- Associated Press - Friday, February 12, 2016

MADISON, Wis. (AP) - A Senate committee advanced a bill Friday that would ban county executives from serving concurrently in the Wisconsin Legislature.

The Republican bill comes as Winnebago County Executive Mark Harris, a Democrat, vies for an open Senate seat, currently held by Republican Sen. Rick Gudex. The bill would mean Harris, if elected, would have to quit his job making $102,834 as a county executive, instead making $50,950 per year as a senator.

The Senate Committee on Government Operations and Consumer Protection passed the bill 3-2 on party lines Friday, voting by paper ballot. That clears the way for a vote on the Senate floor in coming weeks.

Some Republicans in an Assembly committee this week expressed reservations about the bill, which Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, has said was prompted by Harris’ candidacy. Fitzgerald has said he has concerns about a legislator drawing two salaries from taxpayers, or “double-dipping.”

Democrats have countered that many legislators hold two jobs, some as elected officials elsewhere. They say the bill is clearly aimed at keeping Harris from running.

Other legislators who have served concurrently as county executive include Paul Farrow, a Republican elected as Waukesha County executive while serving in the Senate, and Bob Ziegelbauer, an independent who served as Manitowoc County executive while a state representative. Farrow stepped down from the Senate after about three months, while Ziegelbauer held both jobs from 2006 to 2013. In the current Legislature, Rep. Todd Novak, R-Dodgeville, also holds a position as mayor of Dodgeville.

Rep. Bob Gannon, R-Slinger, said in an Assembly committee this week he would be more amenable to the bill if it dealt with a broader group of overlapping roles, instead of just county executive.

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