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Wisconsin Voters Reject ‘Vanna White Veto’

April 4, 1990

Undated (AP) _ Wisconsin voters curtailed the ″Vanna White veto″ power that let the governor strike letters from words to change the meaning of legislation, and an Assembly member survived the state’s first recall attempt since 1932.

Kansas City, Mo., voters Tuesday rejected a curbside recycling program that would have cost households $1.89 a month. St. Louis voters approved a 3.5 percent hotel-motel tax increase to help build a 70,000-seat, domed stadium.

Two blacks were elected to a new nine-member City Council in Tulsa, Okla., created because of an NAACP lawsuit challenging the city’s at-large voting system. Only one black had served in the city’s governing commission in the 1980s. Voters also re-elected Mayor Rodger Randle.

In the Bismarck, N.D., mayoral election, voters chose Bill Sorensen, a 40- year-old businessman over city Commissioner Leroy Walker and Lee Palmer, an 18-year-old high school senior. Palmer won 1,291 votes, or 11 percent, after campaigning with $80 and a platform supporting youth, the environment and ″general things like care for the elderly.″

In Wisconsin, Gov. Tommy G. Thompson once used his veto to change the amount of time a juvenile could be held in detention, crossing out ″48 hours″ along with selective letters to make the time read ″t-e-n day-s.″

A constitutional amendment curtailing that power was approved 386,178 votes, or 62 percent, to 238,807, or 38 percent, with 99 percent of the precincts reporting.

Foes of the unlimited veto - named for Vanna White, the letter-turner on ″Wheel of Fortune″ - said it gave legislative power to the executive branch, violating the constitutional separation of powers.

The amendment still allows the governor to strike words, numerals or entire sentences - just not individual letters.

″Despite the complicated wording of the amendment, the public basically understood that the governor should not have the authority to create new words,″ said state Senate President Fred Risser, a Democrat.

Thompson’s legal counsel, Raymond Taffora, said Tuesday night the governor was ″disappointed by the vote because the governor’s partial veto authority needs to be as broad as the Legislature’s ability to pass items.″

Wisconsin voters also re-elected Donald W. Steinmetz to a 10-year term in the state Supreme Court in a close race against Richard S. Brown, a deaf appeals judge.

Unofficial returns from 99 percent of the precincts showed Steinmetz defeated Brown 350,245 votes to 326,310, or 52 percent to 48 percent.

In northern Wisconsin, state Rep. Jim Holperin defeated challenger Brian Sherren in a recall. Holperin was targeted by those opposed to allowing Chippewa Indians to exercise treaty rights to go spearfishing off the reservation.

Holperin, a Democrat, survived Wisconsin’s first legislative recall in 58 years by receiving 10,494 votes, or 61 percent, to 6,707 votes, or 39 percent, for Sherren, a Republican.

Holperin opposed spearfishing of spawning fish but got in trouble with sportsmen over his support for a proposal to pay a band of Chippewas $10 million for some of their treaty rights. The Indians rejected the proposal.

Sportfishermen and people in the tourist industry say they fear the spearfishing will deplete fish stocks.

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