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Legislative Ethics

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Voting & Elections 05.17.2024

PBS Wisconsin Here & Now (VIDEO): Jay Heck on ballot drop boxes and Wisconsin voters in 2024

Frederica Freyberg: So in your mind, should Wisconsin voters expect to see the use of absentee ballot drop boxes for upcoming elections, from what you heard in oral arguments? Jay Heck: Well, if the oral arguments are any indication about what the court might do, I am very positive or have a very good positive feeling about what the outcome might be. You know, one thing it’s important to note is that we have had drop boxes in Wisconsin for a number of years and of course, most famously during 2020, in the pandemic, they were a means for many thousands of Wisconsinites around the state to be able to return their absentee ballots in a safe, secure way. Rural voters, urban voters, young voters, old voters, people with disabilities, they’re a good thing. Wisconsin is now the only state in the upper Midwest, only non-red, deep red state that doesn’t allow the use of them.

Los Angeles Times: Ethics reform measure will go to L.A. voters. Critics say it’s watered down

California Common Cause, a good-government group, called the measure “disheartening.” “The Los Angeles City Council had a chance to turn the tide of corruption at City Hall and begin a new era in which L.A. residents could trust their local elected officials,” said Jonathan Mehta Stein, the group’s executive director. “Instead they chose to uphold a broken, shameful status quo.”

Voting & Elections 05.13.2024

NPR Morning Edition/WUWM (Audio): Wisconsin Supreme Court hears whether to allow absentee ballot drop boxes in the state again

Common Cause-Wisconsin has joined the case on the side of the plaintiffs. Executive Director Jay Heck explains: “There should be ways for voters to return their absentee ballots so they have some assurance that they’ll be counted. The U.S. Mail is not always reliable in getting them back to the clerks in time. So, this is just something that benefits every voter regardless of how they vote," Heck says. Heck also says people with disabilities would be able to return their ballot more efficiently. The Associated Press says 29 states allow some form of absentee drop box, but Heck says Wisconsin is the only purple or swing state that does not.

Los Angeles Times (Op-Ed): Is the Los Angeles City Council serious about ethics reform or wasting an opportunity?

The barrage of scandals at L.A. City Hall has created a once-in-a-generation opportunity to clean up Los Angeles government. It should not be squandered with half-fixes. The reform package the City Council approves, which will have to be passed by voters in November, should give the Ethics Commission the independence it needs to hold officials accountable to the people they represent. To meet the moment, the City Council must cede power for the greater good.

Money & Influence 05.1.2024

CAL Matters/Mercury News: California passed a law to stop ‘pay to play’ in local politics. After two years, legislators want to gut it

California Common Cause and California Clean Money Campaign — the main supporters of the 2022 law — argued the bill would favor certain industries, reduce transparency and allow local elected officials to accept large donations outside the 18-month period the bill proposed. “For many lengthy projects that take longer than nine months, these changes would allow for large contributions to be made while a matter is pending” as long as the check is written outside the window, said Pedro Hernandez, legal and policy director of California Common Cause. Jonathan Mehta Stein, executive director of the group, called the bill’s advancement a “​special interest triumph.” “Our democracy is in dire trouble at the national level. The least we can offer Californians is high-integrity, trustworthy governance here at home,” he said in a statement.

Money & Influence 04.30.2024

Yahoo! News/ The Guardian: Revealed: Tyson Foods dumps millions of pounds of toxic pollutants into US rivers and lakes

Big ag’s influence on state politics is “endemic”, according to Gavin Geis from Common Cause Nebraska, a non-partisan elections watchdog. “The big money spent on lobbying and campaigns by corporate agriculture has played a major role in resisting stronger regulation – despite clear signals such as high levels of nitrates in our groundwater and cancers in rural communities that we need more oversight for farmers across the board,” said Geis.

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