Amid a crippling budget deficit and a collective bargaining law that led to weeks of protests, the newly elected Wisconsin State Treasurer has drafted a bill proposing to eliminate the office of Secretary of State — the state’s Notary regulator — as well as his own job.
State Treasurer Kurt Schuller, who was elected to his first term last November, campaigned on the issue of doing away with both offices in a budget-cutting move. If Schuller’s efforts are successful, it is unclear what state office would take over Notary commissioning and regulation.
Secretary of State Doug La Follette recently told local media that he opposes the move, that it would not result in cost savings, and that he intends to push for legislation that would add to his duties.
The notion of eliminating the two offices is not an isolated one. Elected officials from both major parties have pushed similar proposals, and the recent budget drafted by Gov. Scott Walker would move many tasks performed by the Secretary of State to other agencies.
Because both offices were created by the state constitution, eliminating them requires approval by the General Assembly in two successive sessions and then a majority vote in a referendum. If the proposal succeeds, the Secretary of State’s office would cease to exist in January 2015.