State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
The state Senate has approved Senate Bill 227 (SB 227) that establishes a process to replace multiple vacancies in each house of the Legislature if disaster should strike the state Capitol.
In the event replacements are required, I strongly believe that the voters should decide the successors. SB 227 as proposed creates a system that removes electoral power from voters and in turn would place expansive taxing and spending powers in the hands of unelected, unaccountable individuals.
Here is the analysis of the bill by the Legislative Council:
“Under the provision for interim successors for Senators, the Senate leader of each political party for each vacant Senate seat that was last held by a member of his or her own party must request the state chairperson of that party to solicit nominations for an interim successor from county chairpersons of the party in each county that is at least partially within the Senate district. The Senate leader must request that the state chairperson select three to five potential interim successors from the nominees submitted by the county chairpersons and request that the state chairperson submit the names to the Senate leader of the party within seven days after the date on which the ninth Senate vacancy occurred.
Within 14 days after the ninth vacancy occurred, the Senate leader of the political party must appoint an interim successor from the list of potential interim successors that is submitted by the state chairperson of the party. The bill lists the order in which persons are determined to be the Senate leader for the majority party and for the minority party.
A similar procedure is specified in the amendment for situations in which there are 25 or more vacancies in the Assembly at the same time.”
The process outlined in SB 227 is severely flawed because it calls for unelected representation.
I offered an amendment that would have voters select replacements when vacancies need to be filled. Under my amendment, after receiving notice of vacancies in either house of the Legislature by a presiding officer, the governor shall immediately call for a special election to fill each of the vacancies. The Government Accountability Board would then promulgate the rules that would be used to govern the special elections. The rules would include issues like notice requirements, places and deadlines for filing declarations, expedited printing and delivery of ballots, shortened periods for absentee voting, and setting the dates of special elections.
I worked closely with Government Accountability Board Director and General Counsel Kevin Kennedy on this amendment who informs the amendment is fair, reasonable, and workable.
My view is that the state of
The amendment was defeated along party lines.
SB 227 now goes to Governor Doyle for his consideration.