Assembly Republicans Move to Silence Rural Dane County Town Voters

Democratic move to delay action on bill will likely preserve scheduled votes in eight towns

April 6, 2017

MADISON – Today, Assembly Republicans passed Assembly Bill 109 (AB 109). An objection by Democrats to taking action on the bill during Tuesday’s Assembly floor session prevented passage of the bill and messaging of the bill to the State Senate prior to yesterday’s scheduled Senate session. If the bill were signed into law before April 18, it would cancel scheduled annual meeting votes of town residents on zoning in eight Dane County towns. The delayed action on the bill makes it unlikely that it could be passed by the Senate and signed by the Governor in time to impact impending votes.

Representative Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), ranking member on the Assembly Committee on Local Government, released the following statement regarding the bill:

“If signed into law in the next couple of weeks, this fast-tracked Republican bill would have changed the rules mid-game for rural town voters who are scheduled to vote later this month on how their towns handle zoning. Over the last few years, Republicans have made a sport of changing the rules to get the results they desire. This bill, at the behest of one disgruntled real estate developer turned Town Board Supervisor, seeks to limit the ability of rural town residents to have a say in how zoning is handled in their towns.”

“The Town Supervisor leading the charge lobbying for the bill clearly said during the public hearing that if his town voters don’t like it, they can vote him out. On Tuesday night, he and the Chair of his Town Board both lost to write-in candidates who launched their write-in campaigns just a few weeks ago in response to the Board members’ actions to pursue this bill. From the overflow crowd at the public hearing to the unprecedented election results in the Town of Middleton on Tuesday night, town residents have made it clear that they see this bill as an assault on their communities.”

“While I am stunned that Republicans called us back into session just to pass this discriminatory effort to allow Town Boards only in Dane County to avoid the scrutiny and oversight of their residents, I am proud that Democrats stood up for rural town residents by delaying action on the bill, making it nearly impossible for Republicans to get it passed and signed in time to interfere with scheduled town votes."