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.
The state Senate today approved the Great Lakes Compact. I am a strong advocate for a Compact that protects the quantity and quality of the Great Lakes. Because this document comes up short, I voted against the Compact.
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 rewarding 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 from both parties, interest groups, businesspeople, environmentalists and university officials worked for countless hours on a critical issue of enormous magnitude. The debate and shared information was of an exceptional quality.
During today’s floor debate, I posed four questions about the Compact to Democrat state Senator Mark Miller. Senator Miller chairs the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee, and was instrumental in crafting the Compact legislation.
I asked Senator Miller who would resolve issues about the one state veto, communities in straddling counties, public trust doctrine, and the effect of the Compact on Indian tribes. Senator Miller answered that the federal courts would resolve questions. Legislation that lacks certainty and relinquishes authority to federal courts is not in the best interests of Wisconsin. On the question about the effect on the tribes, Senator Miller replied that he didn’t know.
Senator Miller’s answers sent a strong signal that if the Compact still had many unresolved issues, why should the Legislature endorse it? That prompted me to make a motion to refer the Compact back to the Senate Environment and Natural Resources Committee for the proper work needed to improve the Compact. The motion failed.
The Compact contains the very problematic 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 flaw in this document. To surrender our sovereignty to a regional body of governors that can make changes after the Compact is adopted is unacceptable. I do not support a document that gives up our sovereignty to another state.
The Compact as written contains page after page of language that lacks definition, as outlined by our highly respected Legislative Council. The significant amount of language lacking definition in the Compact indicates this issue almost certainly will wind up in federal courts for years and years to come.