MON PM Update: GOP leaders looking at splitting budget into two bills to get around Evers partial veto

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— GOP legislative leaders are considering splitting the budget into two bills — one that would outline spending and the other containing policy — in an attempt to get around the guv’s partial veto authority.

Gov. Tony Evers has the most powerful partial veto authority in the country, but can only use it on legislation that includes appropriations. Splitting the budget into two bills would mean Evers couldn’t rework policy Republicans want to include as part of the plan and would be forced to either sign the full bill or veto it.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told he likes the idea of splitting the budget into two bills, but was still studying any possible downsides and said no final decision has been made about whether to send one bill or two to Evers.

He said the possible approach was born out of frustration among GOP lawmakers that Evers doesn’t want to “negotiate or talk about any of the topics in his budget.”

“If we can’t negotiate, this is at least something we should consider,” Vos said.

An Evers spokeswoman said it was the first the guv’s office has heard of Republicans considering the option and didn’t have an immediate comment. But Dem Sen. Jon Erpenbach, a member of the Finance Committee, said Republicans seemed to be “begging” Evers to veto the budget.

Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, and Vos spoke with about the possible two-bill approach during the GOP state convention in Oshkosh this weekend. Fitzgerald said he has discussed the option with his caucus, but referred other questions to Vos.

It would likely be a first since the state moved to an executive budget in 1931. Prior to that, individual bills were introduced for each agency. In the 88 years since, every budget has been signed into law as one act, according to a history from the Legislative Reference Bureau.

Still, Gov. Tommy Thompson in 1987 proposed separate budget bills for revenue, transportation, natural resources and the capital budget and in 1989 had separate proposals for natural resources and transportation. In both cases, the Joint Finance Committee combined them into one bill, according to LRB. In 1995, Thompson submitted a separate transportation bill, and that was signed into law outside the executive budget.

Vos pointed out Republicans split Act 10 into two bills in 2011 with Senate Dems leaving the state and denying the chamber the quorum needed to take up fiscal legislation. With Dems still largely out of the state, Republicans pushed through the Senate the policy provisions.

Wisconsin guvs have the ability to veto language and dollar amounts in bills that include an appropriation. But Evers can’t create new words by striking an individual letter and can’t combine parts of two or more sentences to create a new once.

Insiders have been watching to see how Evers might use his partial veto authority on the budget Republicans send to him. The going belief has been that if Evers wasn’t able to reshape the document to his liking with his partial veto authority, he would consider nixing the entire document. A full veto would be a first since the switch to executive budgets in 1931.

Vos said he has spoken with the Fiscal and Reference bureaus on how the two-bill approach might work. He said a decision on whether to do the budget in one bill or two wouldn’t need to be made until just before the floor votes in both houses.

Erpenbach, D-Middleton, called the scenario frustrating and called on GOP leaders to sit down with Evers.

“It’s like they’re doing everything they can to not sit down with him, not work with him, not take any of his suggestions with any seriousness at all,” he said.

— The Legislative Fiscal Bureau is now publishing on its website the motions the Joint Finance Committee approves.

Typically, the site is updated with the motions the day after a hearing.

See the motions approved so far:

— Evers and GOP leaders continued to trade jabs Monday over whether Fitzgerald and Vos are unwilling to work with the guv’s chief of staff because she’s a woman.

The issue flared up at the state GOP convention this weekend as Fitzgerald and Vos complained to party activists that they don’t have a relationship with the guv. Evers spokeswoman Melissa Baldauff suggested it was because chief of staff Maggie Gau is a woman, saying Fitzgerald and Vos had no qualms about negotiating with former Gov. Scott Walker’s chiefs of staff, who were all men.

Evers, appearing at a news conference this morning on an automatic voter registration bill, declined to address the controversy.

Fitzgerald then asked, “If not even the governor’s spokesperson can be trusted to speak for the governor, how can he expect us to work with anyone from his staff?”

Evers then issued a statement saying only Fitzgerald and Vos can say why they won’t “work with the women who are leading my office” and he’s asked Republicans to work with his staff just like they did with Walker’s aides.

“They know how to work with my staff and are choosing not to. So, this is clearly a departure from past practice. You connect the dots,” Evers said.

During the news conference, reporters tried to pin Evers down on the issue, but he said he was focused on “voting right now.”

— Dem lawmakers, backed by Evers, today unveiled legislation that would automatically register to vote those who apply for a driver’s license or identification card from the Department of Transportation.

The measure would create an “opt-out” system in which the DOT would transfer pertinent information collected during the registration process to the Elections Commission unless explicitly directed not to.

Rep. David Crowley, the bill’s lead author in the Assembly, said the measure would provide a boost to verification ability and transparency while streamlining the registration process and eliminating barriers to voting.

“Greater participation will make our government more responsible, more representative of the people who are electing folks,” the Milwaukee Dem said.

