Wisconsin recall-limiting amendment gets new life

2013-10-09T11:00:00Z 2013-10-09T13:31:54Z Wisconsin recall-limiting amendment gets new lifeThe Associated Press The Associated Press
October 09, 2013 11:00 am  • 

MADISON — The Wisconsin Assembly’s elections committee voted Wednesday to pass a constitutional amendment and bill that would prohibit voters from recalling state and local officeholders unless they’ve been charged with a felony or an ethics violation.

Gov. Scott Walker beat back a recall effort in 2012 that was sparked by public anger over his proposal — passed by the Republican Legislature — that effectively ended collective bargaining for public workers.

State law currently doesn’t require voters to supply a reason for a recall. Both measures Wednesday passed on a 6-3 vote, with all Republicans in favor and all Democrats against.

Democrats said the ability to recall people from office should not be restricted.

“I believe recall is a right in a democracy,” said Rep. Fred Kessler, D-Milwaukee. “If you’re not happy with your representative, you ought to be able to recall them. ... I may not like the reason that somebody’s being recalled, but I’m just really troubled placing limits on the rights of citizens.”

Republican backers of the proposed amendments said the flood of recalls in 2011 and 2012 showed the need for change and that officeholders shouldn’t be worried that they could be recalled over every vote.

A dozen Republican office holders, including Walker, stood for recall in 2011 and 2012. Three Democratic state senators also faced recall elections. Three Republican incumbent state senators were defeated in the recalls, briefly handing Democrats majority control of the Senate at the end of 2012 — which they lost following that year’s elections.

Wisconsin is one of 18 states that allows for recalls of state elected officials. Of those, only seven limit the reasons for recall to malfeasance in office. Those are Georgia, Montana, Rhode Island, Washington, Minnesota, Kansas and Alaska. A 19th state, Illinois, allows only for the recall of a governor.

The proposed constitutional amendment would affect the governor, judges, members of Congress, other state office holders and those who hold county-wide office. It is a long way from taking effect. It must pass two consecutive legislative sessions and a statewide referendum before it would become law.

A similar amendment passed the Assembly last year, before Walker won the recall election, but died in the Senate. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said he expected the Assembly to take it up again in November.

A spokesman for Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, who also survived a recall in 2012, had no comment on the measure. Republican Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, who won a 2011 recall, is co-sponsoring the amendment in the Senate.

The bill passed by the committee would change the process for local officials, like members of city, village or town councils and school boards. Under current law, anyone seeking a recall must indicate a reason for the recall that is related to the officers’ responsibilities. The bill would only allow recalls against someone who’s been charged with a crime or violating a code of ethics applicable to local officials.

The amendment would also require the Legislature to establish a code of ethics for government officials and a board to administer the code.

Copyright 2016 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(14) Comments

  1. you think you know
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    you think you know - October 10, 2013 8:30 am
    No, not like you said. If we don't raise the debt celing, we will still have enough tax income to pay all of the bills we already racked up. We do not need to raise the debt celing to pay our bills. We need to raise the debt ceiling to pay handouts.

    Raising the debt celing allows the government to spend more money they don't have, by means of deficit spending.
  2. you think you know
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    you think you know - October 10, 2013 8:28 am
    No the Supreme Court re-wrote the ACA to make it legal. Congress doesn't have the ability to penalize citizens, so they had to make it a tax. Which by the way, Obama wouldn't raise on middle class right.
  3. David Lee
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    David Lee - October 10, 2013 12:01 am
    You need to read. If it's approved by the congress and signed by the president, it is law.
  4. David Lee
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    David Lee - October 10, 2013 12:00 am
    Another example of the cowardly repukicants being afraid of the voters. They have no pride or shame. Cowards all.
  5. CelticMan
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    CelticMan - October 09, 2013 7:58 pm
    Who benefits from this law? People who are doing things they shouldn't.

    Why are we afraid of a huge wave of recalls? It has only happened, in significant numbers, once, a couple years ago.

