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Tuesday, March 11, 2014

 11:23 AM 

Fitzgerald: Lawmakers could come back on voter ID after court decisions

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald today raised the prospect of lawmakers returning to the Capitol later this year in special session to take up possible fixes to the voter ID law after state and federal courts rule on the issue.

Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, told WisPolitics.com last month that he would consider taking up Assembly Bill 493 to address some issued courts have raised about the requirement if the courts had not ruled by the time the Senate plans to adjourn April 1.

But he noted the series of questions justices raises during oral arguments before the state Supreme Court earlier this year. That includes Justice Pat Roggensack, a member of the court's conservative wing, raising concerns over the costs associated with obtaining a birth certificate, which is needed to get a free state-issued ID.

"The Supreme Court oral arguments changed our mindset on that," Fitzgerald said of taking up the Assembly bill.

AB 493, which cleared the Assembly in November, allows those without an ID to submit an oath that they do not have one for one of three reasons: they consider themselves indigent and cannot obtain an ID without payment of a fee, they have a religious objection to being photographed or they cannot obtain the documentation required to get the needed proof of identification.

Fitzgerald said a possible special or extraordinary session would depend on being able to reach an agreement with Assembly leaders on legislation to address whatever decisions emerge from the courts. The goal would be to have something in place ahead of the November election.

The voter ID requirement has been on hold for nearly three years after a pair of Dane County judges found the law unconstitutional. An appeals court overturned one of those cases, but the state Supreme Court has now taken jurisdiction over both. It has not indicated when it will rule. There is a separate challenge pending before the federal courts.

Gov. Scott Walker also said today he'd seek to convene a special session on voter ID if legislative action was required so the law could "pass the test of the court."

"If the courts ... were to say, 'We think you can have it if not for this provision or that provision,' we want to modify that so that a law like that were in effect for the next election," Walker told reporters in Madison this morning.


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