Earlier this year, a report from Wisconsin Watch shed light on how members of the Wisconsin Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee (JFC) hold up projects or programs they don’t like. Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program funding for the Pelican River Forest recently fell victim to this secretive process.
Any member of the JFC can object anonymously to a project. State law requires the JFC to schedule a hearing within 14 working days of an objection, but this rarely happens. And even in cases where a hearing is held, agencies and interested parties may not be allowed to speak.
The secretive “pocket veto” process needs to end, said Dee J. Hall, managing editor of Wisconsin Watch in an opinion piece for the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. In recent years, Republicans in control of the legislature have used their power to veto outdoor recreation and conservation projects.
Anonymous vetoes have actually been part of Wisconsin’s governance process for years, used by both Republican and Democratic lawmakers, but that doesn’t make it right. Gov. Tony Evers has proposed a plan to do away with this secretive process, but it is unlikely the plan will become reality under the Republican-controlled state legislature.
Featured image by Joshua Mayer, 2015.