Government Accountability Board Bill Special Session

Bill that abolished the State Elections and Ethics Board and replaced them with the Government Accountability Board. Ethics Enforcement Reform

Special Session Senate Bill 1/Special Session Assembly Bill 1

February 2, 2007

Special Session Assembly Bill 1 (JR7AB1) and Special Session Senate Bill 1 aim to promote more vigorous enforcement of the state ethics code and Wisconsin’s lobbying and campaign finance laws by abolishing the state Elections Board and Ethics Board and replacing them with a more politically independent Government Accountability Board (GAB) with expanded enforcement authority. The GAB is given the authority to investigate possible wrongdoing and, most importantly, it is given the financial means to independently conduct investigations.

Both bills were introduced on January 11, 2007 by the Joint Committee on Legislative Organization at the request of Governor Doyle. JR7AB1 was referred to the committee on Judiciary and Ethics, where it received a public hearing on January 16, 2007. JR7SB1 was referred to the Senate Committee on Ethics Reform and Government Operations where it received a public hearing on January 18, 2007. Read WDC’s testimony.

Picture: Governor Doyle signing the Ethics Reform Bill.On January 22, 2007, the assembly committee approved a substitute amendment making 14 revisions to the bill on an 8-1 vote. The next morning, the Senate committee approved the same substitute amendment on a 4-1 vote. They unanimously approved four additional amendments that improve the bill by removing the nonseverability provision, improving public access to information, and eliminating the gag rule to which WDC and media organizations objected. The bill passed out of committee as amended on a 4-1 vote.

On January 30, 2007 the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee approved the bill 16-0. Later that day the Senate unanimously passed the legislation, and the Assembly approved the bill on a 97-2 vote a few hours later. The governor signed it into law on February 2, 2007.