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Wednesday, May 11, 2011

 5:16 PM 

Assembly debate on voter ID begins

Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca asked Republicans to pay attention to Dem amendments as debate started on the voter ID bill, saying the legislation would add a wide range of new impediments to voting.

“Push those red buttons once in a while. Show some independence,” Barca, D-Kenosha, said. “We can make this a better bill; at least a constitutional bill.”

He said passing the bill without amendments would only ensure lawmakers would end up in court. He said Republicans should also be open to changes that would decrease the fiscal burden on the state.

Rep. Robert Turner, D-Racine, added that he never thought he would have to debate the right to vote in the Wisconsin Legislature.

“It’s a sad day,” Turner said, arguing the bill would disproportionately affect individuals of color, senior citizens and students.

Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder, R-Abbotsford, said the bill should not be a partisan issue because it is about protecting voter integrity.

“We are trying to make it more difficult to cheat,” Suder said.

Rep. Jeff Stone, R-Greenfield, said the bill has been in the Legislature in one form or another for a decade. Stone, an author of the bill, said the ID requirement is long overdue and citizens have been calling for safeguards in the election system.

“They expect us to have a system that protects the right to vote,” Stone said.

UPDATE: 5:18 p.m. -- A Dem motion to send the bill back to committee failed 37-57 party-line vote. There are more than 30 amendments on the board to be taken up.

UPDATE: 5:32 p.m. -- The Assembly is informal awaiting a ruling of the chair.

Rep. Tony Staskunas, D-West Allis, charged that the substitute amendment to the bill is non-germane. He said it expands the scope of the original bill by creating whole new sections of law, for instance the elimination of straight party voting.

"The is the mother of all non-germane-ness," said Staskunas, a former Assembly Speaker Pro Tempore.

Speaker Pro Tempore Bill Kramer, R-Waukesha, is working on a ruling.

UPDATE: 5:44 p.m. Citing Mason's Manual of Legislative Procedure, Kramer deferred a ruling Staskunas' point of order until the body works through the simple amendments.

UPDATE: 6:10 p.m. -- The Assembly is on amendment number five of 41.

AA 5 is proposed by Rep. Chris Danou, D-Trempeleau. It amends the bill to require each county have at least one DMV center open for business each Saturday and at least until 9 p.m. one other day each week. It also requires the DMV centers to be open until 9 p.m. each weekday of the week preceding an election, the week of an election, and the week after an election. It also requires that service priority be given to those who are seeking an ID for an election.

"Rural Wisconsin really takes it in the shorts on this one," Danou said.

Stone said access to DMVs is a concern, but he pointed out that Dem Gov. Jim Doyle cut back on the DMV centers in the last budget. He said the issue of access will be addressed in the budget.

Danou's motion failed 56-38.

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