But the bill “isn’t needed” according to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, who said in a statement that the proposal was “a solution looking for a problem.”

“It’s easy to register to vote in Wisconsin,” he said. “Our state recently implemented online voting registration, and we have same-day registration.”

Under federal law, states without same-day registration must offer motor-voter. In 2012, then-Gov. Scott Walker raised the prospect of eliminating Wisconsin’s same-day registration during a speech in California.

Vos, then on the verge of becoming the new Assembly speaker, said he favored a “motor-voter” system that would allow those who get a driver’s license at the DMV to register to vote at the same time.

The new online voter registration system in Wisconsin has been implemented since then.

Today’s Dem proposal is similar to a measure Evers introduced as part of his budget, but that provision and two others related to voting were pulled out of the document by the GOP-controlled Joint Finance Committee.

Evers today bashed GOP lawmakers for that move, saying that his proposals were “reflective of the people’s will.”

“Republicans have decided that easy voting was not on their agenda,” Evers said.

The bill’s lead author in the Senate, Sen. Dave Hansen, also ripped the JFC’s decision to remove proposals relating to automatic voter registration, nonpartisan redistricting and college ID use for voting. Hansen said the move illustrated that Republicans are “against democracy.”

“At some point, they realized that the only way they could win was by discouraging people who they believed opposed them from voting,” the Green Bay Dem said. “Instead of working together to make it easier for people to vote and to register to vote, we saw more and more changes to the law designed to suppress voter participation.”

But Crowley said he believes the JFC action on automatic voter registration was representative of “a majority of the leadership that has been pulling many of the strings” rather than the views of the GOP caucus as a whole.

“When we look at actually getting this as a stand-alone bill, we want to be able to gin up some more support from those representatives that may have some heartburn, quote-unquote, about voting for this particular budget,” he said.

The proposal began circulating for cosponsors this morning and will be in circulation until May 31. All seven of the bills co-authors are Dems.

— Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said today GOP leaders will seek to intervene in a federal lawsuit unions filed seeking to overturn Act 10.

The suit, filed earlier this month by the Union of Operating Engineers, argues the 2011 law violates the First Amendment because it has to represent workers who aren’t paying dues.

The U.S. Supreme Court last year ruled that public employees couldn’t be compelled to pay dues to a union, finding it was a violation of First Amendment rights.

The union cites that ruling in arguing what it says is a logical extension: if employees can’t be compelled to pay dues, then unions can’t be forced to provide services to those who aren’t covering the costs of representation.

A Fitzgerald spokesman said no details were immediately available on whether GOP leaders will seek additional outside counsel to represent them in the suit. They have hired private attorneys in several cases since the election of Dem AG Josh Kaul.

“We aren’t picking this fight – once again a liberal group is trying to change laws that have been passed by the Legislature and previously upheld by the courts,” Fitzgerald said. “We cannot sit idly by and allow our attorney general or governor an opportunity to undermine Act 10, and will seek to intervene in this case accordingly to make sure that the law is upheld.”

See the release:

— The Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee today reviewed and worked to finalize an application for counties that are seeking to run youth lockups for less serious offenders.

The application considered by the committee today was developed after receiving feedback from counties who raised a number of technical concerns, ranging from whether communications equipment built into the facilities would qualify to be covered under the grant to technical tweaks in the language surrounding transition services and recidivism.

The committee was presented with those concerns, along with recommendations on how to move forward, by DOC staff. After discussion and interaction with county representatives in attendance, the committee agreed to a number of changes that would allow counties as much flexibility as possible as they develop their grant applications.

One sticking point in today’s discussion was over the counties’ request to remove a component of the application that would require applicants to include the daily rate that would be charged for housing youth from other counties. At this point, counties said, it would be too early to accurately determine the daily rate and they feared they would be held accountable for numbers that could prove inaccurate in the future.

But lawmakers countered that those numbers would be vital to determining funding levels moving forward and pledged to allow counties flexibility in their estimates.

The committee also moved to table discussion on several items relating to the disbursement of grants until the next meeting when DOA officials, who are responsible for handling the disbursal process, will be in attendance.

— The Ethics Commission is circulating a six-question survey to gauge Administrator Dan Carlton’s performance as it considers offering him the position for another term.

Carlton has held the job on an interim basis since August 2018 after former Administrator Brian Bell’s confirmation was rejected by the GOP-controlled Senate. But Carlton has not received a confirmation vote since taking the job, and his term is set to expire in August.

Carlton is scheduled for a performance review at the commission’s next meeting June 18. He told today that he believes the results of that review will go a long way towards determining his future with the commission.

See the survey:

— The Evers Administration is urging lawmakers to participate in a hygiene products supply drive organized by the Department of Children and Families in support of Foster Care Month.

