MADISON – Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce (WMC) – the combined state chamber and manufacturers’ association – applauded the Wisconsin Supreme Court on Thursday for upholding large sections of 2017 Act 369. The Court’s ruling in SEIU v. Vos makes state government more transparent and more accountable.
However, the Court struck down one important transparency measure that made agency guidance documents more accessible to the public. Guidance documents are handouts, manuals and other writings that are often used to help the executive branch explain its regulatory authority to its employees and the individuals and businesses they regulate.
Section 38 of Act 369, which the Court struck down, required that agencies post these documents online, seek public input during the drafting process and cite to their sources of legal authority.
Guidance documents have long been used to explain how agencies will enforce existing law. Traditionally, the regulated community had little or no access to these documents until they were pulled out of a regulator’s desk drawer and used against an individual or business. Former Gov. Scott Walker changed this practice by encouraging his agencies to be more transparent by holding public hearings on guidance documents and posting them online. Act 369 codified these best practices.
Following the ruling in SEIU v. Vos, WMC General Counsel and Director of Tax, Transportation & Legal Affairs Cory Fish issues the below statement:
“We call on Gov. Evers to stand up for transparent and accountable government following the Court’s ruling. The governor should follow precedent set by his predecessor and require his agencies to post guidance documents online, hold public hearings on such documents before they are finalized and cite their underlying authority for any regulatory requirements. Businesses and individuals deserve to know about and have input on the rules government is mandating them to follow.”