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Wisconsin Secretary of State is Playing Politics with Administrative Duties

Published in Blog on July 05, 2022 by Art Binhack with contributions by Mary Kidney

Our Secretary of State has failed to process a one-page document, his direct responsibility to Wisconsin citizens. 

Secretary of State seems like a straight-forward moniker for any organization. The person in that position probably processes documents for the state. Simple, right? But in the State of Wisconsin, even simple things get mired down in politics.

The Problem
Wisconsin Secretary of State Doug La Follette has failed to publish Assembly Joint Resolution 9 (AJR9) as of this date. He has been elected to Wisconsin Secretary of State for 11 terms, which is a total of 43 years. He is also taking an African Safari during the primary election this year, leaving for Kenya and Zimbabwe on Sunday, June 11, and back – maybe even at work – in early July. 

Déjà vu All Over Again?
“He blew the one important job duty he had a decade ago. La Follette played politics and delayed the publication of Act 10, the Walker-era reform bill that ended the outsized power of Wisconsin’s public sector unions. A bill passed in 2013 stripped the Secretary of State of the power to delay publication of new laws.” – Empower Wisconsin, March 21, 2022 Matt Kittle.

What can we as citizens do when our government refuses to follow the law? There must be reasonable consequences to deter failures to perform simple tasks. But one part of government taking away staff from another entity surely is not a good answer. It happened again this election season when the Speaker of the House took away staff from a state senator because of his pursuit of election integrity concerns. 

What if we had a smaller government and outsourced straight forward tasks like publishing bills on a timely basis? This could remove the obstacle of getting bogged down indefinitely by Doug La Follette’s refusal to tend to his responsibilities as an elected official for the citizens of Wisconsin. Just one idea.

Convention of States Makes History
Our story begins with the historic passing of AJR 9, which stands for Assembly Joint Resolution 9, on January 25, 2022. The Convention of States Resolution uses Article V of the Constitution, which says state legislators can place limits on the Federal Government.

The limits in AJR9 are threefold: 
a) Fiscal Restraints. Just last year the Feds spent over $6 trillion. 
b) Term Limits. Many federal officials have been in the same office for 20-30-40 years. 
c) End the Federal Overreach. High gas prices, inflation, inappropriate health shutdowns and mandates, elementary and high school curriculum, etc. are just some examples of federal overreach.

Representative Dan Knodl sponsored the Resolution in the Wisconsin Assembly, which it passed in May 2021.  

With the passage, Wisconsin became the sixteenth state to pass the Convention of States Resolution. Since January, three more states have passed, for a total of 19. Article V of the Constitution of the United States requires 34 states to pass the Resolution to convene a Convention. 

So far, these are the formal efforts to encourage Secretary of State to publish the Convention of States Resolution:

Date Event 
January 25, 2022 AJR Resolution Passes, related to Article V Convention of States
January 27, 2022 AJR 9 Resolution enrolled 
February 9, 2022

WI Senator Kathleen Bernier sent an email to Secretary of State Doug La Follette. It reads: 

Assembly Joint Resolution 9, relating to a Convention of States for one or more Constitutional amendments restraining abuses of power by the federal government, was reported correctly enrolled on January 27, 2022, 

The Joint Resolution text reads: "Resolved, That the Secretary of State is hereby directed to transmit copies of this application to the President and Secretary of United States Senate and to the Speaker and clerk of the United States House of Representatives, to transmit copies to the members of the said Senate and House of Representatives from this state, and also to transmit copies hereof to the presiding officers of each of the legislative houses in the several States, requesting their cooperation..." I am checking with you to see if those documents have been sent.  If not, I would like to know when to expect those documents to be sent. 

Thank you, State Senator Kathleen M Bernier 

March 11, 2022 Senator Bernier sent another letter to Secretary of State La Follette
May 1, 2022 Senator Bernier told Convention of States Wisconsin: "If you have not heard from my office with additional information, rest assured we will stay on this. For the record, if the Secretary of State actually worked 40 hours a week, he would accomplish this in no time at all."
Late April / Early May 2022 Senator Bernier's staff headed up by Michael Lickey, composed a cover letter and the list of names, titles, and addresses for Secretary of State. Even when the work is actually done, La Follette cannot find the time to seal the envelopes, lick the stamps and deliver about 100 envelopes. 


We at Convention of States are eternally grateful for the work Senator Bernier and Representative Knodl have put into our resolution, and we commend them for it. 

Convention of States Action is a 501(c)(4) and is a bipartisan non-profit organization which does not support or endorse any candidates.  

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