The drive, which runs through the end of the month, aims to boost DCF’s supply of hygienic products for foster children in Milwaukee. The administration highlighted 18 “much-needed” items, including: clean underwear and socks, dental hygiene products, feminine products, deodorant and lotion, among others.

A drop-off bin for those interested in donating is located in front of the reception desk in the Governor’s office.


June 13: luncheon: The future of transportation funding in Wisconsin

Transportation funding has become one of the key debating points in the two-year state budget making its way through the Legislature. Gov. Tony Evers proposed an 8-cent-a gallon increase in the gas tax plus while getting rid of the minimum markup on gasoline — something the administration said would more than wipe out the increase. Republicans have removed the minimum markup provision and left in the gas tax increase for now. Where will the debate lead and will it result in a long-term solution?

Hear details from some of the key players in the debate at a issues luncheon set for Thursday, June 13 from 11:30 a.m. to 1 p.m. at UW-Milwaukee’s Waukesha campus just off I-94.

Panelists for the discussion: Wisconsin DOT Secretary Craig Thompson, Waukesha County Executive Paul Farrow, state Rep. Debra Kolste, D-Janesville and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee, and state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-New Berlin and a member of the Assembly Transportation Committee. subscribers and members receive discounted pricing for WisPolitics luncheons of $20 per person, including lunch. Price for the general public is $25 per person, including lunch.

This event is sponsored by: Kapur & Associates, UW-Milwaukee, Wisconsin Academy of Global Education and Training, ELEVEN25 at Pabst, Milwaukee Police Association, The Firm Consulting, Medical College of Wisconsin and Spectrum.

The Waukesha County Business Alliance is an event partner.

For more information and registration, visit:



LRB-1105/2: Implementing automatic voter registration. By Reps. Crowley, Gruszynski, Vining, Stubbs, Emerson and Sens. Hansen and Johnson.

LRB-2413/1: Allowing alternatives to pepper spray. By Reps. Horlacher and Fields and Sens. Wanggaard and Ringhand.

LRB 3003/1 & 3241/1: Increasing the homestead tax credit maximum income. By Reps. Riemer and Meyers and Sen. Ringhand.


AB 220: Relating to marijuana possession. Referred to Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety

Track bills for free:


AP: Republicans plan to intervene in new union lawsuit

Journal Sentinel: Gov. Tony Evers says voters should ‘connect the dots’ on why Republicans won’t meet with his female aides

Capital Times: Federal lawmakers seek more accountability with sexual assault allegations in Wisconsin National Guard

State Journal: As utilities embrace clean energy, some lobby for a more democratic solution

WPR: Wisconsin Democrats Push For Automatic Voter Registration

State Journal: State Sen. Lena Taylor is weighing a 2020 run challenging Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett

WPR: Lawmakers Seek To Strengthen Wisconsin’s Drunken Driving Laws

Politico: White House instructs McGahn to defy Dem subpoena to testify

Politico: Some Republicans unsettled by Trump’s sweeping claims of immunity

Reuters: Worries of longer, costlier U.S.-China trade war hits markets

Reuters: Guatemalan teenage boy dies in U.S. Border Patrol custody

Washington Post: Google cuts off Huawei after Trump administration crackdown


– 9:30 a.m.: Joint Committee on Finance executive session. Members are to take up the budgets for Tourism, the courts, Correction and more.

– 10 a.m.: Senate Committee on Transportation, Veterans and Military Affairs public hearing on SB 129, relating to electric bicycles; SB 152, relating to the operation of electric scooters on highways; and other bills.

– 10 a.m.: Assembly Committee on Family Law public hearing on AB 47, relating to guardianships of children; and AB 166, relating to presumption and conclusive determination of paternity on the basis of genetic test results and orders that may be granted on the basis of genetic test results.

– 11 a.m.: Senate Committee on Transportation executive session on AB 132, relating to electric bicycles; and AB 151, relating to penalties for certain traffic violations where highway maintenance workers are present.

– 11:30 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Tech Council Innovation Network luncheon. Panelists are Mike Partsch, chief venture officer of Wisconsin Alumni Research Foundation, and Dan Malven, managing director of 4490 Ventures.

– 11:45 a.m. – 1:30 p.m.: Wisconsin Policy Forum Viewpoint Luncheon: “The State Budget’s Focus on Education: Meeting the Need or Over the Top?” Panelists include: Jeff Buhrandt, senior director of state relations, UW System; Scott Manley, senior vice president of government relations, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce; Dan Rossmiller, director of government relations, Wisconsin Association of School Boards; and Sharon Schmeling, executive director, Wisconsin Council of Religious & Independent Schools.

– 12 p.m. – 2 p.m.: Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance open meeting.

– 2 p.m.: PSC hearing.

– 5:30 p.m.: Natural Resources Board. Members are to have an informal dinner meeting with the Wisconsin Conservation Congress District Leadership Council

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