July 25, 2014

Bill changing publication dates clears Assembly

Wisconsin’s secretary of state would no longer be in charge of publishing new state laws, under a bill headed to the governor’s desk.

Currently, the secretary of state has ten days to publish laws signed by the governor in the state paper of record. It’s the last step in the process of officially enacting a state law, but a bill passed in the state Assembly on Wednesday would transfer that power to the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau and have new laws take effect the day after they are signed.

State Representative Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) says the measure removes an archaic step from the process. He says modern technology makes it much easier for the public to be aware of a new law long before it’s signed, so there’s no reason to wait more than a week after the governor signs a bill for it to take effect.

The issue came up after the passage of Governor Walker’s controversial collective bargaining law in the spring of 2011. Democratic Secretary of State Doug La Follette delayed implementation of the bill for the maximum of ten days, giving opponents time to block it in court.

During debate on the Assembly floor Wednesday, state Representative Sandy Pasch (D-Shorewood) was among many Democrats who accused Republicans of trying to get political payback for that move. Pasch called it a “vindictive bill introduced just out of spite for the actions of the secretary of state two years ago.”

Nass denies the bill is politically motivated, although he does admit La Follette’s delay on Act 10 did bring attention to the issue.

The state Senate approved the bill last month and it now heads to the governor’s desk. However, Governor Walker has not yet indicated if he will sign it into law.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:04)