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As I See It

Wisconsin lawmakers should follow the laws they make



If we allow our elected officials to act on the honor system, we shouldn’t be surprised by the results. Yet members of the Wisconsin Assembly and Senate are allowed to operate on the honor system when it comes to retaining records. While Wisconsin’s laws on open records are quite clear…government bodies from the state to small towns must keep a record of the business they do in public, and they must make that available to the public. It happens routinely at city council, and county and school boards. Many records must be saved for years. But when our lawmakers wrote the laws, they decided to exempt themselves. Senators and Assemblymen in the Wisconsin capitol are allowed, legally, to destroy their records. Email exchanges between lawmakers and donors, correspondence from the public about a hot issue, all can be legally deleted. This loophole needs to be closed. IF we expect non-elected officials to follow the public records law, we sure should expect those we elect to office to do so, if only to set a good example. Again this legislative session, a small group of lawmakers is planning to introduce a bill to remove this exemption, and require our statewide politicians to follow the law, just like all other government officials. There shouldn’t be one set of rules for those who have to follow the law and another for those who write the laws.

Scott Robert Shaw serves as WIZM Program Director and News Director, and delivers the morning news on WKTY, Z-93 and 95.7 The Rock. Scott has been at Mid-West Family La Crosse since 1989, and authors Wisconsin's only daily radio editorial, "As I See It" heard on WIZM each weekday morning and afternoon.

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