Walker says he'll change government records exemptionsSubmitted: 07/03/2015

Play Video
MADISON - State lawmakers will get to keep many records secret under a proposal voted into the state budget Thursday night by Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee.

The rule gives legislators the power not to release any of their communication with staffers or other legislators.

That information is for things like research, discussions and amendments to legislative proposals.

Opponents on the budget committee like Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) on the budget committee believe this shuts the door on voters and even interest groups.

"The whole point is they have a right to do that. They have a right to do it. And who the hell are we to say, not anymore," Erpenbach said.

Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson) said the proposal adds clarity to current law. He said it can be difficult, right now, to decide what should or shouldn't be an open record.

"I think that this serves to clarify and make it easier for us all to stay on the right side of the law and the rules," Knudson said.

However it isn't only Democrats criticizing the open records changes. Sen. Rob Cowles (R-Green Bay) said today he won't vote for the budget with this open records change.

"I was shocked and appalled to see the attack on open and transparent government last night by the Joint Committee on Finance," Cowles said in a statement. "Limiting public access to legislative communications and records is against all I have stood for while in office."

That could make it even more difficult for the Senate Majority leader to round up enough yes votes for the budget.

Erpenbach said this would be a vote budget committee Republicans would regret.

"I don't care what the issue is, I don't care what's coming up in the future," Erpenbach said. "This by far and away will be the vote when you are 90 years old, you'll be going damn, I wish I had that on back."

A spokeswoman for Gov. Scott Walker says he will work with Republican leaders in both chambers to change budget provisions to the state's open records law.

Spokeswoman Laurel Patrick said in a statement Friday that Walker would work with leaders before the measure went to the full Legislature. She didn't immediately specify what changes would be made

The full Legislature and Walker must sign off on the measure before it becomes law.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Story By: Adam Fox

Text Size: + Increase | Decrease -
 Print Story Print Story | Email Story Email Story


MINOCQUA - The Wisconsin DNR kicked off its 7th annual 4th of July Landing Blitz. This is to help out at the boat landings in the Northwoods that will see lots of activity this 4th of July weekend.

The DNR teams up with Clean Boats Clean Waters volunteers from different counties. They monitor boat landings and boats entering and leaving the water.

The goal is to protect the lakes from invasive species and to keep people informed.

"I'm looking for boaters, as they are coming in the lake, before they launch," said Stephanie Boismenue, Lead Aquatic Invasive Species Project Assistant for Oneida County. "I'm helping them to inspect their boats."

Invasive species can hide in many places on boats. Volunteers help clean plants, animals, sand and mud off of boats.
Invasive species and certain types of vegetation can cause harm to lakes.

"Everything from the fisheries to the aquatic plants and vegetation can be harmed," says Boismenue. "And the cost that we have to use to put into containing, removing and managing that invasive species can be quite expensive."

Boaters should check their boats when entering and leaving the water.

Clean Boats Clean Waters hopes everyone can do these things to keep our lakes safe.

+ Read More

MADISON - After a five-week delay, the Legislature's budget-writing committee has given final approval to a new two-year spending plan.

The Joint Finance Committee early Friday voted 12-4 with all Republicans in support and all Democrats against the $70 billion budget.

+ Read More

CHICAGO - The Grateful Dead is ending a run this weekend in Chicago that's gone on so long that one of the city's great repositories of dinosaur bones and other antiquities is displaying some of the band's artifacts.

The band is billing its final three shows of the short "Fare Thee Well" tour as its last under the Grateful Dead moniker.

+ Read More

LA CROSSE - A Wisconsin man is being detained in a mental health facility after authorities say he told a security guard he planned to kill President Barack Obama.

A warrant was issued Thursday for 55-year-old Brian Dutcher of Tomah, the same day Obama was in La Crosse touting a proposal to make more workers eligible for overtime pay.

+ Read More

MADISON - Republicans who control the Legislature are looking to call an extraordinary session to deal with the state budget and bills that would repeal the state's prevailing wage for construction workers and prohibit abortions after 20 weeks of pregnancy.

+ Read More

MADISON - Nearly all records created by state and local elected officials would not be subject to the Wisconsin open records law under a sweeping surprise change Republicans have approved as an amendment to the state budget.

+ Read More

MADISON - An expansion of who can play sports and participate in extracurricular activities in public schools in Wisconsin is being scaled back.

+ Read More
+ More Regional News

Click Here