The state Senate has passed legislation prohibiting county executives from concurrently serving in the Wisconsin legislature.
Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau), the bill’s author, said the state’s eleven county executives should not be serving in the legislature.
“There are many, many conflicts that can exist between a county exec, who has veto authority,” Fitzgerald said. “This is a very, very powerful position we have created.”
Fitzgerald admitted that he drafted the bill in part because Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris — a Democrat — plans to run for state Senate.
Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) said that’s all it’s about. “It’s all about Mark running for state Senate. It’s all about the concerns the majority party has, about Mark Harris actually winning that seat,” Erpenbach said.
“I understand if you’re upset, or you’re thinking ‘oh, there’s only one reason Fitz is doing this and it’s because of the elections,’” Fitzgerald said. “Is there a political element to it? There always is.”
The bill, which was amended to provide a “transition period” of 60 days after a county exec is elected to the legislature, passed on a partisan vote and is now available for consideration by the Assembly.
Also on Tuesday, the Senate passed a bill to prohibit county and town governments from issuing — or spending money on — photo identification cards. The bill would also prohibit an ID card issued by a city or village from being used for voting or registration for voting, or for obtaining public benefits.
The Senate also passed a bill making changes to state waterway regulations, but removed numerous provisions, including language which would have given lake shore property owners much greater ability to dredge lake bottoms adjacent to their shorelines.
A controversial measure which could make it easier to sell public water utilities in Wisconsin to private investors. That bill has already passed the Assembly.
Senators also passed a bill that allows towns in Dane County to opt out of county zoning rules, legislation classifying child sex trafficking as child abuse and allowing child protective services to be involved in cases, and a measure to extend mixed martial arts regulations to the sport of kickboxing and other unarmed combat sports.