Senate to pull open records, retirement provisions from budget

Student-backed Wisconsin novelty lighter bill fails to pass

Senate leaders plan to make changes to the state budget Wednesday to remove changes to open records law and oversight of the state’s retirement system, and add back reforms to the state’s prevailing wage law.

A spokeswoman for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald confirmed that amendments would be offered to remove the open records and WRS language that was added in by the Joint Finance Committee last week.

The language added in by the budget writing committee Thursday would have exempted nearly all records created by state and local elected officials from the state’s open records law. Gov. Scott Walker and GOP leaders said over the weekend they would remove the provisions from the budget after public outcry.

Sen. Frank Lasee, R-DePere, said Tuesday that the Senate would also move to delete language inserted in the budget that would have changed the oversight of the Wisconsin Retirement System. The finance committee included language to change the makeup of the 10 members of the Joint Survey Committee on Retirement Systems, the legislative body that oversees the WRS. It would have changed it from a group of various appointees to instead all members of the legislature.

“Taking those members off and making it more of a political issue long-term is not a good idea,” Lasee said, according to a report. “I think it’s a little short-sighted.”

The Senate will move to add in reforms to the state’s prevailing wage law, which governs pay on public construction projects. The controversial measure will exempt local governments from the law and make state projects subject to the federal prevailing wage law.

Senate democrats have said they will offer “several” amendments to make changes to the budget themselves, but expect they will be rejected by the GOP majority.

Lasee said he also expects that not all GOP members will vote for the budget in its entirety, or the prevailing wage changes, but believes the budget will pass. He said that’s why the Senate took the budget up unexpectedly Tuesday, rather than waiting for the Assembly, because the votes came through in that house.