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WUWM’s Chuck Quirmbach reports on innovation in southeastern Wisconsin.

After Evers Removes 82 Appointments, State Agencies Try To Work Out Next Move

Gov. Tony Evers gives his first State of the State address on Jan. 22, 2019.

Many state agencies and boards are trying to figure out their next move now that Gov. Tony Evers has withdrawn 82 appointments waiting for confirmation by the Wisconsin State Senate.

One of the appointments (see them all here) made by then-Gov. Scott Walker in December was for then-State Administration Secretary Ellen Nowak to return to the Public Service Commission (PSC) of Wisconsin, becoming one of three PSC commissioners. But the Evers administration says Nowak's PSC post is now considered vacant.

The PSC had scheduled a meeting last Friday morning to take up two, large, proposed state solar power farms. But the meeting was canceled, due to Evers' withdrawal of Nowak's name. 

Tom Content, executive director of the Citizens Utility Board, says the PSC can't get by on just two commissioners. "It's a three-person operation for a reason, because sometimes they're not in agreement. In the past, there have been some unanimous votes, but also some split decisions, with a 2 to 1 vote."

He adds, "We don't know if there was going to be split points of view on the solar projects, because the commissioners hadn't articulated their stance yet."

Content says he hopes the PSC gets back to full strength relatively quickly, because Evers' PSC chairperson appointee, Rebecca Valcq, has indicated she "wants to undertake a lot of broader policy discussions," a pledge Content views as potentially favorable for ratepayers.

The Evers administration, in a written statement, says it's "committed to working as quickly as possible to fill [the 82 positions] and minimize the disruption to the important work done by these boards, committees, and councils."

Evers withdrew the 82 names after a Dane County judge Thursday issued a temporary injunction halting laws passed by the Republican-controlled Legislature late last year that took power away from Evers and incoming Attorney General Josh Kaul. 

Republicans have asked that the injunction be lifted.  A state appeals court could take up the matter this week.

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