John Nichols, who last I saw squiring Susan Sarandon around the square during the late unpleasantness earlier this year, has called out the Governor and the Legislature for attempting to neuter and control what is supposedly a non-partisan adminstrative agency, the Government Accountability Board. He published an article in the on-line edition of The Nation on Wednesday.
In the latest of a series of desperate moves by Walker and his backers, Republican legislator moved Tuesday to give the embattled governor veto power over decisions about the recall election he is likely to face next spring.
The Republican-led Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules has ordered the state’s Government Accountability Board—an independent agency that oversees elections in Wisconsin—to submit decisions regarding key voting-rights issues to a formal rule-making process that gives Governor Walker and Republican legislative leaders the ability to reject rule changes made by the GAB.
Critics warn that this gives Walker the power to dictate how the GAB runs elections—including a new election that would be scheduled if opponents of the governor succeed in filing 540,000 valid signatures on recall petitions. That’s because, under an executive order the governor recently issued, he now has the authority to veto newly created administrative rules—if they are formally promulgated. The decision by the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules, which was made in a party-line vote Tuesday, requires the formalizing of the rules in a manner that gives the final say to the governor, as opposed to the independent board that is supposed to set election rules and oversee voting.
“What we’re doing here is we’re neutering the GAB,” complained state Senator Fred Risser, the Madison Democrat who is the senior member of the legislature.
The assault on the GAB won’t necessarily prevent a recall election. The state’s constitution sets the basic outlines for the process of recalling elected officials. But could make things harder for those promoting the recall and for those—especially students—who want to vote in the election.
That may explain why Walker’s legislative allies are moving to give the governor the authority to erect roadblocks to the recall.
The Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules on Tuesday ordered the GAB to formalize three decisions, including:
1. a determination allowing technical college IDs to count as college IDs under the photo ID for voting law
2. a determination that it is acceptable to use stickers to update college ID addresses
3. a determination that it is appropriate to electronically circulate recall and nomination papers.
It is the requirement that the board formalize their decisions through the rule-making process that will give Walker and his allies the ability to formally accept or reject rule changes. That gives them veto power with regard to how elections are organized and run.