On the Capitol: Grothmann pushes for more accountability on petitions

On the Capitol: Grothmann pushes for more accountability on petitions

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Maybe Sen. Glenn Grothman thought no one would notice — what with Thanksgiving on everyone's minds and Christmas just around the corner — but earlier this week the Republican firebrand from West Bend started shopping legislation that would require recall petition circulators to provide everything short of a blood sample and long-form birth certificates to turn in petitions.

Currently circulators must sign the bottom of the each petition sheet, state their residence and affirm, among other things, that they personally obtained the signatures and that they are true. Falsifying a petition is a felony. 

Grothman's bill, which is the second go-around for the measure, would require petition gatherers' statement of authenticity to be in the form of an affidavit, acknowledged by an officer authorized to administer oaths, affirm the circulator's identity and state that the circulator appeared before the officer and executed the statement in the officer's presence.

"This will simply add an objective element to the current system of self-certification in which a circulator approves the honesty of his or her own efforts, and will ensure the integrity of signature collection efforts via third party accountability," read the statement that accompanied the email sent to legislators. 

Grothman said he has always felt the process needs more scrutiny and doesn't feel asking for notarized signatures is going too far. But one can't help but notice that he didn't move to change the law until the recent wave of recall drives targeting four Republican senators and Gov. Scott Walker.

"This is just more of Grothman and the Republicans wanting to do whatever they can to block the recall process," said Rep. Brett Hulsey, D-Madison.

In other Capitol news, lawmakers bestow a rare honor on a journalist and recall organizers put perform double duty during last week's Downtown rally.

Wheeler remembered

A bipartisan collection of legislators this week introduced a joint measure honoring the late Dick Wheeler, the longtime dean of the Capitol press corps who died Nov. 11 at age 67. 

After working nearly 40 years at the statehouse, he was practically a part of the institution. Now, thanks to the resolution, Wheeler will literally be a part of the Capitol forever. In recognition of his importance, the proposal would rename the Capitol press room (now known as Room 235 SW), the Dick Wheeler Capitol Press Room. If you walk by and hear cursing, it just might be his ghost telling us to get back to work.

Food for thought

The headlines after last Saturday's big rally at the state Capitol focused on the number of people who showed up, all 25,000 to 30,000 or so of them. But there was another impressive number reported that day — 4,835 pounds of food was gathered through a "Can Walker Food Drive." 

Food from the drive, sponsored by Teamsters Joint Council 39, We Are Wisconsin and United Wisconsin, went to local pantries and will provide about 3,868 meals, said Jill Bakken, a spokeswoman for We Are Wisconsin. She said the food pantries that received the donations asked to remain anonymous.

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Capital W: Plug in to Wisconsin politics

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