Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Legislators and Reformers to Tackle Political Reform Issues in Stevens Point - Monday, April 12th

Press Release
April 8, 2010


Jay Heck – 608/256-2686


Monday Evening, April 12th at UW-Stevens Point

6:30 - 8:00 PM

Dreyfus University Center, 2nd Floor (Laird North - Rm 230)
University of Wisconsin at Stevens Point
1015 Reserve Street, Stevens Point, WI

Campaign finance and political reform has been a major focus in the Wisconsin Legislature and in the media over the last six months -- and with good reason.

On December 1st, the most significant, substantive campaign finance reform in Wisconsin in 30 years became law when the Governor signed the “Impartial Justice” Bill after the Wisconsin Legislature passed it in November. This new law will provide full public financing to qualifying candidates for the Wisconsin Supreme Court who voluntarily agree to abide by a spending limit of $400,000.

Not surprisingly, within weeks of its enactment, opponents of campaign finance reform launched counterattacks in the form of two separate lawsuits against the “Impartial Justice” Law.

While these attempts to preserve the corrupt status quo are troubling, momentum remains on the side of continued, meaningful campaign finance reform in Wisconsin. On January 19th, the State Senate passed a bill that would require the disclosure of the donors and regulation of the money utilized by outside special interest groups running widely-disseminated campaign communications masquerading as issue advocacy 60 days or less prior to an election. Senate Bill 43 (SB43) was passed by an overwhelming, bipartisan 26 to 7 margin.

An identical Assembly version of this legislation -- Assembly Bill 63 (AB63) -- passed 6 to 1 in the Assembly Committee on Campaign Reform and Elections in June of 2009, and was well on the way to passage in a full Assembly vote. Further, Governor Jim Doyle indicated that, once passed, he would sign SB43/AB63 into law.

But then, on January 21st -- just two days after SB43 passed in the State Senate -- the U.S. Supreme Court issued a shocking, bitterly divided 5-4 decision in the landmark case: Citizens United v. Federal Election Commission. The Court's decision -- reversing over 100 years of settled law -- equated corporations and outside interest groups with real individuals, and in doing so, gave these entities the ability to directly influence the outcome of elections through unlimited, unregulated campaign spending.

How will the Citizens United decision affect Wisconsin? What is the future of the now revised versions of SB43/AB63? Can the "Impartial Justice" Law withstand the lawsuits filed against it? And what other political reforms (including redistricting reform) are needed in Wisconsin?

These important and timely issues will be the focus of discussion in Stevens Point this coming Monday during a "Reform Forum" organized by CC/WI entitled:

What Ever Happened to Good Government in Wisconsin?
**And How Should We Fix It?**

Panelists will include:

State Senator Julie Lassa (D-Stevens Point)
State Representative Louis Molepske (D-Stevens Point)
Republican Strategist and CC/WI Co-Chair Bill Kraus
Executive Director Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin

UW-Stevens Point Political Science Professor Dennis Riley will serve as Moderator.

Please join us at this free public forum for what we anticipate will be a lively discussion.

Full details can be found here.


Jay Heck, Executive Director
Common Cause in Wisconsin
152 W. Johnson St., Suite 212
Madison, WI 53703

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