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New bill: state lawmakers would choose successors in secret

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  1. Freedom of Information
Wisconsin state lawmakers are set to consider whether they should each compile and submit to a clerk a secret list of…

Wisconsin state lawmakers are set to consider whether they should each compile and submit to a clerk a secret list of successors who would take over for them in case of an emergency.

According to The Associated Press, a disaster committee last week unanimously adopted the plan, which would also need the approval of the full Legislature and the governor’s signature to become law. Each lawmaker would submit at least three names of people who would step in if a certain number of vacancies came up in either the Assembly or the Senate.

Those lists would not be public records under the state open records law.

Sen. Bob Jauch, who chairs the committee that approved the plan, told The AP secrecy is crucial to prevent "an unhealthy political debate” about the people on the lists. Another lawmaker said the possible successors must remain anonymous for their safety, in case someone were trying to wipe out the Legislature and create, as The AP put it, a "power void."

Bill Lueders, of the Wisconsin Freedom of Information Council, told the wire service lawmakers are "coming up with this far-fetched scenario to justify secrecy."

“I don’t see that there’s a public policy justification for secrecy," Lueders said. "We don’t in fact live in a world where members of the Legislature are routinely picked off by terrorists."