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Rep. Robin Vos Calls for Recall Reform

With the 2011 and 2012 recall elections costing Wisconsin taxpayers tens of millions of dollars, Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) introduced an amendment that would change the way we do recall in Wisconsin. Vos is Co-Chair of the Joint Committee on Finance.

Last week every community across Wisconsin spent thousands of tax dollars on an unnecessary recall election. 

In a few weeks, our local governments will spend that same amount again. Racine County Clerk Wendy Christensen estimates that a quarter of a million dollars will be spent on the recall elections in our county. So, it’s not surprising that the total cost of the two recall elections statewide is expected to exceed $16 million.  I think we all can agree that’s too much money. These dollars could be better spent or even better, given back to the taxpayer.

Our state is turning into the recall state. My constituents continue to grow tired and frustrated with the never-ending campaign cycle. Even the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel Editorial Board says the recalls are a waste of time and money. “Politicians, regardless of party, should not be recalled over one issue or one (or even several) votes” (Journal Sentinel, May 4, 2012). I couldn’t agree more.

Let us not forget how we got here. Democrats and the big union bosses didn’t like our budget reforms. They ignored the fact that our reforms helped balance the state budget and save taxpayers more than $1 billion. They ignored that we eliminated a $3.6 billion deficit. Instead, Democrats would rather spend more of your tax dollars on recall elections. Remember, that’s $16 million of your tax dollars.

This past session, I introduced Assembly Joint Resolution 63 to recall the recalls. Under the proposed amendment, an elected official may only be recalled if he or she has been charged with a serious crime or violated a code of ethics. The legislation passed out of the state Assembly but was not called for a vote in the state Senate. 

There are 19 states in our country that even allow recall elections. In eleven states, you don’t need a reason to petition for a recall. That’s where Wisconsin falls. In the Badger State, special interest groups who don’t like a particular vote can recall an official. It’s a part of our constitution that we must change in order to escape from this never-ending recall cycle.

Next session, I will once again introduce legislation to recall the recalls. It is my hope that we can put these unnecessary and costly recalls behind us once and for all. Since we will have to amend our constitution, two subsequent legislatures have to pass the joint resolution. Then, voters have to approve it in a statewide referendum. Hopefully, that election result will be a landslide in favor of recall reform.

GearHead May 14, 2012 at 06:47 PM
This sensible legislative offering will be an eighty percenter. In a sane world, we wouldn't have to amend the constitution to specify when a recall is warranted. But then we have democrats to deal with. Sheesh!
Sinead May 14, 2012 at 07:30 PM
YES!!! Rationally thought out and realistically developed. Sadly the cost of this 'travesty' is placed on the backs of ALL residents of WI.
WIwishes May 15, 2012 at 03:32 PM
Sorry, but if a crime is committed, we have "impeachment", not "recall". Recalls are for exactly this thing. Politicians are elected to represent their constituents. 60% of WI adults polled in a conservative group's poll last year said they did not agree with Walker's attack in collective bargaining. It's that simple. He should have been willing to negotiate...as he claimed he would do while running for office. He lied. Once elccted, he bragged that he would not negotiate. Recall Walker. We must make the politicians represent the people. If we don't hold them accountable, who will?
Paul May 15, 2012 at 04:59 PM
I think Vos is being short-sighted. The recall is meant to deal with a situation like Petak. He promised to vote against the Brewers' stadium tax since his constituents (ie, Racine county residents) overwhelmingly were against it. But then Petak decided in favor of supporting the stadium. I'm sure everyone remembers this political fiasco. When a politician goes rogue, so to speak, we need a means by which to remove that politician from office. This issue has been conflated thanks to Vos. Vos' stance is if the elected official commits a "serious crime or [has] violated a code of ethics", then we can recall that person. My feeling is if a politician commits a "serious crime or violated a code of ethics" he/she should be immediately dismissed; ie, no recall needed. If any of us commit a "serious crime," we could likely go to jail. Why shouldn't that apply to politicians? Personally, I don't agree with this recall. But, as someone once said, real Democracy is messy. However, Vos' proposal "throws the baby out with the bath water." It also gets dangerously close to establishing a ruling political elite that become untouchable. I typically vote Republican. But if the Republican I vote for chooses to ignore the desires of his/her constituents on a serious issue (like a stadium tax to benefit Milwaukee), I want the option to recall him/her.
Elizabeth P May 19, 2012 at 04:47 AM
Gimme a break! Scott Walker did exactly what he said he would do. Newsflash: Walker IS doing exactly what the public wants. He just isn't doing what the UNIONS want, so they want a do over until they get they want!

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