Senate Passes Impartial Justice Bill

Email date: 2/19/08

In this update:
1. Impartial Justice bill clears big hurdle
2. Action Alert: Contact your state representative
3. Reform network asks presidential candidates again for answers

Moments ago, the state Senate passed the Impartial Justice bill (SB 171). The vote was 21-10, with two senators - both of whom are sponsors of this bipartisan legislation - initially not being recorded as voting. One of them already has asked to be listed as voting "yes" so the final margin of victory will be larger. (Update: The final vote tally was 23-10.)

Now it’s on to the Assembly. The public clearly wants this reform. The entire state Supreme Court wants this kind of reform. The Senate now has approved it, and the governor supports it and will sign it. The Assembly is the last hurdle for this effort to rescue our Supreme Court from growing special interest and partisan influence.

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If Impartial Justice is brought to a vote in the Assembly, it will pass. The only question is whether Assembly leaders will allow the bill to be debated and voted on.

Please take action now to build on the momentum created by today’s Senate vote. Call the toll-free Legislative Hotline at 800-362-9472 (266-9960 in Madison) and leave a message for your state representative urging prompt action on the Impartial Justice bill, SB 171, in the Assembly.

And contact Assembly Speaker Mike Huebsch, Majority Leader Jeff Fitzgerald and Elections and Constitutional Law Committee chair Sheryl Albers to urge them to bring the Impartial Justice bill to a vote as soon as possible.

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The Midwest Democracy Network, an alliance of reform groups in the Great Lakes region that includes the Wisconsin Democracy Campaign, today issued a statement calling on the presidential candidates to let the public know where they stand on public financing of elections and other reform issues.

The statement was prompted by a flurry of attention paid to responses by Senator Barack Obama to a questionnaire the network sent to all presidential candidates in September. Only Obama and former candidate John Edwards answered the network’s questions. Obama’s answers included a firm commitment, if nominated, to seek an agreement with the Republican nominee to have a publicly financed general election campaign. In recent days, Obama appeared to be wavering on that commitment and has been roundly criticized for it. The Clinton campaign has led the charge against Obama on the issue. Neither Hillary Clinton nor presumptive Republican nominee John McCain answered the Midwest Democracy Network issue survey.

If Obama becomes the Democratic nominee, he should live up to his pledge to make a publicly financed general election a reality. But the other candidates should now make their own positions on this subject known to the American people.

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Spread the word by sending this message to people you know. To support the Democracy Campaign’s efforts to make people matter more than money, go here.

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