Legislative leaders and the Governor reach a compromise on ethics reform. The first order of business for the new state Legislature will be an ethics reform bill. Governor Jim Doyle and Legislative leaders announced Thursday a proposal that would merge the State Ethics and Elections boards. Doyle says the agreement would create an independent and non-partisan Government Accountability Board. Members of the new panel would be retired judges, selected by the Court of Appeals and the Governor, then confirmed by the Legislature.
Senate Majority Leader-elect Judy Robson (D-Beloit) says the quick compromise on the ethics reform will hopefully show willingness by lawmakers to work together in the coming session.
The proposal is similar to Senate Bill 1, which died in the Assembly last session. Assembly Speaker-elect Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) believes this compromise will help members move beyond past concerns. The main change to the package is to allow local District Attorneys to investigate and prosecute potential political crimes. Currently, potential ethics violations at the Capitol are frequently investigated in Dane County.
The bill does not address campaign finance reform, but Governor Jim Doyle says he hopes that's an issue lawmakers can reach common ground on as well.
The Governor and Legislative leaders hope to have a version of the bill ready for a vote during a special session in January. The Governor says he'd like to have legislation signed into law before his State of the State Address.