Letter to the Editor: Door County Municipalities Call for a Statewide Referendum

City of Sturgeon Bay – March 21, 2017

Towns of: Baileys Harbor – June 12, 2017

Egg Harbor – June 19, 2017

Liberty Grove – July 5, 2017

Villages of: Egg Harbor – July 10, 2017

Ephraim – July 11, 2017

Town of Forestville – July 18, 2017

What do these communities have in common? All have unanimously approved Resolutions, “Supporting a Constitutional Amendment to Allow Limits on Campaign Contributions and Conducting a Non-Binding Statewide Referendum.”

They are a big part of the 112 Wisconsin communities so far to officially call upon their elected state representatives to support a statewide Referendum. The non-binding referendum simply asks voters whether or not they want Wisconsin to join the 19 other states that have called for a Constitutional Amendment. The amendment would undo the effects of the Supreme Court’s 2010 Citizen United ruling and again allow reasonable limits to be placed on the now limitless and sometimes “dark money” spent by Super-PAC groups to attack candidates and influence voters and elected officials. When put to a referendum in 72 of the 112 municipalities across the state, all have been approved by an average of 78 percent, some as high as 91 percent. This is strong evidence that voters do not see this as a partisan issue.

Bills calling for a November 2018 statewide Referendum are currently buried in both houses of the State Legislature. In the Assembly it’s called AJR 53 and in the Senate it’s SJR 54. A similar bill died in committee last biennium. These current bills will also never be debated or passed unless voters and municipalities get vocal about them with their state assembly and senate representatives and the members of the Assembly Constitution and Ethics Committee.

The Bills’ proposed wording for the Wisconsin Referendum is:  “The US Supreme Court’s decisions in Citizens United and related cases allow unlimited spending to influence local, state, and federal elections. To allow all Americans to have equal say in our democracy, shall Wisconsin’s congressional delegations support, and the Wisconsin legislature ratify, an amendment to the US Constitution stating:

  1. Only human beings, not corporations, unions, nonprofit organizations, or similar associations – are endowed with constitutional rights, and
  2. Money is not speech, and therefore, limiting political contributions and spending is not equivalent to restricting political speech.

How can you HELP? Talk with your local elected board members. Urge them to join these eight Door County communities who have already United to Amend. It’s a big first step in getting your voice heard and pushing back against the millions of outside dollars spent to drown it out.


Dan Powers

Sturgeon Bay, Wis.

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