Articles about voting issues in Wisconsin.

Wisconsin: Assembly GOP approves rewritten campaign finance laws, GAB overhaul | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Assembly Republicans on Monday sent Gov. Scott Walker bills rewriting campaign finance laws and replacing the state’s ethics and elections board with two new commissions. The bills were prompted, in part, by ire over an investigation of Walker’s campaign that was terminated this summer by a state Supreme Court ruling. A provision of the campaign finance bill would put into law the court’s finding that candidates and issue groups can work closely together. The campaign finance bill would also double the amount donors can give candidates; allow corporations and unions to give money to political parties and campaign committees controlled by legislative leaders; and end the requirement that donors disclose their employers. That would make it harder for the public to find out which industries are funneling money to candidates. That measure passed 59-0, with all Republicans favoring it and all Democrats refusing to vote because they argued it was a conflict of interest for lawmakers to vote on changes to campaign finance laws that would take effect before the next election. Read More

Wisconsin: Judge criticizes proposed changes to Government Accountability Board | Eau Claire Leader-Telegram

After serving on Wisconsin’s nonpartisan elections board for 6½ years, retired judge Thomas Barland of Eau Claire was succinct and direct in summing up his disappointment with the state Senate’s vote early Saturday morning to abolish the panel. “It’s a great step backwards,” Barland said Monday. Barland, who served as a Republican Assembly representative for six years before a 33-year career as an Eau Claire County judge, called the effort by the Republican-controlled Legislature to dismantle the state’s Government Accountability Board politically motivated and warned that going back to a partisan elections board could result in a return to a stalemate situation in which nothing gets done. “It opens the door to corruption in the future, potentially by both parties,” he said of the measure that passed around 2:30 a.m. on an 18-14 party line vote. “It’s hurtful to good government.” Read More

Wisconsin: Senate clears election overhaul in early morning vote | Madison.com

The state Senate voted early Saturday morning to approve sweeping changes to the state’s election and campaign finance systems, ending weeks of uncertainty surrounding the bills’ fates. One bill would alter state campaign finance law by increasing contribution limits for campaign donations and loosening restrictions on political action committee giving. That measure passed 17-15 with state Sen. Robert Cowles, R-Green Bay, voting with the Democratic minority to oppose the measures. The second bill, designed to split the state’s nonpartisan election board into two entities comprised equally of Republicans and Democrats, passed on a party-line vote. Read More

Wisconsin: GOP lawmakers reverse course, balk at campaign donor reporting | Milwaukee Jounal-Sentinel

GOP state senators reversed course early Saturday and voted to let people make political donations without disclosing their employers as part of a broad overhaul of campaign finance laws. The bill passed just after midnight 17-15, with all Democrats and Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Allouez) opposing the measure and all other GOP senators supporting it. The measure now returns to the state Assembly, which will have to agree to the changes made by the Senate. GOP senators also approved a bill to eliminate the state Government Accountability Board, which runs elections and oversees ethics laws, and to give those duties to two new commissions. The proposal, which passed on a strictly party-line vote of 18-14, goes to the Assembly as well. Together the proposals would represent a significant shift in how elections are run and how money flows in the world of Wisconsin politics. Read More

Wisconsin: Senate GOP tight-lipped as campaign finance, GAB bills near Friday extraordinary session | Wisconsin State Journal

Senate Republican leaders are keeping a tight wrap on forthcoming changes to bills splitting the state’s elections and ethics agency and rewriting campaign finance law — both of which appear headed for a Senate vote Friday in a so-called “extraordinary session.” The office of Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, signaled Tuesday that changes will be offered to the bills in extraordinary session, since Thursday marks the end of lawmakers’ scheduled period to convene. Proponents of the bills have said it’s important to pass them this fall, in advance of the 2016 election cycle. Fitzgerald said Wednesday the Senate has the votes to pass the ethics and elections bill. Read More

Wisconsin: Republican leader says he has votes for elections board bill | Associated Press

Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald said Wednesday he has the votes to pass a compromise bill that would put two retired judges on a new ethics commission, a move that also won support from the measure’s sponsor and other reluctant lawmakers. GOP senators struck the deal Tuesday during a closed-door meeting called to break an impasse that was holding up the bill after it passed the Assembly last month. The Senate planned to pass it Friday, and the Assembly was scheduled to vote Nov. 16 to send the final version on to Gov. Scott Walker. “I wouldn’t go to the floor if I didn’t have the votes,” Fitzgerald said Wednesday. Details were still being worked out and would be released later, he said. Read More

Wisconsin: Federal Judges Weigh Case Challenging Redistricting | Wisconsin Public Radio

A panel of three federal judges are considering whether to dismiss a lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of the state’s legislative redistricting plan. The plaintiffs, a group of 12 Wisconsin voters, claim that the plan approved by Republicans in 2011 is an example of extreme partisan gerrymandering that creates voting districts unfairly benefiting one party. At a hearing in Madison Wednesday, Chicago attorney Michele Odorizzi said the plan drew partisan lines that violate a voter’s constitutional right to equal protection under the law. “You have a right to be treated equally by the election system and not have your vote diluted or be treated differently because of your political beliefs,” he said. Read More

Wisconsin: Senate GOP reaches deal on campaign finance, elections oversight | Milwaukee Journal-Sentinel

Making an apparent breakthrough, Republicans in the state Senate plan to modify legislation Friday that would overhaul campaign finance laws and the agency that runs elections. That sets the stage for the measures to get to GOP Gov. Scott Walker by next week. One Republican lawmaker who has been briefed on the changes said one would require a new ethics commission to include two former judges. Myranda Tanck, a spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), on Tuesday announced the plans to meet Friday, but declined to say what changes to the legislation could be in store. She said details may not be available until Thursday, a day before the Senate is to vote. “I can say that we believe we have come up with changes that address the concerns of the caucus and get us to versions of both bills that will have the votes to pass,” Tanck said by email. Read More


Wisconsin: Senate Republicans take cautious tack on Government Accountability Board, campaign finance bills | Wisconsin State Journal

Undecided Senate Republicans are grappling with pressure from groups on opposing sides of bills to replace the state’s Government Accountability Board and rewrite state campaign finance law. The GOP-controlled Assembly voted largely on party lines to pass the bills last week, less than two weeks after they were introduced. But the Senate, also under Republican control, isn’t rushing to get the bills to the desk of Gov. Scott Walker. “I don’t think there’s any sense of urgency, at least on my part,” Sen. Howard Marklein, R-Spring Green, said Tuesday. “I’m still studying the options.” Read More

Wisconsin: Future of bill to dismantle Government Accountability Board is unclear | WISC

The future of a bill to dismantle the Government Accountability Board is unclear after the state Senate canceled a session Tuesday where they were likely going to vote on it. Senate Republicans held a caucus for most of the day on the GAB and campaign finance bills, both of which have already been passed by the Assembly but are hung up in the Senate. The bills the Assembly passed last week to disband the GAB and replace it with a partisan elections board and ethics commission have not moved in the Senate. Conservative groups are lobbying the offices of four GOP senators who have expressed concerns about the bill. Read More