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.
The bill doing away with the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board originally called for creating separate ethics and elections commissions with an equal number of Republican and Democratic appointees. The current board overseeing elections, ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws is comprised of six retired judges, a feature that makes it unique nationwide.
Tuesday’s deal would put two retired judges on the new commission dealing with ethics, campaign finance and lobbying laws. No retired judges would be on the new elections commission.
“This compromise still accomplishes what we set out to do from the start by creating a bipartisan watchdog,” said the bill’s main sponsor, Republican Sen. Leah Vukmir, of Wauwatosa. “As an elected official, you don’t always get what you want, but we are getting what we need – reform to a broken agency.”