With unanimous approval in the State Senate and a 97-2 vote in the Assembly, the bill creating a Government Accountability Board passed the legislature on Tuesday. Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem) says the bill will bring strong ethics reforms to the state and will restore public faith in the system.
State Representative Frank Boyle (D-Superior) was one of only two lawmakers who voted against the bill. He cited concerns that it does nothing to address the role of special interest money in politics. Boyle referred to the bill as "sleight of hand."
Although he still voted in favor of the bill, State Representative Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee) called attention to a provision allowing lawmakers to be tried in their county of residence…not necessarily where an ethics violation was committed. The former judge says the section of the legislation creates a special class for public officials. He offered an amendment to remove it from the bill, but the measure was tabled during floor debate.
Despite concerns from some lawmakers, Assembly Minority Leader Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha) says the bill shows the legislature can work together. He wants the efforts on the ethics bill to serve as a model for dealing with other issues this legislative session.
The ethics reform bill now heads to Governor Jim Doyle, who is expected to sign it.