The Legislature will likely be back at the Capitol one more time before the end of the year, and a watchdog group is calling on lawmakers to act on a campaign finance reform measure when they do.
Legislative leaders have indicated they will come back to finalize state employee contracts sometime in December. When they return, Jay Heck of Common Cause in Wisconsin wants them to also take up a bill that requires third party groups running campaign ads to disclose their funding sources.
Heck says the support for the measure remains strong and the bill is ready to go. He says leadership just needs to push through with the political will to get it passed before the Legislature adjourns for the last time in 2010.
Heck says lawmakers failed to act on the measure last spring, resulting in voters being left in the dark about who was behind millions of dollars in spending during the recent elections. The Government Accountability Board attempted to take action on its own with rules requiring disclosure, but the state Supreme Court blocked enforcement.
With a Supreme Court race coming up this spring, Heck says action now is critical. He points to the fact that the last competitive race in 2008 saw almost 80-percent of campaign spending come from outside groups.
Another concern among supporters is that the bill’s future among Republicans remains unknown. Heck says Governor Doyle and Democratic leaders have publicly voiced their support, but the incoming GOP leadership has not said if they would bring the measure back next year.
So far, legislative leaders say the only reason they’ll meet next month is to finalize the state employee contracts.