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Sauk County Board to consider November ballot questions

The Sauk County Board on Tuesday will decide the fate of two proposed ballot questions for the fall election.

The Sauk County Board is slated to decide Tuesday whether voters get the opportunity to weigh in on the issues of gerrymandering and money in politics this November.

The agenda for the board’s monthly meeting includes possible action on resolutions to conduct two countywide advisory referendums in the general election. Interested members of the public will have an opportunity to speak to the board before it considers the two items.

One referendum would ask voters whether they would like state lawmakers to create a nonpartisan procedure for redrawing political districts every 10 years.

The other referendum would gauge support for two Constitutional amendments — one stating that artificial entities, such as corporations, do not have constitutional rights, and another stating that money is not “speech” in terms of campaign finance regulations.

The two proposed referendums would be advisory, and could not compel lawmakers to act.

The referendum on gerrymandering was rejected by the board’s Executive and Legislative Committee in January following a series of contentious meetings, which prevented the full board from taking up the matter.

Despite vocal public support for the referendum, opponents on the committee said it was outside the purview of county government, would irritate state lawmakers, and was not permissible under state law.

The April election has since resulted in 12 new members winning spots on the board, and the selection of a new Executive and Legislative Committee. Supervisor Peter Vedro of Baraboo, the sponsor of the January proposal, has been selected as the board’s chairman.

The newly elected Executive and Legislative Committee voted 4-1 on May 1 to forward the two resolutions to the full board.

Supporters said the referendums would give Sauk County voters an opportunity to speak directly to lawmakers at higher levels of government. They dismissed legal concerns, saying a state law permits countywide advisory referendums on any issue and that numerous other local governments have approved similar ballot questions.

Other business items on the board’s agenda include:

  • Seven minor changes to board rules, including the creation of quarterly “educational meetings.”
  • Five resolutions changing supervisory district boundaries to reflect city and village annexations throughout the county.
  • Resolutions authorizing board members reimbursement for attending the Wisconsin Counties Association annual conference in September and County Officials Workshops in May.
  • A resolution authorizing amendments to the 2017 budget.
  • Resolutions authorizing the purchase of two highway patrol trucks and their accessory packages.
  • A resolution approving the reauthorizing of workers compensation self insurance for March 2018 to March 2021.
  • A resolution authorizing an easement to Wisconsin Power and Light Company to property the county owns in Prairie du Sac for $1,500.

Follow Tim Damos on Twitter @timdamos

Reporter for the Baraboo News Republic.