Tuesday, February 28, 2017

Senate Committee Holds Hearing, Votes 3-1 to Advance SJR3

The Senate Committee on Financial Institutions,  Constitution and Federalism held a public hearing this afternoon and voted 3-1 to approve Senate Joint Resolution 3, which deletes the state treasurer from the constitution.
WEMTA registered against the proposal and submitted written testimony. Pieces of WEMTA’s testimony are included in the Associated Press article linked to below.
Representative Schraa (R-Oshkosh) and Senator Feyen (R-Fond du Lac), the proposal’s authors, again testified that the position of state treasurer is largely symbolic and serves no purpose. State Treasurer Adamczyk also testified in support of SJR3, saying the office is “outdated, not needed and a waste of money.”  
Several speakers testified against SJR3, including former Republican State Treasurer Jack Voight, former BCPL Executive Secretary Tia Nelson and former Manitowoc County Clerk Jamie Aulik.
All three speakers cautioned against removing checks and balances and highlighted the fact that the legislature has stripped the office of many of its duties over the years. Nelson also discussed a memo from the non-partisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau that says the state treasurer should be working on the unclaimed property program since his salary is paid by the unclaimed property fund. Aulik highlighted a 2015 Wisconsin Taxpayers Alliance article called “Chipping Away At Tradition: Constitutional Offices Past and Present”, which shows that Wisconsin is the only state in the nation where the state treasurer doesn’t handle cash management.
Senator Kathleen Vinehout (D-Alma), the only “no” vote,  raised concerns about the proposal’s impact on checks and balances. She argued that the treasurer’s previous duties should be restored instead of deleting the office from the constitution, saying that too many of the office’s old duties have been transferred to the executive branch which consolidates power in the Governor’s office.
The Assembly Committee on State Affairs will vote on the proposal Wednesday and the full Assembly will vote March 9. Once the full Assembly votes, the final step is for the full Senate to vote. Then it will be up to voters to decide in a statewide referendum to be held in April 2018.

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