People and Politics: May 2012 | STATE LEGISLATURES MAGAZINE
THE TUMULT THAT HAS ENGULFED THE WISCONSIN SENATE for more than a year took a left turn when freshman Senator Pam Galloway resigned her seat in March, throwing the chamber into a 16-16 tie. Galloway won in 2010 by defeating former Senate Majority Leader Russ Decker, and a year later became a target of a second round of recalls spurred by GOP legislation sharply limiting collective bargaining for public employees. The legislation sparked a walk-out by Democrats in the Senate, demonstrations by tens of thousands of protesters at the Capitol, and the recall of two Republican senators. Galloway was among four GOP members targeted for another set of recalls, scheduled for May 8, including Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and Senators Terry Moulton and Van Wanggaard. Governor Scott Walker and Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch are also facing recall at the same time. In the meantime, Fitzgerald and Minority Leader Mark Miller will be co-leaders. Galloway said she resigned because of family health issues and not the recall. Fitzgerald plans to find a candidate for her place on the recall ballot.
LORNE MALKIEWICH, A VETERAN NEVADA STAFFER for more than 30 years, resigned as director of the Legislative Counsel Bureau in April. He is the new chief operating officer for the National Council of Juvenile and Family Court Judges. Malkiewich started as a legislative bill drafter in 1981 after graduating from law school. He then became legislative counsel six years later and has served as the agency’s top administrator since 1994. Malkiewich gave lawmakers two year’s notice, informing them this session was likely his last. “I will miss the people. When you’ve worked with a group of people for 30 years, it’s very difficult to leave.”
MARYLAND SPEAKER MICHAEL BUSCH WAS HONORED by the state Senate in a ceremony that caught him completely by surprise. Senate President Thomas V. Mike Miller Jr. presented Busch with the First Citizen Award, given each year to people who are “dedicated and effective participants in the process of making government work for the benefit of all.” Busch, who has new status as Maryland’s longest serving speaker, was praised for his leadership “brilliance” by Miller, who said, “This is history being made.”
ARKANSAS REPRESENTATIVE DARRIN WILLIAMS, who attended the high school made famous in 1957 when President Dwight D. Eisenhower sent troops there to protect nine black students during Little Rock’s forced integration, has made history himself. The African American became speaker-designate of the Arkansas House in March, winning the highest elected office ever held by a black person in the state’s history. “I am thrilled beyond measure and am humbled that they think I have the qualifications to necessary to lead this body,” Williams said. But Arkansas voters will have the final say. “If voters make Republicans the majority in November, there should be a Republican speaker,” said former House GOP leader John Burris. Democrats currently have a 54-46 majority.
JOHN COURSON IS THE NEW SENATE PRESIDENT PRO TEM IN SOUTH CAROLINA, after defeating Senate Majority Leader Harvey Peeler by a 27-17 vote. Minority Democrats handed Courson the margin of victory, voting for him 18-1, while Republicans split their votes between Courson and Peeler. The post opened when longtime Senate President Glenn McConnell was sworn in as lieutenant governor, following the resignation of Ken Ard, who was indicted on 99 counts of campaign and ethics violations. Stepping down from the powerful post into a largely ceremonial position, McConnell said the constitution was clear that it was his duty—as Senate president pro tem—to become lieutenant governor. He will preside over the Senate and the Office on Aging. McConnell’s friends in the Senate tried to persuade him to run for his old Senate seat in a special election. They even introduced a resolution to keep his 32 years of seniority intact if he were to win. But he said the constitution prohibits him from running again. “I stayed true to the constitution, and I lost everything. I’m not going to try to perform political acrobatics and lose my conscience, too.”
BETTYLOU DECROCE, WIDOW OF NEW JERSEY’S longtime assembly GOP leader, was sworn in to fill his seat in February. Alex DeCroce died unexpectedly at the Capitol in January on the last day of a lame duck session. He had been the Republican leader since 2003. BettyLou DeCroce must win the GOP nomination and November election to fill out her late husband’s term.
THE STATE LEGISLATIVE LEADERS FOUNDATION is celebrating its 40th year working with legislative leaders in their efforts to reform the legislative institution. Founded in 1972, the group’s first grant came from the Ford Foundation to develop a project known as The Program for Legislative Improvement. It published “The Sometimes Governments,” which ranked all 50 state legislatures. The book, which caused an uproar, became the catalyst to making many of recommendations from the project. Steven G. Lakis has been president of the foundation since its inception. “I have been a constant student and sometimes teacher to men and women who have one of the toughest jobs imaginable,” Lakis said.