Bills to reform campaign finance laws and restructure the Government Accountability Board will move to Gov. Scott Walker’s desk after the Assembly Extraordinary Session Monday.

Campaign finance reform debate

The bill originally passed through the Assembly in October with all Democrats recusing. Democrats continued to show their disapproval of the campaign finance bill, recusing themselves from the vote for a second time. The Senate amended it and sent it back to the Assembly for a final vote, it passed Monday in a 59-0 vote.

The bill will give candidates the ability to coordinate directly with issue advocacy groups. In addition, donors would not have to disclose their employer regardless of their donation amount and corporations could donate up to $12,000 to political parties and legislative campaigns.

Campaign finance reform moves Wisconsin elections in ‘direction of Wild West’A bill that will require less disclosure from donors and likely increase the amount of money in state politics is speeding Read…

To many Democrats’ disapproval, the campaign finance bill will become effective immediately if Walker signs it.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said the campaign finance bill is a necessary follow-up to recent court rulings surrounding the John Doe investigations. He said changes must be implemented prior to the 2016 election cycle.

“What we are doing was actually requested by the court,” Vos said. “They asked us to act.”

Democrats disagreed and accused Republicans of trying to increase available funding options for themselves before the election.

Rep. Andy Jorgenson, D-Milton, said the bill could easily lead to legislators “stuffing their own pockets.”

GAB restructure debate

Representatives voted almost exclusively along party lines to pass a bill which would split the Government Accountability Board into two partisan boards with appointed members, similar to the Federal Elections Commission structure.

Currently, the board is a non-partisan organization which oversees Wisconsin elections.

Assembly passes bill to dismantle Government Accountability BoardA bill to dismantle the state’s Government Accountability Board is heading to the full Senate after a committee passed it Read…

Republican proponents of the bill say restructuring the GAB would increase transparency, ensure decisions are non-partisan and maintain legitimacy in state elections.

Rep. Gary Hebl, D-Sun Prairie, called the bill an “absolute disaster,” and said altering the board would have the opposite effect.

“You all know how dysfunctional the FEC is,” Hebl said. “It makes absolutely no decisions because it is always deadlocked. Wisconsin goes from one of the most transparent states to the least transparent state.”

Later in the session, Republicans and Democrats debated jobs and unemployment in Wisconsin.

Democrats said the state is not taking enough action to help people, while Republicans said unemployment in Wisconsin is the lowest it has ever been.  

The campaign finance and GAB reform bills currently await Walker’s signature.