People’s Legislature to Whip Up Storm Tuesday at Capitol

Madison - The grassroots citizen reform movement known as the People’s Legislature will rally next Tuesday, September 18 at noon for an end to the state budget stalemate and a special session on campaign finance reform. The event – dubbed the “Storm for Reform” – will be held on the steps to the State Street entrance to the west wing of the Capitol.

Organizers have asked participants to bring pots and pans to bang, a tribute to Texas journalist, political commentator and humorist Molly Ivins, who told readers in the last sentence of the last column she wrote before her passing, “We need people in the streets, banging pots and pans and demanding, ‘Stop it, now!’”

The event also will feature an open microphone, with a procession of rally participants invited to say in 15 words or less what state officials most need to hear.

“The People’s Legislature will speak volumes of blunt truth to entrenched power – one person and 15 words at a time – and collectively deliver an unmistakable message to the Lobbyists’ Legislature,” said Democracy Campaign director Mike McCabe, one of the People’s Legislature organizers. “Citizens want our state lawmakers to stop the partisan bickering. Stop using the state budget as a fundraising tool. Stop playing games, do your job and finish the budget. Then stop stonewalling campaign finance reform, and take action in that special session Governor Doyle has promised to call to make reform a reality.”

Earlier this year, the governor’s chief of staff told both the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign and Common Cause in Wisconsin that he is committed to calling a special session on campaign finance reform this fall.

“We expect the governor to keep his promise,” McCabe said.

Participants can register in advance for the Storm for Reform event here.

The first People’s Legislature citizen assembly was held on January 4, 2005 and drew more than 1,100 people. Participants approved a four-part reform agenda including comprehensive campaign finance reform, independent ethics enforcement, competitive elections through reform of legislative redistricting, and preservation of local fiscal control.

Regional forums following up on the first People’s Legislature were held across the state, and more than 400 members of the People’s Legislature took part in a rally for reform at the Capitol on October 27, 2005. Less than a week after the rally, the state Senate passed ethics reform legislation that was later killed by the Assembly, only to be resuscitated after the 2006 election and enacted earlier this year in a January special session.