State Senator Mary Lazich (R-New Berlin) represents parts of four counties: Milwaukee, Waukesha, Racine, and Walworth. Her Senate District 28 includes New Berlin, Franklin, Greendale, Hales Corners, Muskego, Waterford, Big Bend, the town of Vernon and parts of Greenfield, East Troy, and Mukwonago. Senator Lazich has been in the Legislature for more than a decade. She considers herself a tireless crusader for lower taxes, reduced spending and smaller government.
For a year and a half, I served on the Legislative Council Special Study Committee on the Great Lakes Compact. The committee was outstanding, the most meaningful committee I have served on during my years in the Legislature.The makeup of the committee was amazing in that such a varied group of individuals including legislators, interest groups, businesspeople, environmentalists and university officials managed to work diligently for countless hours on a critical issue of enormous magnitude. There is not an issue that is more important than the Compact.
The way the committee ended its work is telling because more time was necessary to develop the best Compact possible. The sheer length of the Compact was a signal the document needed further study.
Once the Compact is adopted, its policies will remain intact for generations to come, so the job must be done right. Unfortunately, the Compact as written contains page after page of language that is broad and vague, as outlined by our highly respected Legislative Council.
I have already blogged this week about how 33 amendments were proposed to the Great Lakes Compact bill with little time for legislators, the press, interested parties and the general public to review.
It is frustrating to me as the most vocal opponent of the Compact that so many amendments were dropped at the last minute onto a bill that totals over 150 pages. This is no way to run a ship.
The heavy amount of broad language in the Compact indicates this issue almost certainly will wind up in federal courts for years and years to come. The Compact constitutes make-work for attorneys.
I agree that there needs to be a Compact. While I am the biggest opponent to the Compact, I am also the strongest advocate for a Compact that manages our water resources wisely. It’s important for the states to come together, develop an understanding, and come to a compromise.
However, the current Compact has major flaws, including the one state veto provision. Allowing one governor from another state to deny a water diversion to citizens that cannot vote for that governor is a very serious problem with the Compact as written. To relinquish our sovereignty to a regional body of governors that can make changes after the Compact is adopted is unacceptable. Where else do we have a dictatorial or totalitarian form of government where we give up our decision-making authority?
I could never support a document that relinquishes our sovereignty to another state. I also cannot support legislation that is jammed down our throats at the last minute without appropriate time to examine the bill’s complex details.
The Great Lakes Compact bill, Senate Bill 523 now goes to the state Assembly. The current legislative session ends next Thursday, March 13.