EDITORIAL: Extend session until consensus reached on Great Lakes water
The Daily Telegram (Superior, WI)
Published March 11, 2008
Wisconsin’s Legislature needs armed guards, but not to provide security. Like communist guards in the former East Germany, their job would be to keep occupants from leaving. Something must be done to prevent them from adjourning this week before completing their work.
The Great Lakes Compact is among proposals that need to be addressed, and soon. Assembly Republicans have voiced some valid and not-so-valid concerns about a proposal that advanced last week from the Wisconsin Senate. After a Monday public hearing, Scott Gunderson, R-Waterford, who chairs the Assembly’s Natural Resources Committee, promised to review the measure — but not until lawmakers reach consensus. It’s unclear how they’ll make headway once the session adjourns.
Proponents, including Gov. Jim Doyle and Lt. Gov. Barb Lawton, have been traveling the state demanding quick action on the binational agreement. They fear the Great Lakes region could lose several congressional representatives after the next census, tilting power to the southern United States, which needs more water. If that happens, they argue, it may be impossible to prevent Great Lakes water from leaving the region, as intended by the Compact.
Their fears may be overstated, but it’s fair for Wisconsinites to demand their elected officials stay in session until all the public’s work is done. There’s nothing sacrosanct about the Legislature’s adjournment date — no reason why it shouldn’t be extended until Democrats and Republicans reach consensus on remaining proposals.
Given the Legislature’s extreme tardiness in passing the biennial budget, it’s hard to believe lawmakers again have the arrogance to ignore their responsibility. Taxpayers aren’t getting what they’ve paid for in Madison.