    As I recall, the Repubs tried to recall Doyle, but couldn't get the people to sign.

    This is trumping up a fear of "continuous recalls", when that has never been the case. This sounds a lot like the voter fraud issue: solve something that is not a problem, when your real agenda is to disenfranchise people.
  6. GrandpaS
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    GrandpaS - October 09, 2013 6:55 pm
    Don'tTread: The Supreme Court approved almost all of the Affordable Care Act. If it were unconstitutional, that wouldn't have happened.
  7. lookout
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    lookout - October 09, 2013 5:20 pm
    Just like I said it's money we already spent.
  8. superman
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    superman - October 09, 2013 4:39 pm
    I just get a kick out of these stooges who think laws aren't laws because they "feel" like it.

    But that's a typical ESFP for you!
  9. you think you know
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    you think you know - October 09, 2013 2:42 pm
    That's factually incorrect. The tax revenue collected by the US Governement is more than enough to cover our debt payments. The only thing that would have to be cut is deficit spending. Deficit spending increases your debt, Obama and the Democrats are lying.

    This country has to borrow money to pay the interest on the money we already owe...why does that not concern people? Imagine if you had to go to the bank to take out a loan to pay the interest on your car payment, do you think they'd give it to you?
  10. lookout
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    lookout - October 09, 2013 1:48 pm
    Raising the debt ceiling is for bills that have already been spent. Your congressmen have already done something to make that happen. They already spent the limit on their credit cards. It's already been spent,. That's why the debt ceiling has to be raised. It's not for bills in the future. So scream at your congressman for the things they already did.
  11. DontTreadOnMe
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    DontTreadOnMe - October 09, 2013 1:25 pm
    Ummm, grandpa..... Any law that is not in keeping with the Constitution (ie: ObamaCare) is NOT LAW. It's called nullification. Read up on your history sir.
  12. you think you know
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    you think you know - October 09, 2013 1:10 pm
    Does that mean in 2006 you would have supported a recall of Senator Barack Obama for voting against raising the debt celing?

    Democrats today are claiming that not raising the debt celiing would be unethical, why wasn't it then? In fact 44 democrats voted no when Bush was in office, why the change now?

    Too bad Obama still doesn't feel this way debt -

    “Mr. President, I rise today to talk about America’s debt problem. The fact that we are here today to debate raising America’s debt limit is a sign of leadership failure. It is a sign that the U.S. Government can’t pay its own bills. It is a sign that we now depend on ongoing financial assistance from foreign countries to finance our Government’s reckless fiscal policies. Over the past 5 years, our federal debt has increased by $3.5 trillion to $8.6 trillion. That is ‘trillion’ with a ‘T.’ That is money that we have borrowed from the Social Security trust fund, borrowed from China and Japan, borrowed from American taxpayers
  13. ChopChop
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    ChopChop - October 09, 2013 12:24 pm
    These politicians are elected by the people to represent their interests. Any time the people feel that their elected official is not acting in a way that represents the people's best interests, whether those actions are criminal or not, the people should have the right to try to remove that official. Yes, democracy may be messy and sometimes expensive, but it sure beats the alternatives.
  14. GrandpaS
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    GrandpaS - October 09, 2013 12:03 pm
    I have mixed feelings about this. It would be good to be able to recall an elected official for the simple reason that he or she is incompentent or a jerk, but what could happen with that is that a lot of people get ticked off about whatever and recalls would be all over, wasting a lot of time and money. I would say they should allow recalls for criminal or grossly unethical conduct, as proposed, and maybe add harmful incompetence to the list of reasons that would allow a recall. On a national level, there are several tea partiers who should be recalled for shutting down the government simply to protest a law (the Affordable Care Act) that they don't like. The ACA IS a law, and if somebody is sworn to uphold the Constitution, then they are also sworn to uphold laws passed legally as outlined in the Constitution. Failure to do so should be seen as failure to uphold the Constitution and grounds for a recall. Boehner, Cruz, Ron Olson and their buddies would all be in trouble.
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