An Assembly attempt to override Gov. Jim Doyle's veto of a bill that would strip the governor's power to appoint Department of Natural Resources secretaries has failed.
The vote was 58-38.
Rep. Spencer Black, D-Madison, criticized those who voted against the override today, saying they were acting based on political convenience and pressure from special interest groups.
"I've heard excuse after excuse," Black said on the Assembly floor.
Democrats have long sought to strip the governor's power to appoint DNR secretaries after Tommy Thompson made the position a Cabinet post in 1995. In November, the governor vetoed AB 138, which would have returned DNR secretary appointments to a seven-member board.
The last time any veto override attempt was successful was the 1985 legislative session, when Democrat Tony Earl was governor and Democrats had the majority in the House and Senate. The last time the override of a bill vetoed in its entirety was successful was during the 1981 session.
During the Assembly session, Rep. Jeff Fitzgerald, R-Horicon, said he and Republican lawmakers were showing bipartisan cooperation by supporting the governor's veto.
"This is politics at its finest," Fitzgerald said.
A vetoed bill can become law despite a governor's opposition, but it requires a two-thirds vote in both houses to override the veto. There were 96 representatives voting today, meaning 64 votes were needed to override the veto. Only 58 voted in favor of it.
After the vote brought a victory for Doyle, he issued a statement saying the people and natural resources of Wisconsin are best served with a governor-appointed DNR secretary.
"Under the leadership of an appointed Secretary, in the last seven years we have made the most significant environmental achievements in a generation," he said in an e-mail. "We have also taken the most effective steps to streamline regulations, while maintaining the highest environmental standards."
Various organizations spent nearly 3,000 hours during this session lobbying on the bill, according to a Government Accountability Board report, making it the most heavily lobbied bill of the regular session. The National Rifle Association also weighed in on the issue, urging members to ask their Representatives not to support the override.