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Voters to decide on cash in politics, state treasurer's office

St. Croix County voters will get their say next week on whether they want Wisconsin added to the list of states seeking to overturn a court ruling allowing corporate money in politics.

The April 3 ballot in St. Croix County will include a question asking voters to support a U.S. constitutional amendment that would reverse the U.S. Supreme Court's Citizens United decision.

The measure, approved for the ballot by the St. Croix County Board, asks voters for the county to adopt a resolution stating:

"'We the people' of the county of St. Croix, Wisconsin, seek to reclaim democracy from the expansion of corporate personhood rights and the corrupting influence of unregulated political contributions and spending. We stand united with communities across the country to support passage of an amendment to the United States Constitution stating:

• Only human beings are endowed with constitutional rights — not corporations, unions, nonprofits or other artificial entities, and

• Money is not speech, and therefore regulating political contributions and spending is not equivalent to limiting speech."

Proponents point to more than 110 other Wisconsin communities and 19 states that have passed similar resolutions.

Other Wisconsin communities casting votes on the so-called "United to Amend" ballot measure include Green County and the cities of La Crosse, Rice Lake, Sun Prairie and Marshfield.

New Richmond resident Jane Hansen has been among those backing the St. Croix County measure.

"We cannot solve any of the pressing issues in front of our country as long as our politicians do not represent us, and they won't until we get the big money out of politics," she said in a statement.

Treasurer question

Wisconsin voters will also decide next week whether to do away with the state treasurer position.

The question of whether to eliminate the office will be put to all voters on the April 3 ballot.

The position, currently held by Matt Adamczyk, pays an annual salary of $69,701, according to 2017 figures.

Adamczyk is running as a Republican for the Assembly in a seat being vacated by a fellow GOP member running for state Senate. Adamczyk ran for the post on the platform of eliminating it; he calls it an "unnecessary office," according to his bio on the state treasurer's website.

Under existing law, the treasurer joins the secretary of state and the attorney general on a board of commissioners that oversees Wisconsin's public land sales for schools and universities. The question before voters notes it would replace the treasurer's role on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands with the Wisconsin lieutenant governor.

Though the office is nonpartisan, support and opposition to its elimination has fallen along party party lines.

Rep. Shannon Zimmerman, a River Falls Republican, said he's fine watching the treasurer's position go away. Greater automation in financial management and system management has left the position's need "diminished a bit," he said.

Zimmerman said elimination of the treasurer won't reduce audits and compliance accountability at the state level.

But Sen. Kathleen Vinehout, a Democrat whose district includes Pierce County, said the move would centralize more power with the state's Department of Administration, which is overseen by the governor and the secretary of administration.

"The greater the power, the greater the opportunity for corruption, and less transparency for citizens of the state," Vinehout said in a statement released on Monday, March 26.

Mike Longaecker

Mike Longaecker is the regional public safety reporter for RiverTown Multimedia. His coverage area spans St. Croix and Pierce counties. Longaecker served from 2011-2015 as editor of the Woodbury Bulletin. A University of Wisconsin-River Falls graduate, Longaecker previously reported for the Red Wing Republican Eagle and for the Forum Communications Minnesota Capitol Bureau. You can follow him on Twitter at @Longaecker

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