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Congressman blasts National Science Foundation spending

Agency spent $700,000 to produce a Climate Change Musical
Posted by Richard Moore
First published in The Lakeland Times

The U.S. House Committee on Science, Space, and Technology held a hearing last week for the National Science Foundation’s proposed 2019 fiscal year budget, and what the agency’s leaders heard was a blistering assessment of the agency’s spending.

Still, committee chairman Lamar Smith (R-Texas) said, things have improved significantly in the past year, though challenges remain.

The agency is not an unimportant one, for it is a core driver of the nation’s scientific research. Since its creation in 1950, Smith said, the NSF has promoted fundamental scientific discovery and is the only federal agency that supports basic research across all scientific fields, including research in areas like national security, energy, quantum technology, biotechnology, STEM education, and cybersecurity.

In addition, Smith says, the NSF funds more than 360,000 scientists, engineers, and students with competitive grants, which he says help make the United States a world leader in knowledge and innovation.

But, Smith says, the NSF has in recent years funded too many projects that seem marginal or frivolous. Read Moore ...

Lawmakers call extraordinary
on special elections

Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R- Juneau) have  called for an extraordinary session to take up legislation regarding special elections in the state of Wisconsin after a Dane County judge ruled that Gov. Scott Walker has to call elections for two vacant seats prior to the November elections.

“After consulting with DOJ and others, we have decided it’s best to move forward on an extraordinary session in order to clean up the statute on special elections and ensure that it aligns with the Military and Overseas Voter Empowerment Act" Vos and Fitzgerald said. “It’s clear that little thought was given to the impact of the special elections ruling."

In essence, they said, there will be two elections occurring simultaneously for the two offices, the lawmakers said. 

"It will undoubtedly lead to voter confusion and electoral chaos," they said. "Also, holding the special elections after the conclusion of the regular session is a waste of taxpayer dollars and local government resources.”

Gov. Scott Walker agreed. 

“A D.C.-based political group wants to force Wisconsin taxpayers to waste money on special elections at a time when our Legislature is ready to adjourn for the year," Walker said. "Nomination papers for any special elections called now would circulate around the same time nomination papers circulate for the November elections. It would be senseless to waste taxpayer money on special elections just weeks before voters go to the polls when the Legislature has concluded its business." 

Walker said he will sign session plan to clarify special elections.