Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Legislature Keeps Moving On Ethics Reform Bill

A state Senate committee yesterday approved an amended version of the ethics reform bill that is the subject of a special legislative session, a day after an Assembly committee made some changes to the legislation and passed it.

The Assembly committee's amendments addressed a few of the concerns raised during last week's public hearings. Yesterday's Senate committee actions went further and fixed some of the most glaring flaws in the legislation identified by reform advocates like the Democracy Campaign.

For example, the Senate committee unanimously approved an amendment removing a poison pill in the bill known as "nonseverability" that not only caught the eye of the Democracy Campaign and other reform backers but also newspapers like the Eau Claire Leader-Telegram. The committee also improved public access to information and knocked out a gag rule that WDC objected to and that also drew the ire of many media organizations like the La Crosse Tribune and the Wisconsin Newspaper Association.

There are still problems in the bill that need to be addressed before it is a finished product worthy of passage by the Legislature and the governor's signature. It'll likely be a while before this ethics reform effort's ultimate fate is known, but at least it's moving in the right direction.

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