Thumbs up to showing off downtown Janesville. Hundreds of bikers and spectators will arrive soon for Tuesday’s Town Square Gran Prix. City officials had hoped the square’s interactive fountain would be completed in time for the bike race, but rainy weather has slowed the project. With gravel, dust and construction equipment still in the area, it takes some imagination to see the square as the downtown’s crown jewel. But once finished, the square will act as an advertisement to draw people to the downtown. Construction projects can be frustrating, and we expect more headaches once the West Milwaukee Street project starts. But remember, construction also signals economic development and demonstrates the strides the city has made in implementing its ARISE initiative.
Thumbs up to U.S. Supreme Court ruling on state tax collections. The ruling should end the practice of people buying products online to avoid paying sales taxes charged by local merchants. It’s always been an unfair setup, but the courts have permitted it. Thursday’s 5-4 ruling gives states the authority to collect taxes from online retailers, even if they don’t have a physical presence in the state. The ruling essentially reinterpreted the Commerce Clause of the Constitution. “Each year the physical presence rule becomes further removed from economic reality and results in significant revenue losses to the States,” Justice Anthony Kennedy wrote. We hope Wisconsin joins other states in aggressively seeking its fair share of online tax revenue.
Thumbs down to kicking the can on partisan gerrymandering. Many people expected the U.S. Supreme Court to finally answer the question whether partisan gerrymandering is constitutional. It did not. In the Wisconsin case, Gill v Whitford, the Supreme Court said the plaintiffs lacked sufficient standing and didn’t consider the case’s merits. The court has long held gerrymandering based on race violates the 14th Amendment’s Equal Protection Clause, but partisan gerrymandering’s constitutionality is less clear. To be sure, the Supreme Court will be asked again to weigh in on this issue. In the meantime, states are left to bicker over their district boundaries. With the 2020 census approaching, the next big redistricting fight is on the horizon.
Thumbs down to no televised debates. Voters raised valid concerns over the criteria used by the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association to select participants for a Democratic gubernatorial debate. The association responded by canceling the debate, which isn’t what voters were asking, as The Capital Times noted in a guest editorial last week. Rather, voters wanted all 10 candidates included (now nine with Andy Gronik dropping out last week), instead of only four. A Marquette University Law School poll released last week revealed more than 60 percent of respondents say they don’t know enough about the candidates to make an informed choice. A debate would go a long way toward helping voters better understand the field.