There are 12 members of the most powerful legislative committee in Wisconsin who think that the less you know about what government is doing the better. 

That gall has caused a racket that can be heard from the Brat Stop to the Madeline Islands, and is one of the few things that have unified citizens of this state in quite some time. 

On the eve of our Independence Day weekend, when we celebrate the first steps in our centuries-long process to form a more perfect union, Republican members of the state legislature’s Joint Finance Committee passed a motion in the dark of night that would cloak the inner-workings of government in a veil of secrecy. 

The provision, tucked away within a budget, would have shielded access to “deliberative materials” from open records requests and prevented the public from knowing how, exactly, policy was developed or who was behind it. 

The disturbing measure went beyond state government, extending to the county and local levels on down to school boards. 

Almost immediately political polar opposites condemned the proposed changes to the state’s open records laws. The backlash came so hard and so fast that just 36-hours later, legislative leaders and Gov. Scott Walker ceded that the provision would be struck from the budget.

Whose idea was this?

As of publication, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald had come out on record saying that Republican Senate and Assembly leadership, as well as Gov. Walker, were involved with the measure and its advancement.

This state is rife with political differences, but the citizenry demands that regardless of which political party is in power, they must do the public’s business in an open and transparent manner. 

Those responsible for this provision, including the 12 Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee that voted in favor of it, must be held responsible for their actions this Independence Day. We urge voters to remember their names in coming elections: 

Sen. Alberta Darling, Rep. John Nygren, Sen. Luther Olsen, Sen. Sheila Harsdorf, Rep. Dale Kooyenga, Sen. Leah Vukmir, Sen. Tom Tiffany, Sen. Howard Marklein, Rep. Amy Loudenbeck, Rep. Dean Knudson, Rep. Michael Schraa, Rep. Mary Czaja, Gov. Scott Walker, Rep. Robin Vos, and Sen. Scott Fitzgerald.

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