UPDATE: Assembly passes bipartisan elections bill

UPDATED Wednesday, June 12, 2013 --- 3:19 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Assembly has passed a bill that would double the amount people could donate to political campaigns and also allow for online registration.

Despite passing the bill on a voice vote Wednesday in the Assembly, it was unclear when the Senate may take it up.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he hopes the Senate will vote on it by the end of June before it adjourns until September.

But Republican leaders in the Senate have not yet agreed to take up the bill.

The proposal must pass both chambers in identical form and be signed by Gov. Scott Walker before it can become law.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Wednesday, June 12, 2013 --- 11:28 a.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin state Assembly is poised to pass an election reform bill that has bipartisan support and would double campaign contribution limits.

The measure up for a vote Wednesday would also allow voters to register online.

The proposal represents a compromise reached between Republicans and Democrats, with more controversial elements dealing with photo identification at the polls removed. Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos says he hopes to take up that issue in the fall.

The new contribution limits double what any one person can give to candidates for governor, the state's constitutional offices, Supreme Court justice, state senators, Assembly representatives, circuit judges and district attorneys.

The limits would increase based on inflation rates every two years.

It would be the first time contribution limits have gone up since the 1970s.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Monday, June 6, 2013--6:10p.m.
MADISON It's a widely-held belief that it takes money to play the game of politics well and now, if one bill makes it through, there could soon be more money lining the pockets of potential politicos. The cap on campaign contributions would be raised, so individuals could donate more money to their favorite candidate.

Here's the breakdown: In the past, you could have donated $10,000 max to a candidate for governor, lieutenant governor and some other state wide offices. This bill would move the limit to $20,000.
For state senate candidates the current cap is $1,000; That would bump up to $2,000. And the amount for state assembly candidates would also double from the current $500 to $1,000.

"They've been the same since 1970s," said State Rep. Kathleen Bernier, R-Chippewa Falls. "So I think it was time to take a look at, you know inflation has hit everything including contributions and the limit, the total limit was pretty low as well."

Whatever your opinions about allowing more money into political coffers, some are saying this move could let more sunshine in. "Let's say you have a thousand dollars right now," said State Rep. Terese Berceau, D-Madison. "You give five hundred dollars to the candidate of your choice but you probably take the other five hundred and you would give it to an organization that doesn't have to report individually. Now you can give that thousand dollars to your favorite candidate but you will be on record as having done that."
UPDATED Monday, June 6, 2013 --- 2:56 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The Wisconsin Assembly's elections committee has approved a bill that would increase campaign contribution limits and allow voters to register online.

The bill originally included language that would have allowed people to opt out of showing photo identification at the polls if they swear they're poor. The provision was intended to overcome an injunction blocking Wisconsin's voter ID requirements.

Election watchers complained last week the bill would force poor people to embarrass themselves at the polls. The bill's Republican author huddled with Democrats and came up with a new version that doesn't include any voter ID language. The measure would instead double contribution limits and let voters register through a state website.

The committee approved the bill 8-1. The full Assembly is expected to vote on the plan Wednesday.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Friday, June 7, 2013 --- 4:35 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- The state Assembly is expected to vote next week on a Republican bill designed to reinstate photo identification requirements for voters.

The bill would allow voters to opt out of the mandate if they swear they're poor, have a religious objection to being photographed or can't obtain the documents they need to get an ID.

A Dane County judge last year struck down voter ID requirements, noting the substantially impairs the poor's right to vote. The judge said birth certificates are needed to obtain IDs and voters who lack the certificates must pay to obtain them.

Republicans say they're revising the measure, though, after a surge of complaints at a public hearing this week that poor voters would be forced to humiliate themselves at the polls.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


UPDATED Tuesday, June 4, 2013 --- 12:40 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- Democrats are questioning why Republicans are fast-tracking a bill designed to reinstate voter photo identification requirements.

A Dane County judge has blocked the photo ID mandate, ruling they're unconstitutional because some people entitled to vote might lack the resources to obtain an ID. Rep. Jeff Stone's bill makes a host of changes to Wisconsin election law, including allowing voters to opt out of showing photo IDs at if they tell election workers they're poor. Stone says that change should enable the mandate to pass legal muster.

Dozens of people packed an Assembly elections committee hearing on the bill Tuesday. Committee member Rep. Fred Kessler, a Milwaukee Democrat, complained Republicans are moving the bill too quickly.

Stone says the GOP needs to move fast to give election workers time to train.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press


Posted Tuesday, May 28, 2013 --- 1:58 p.m.

MADISON, Wis. (AP) -- A Republican lawmaker says a sweeping bill to reform Wisconsin's election regulations would negate legal concerns about voters showing photo identification at the polls.

Current state law requires voters to show photo identification at the polls. Two Dane County judges have struck the law down, though.

Rep. Jeff Stone's bill would make a multitude of changes to Wisconsin election law, chief among them a provision allowing voters to opt out of the requirement if they tell poll officials they're poor and can't obtain an ID without paying a fee; they have a religious objection to being photographed; or they can't get the documentation needed to obtain an ID.

Stone says the provisions are designed to address concerns raised in the Dane County cases.

Copyright 2013: Associated Press

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