The Senate today approved legislation altering the publication process for new acts of law on a 17-14 vote.
The bill would require the Legislative Reference Bureau to publish acts on the day after enactment, establishing that date as its official date of publication. Unless otherwise specified within the law, published bills would then take effect on the subsequent day.
The bill largely removed the publication responsibilities of the secretary of state's office, which became an issue during a lawsuit over collective bargaining legislation in 2011. The secretary typically waits 10 days before publishing notice of the act in a newspaper, which left Act 10 in limbo as a lawsuit over the state's open meetings law proceeded in Dane County court.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said the 10-day provision helps alleviate the burden on officials after session days where potentially hundreds of bills are passed. He also charged that it would "gut the opportunity of the secretary of state" to participate in the legislative process.
"Basically, it's a bill aimed at the one Democrat left in state elected office," Risser said. "So much for bipartisanship."
Sen. Dave Hansen, D-Green Bay, added that the first bill of the new session would not create jobs, but would compromise "accountability, transparency and, most importantly, the public's right to know."
Sen. Glenn Grothman, R-West Bend and the bill's author, said the measure was needed because "right now, the secretary of state believes he has a role ... in the legislative process."
He said Secretary of State Doug La Follette shouldn't have been able to delay implementation of Act 10 two years ago because he disagreed with it.
"The people who run to enact public policy are the state senators, the state assemblymen and the governor," Grothman said.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitgzerald, R-Juneau, added that the bill aims to preserve the secretary's ability to inform the public about newly enacted legislation.
"Just because it hits the newspaper doesn't mean all this other stuff didn't happen," Fitzgerald said.