Political outcry over the chairman of the state’s Natural Resources Council, who refused to leave his seat after his term expired in May, grabbed headlines as well as legal proceedings.
Frederick Prehn was appointed to the board of directors in May 2015 by former Gov. Scott Walker, a Republican. Prehn’s refusal to resign – coupled with the GOP-controlled Senate refusing to consider a replacement – effectively prevented a person appointed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers from taking the seat.
It is against this backdrop that Democratic lawmakers denounced the GOP’s inaction against those named by Evers.
“We have a GOP-controlled legislature that is so power-hungry that it allows the head of the Natural Resources Council to sit months after his term expires and refuses to vote on the seat of his replacement,” he said. said Sen. Chris Larson, D. -Milwaukee, tweeted on September 10, 2021. “In fact, they refused to act on at least 150 people named by Evers.”
Senate Republicans plan to take action on September 28, 2021 on two of the Evers cabinet members who have been waiting for a confirmation vote for nearly three years. The two, Department of Transportation Secretary Craig Thompson and Dawn Crim, who heads the Department of Safety and Professional Services, are among a list of 39 appointments that Senate leaders plan to vote on Tuesday when the Legislative Assembly will convene both chambers.
The Natural Resources Board dust-off has been well documented, with the latest development occurring on September 17, 2021 when a Dane County judge rejected an attempt by Attorney General Josh Kaul to remove Prehn from the Natural Resources Board.
But what about the second part of Larson’s statement? We are well past half of Evers’ term. Has the GOP-controlled legislature refused to act on at least 150 appointees?
Lists of appointees
When asked for backup, Larson staff sent PolitiFact Wisconsin a list of appointments that had not yet been confirmed as of August 19, 2021. At that time, the list had 157 names.
Britt Cudaback, the governor’s director of communications, provided the same list, and noted that many are high-level or cabinet-level positions. A selection includes:
Joaquin Altoro, Executive Director of the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
Dawn Crim, Secretary of the Department of Security and Professional Services
Missy Hughes, Secretary and CEO of the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation
Amy Pechacek, Secretary of the Workforce Development Department
Randy Romanski, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Commerce, and Consumer Protection
Craig Thompson, Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation
Karen Timberlake, Secretary of the Department of Health Services
Hector Colón, Board of Regents of the UW System
John Tate II, Chairman of the Parole Board
Of course, the list also includes Sandra Dee Naas, Evers’ selection for the Natural Resources Board. The rest of the no-action list includes appointees to the Wisconsin Election Commission, the Civil Service Commission, and a host of other boards, bodies and positions.
We checked with the non-partisan Legislative Reference Bureau, which, as of September 10, 2021, had 163 appointments awaiting confirmation – more than what Larson cited. The office told us it was not tracking statistics that would compare those appointed by the state of Evers with other governors in the first term.
Granted, in many cases the people appointed by Evers function in their roles. For example, department heads are in place and have the word “interim” or “interim” in their titles.
And Republicans have acted on many Evers 2021 nominations. The list of those nominated by Evers in 2021 contains around 250 names.
Republicans in the Senate have delayed confirmation of nominations for some Evers, in some cases creating political leverage because once cabinet secretaries are confirmed they cannot be removed by the legislature.
Democratic state senators Tim Carpenter and Lena Taylor of Milwaukee and Janis Ringhand of Evansville have introduced a measure that would set deadlines for the Senate to act on appointments.
A note from lawmakers, dated September 8, 2021, notes: “Of the appointments made by Governor Evers since January 2019, more than 150 are still awaiting confirmation from the Senate. Among them, 104 of them waited more than 100 days without confirmation. Several have not received a confirmation since January 25, 2019 – 957 days later. ”
He calls inaction a “breach” of his duties and argues that 100 days is “more than enough” to consider and vote on the nominations.
An analysis from the Legislative Reference Bureau stated that current Senate rules require that nominations be referred to “the standing committee which the President (of the Senate) considers to be the most appropriate committee to convey the candidate’s qualifications” and that the committee “Must report its findings and written recommendations to the Senate.”
But no deadline is specified.
The Democrats’ proposal says that an appointment must go back to committee within 10 days, the committee must act within 50 days, and the Senate must consider the matter within 40 days.
Larson’s office said if the Senate didn’t act, nothing would happen. Since it is not clear in the law whether the legislature has any authority over the rules of the Senate, the change that Carpenter and others are proposing is simply an amendment to the rules of the Senate, not the law of the Senate. State. So the majority party, even if the rule change were passed, would still have control over what would happen if Senate rules were broken.
Larson said the GOP-controlled legislature had “refused to act on at least 150” people appointed by Evers.
He provided a list of 157 names. The Legislative Reference Office said a more updated tally brought the number to 163.
For a statement that is accurate and that nothing important is missing, our rating is True.