State Democrats call on Republicans to approve change to Constitution making it easier for voters to introduce referenda

Democrats hope move will put repeal of state's abortion ban directly in front of voters

MADISON, Wis. — Democratic lawmakers called on their Republican colleagues to support amending Wisconsin’s constitution to allow the public to vote on whether to repeal the state’s abortion ban days before a special session is scheduled in the Legislature to debate the change.

During a virtual news conference Thursday afternoon, lieutenant governor nominee and current state Rep. Sara Rodriguez, state Sen. Kelda Roys and State Treasurer Sarah Godlewski called on Republicans to vote in favor of the proposal put forth by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers that would change the Constitution to allow state residents to introduce referenda.

“Right now, Wisconsin does not have any mechanism for voters to themselves initiate law changes,” Roys, D-Madison, said. “They can’t have a citizen veto over laws that are passed that they don’t agree with, they can’t repeal laws that are out of step that the Legislature refuse(s) to act on and they can’t propose new ideas.”

“We want to update the Constitution and let more people have a say in what happens in Wisconsin,” Rodriguez, D-Brookfield, said.

Last week, Evers called for a special session on Oct. 4 that would begin the process of making it easier for the public to put forth law changes, a move that could mean voters themselves would be able to decide whether to repeal the state’s 1849 abortion ban. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, called it a “desperate political stunt.”

Amending the Constitution would involve a number of steps. Lawmakers would have to approve the change in two separate two-year cycles, after which it would go to voters for their stamp of approval.

Democrats are hoping the change will allow voters to overturn the abortion ban that went back into effect after the U.S. Supreme Court struck down the landmark Roe v. Wade abortion case in June.

WATCH: Wisconsin Republican lawmakers quickly gavel into, out of special session on abortion

Before the high court’s decision, Evers called a special session to directly repeal the ban. Republican lawmakers quickly gaveled into and out of the session with no debate.