Monday, December 30, 2013

State Senate Will Not Vote on Bad Campaign Finance Measure Nobody Outside of the Capitol Supported/More

Common Cause in Wisconsin Reform Update
Monday - December 30, 2013

Jay Heck – 608/256-2686

1. Year Ends on a Positive Note as Fitzgerald Says Assembly Bill 225 Lacks Sufficient Support
2. Support for Redistricting Reform in Wisconsin Beyond All Expectations
3. Wisconsin's Voter Photo ID Law Likely to Take Another Hit in Federal Court in Early 2014

1. It is always nice to end the year on a positive note -- and one of them was provided by State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) last Friday when he said that one of the bills that the State Senate would not be considering in 2014, before the 2013-2014 legislative session ends in March, is Assembly Bill 225. This is the campaign finance and election measure that nobody outside of the State Capitol building asked for, wanted or supported. It would double current campaign contribution limits for legislative and statewide candidates and, even more alarmingly, double the amount of special interest political action committee money (from $150,000 to $300,000) that the legislative campaign committees controlled by the legislative leadership could collect every two years. Fitzgerald said there wasn't "sufficient support" in the State Senate to pass Assembly Bill 225 -- which is correct. We count at least 20 votes against AB 225 in the 33-member State Senate. So Fitzgerald wisely opted to pass rather than lose on this one.

Thank you to all of the CC/WI members and other citizens who wrote or called your State Senators opposing AB 225. This victory is yours. Celebrate it!

2. At the beginning of 2013, redistricting reform was an issue that few citizens, other than hard-core political junkies, even knew about, let alone cared about. Now, as we enter 2014, the issue is huge and it is certainly the most prominent political reform issue in Wisconsin today. With the support of 15 Wisconsin daily newspapers, dozens of legislators and tens of thousands of Wisconsin citizens, it is an issue that will not only not go away, but it will also be an election campaign issue in 2014 that every state legislative and statewide candidate running for office this year will have to address.

And the question is simple: Which side are you on? Do you favor non-partisan redistricting reform (Senate Bill 163 and Assembly Bill 185) that will cost Wisconsin taxpayers much less and result in more common sense district boundaries and competitive elections? Or, do you support the current corrupted status quo in which hyper-partisan districts are drawn by the direction and control of legislative leaders in total secret, complete with signed oaths to keep quiet, and without public input, and which cost Wisconsin taxpayers millions of dollars to pay costly, partisan lawyers to wipe out competition in most state legislative and all congressional elections in Wisconsin?

As an election issue in 2014 -- this one is a winner. And it could be a killer for some who oppose reform.

3. Until North Carolina enacted its own photo voter ID law in 2013, Wisconsin's 2011 law, Act 23, was the most extreme and restrictive photo voter ID law in the nation. It was so extreme that it was blocked by several state and federal courts in Wisconsin and has never been in place, other than for a Spring Primary election in 2012. Two of the lawsuits on this matter were heard in Federal Court in Milwaukee recently and a decision on them is expected in early 2014. CC/WI filed an amicus brief in one of those cases against Act 23.

We are cautiously optimistic that the decision will come down in favor of getting rid of Act 23. The integrity of voting in Wisconsin has never been proven to be anything other than stellar and among the highest level of integrity in the nation. That's how Wisconsinites are. Charges of widespread fraud, or even anything other than a couple of isolated incidents of a person voting who didn't realize they were unable to, are totally without foundation. Investigations of suspected fraud undertake by Attorney General JB Van Hollen and others after the 2004, 2008 and other elections have come up with nothing. There is no voter fraud in Wisconsin. Period. Exclamation Mark. End of Story.

We recently sent around our year-end appeal. We almost never do anything like this, so please take a look at it and consider whether CC/WI is worthy of your support. We hope you will conclude that we are.

We wish you all our best for a Happy New Year and a 2014 filled with hope, kindness and and a healthy dose of political reform!

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

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