Republicans, in firm control of state government when they take office Monday, are poised to make the most sweeping revisions to state campaign finance law in decades. Many of those changes are already in effect after a series of federal court decisions made many current laws unenforceable. But a more comprehensive rewrite is in the works, and the overhaul is getting a thumbs up from the nonpartisan Government Accountability Board — a frequent target of GOP ire that is itself in line for a possible makeover. Among other things, lawmakers are considering increasing campaign contribution limits and clarifying the coordination restrictions at the heart of a recent John Doe investigation into Gov. Scott Walker’s recall campaign. Also on tap: changes to election procedures, including banning all cameras from polling places and testing poll workers on their knowledge of election law. Those changes would come on the heels of a slew of changes adopted last session, including a controversial voter ID law that the U.S. Supreme Court could take up this year.
“Chapter 11 has grown quite topsy over time,” accountability board chairman Judge Thomas Barland said at the board’s last meeting, referring to the chapter in state law governing campaign finance. “I think it’s time for a massive change of that.”
The board plans to vote on endorsing a comprehensive legislative rewrite when it next meets later this month.
“Rewriting Chapter 11 would be the most significant change to Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws in the last several decades,” GAB director Kevin Kennedy said.