also acknowledged the Assembly GOP leadership’s refusal to schedule a vote on a resolution formally recognizing February as Black History Month.
“Today, as an original author of this resolution and as the first APIDA legislator in Wisconsin history, I am also weighed down by the sadness of this moment,” Hong wrote. “I acknowledge that my joy will never be complete if my Black colleagues and Black Wisconsinites continue to see the resolution honoring Black History Month denied on the basis of hatred and racism.”
Since then, at least three requests to schedule votes on resolutions have drawn a terse response from Steineke chief of staff Rusty Schultz which reads, “Acknowledging receipt of your scheduling request. Please see the attached and consult with your leadership team with any questions you might have.” Attached to the emailed response in each case is a copy of Hong’s statement.
Two such emails from Schultz have been provided to and confirmed by Madison365.
Steineke’s office did not immediately respond to email or telephone requests for comment or clarification on the connection between Hong’s statements and the proposed resolutions. This story will be updated if Steineke or a representative respond.
A representative from Minority Leader Gordon Hintz’s office said she was unaware of any Democratic-proposed resolutions that had been scheduled for votes since May 11.
In a press release issued Thursday, Hong said, “The work of tackling systemic racism is one of the most important issues facing Wisconsin. That work includes identifying and confronting oppression where it exists, including within the Legislature itself. As state leaders, we cannot refuse to talk about this issue because it feels uncomfortable. Silencing this conversation disregards the lived experiences of Wisconsinites in every community.”
Also in the press release, Rep. Marisabel Cabrera, the lead sponsor of the resolution recognizing Pride Month, said, “This response from Republican leadership aims to pit legislators against one another, which is sadly emblematic of their attempts to pit Wisconsinites against one another. The Assembly as an institution cannot properly function under these oppressive and anti-democratic tactics. In effect, Republican leadership has rejected American democratic principles and representative government by attempting to suppress the voices of the members of the minority party and the people they represent.”
“Assembly Democrats will continue to advocate for the people of Wisconsin, who have made clear that systemic racism in our state must be addressed,” Hintz said in a statement. “Assembly Republicans must stop their manipulative actions and consider how they can encourage rather than stifle discussions in the Assembly on this topic in Wisconsin.”