This week marks another low point in Wisconsin history. Gov. Scott Walker and his Republican-controlled legislature are gearing up to crush Wisconsin’s proud history of open, honest and transparent democracy with a horde of bad government bills. Everything from weakening campaign finance regulations, to dismantling our nonpartisan election agency and removing the ability to investigate political crimes through a John Doe investigation is on the table for a vote this week in the Assembly.
Bills are rushing through the legislature, one after another, at lightning speed. The Assembly plans to take a vote on the following bills tomorrow, Tuesday, October 20.
Dismantling the Government Accountability Board (Senate Bill 294/Assembly Bill 388)
Instead of working to create jobs and raise wages for working people, Republicans are turning their attention to dismantling the state’s nonpartisan, watchdog ethics board – the Government Accountability Board. The GAB is charged with investigating campaign finance violations and overseeing state elections. Editorial Boards around the state have warned that dismantling the GAB is bad for democracy. Changes to the independent GAB are a clear partisan power grab and an attack on good government.
Campaign Finance Bill (Senate Bill 292/Assembly Bill 387)
Seeking to cash-in on special interest dark money and campaign contributions from wealthy individuals, Republicans have introduced a bill to eviscerate current campaign finance regulations by rewriting our state statutes covering reporting requirements and coordination between candidates, political parties, and independent groups.
The bill would double the amount that individuals can donate to state and local candidates and allow for unlimited corporate donations to political parties and legislative committees. Just like they did when Republicans tried to gut the “Wisconsin Idea” in the budget process, this bill deletes the preamble to the state’s campaign finance laws, removing language that calls for “fair and impartial elections” and affirms the state’s responsibility to “protect the integrity” of the election process.
By putting our democracy up for sale to the highest bidder, Republicans are hoping to buy power and control.
Removing John Doe Investigative Authority (Senate Bill 43/Assembly Bill 68)
This bill would make it easier for politicians to break the law by not allowing political crimes to be investigated and prosecuted through the John Doe process. Removing the John Doe investigative authority paves the way for political corruption and coordination to go unchecked.
The following bills are not slated for an Assembly vote tomorrow, but should be on your radar. They
include a bogus online voter registration bill that actually makes it harder for seniors and others to vote as well as devastating changes to our civil service system.
An Anti-Senior Electronic Voting Registration Bill (Senate Bill 295/Assembly Bill 389)
This bill would allow for online voter registration in Wisconsin, but it would eliminate Special Registration Deputies (SRDs) who go in person to register individuals in care facilities like nursing homes and engage in voter drives across the state. Eliminating Special Registration Deputies would decrease voter engagement by senior citizens and people with disabilities.
Civil Service Law Changes (Senate Bill 285/Assembly Bill 373)
The Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations has scheduled an Executive Committee Vote on Wednesday, October 21 to advance the change to our civil service system. Republicans have called for quadrupling the probation period for new hires and the elimination of merit-based test for applicants. Eliminating the objective civil service test will make it significantly easier to hire candidates with political connections over qualified applicants.