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Thursday, November 14, 2013

 4:45 PM 

Assembly gives first approval on limits of recalls against state officials

The Assembly has voted to approve a resolution to amend the Wisconsin Constitution to limit the conditions under which state officials may be recalled.

The Assembly approved the measure 53-39 with Rep. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, voting against the measure along with the Dems.

Under the resolution -- which must be passed in two consecutive legislative sessions and approved by voters via referendum to amend the constitution -- recalls against state officials could only be launched if the official is charged with a felony or violated the state ethics code. Currently, residents don't need a specific reason to file for a recall.

Rep. Cory Mason, D-Racine, referenced the recall of GOP state Sen. George Petak in 1996 over his vote approving the Miller Park stadium tax as he argued against the amendment. Mason said that despite the fatigue over the Act 10-related recalls, Wisconsin residents still need the mechanism to hold politicians accountable for a perceived betrayal of their constituents. 

"Now, you may not agree with the reason for some recalls, but that doesn't take away from the bigger issue, which is whether or not the people who elect us have the right to hold us accountable for the reasons I see fit," Mason said. "I know where I stand."

Rep. Jim Steineke said the change still gave residents the ability to recall representatives for significant crimes or violations while restoring order to elections.

"It's time we restore predictability back to the election process ... voters shouldn't have to pay for costly and unnecessary recall elections," Steineke said.

Rep. John Nygren, R-Marinette, said that change would still have to be approved by voters before it became law and decried the Democrats' criticism as hyperbole.

"So to say there's no voice for the people, that we're taking that away from them by giving them a chance to decide is absolutely untrue," Nygren said.

A bill to limit the recalls of local officials is also on today's calendar. That measure only needs to be approved by both houses to become law.


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