McFarland residents will get to determine the fate of a village resolution when they take to the polls in April.
The voters will be asked if the McFarland Village Board should support amending the U.S. Constitution to state only humans, and not corporations, are entitled to constitutional rights, specifically in regard to establishing regulating political contributions and spending, which is not equivalent to limiting free speech.
The board approved the advisory referendum question at its Jan. 8 meeting. The previous board had approved moving forward with the advisory referendum in 2017 but did not have time to put it on the spring ballot.
Since 2010, United to Amend, a bipartisan network of citizens, has worked to overturn the decision made in the case of Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission. United to Amend wants to minimize the influence money has on politicians and political candidates by limiting the amount of funds an entity is able to contribute to a campaign.
The Village Board will make a resolution based on the outcome of the advisory referendum.
Trustee Dan Kolk objected to the original referendum question presented during the Jan. 8 meeting.
“It’s a loaded question that is not a question – it’s a statement,” he said, adding it had inflammatory language with emotionally charged words.
Village Clerk Cassandra Suettinger said the question’s wording came from what the Wisconsin United to Amend group uses for the referendums it proposes.
Trustee Carolyn Clow brought forward Dane County’s 2011 Citizens United vs. Federal Elections Commission referendum question. Kolk believed the advisory question posed by the county was a better option than what was presented to McFarland.
Kolk said unlike other municipalities that have addressed the Supreme Court decision, the referendum question was brought forward by the village and not a grassroots group.
Village President Brad Czebotar said a grassroots group from the village did address the board to speak on why it wanted to have the advisory referendum placed on a ballot.
Mary Pat Lytle emphasized the Wisconsin United to Amend group plans to do a lot of groundwork in educating people about the question before the April election.