Walker Signs Bill to Stack Constitutional Convention

by Matthew Rothschild, Executive Director

November 28, 2017

On Monday, Gov. Scott Walker signed a bill that would stack Wisconsin’s delegation to a constitutional convention.

The bill Walker signed into law, AB165 and SB 107, would give Republican leaders the authority to appoint 7 out of 9 delegates to such a convention, if the Republicans continue to hold on to the State Assembly, the State Senate, and the governorship

The new law is contingent upon two-thirds of the states’ legislatures voting to call for a constitutional convention. Wisconsin’s legislature became the 28th to do so earlier this month in a foolish and dangerous move.

If an additional six states call for such a convention, then the following leaders would get to appoint Wisconsin’s delegates:

  • The Speaker of the Assembly (now Republican Robin Vos) would appoint 3 delegates from the Assembly.
  • The President of the Senate (now Republican Roger Roth, the only Republican to vote against the constitutional convention) would appoint 3 members of the Senate.
  • The Governor (now Republican Scott Walker) would appoint 1 member from either the Assembly or the Senate.
  • The Minority Leader of the Assembly (now Democrat Gordon Hintz) would get to appoint 1 member of the Assembly.
  • The Minority Leader of the Senate (now Democrat Jennifer Shilling) would get to appoint 1 member of the Senate.

So if the Republican leaders choose partisan delegates, then Wisconsin would be represented at the constitutional convention by a lopsided number of Republicans.

Amazingly, in the original text of the bills, Democrats would not have had any representation at all, since it didn’t give the minority leaders any delegates to appoint.

As we testified at the Assembly hearing on AB 165 this spring, this was “ a naked and shameful way to stack the deck in a partisan fashion. It is grossly unrepresentative, since Wisconsin is a state that splits narrowly between Democrats and Republicans, so you would be leaving essentially half of the citizens of Wisconsin totally unrepresented at a constitutional convention! And this proposed method breaks with the tradition of bipartisanship of this body when choosing members to important boards and commissions. For instance, for the Elections Commission and Ethics Commissions, the minority leaders of both parties get to choose the same number of members as the majority leaders. Why be fair about the method of choosing members for these commissions, and then be so unfair about the method of choosing delegates at a constitutional convention?”

The original bill got amended so the minority leaders get to choose 1 delegate each. So instead of Wisconsin’s delegation being 100 percent stacked, it would now be 78 percent stacked.

That’s still a stacking.