Republicans are ramming dangerous proposals through the state Legislature at breakneck speed, starting with a bill (Assembly Bill 387) that rewrites an entire chapter of Wisconsin’s campaign finance laws. Introduced just a week ago and scheduled before the state Assembly, this bill would give corporations and billionaires even more influence over our elections and the decisions made in our state Capitol and our city halls.

Under the proposed bill, corporations and special interest groups would be allowed to give unlimited amounts of money to political parties and campaign committees. The change would represent the first time in Wisconsin history that corporations could give directly to those groups, setting up a dangerous scenario where a legal form of money laundering and pay-to-play politics becomes the norm. Allowing millions of corporate dollars in our elections will drown out the voices of people of our state.

We have already seen the influence of corporate spending through independent groups on the decisions that impact people’s lives. A recent investigation into wrongdoing by the Walker administration found that a major mining company made a $700,000 contribution to a group supporting the governor and, in return, was allowed to decimate large parts of Wisconsin’s environmental laws.

Make no mistake: This bill being rammed through by Republicans would allow even more corporate money to pollute our democracy, increasing their influence and serving to magnify the current problem. Our public schools would be at greater risk as corporate pro-voucher groups pour more money into campaigns. Our groundwater quality would be at risk from big businesses that donate generously to political campaigns in exchange for looser rules around pollution. Our taxpayer funds would be at risk as even more deep-pocketed businesses trade large campaign contributions for even bigger corporate tax breaks.

Incredibly, the proposal also eliminates most disclosure requirements to keep this spending by corporations and millionaires out of public view. Simultaneously, Republicans eliminate the watchdog agency the Government Accountability Board (Assembly Bill 388) and exclude using John Doe investigations to uncover political corruption (Assembly Bill 68), effectively shielding themselves from the law.

People in Wisconsin have not asked for these changes. None of us has heard from constituents that Wisconsin needs more money and even more corporate influence in politics.

Instead of working to improve economic security for hardworking people, Republicans are dead set on consolidating their own power and making it easier for corruption and cronyism to go undetected. They are allowing more money and more ads in elections with less disclosure, while guaranteeing corporate special interests have more influence over the decisions that impact you and your family.

Republicans are deliberately pushing these bills through at breakneck speed to not allow time for legislators, members of the media, and the public to fully comprehend and debate the devastating ramifications of these changes. Let’s not forget that these Republican legislators also attempted to gut our open records laws to conduct business behind closed doors and destroy our strong tradition of transparent government.

Hardworking taxpayers want us to address our crumbling roads, suffering middle class and struggling schools — no one is asking for less government oversight and even more corporate influence in politics. These bills take us in exactly the wrong direction.

For the future of our democracy, we need you to take action now. Talk to your neighbors and friends and contact your lawmakers today. Find out more about these proposals at the Legislature’s homepage: or call the legislative hotline at 1-800-362-9472.

This column is co-authored by Dane County members of the Wisconsin Assembly Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison), Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison), Rep. Melissa Sargent (D-Madison), Rep. Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), Rep. Andy Jorgensen (D-Milton), Rep. Terese Berceau (D-Madison), Rep. Gary Hebl (D-Sun Prairie), and Rep. Sondy Pope (D-Cross Plains).