August 28, 2014

Opposition out in force on Milwaukee County Board bill

State lawmakers heard hours of testimony Wednesday on a bill that would result in major changes to the structure of the Milwaukee County Board.

The proposal from state Representative Joe Sanfelippo (R-West Allis) would reduce the resources and authority of the Milwaukee County Board, while also requiring a public referendum on cutting board members’ pay. The former Milwaukee County supervisor says the state needs to step in to make reforms because “he’s thoroughly convinced they’re never going to do it on their own.”

The bill received a Capitol hearing Wednesday, which saw a long line of opponents appearing before a Legislative committee.

Board Chairwoman Marina Dimitrijevic argued the proposal is nothing more than a power grab and a “slap in the face” to the people of Milwaukee. She said it would weaken the Legislative branch, stifle the voice of the people, and consolidate power in the county executive’s office.

Democratic state lawmakers on the committee raised similar concerns, with state Representative Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee) saying it would take power away from the people of the Milwaukee. Critics of the bill repeatedly made the case that the structure of the board should be left up to the voters of Milwaukee County, not the state Legislature.

A legislative committee is expected to vote on sending the bill to the full Assembly later today.

AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:00)