A proposal to create a Government Accountability Board gets its first public hearing at the Capitol. The proposal to merge the State Ethics and Elections board appeared Tuesday morning before the Assembly Judiciary and Ethics Committee. Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) says the legislation will restore the integrity the public expects in its public officials and the process.
However, the proposal is raising some concerns among lawmakers, such as State Senator Mike Ellis (R-Neenah). He's questioning a provision to overturn the entire bill if any part of it is found unconstitutional. Ellis thinks it doesn't make any sense to throw out the entire process if a small problem is found.
The committee also heard from People's Legislature organizer Ed Garvey. He thinks the ethics reform legislation falls short because it doesn't address problems with the state's campaign finance system.
Assembly Judiciary committee chair Mark Gundrum (R-New Berlin) says they are open to changing the bill to address concerns that were raised during the hearing. Already, the bill's authors are looking at several proposed amendments.
The proposal also had several supporters testifying on its behalf. Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen voiced his support in testimony before the committee. Current Elections Board Director Kevin Kennedy also testified in favor of the merger, despite some concerns about restrictions that would be placed on board staff.
A vote on the bill from the Assembly committee could come as early as Thursday.