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Sanity Descends Upon Wisconsin

At first I thought this was some sort of joke, but it appears to be real:

Wisconsin governors have long been allowed to sign off on budget bills but do some tricky erasing first. They could delete words, numbers, sentences, paragraphs or some combination of all of those, to create entirely new meanings never intended by the original authors--a legislative twist on the game of Mad Libs.

But on Tuesday, Wisconsin voters put an end to some of the governor’s fancy editing power. Seventy-one percent of voters favored a referendum that read to outsiders like some indecipherable grammar lesson, barring the governor from creating “a new sentence by combining parts of two or more sentences.” Wisconsin voters, who have been living with the unusual “partial veto” (distinct from the more common line-item veto) since 1930, needed little translation.

They have fought (and laughed) over this before. Voters limited the veto once before, in 1990, rejecting what critics then called the “Vanna White veto,” allowing a governor to cross out letters inside words to make whole new words.

Check out this awesome example (pdf) from 2005, where Governor Jim Doyle spliced together a bunch of random words from a lengthy bill to arbitrarily transfer $427 million of transportation money to the state's general fund. And to think 71 percent of Wisconsinites thought this was a bad idea! Where's their sense of humor?

--Josh Patashnik