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.
The Assembly has already passed both bills but would need to approve them again if the Senate changes them as expected. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Rochester) said that could happen Nov. 11 or Nov. 12 but added that he needed to review the changes that the Senate is contemplating. The Legislature’s regular floor period ends Thursday, so senators will have to call themselves into what is known as extraordinary session to take up the bills.
One bill would loosen campaign finance laws, in part because some provisions in state law have already been struck down as unconstitutional by courts. But the bill also includes provisions that have nothing to do with court decisions, such as measures that would double contribution limits and end the requirement that donors list their employers.
The other bill would eliminate the state Government Accountability Board and turn its duties over to two new commissions. One would run elections and the other would oversee laws on campaign finance, ethics and lobbying.