Gov. Jim Doyle has called for a special session of the state Legislature at 11 a.m. Tuesday to discuss a series of critical bipartisan reforms, according to Doyle spokesperson Carla Vigue.
There are three issues Doyle wants discussed. The first is the statewide smoking ban, which would prohibit smoking in practically all public places. The second is legislation to require health insurance companies to provide care for autistic children. Lastly, Doyle is promoting a series of campaign finance reforms.
Vigue said the governor called the special session in an effort to push the legislation through before the holiday break.
"These issues really have an impact on Wisconsin families — they have been around for some time and people have known about them," Vigue said.
Wisconsin's four-month budget stalemate didn't help the case.
"The state budget process kept all of these very important pieces of legislation from moving," Vigue said. "[Doyle] wants these things to come to the floor for a vote."
Campaign finance reform has been a concern for a very long time, Vigue said. Among other things, the reforms proposed will modify candidate spending limits based on inflation, prohibit fundraising during a budget impasse and establish a public funding system for Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates.
If these three issues do come to a vote, Vigue believes there is enough bipartisan and public support for all to pass.
"There is bipartisan support. … If party leadership from both the Assembly and the Senate allow these things to come to a vote, there is no doubt that they will all pass," Vigue said.
Vigue speculated with the holidays so close, the Legislature might not consider these issues to be as critical as Doyle makes them out to be.
John Murray, spokesperson for Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, R-West Salem, said the Assembly does not plan to take up the bills and will bring the session to order and move to recess. The campaign finance reform bills will then move to committee and will not be considered until 2008.
As for the statewide smoking ban and the insurance for autism bill, Murray said the Assembly would have to wait and see if they are passed in the Senate.
"At this point it's pretty unclear if there are enough votes to move either one of those bills out of the Assembly," Murray said.
Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, said "nothing imminent is going to happen" in the Senate special session.
The governor, he said, called the special session hoping that special session rules would help the items pass. However, he believes nothing will happen until January in the Senate.