Gov. Scott Walker and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald's plan to introduce legislation to revise special election regulations in response to the court order requiring Walker to hold two special elections is reprehensible.
That meant it could have theoretically halted the special election process for the 1st Senate and 42nd Assembly districts, despite the governor's order. Reilly issued the one-page ruling hours after the DOJ appealed two Dane County judges' decisions ordering Walker to call the special elections.
On Wednesday, Appeals Court Judge Paul Reilly absolutely and unequivocally rejected the claim by the governor's legal team that the special elections were an unnecessary waste of taxpayer resources. A Madison judge last week ordered him to order the special elections by noon Thursday.
DOJ lawyers asked the Wisconsin Court of Appeals to reconsider the case on Wednesday, but their appeal was quickly rejected. State law requires Walker to call special elections to fill legislative vacancies that occur before May in regular election years such as this one but he had refused to do so, calling the special elections a waste of taxpayer money with the seats coming up for election in the fall. Those changes include adding two months to the time between when a governor calls a special election to when the election is held, and expands the time between a primary and a general special election from four to eight weeks.
Reynolds noted in her ruling that while the Legislature's regular 2018 session had ended, Walker had a history of calling lawmakers back into special session to debate specific issues.
The commission doesn't have an estimate for how much a separate special election in January cost.
"Those voters are going to be deprived of their voice to be heard in a redistricting special session and I think that's absolutely important", Kessler says. The Senate seat covers the Door County peninsula northeast of Green Bay and the Assembly seat is in a mostly rural area north of Madison.
Update: Legislative leaders said Thursday that the extraordinary session scheduled for next Wednesday, to take up the bill that would have nullified the judge's order, has been canceled.
The bill being pushed by GOP leaders stated that it would apply retroactively, "notwithstanding any other law, court order, or order of the governor".
"Despite Gov. Walker's best attempt to block elections and deny 200,000 voters their constitutional right to representation, justice prevailed and the courts correctly ruled that Republicans can't ignore the law", Shilling continued. They must file the papers with the state Elections Commission by 5 p.m. on April 17.
"Keep the elections on the same time, and remember that your military are protecting us at all times and they should have a little extra edge perhaps to get their ballots in on time", Richardson said. Walker called the Democratic victory a "wake up call" for Republicans.
The bill would prohibit special elections after the spring election in years with fall legislative elections and extending the period between scheduling an election and executing it.