Saturday, August 24th, 2019

Cutting the secretary pool


Can Wisconsin do without the secretary of state and the state treasurer? Over at the MacIver Institute, I discuss the possible elimination of the two positions thanks to a proposed constitutional amendment.

Perhaps the state legislature is finally ready to get rid of the two constitutional offices. A proposed constitutional amendment by State Rep. Tyler August and State Rep. Michael Schraa would get rid of the secretary of state and the state treasurer.

The amendment would have to pass two sessions of the state legislature before going to referendum. The earliest the amendment could go to referendum is April, 2015.

The current legislature has already continued the trend of diminishing the two offices. The state treasurer lost control over unclaimed property. Before that, the legislature took away the Edvest Fund. The only responsibility left to the state treasurer is to sit on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, a task the current incumbent told WisPolitics takes two fifteen-minute phone calls a month.

The secretary of state, who also sits on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands, has few duties left. What’s left to the position is “keep a fair record of the official acts of the legislature and executive department of the state,” and, “keep the great seal of Wisconsin.”

As far as keeping the seal, it was temporarily lost in 1976 on Secretary of State Doug La Follette’s watch when it was sent out for repair. An aide to then-Governor Patrick Lucey damaged the seal while using it, causing the state to send it via UPS to Chicago. The box arrived damaged and empty. At the time, the seal was valued at $350.

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