October 8, 2021

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Government Accountability Bills

This week, I chaired another public hearing and executive session of the Government Accountability and Oversight Committee. One great thing about chairing this committee is that we have a wide variety of bills referred to us, and this week we were able to take action on bills as varied as referendum transparency and social media censorship.

We heard testimony on two bills:

  • Assembly Bill 475 would require referendum questions to include a statement of estimated interest on the amount of any bonds. For example, a recent referendum in the Neenah School District was for the sum of $130 million, but the bond included $68 million in interest which was not included in the question. I believe there is a compelling case to be made that voters ought to be aware of all potential costs of a referendum, including the project's financing.
  • Assembly Bill 590 would prohibit state government officials from attempting to influence social media websites into censoring, banning, or silencing users or their content. This bill will also likely require some amending in order to ensure that officials will still be able to collaborate with social media in instances of criminal activity (such as impersonation of public officials) while still preventing the government from colluding with social media to stifle legitimate speech. This bill would not impact the ability of social media websites to regulate their own content independently.

We also voted to recommend passage of two additional bills:

  • Assembly Bill 501 makes several improvements to the application process for the Clean Water Fund Program and Safe Drinking Water Program. The Department of Natural Resources requested these changes to streamline the process for applicants, and it passed the committee unanimously.
  • Assembly Bill 511 would relocate the offices of the Wisconsin Elections Commission to Wausau, in order to move it to a more central location in the state geographically. This is particularly relevant to the WEC because every candidate for statewide office needs to visit the WEC offices to drop off their nomination signatures. The bill passed the committee 5-3.

Public Input on Redistricting

There is still time to provide your input on the redistricting process. After every decennial census, the states are responsible for drawing new maps to account for shifts in population and to respect the principle of one person, one vote. These maps will remain in effect for the next ten years.

To learn more and to submit your own proposals for consideration (there are a number of web-based tools available for drawing your own maps), please visit the legislature's public input platform Draw Your District Wisconsin.

Submissions will continue to be accepted through October 15th.

Community Events

Menomonee Falls

Event: Falls Farmers Market (Final for the Year!)

Date and Time: October 13th from 2:00 PM to 6:00 PM

Location: Village Park - N87 W16749 Garfield Dr

Description: More information here.

Mequon

Event: Storytime and Craft Day

Date and Time: October 12th from 10:00 AM to 11:30 AM

Location: Mequon Nature Preserve - 8200 W County Line Rd

Description: Seasonally-themed book read followed by a short, guided hike and a fun nature craft. All children must be accompanied by an adult. Email Amanda at amanda@mequonnaturepreserve.org to claim a spot by October 10th. Limit 15 children. Masks are recommended but not required.

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