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Saturday, June 22, 2024

Ethics bill sparks debate on partisanship in Assembly

Legislation concerned with political ethics proposed by Assembly Democrats met stiff opposition Thursday, touching off debate on the state of Wisconsin's economy and the current session's legislative record.

Entitled "Restoring Integrity," the package was designed by Democrats to address what they called power abuses and corruption across state government with proposals such as one requiring adherence to the Open Meetings Law, according to a Democratic statement.

"Now more than ever citizens have serious questions about what's going on at the State Capitol. The response by Gov. Walker and legislative Republicans has been to close government down to the public," Rep. Jon Richards, D-Milwaukee, said in the statement.

An attempt to move that bill, Assembly Joint Resolution 52, out of committee and to the floor for a vote was rejected.

The nature of some of the legislation passed in the session Thursday, which included crossbow hunting to air contaminant regulations, compounded Democratic frustrations with the body's lack of bipartisan cooperation on economic legislation.

"[Creating jobs] shouldn't be a partisan issue," said Rep. Peter Barca, D-Kenosha, remarking on the lack of progress made in the special legislative session on jobs last fall. "This agenda today is an embarrassment to all unemployed people."

In response, Rep. Mark Honadel, R-South Milwaukee, said that further economic and job legislation is being developed in the Committee on Labor and Workforce Development, of which he is a member.

"When a good idea is suggested, and when a solid job bill is put before us, we [shouldn't] look backward," said Rep. Janet Bewley, D-Ashland, urging bipartisan cooperation.

A bill that would provide job training to unemployed insurance claimants was passed shortly after.

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