Wisconsin Republicans, led by their governor and presidential hopeful Scott Walker, say they don't want to gut the state's public records law after all, the Wisconsin State Journal's Dennis Punzel reports. They still won't say who requested the bill that was approved 12-4 by a legislative committee last week. But once it saw the light of day, even on a holiday weekend, the idea of lawmakers voting to hide their own activities outraged just about everybody. George Stanley, editor of the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, captured the sentiment in his Independence Day column. He also listed the lawmakers, all Republicans, who voted for the secrecy measure. That roster includes two western Wisconsin representatives: Sen. Sheila Harsdorf of River Falls, and Rep. Dean Knudson of Hudson.
Walker and legislative leaders issued this statement:
After substantive discussion over the last day, we have agreed that the provisions relating to any changes in the state's open records law will be removed from the budget in its entirety. We are steadfastly committed to open and accountable government. The intended policy goal of these changes was to provide a reasonable solution to protect constituents' privacy and to encourage a deliberative process between elected officials and their staff in developing policy. It was never intended to inhibit transparent government in any way.
The italics are mine. Here's what Bill Lueders, president of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, thinks of that statement, according to the State Journal: “Transparently false."