After weeks of negotiation, the state Senate is slated to meet Friday in extraordinary session in an attempt to advance legislation that would alter the state’s election system.
The package of bills, which would split the nonpartisan state election board into two entities comprised equally of Republicans and Democrats and increase donation limits for political campaigns, cleared the state Assembly last month.
But Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has struggled to get some of his members behind the bills as written. Republicans normally have a 19-14 majority in the state Senate, but one of their members, state Sen. Roger Roth, R-Appleton, is away on Air National Guard duty.
This means that only one Republican can vote against the bill, as the Democratic minority has pledged to fight the legislation.
The body is expected to take up several amendments to the legislation to make it more palatable to members, including adding two former justices to the newly created election board in an effort to decrease gridlock. Another expected amendment would reinstitute requirements that campaigns report campaign donors’ employers.
No amendments had been officially scheduled as of Thursday afternoon and it is unclear whether the rumored changes would be enough to ensure passage.
Fitzgerald said he was confident the bills would advance.
"I wouldn't be going to the floor if I didn't have the votes," he said, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported.
If the bills pass, the state Assembly would have to meet again to approve the amended versions. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, has indicated that he would call an extraordinary session of his body next week if necessary.
The Senate is also set to take up bills that would allow retired law enforcement officers to carry concealed weapons on school grounds, increase the statute of limitations for some types of sexual assault and increase the mandatory minimum sentence for people who illegally possess firearms.