WISCONSINREPORT.COM (02/28/08) - In a move that brings Wisconsin closer than ever to implementing comprehensive campaign finance reform, the Senate Committee on Campaign Finance Reform, Rural Issues and Information Technology has passed Special Session Bill 1, which was introduced as part of Governor Doyle’s call for a special session on campaign finance reform. The bill is a combination of several proposals, including SB 12, which was offered by Senators John Erpenbach of Middleton and Mike Ellis of Neenah, and SB 171, which was authored by committee chairman Senator Pat Kreitlow of Chippewa Falls.
“It’s time to stop the rhetoric of reform and finally deliver a substantive change in how we fund campaigns in Wisconsin," said Senator Kreitlow.
"What we have now is a system that actually discourages ordinary citizens from participating because big money special interests dominate political campaigns,” Kreitlow continued.
“The Governor’s special session bill changes that by making the system more accessible for citizens who want to get involved, either as candidates for elected office or as advocates for issues important to them,” Kreitlow said.
The committee also passed a number of other pieces of important campaign finance reform legislation, including SB 12, which was amended to be compatible with Special Session SB 1, SB 25, a bill authored by Senator Sheila Harsdorf (R-River Falls) that would prohibit fundraising during the budget process, and SB 182, a bill authored by Senator Fred Risser and Representative Mark Pocan, both of Madison, to completely publicly finance Wisconsin political campaigns.
The full Senate also recently passed SB 171 – The Impartial Justice Bill, which was authored by Kreitlow, which makes public financing of Supreme Court races a more viable option for candidates.
“Our commitment to finding a workable, bipartisan solution to the issue of campaign finance reform has led us to put forward a number of worthy plans, hoping to find something that political leaders of both parties can support," Kreitlow said.
"Our committee has passed two different comprehensive plans (Special Session SB 1 and SB 12) that both dramatically change the way we run elections in Wisconsin," Senator Kreitlow continued.
"We’ve also offered smaller, more targeted reforms aimed at changing how our politicians raise money, shedding some light on the powerful special interests are that spend millions to influence our elections through so-called issue ads and how we elect our Supreme Court Justices,” the senator added.
“I would hope that today’s action will encourage my colleagues in the Assembly to at least give these reform plans a public hearing and an up or down vote, so that Wisconsin voters know where they stand on cleaning up our campaigns," the Chippewa Falls area State Senator said.
"Until we see some action from them, our efforts are wasted, and the public will know who is standing in the way of cleaning up Wisconsin politics,” Kreitlow said.
Senate Committee Chairman Kreitlow is now calling for Assembly action on campaign reform.