State Senate Leadership Approves WisconsinEYE
MADISON -- Senate Majority Leader Dale Schultz (R-Richland Center) and Senate Assistant Majority Leader Neal Kedzie (R-Elkhorn) announced an agreement today between the Wisconsin State Senate and WisconsinEYE.
The deal means Wisconsinites will soon be able to keep track of legislators both on the floor of the State Senate and in committee hearings much the way they do with their federal reps in Congress.
“Five years ago, former Republican Governor Tommy Thompson had a dream. He said people in this state should be able to see first hand how their government works regardless of whether they could make it to Madison in person. He called on the state to throw open its doors to allow our business, the people’s business, to be seen in full view,” Schultz said. “Today, we bring Governor Thompson’s idea to fruition. Today marks a new beginning in technology and an addition to Wisconsin’s legacy in progressive politics.”
Schultz credited Republican State Senator Joe Leibham of Sheboygan for doing the
heavy lifting over the past year and for pushing for final agreement.
“Senator Leibham’s leadership has been instrumental in guiding the process forward,” Schultz said. “The bottom line is without Senator Leibham WisconsinEYE would not being going on the air. I thank him for all his efforts.”
Schultz also credited Senate Minority Leader Judy Robson for her support, and praised the Democrat for bringing a bipartisan approach to negotiations for the good of Wisconsin citizens.
Schultz said Assistant Majority Leader Kedzie made sure all the voices within the Senate Republican Caucus were heard, and he provided leadership in working out the technical aspects of the contract.
Kedzie outlined some of the key changes in the contract which were negotiated by the senate since he and Schultz took over the helm of senate leadership.
Among the key points is a provision which prohibits an outside partisan group from taking over control of WisconsinEYE via a hostile or friendly takeover.
“WiconsinEYE is a private not for profit organization which allows it to maintain its credibility and bipartisanship,” Kedzie said. “The adjustment we made ensures that any change in ownership would require Senate approval.”
Schultz and Kedzie also said the contract they signed would require both the executive and judicial branch to reach a similar agreement with WisconsinEYE within 18months, or the senate’s contract would be null and void.
“We wanted to make sure Wisconsinites get to see all of government in full
view,” Schultz said. “Our citizens deserve a full access pass.”
Schultz also introduced and praised Jeff Roberts, President of WisconsinEYE.
“Jeff’s experience in the media world has been instrumental in getting this deal done,” Schultz said.
“This contract to provide unfiltered citizen access has been in the making for many months. It is Majority Leader Schultz and Speaker Gard who have finally accomplished the goal and deserve full credit. They have our deepest appreciation,” Roberts said. "I predict the prestige of the legislature will go way up once citizens see for themselves how seriously the issues they care about are being considered by lawmakers. The quantity and quality of work performed at the Capitol on behalf of state residence often do not translate in the media."
Schultz said reaching an agreement with WisconsinEYE has been one of his major goals since becoming Majority Leader, and he’s pleased to get it done.
“This is the right thing to do,” Schultz said. “Years from now, when forms of communication are being used that may not even be invented yet, people will look back at what we did here today and use our example to continue the people’s right to know what their elected officials are doing.”