Republican state lawmakers are hoping to advance a constitutional amendment that would restrict the ability of voters to recall elected officials.
State Representative Paul Farrow (R-Pewaukee) is a co-author of the measure, which keeps a recall election from taking place unless there’s a clear reason for one, such as if an official is facing criminal charges or is accused of an ethical violation.
In the past year, 13 state lawmakers, Governor Scott Walker, and Lt. Governor Rebecca Kleefisch have faced recall efforts because of the debate over changes to the collective bargaining powers of public employees. Last summer, two Republican lawmakers lost their seats in recalls. Election officials are still reviewing petitions against the governor, lieutenant governor, and four GOP state senators.
During a hearing Thursday on the proposed amendment, Farrow said “it’s not healthy for our state or our society when the recall process is misused and on a constant cycle of repeat.” Supporters of the change point to the millions of dollars the recalls cost taxpayers, such as an estimated $9 million price tag for a statewide election to remove the governor.
State Representative JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) accused Republicans of pushing the change because they are afraid of being held accountable to voters. Zamarripa says it looks bad that lawmakers want to repeal the rights of the people because “they fear the will of the people.”
Farrow argues recalls can still happen, as long as there is a clear reason for them, but a single vote on an issue should not be the basis for removing someone from office before their term is up. He says lawmakers should “not have to look over their shoulders” every time they take a vote.
The proposal is a constitutional amendment, which requires it to pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature before going to a statewide vote.
AUDIO: Andrew Beckett reports (1:07)