By Patrick Marley
Gov. Scott Walker and Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen -- as well as all of their predecessors for more than 20 years -- have failed to submit an annual report required under state law on the Wisconsin's drug enforcement activities.
Lawmakers in 1990 required the governor and attorney general to file a report with the Legislature by Nov. 15 every year describing drug enforcements over the previous year and making recommendations on the issue.
But no such report has been submitted since 1992, according to State Auditor Joe Chrisman.
State Sen. Bob Wirch (D-Somers) discovered the problem last year as he was researching legislation, and he asked Chrisman to review the matter.
Chrisman sent Wirch a letter describing the situation in September and Wirch released it Thursday, the same day two Assembly committees approved bills to prevent heroin overdoses. Wirch said the annual reports would be of great help as lawmakers consider those bills and as a debate occurs nationally over relaxing marijuana laws.
"I'm asking the governor and attorney general to follow the law," Wirch said. "How can they expect us to make good decisions when they don't supply us with the information that's mandated by law?"
Why the report hasn't been filed for so many years isn't clear, and Walker and Van Hollen did not provide explanations. The two will work together to file the report with lawmakers, their aides said. The two are committed to fighting addiction and drug-related crime, said Walker spokesman Tom Evenson and Van Hollen spokeswoman Dana Brueck.
Brueck said the attorney general had steadily communicated with the Legislature about what was needed on the issue, and she criticized Wirch for his comments about not seeing the report.
"Today, when lawmakers are taking up legislation to fight Wisconsin's heroin epidemic and save lives, Senator Wirch sends out a news release wanting paperwork," she said in a written statement. "He has not asked in the 20 years that he has been in the Legislature, and today he wants a report to understand these drugs are killing our neighbors and their children and what to do about it. Thankfully, his colleagues know what's at stake and the urgency."
The report didn't get filed during the administrations of four governors -- Tommy Thompson, Scott McCallum, Jim Doyle and Walker -- and three attorneys general, Doyle, Peg Lautenschlager and Van Hollen.
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