Unbelievably, the Republicans have put the essential repeal of critical open records laws into their 999 budget motion. To wit:
Section 28 of the motion provides that “deliberative materials,” i.e., the information created in the course of of developing legislation, would not be subject to state open records law. If Section 28 had been in force, we in Wisconsin would never have learned that Scott Walker tried to remove the Wisconsin Idea, and the mission of the University of Wisconsin, from the state statutes.
Section 29 creates a new privilege — a “legislator privilege” — that gives a legislator the right to refuse to disclose virtually all communications s/he has with virtually everyone, AND to forbid his/her staffers to disclose such communications, whether written or oral. All the legislator needs to do is indicate that the communication was part of the legislative process, and s/he is home free.
This 999 motion imposes on the Legislative Reference Bureau and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau the requirement that they enforce the privilege and ensure that deliberative materials do not go to the wrong person. Under the motion, the LRB is no longer required even to maintain the files for all the drafting requests during the current session!
Wow! As Jon Erpenbach pointed out in debate, “Somebody in this building, somewhere, wants to hide something.”