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by Matt Rothschild, Wisconsin Examiner
May 5, 2023

This story also appeared in Wisconsin Examiner

OPINION — Assembly Speaker Robin Vos wants to take your voice away.

The shared revenue bill that the Assembly Republicans just introduced “would ban counties, municipalities from putting advisory referendums on the ballot,” according to JR Ross of WisPolitics.

Vos and his cohorts don’t even want your advice! They don’t want to hear from you at all, it seems.

It’s bad enough that we, as the citizens of Wisconsin, don’t have the power of referendum that citizens in 26 other states have to overrule their legislators and to pass laws by a plebiscite.

Now Vos and the other Republicans don’t want us to make our voices heard through an “advisory” referendum.

This blatant disdain for the views of the Wisconsin citizenry, this assault on our freedom of speech and our ability to petition our government, is pretty shocking, actually.

It’s also an attack on local control and self-rule. Why should the Legislature be able to tell the counties and the municipalities that they can’t let their own citizens express themselves on the issues of the day?

It’s obvious to me that they want to gag us because they want to flout the will of the people.

Take the issue of gerrymandering. Over the last several years, 32 counties and 21 municipalities have passed a fair maps referendum, almost always by overwhelming margins.

Or take the issue of legalizing marijuana. Last November, three counties and five municipalities voted in favor of this by large margins on an advisory referendum.

Or take the issue of money in politics. Over the last dozen years, 12 counties and 80 municipalities passed ballot measures saying they want to amend the U.S. Constitution to proclaim that corporations aren’t persons and money isn’t speech. Each of these measures passed by huge margins almost every time. On April 4, for instance, the people of Viroqua passed one with 91% approval.

Vos and the Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce

On the issue of the advisory referendum, as on most issues, Robin Vos is doing the bidding of Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, which, in 2020, came out against such measures of popular sentiment. WMC doesn’t want to hear from the meddlesome populace. We just get in its way. WMC, not coincidentally, has spent $36 million since 2010 to help elect Republican officeholders in Wisconsin.

This provision should be stripped out of the shared revenue bill. We can’t let Vos muffle our voices.

This article on Robin Vos first appeared on the Wisconsin Examiner.

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