Friday, September 9, 2011

Pair of Wisconsin Presidential Primary Bills Set for Tuesday Consideration in the State Assembly

The Wisconsin state Assembly Committee on Rules placed both AB 162 and SB 115 on the chamber's calendar on Thursday. Both bills -- bills to move the Badger state presidential primary from February to April -- will be considered before the full Assembly when the legislature reconvenes on Tuesday for the first day of its September floor period. The Senate version has already passed the upper chamber, and if passed by the Assembly, would bring Wisconsin a step closer to pulling the timing of the presidential primary back into compliance with the national parties' rules on delegate selection.

There has been nothing but bipartisan support of both bills to this point in the legislative process. Both have been shepherded though their respective houses by the chairs of the relevant elections committee chairs -- both of whom are co-sponsors of both bills. The delay in setting the primary date in Wisconsin, then, appears to be more a matter of process than of any sort of political grandstanding or positioning by state-level actors with a goal of reserving a prime spot on the primary calendar (see Arizona). The legislature, with year-round sessions, has the luxury of addressing or revisiting legislation at times with other legislatures -- that have already adjourned for the year -- cannot. The Wisconsin legislature, institutionally, as limited sessions during the back half of the year. The prompt action on the presidential primary legislation -- in terms of setting it up for consideration on the first day the Assembly is back in session -- indicates a certain consensus on the matter in FHQ's eyes. The expectation here is that one or both of these bills will pass in the next week and shift the primary back to April, where it was traditionally scheduled prior to 2004.

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