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Three’s a crowd for board

Two interior designers are fine, but three apparently is just too much.

Fred Risser

In what he calls one of the most insignificant bills he’s introduced, state Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, wants to reduce the number of designers required on the state Capitol and Executive Residence Board.

The 16-member board includes seven governor-appointed citizen members — two architects, a landscape architect, a general public member and three interior designers — but Risser, who is the legislative chairman of the board, and other members want to cut the requirement for interior designers by one.

“Three interior decorators is not necessary at all,” he said. “The only justification was when we were spending a lot of money renovating the Capitol, but now our board isn’t spending much on decorating.

The board is responsible for overseeing the maintenance, decorative furniture and furnishings of the Capitol and mansion, which is a three-story building near Lake Mendota. Debra Alton, Madison, and Marijo Reed, Oconomowoc, are the two interior designers on the board now, while the third position has remained vacant since Gov. Scott Walker took office this year, Risser said.

Introduced May 4, Senate Bill 87 finally had its public hearing Oct. 4 at the Judiciary, Utilities, Commerce and Government Operations Committee, but even then, only Risser testified in support with no one against.

“The point is, a lot of our bills have much more earth-shaking significance,” he said. “Whether it passes or not, it doesn’t make much difference. If it doesn’t pass, the board will operate the way it always has; if it passes, it gives the governor more flexibility.”

If approved, the bill would allow Walker to fill the vacancy with anyone he wanted.

Alton said the idea for the bill unanimously was approved by board members before Risser introduced the legislation.

“It’s just to give a broader perspective and get additional disciplines,” she said. “We all share and bring a perspective.”

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