Complaint denial reminder of sometimes secretive lawmaking

Complaint denial reminder of sometimes secretive lawmaking

Wisconsin legislative leaders’ decision last week to deny public access to sexual harassment complaints in the Assembly and Senate isn’t the only example of how top policymakers sometimes operate in secret.

The chief clerks of both houses last week refused to release any complaints their offices have received. Republican and Democratic leaders in both chambers said the records should be kept confidential out of privacy concerns.

Wisconsin’s open records law generally applies to the Legislature, although unlike other government officials, lawmakers can destroy records unless someone has requested them.

The law requires legislators to decide whether releasing records will serve the public interest.

The Legislature also is allowed to meet in closed-door party caucuses and isn’t required to post public notices of any committee meetings or floor sessions.