Wisconsin's Secretary of State would be stripped of the power to delay new laws under a plan passed by Republicans in the State Senate. The bill grew out of the fight over Wisconsin's collective bargaining law, now known as Act 10.
In Wisconsin the Secretary of State is given up to 10 days to publish a law, and until that happens, the law does not take effect. Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette used that power in 2011 to delay the publication of Act 10. That gave opponents the window they needed to fight it in court, and delay it months longer.
West Bend Republican Senate sponsor Glenn Grothman said that call shouldn't be La Follette's to make. "We believe that when the state Assembly acts and the state Senate acts and the governor acts, a bill should become law."
This was the first — and so far the only — bill taken up by the full state Senate this session. Democrats said it was about settling old political scores, and Madison Senator Fred Risser called it a power grab, "Basically it's a bill aimed at the one Democrat left in state elected office. So much for bipartisanship."
If the plan becomes law it would further weaken a Secretary of State's office that has seen its power dwindle over the past few decades. Secretary of State LaFollette said it would remove one of Wisconsin's checks and balances and reduce transparency. LaFollette, who's been Secretary of State for the better part of three decades, said he almost always waits to publish new laws, "And that's worked fine for years and years and years. So what's the problem? Why are they rushing through this, 'solution,' to no problem?"
The proposal passed the Senate on a party line vote. It heads next to the state Assembly.