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Secretary of State La Follette upset over reduced responsibilities

MADISON, WI (WTAQ) - In his 34 years in office, Secretary of State Doug La Follette has seen numerous politicians chip away at his responsibilities.

Now, as he seeks re-election in 17 months, the state’s only Democratic constitutional office holder is fighting back.

La Follette tells the Wisconsin Radio Network that the Badger State is the only one that requires new companies to find government agencies other than the Secretary of State to seek approvals for such things as forming new corporations.

He says it goes against Wisconsin’s claim that it’s “Open for Business,” the slogan set by Governor Scott Walker.

La Follette is especially critical of a 1995 decision to put many of his former duties under a newly-created Department of Financial Institutions – an initiative approved by another Republican governor, Tommy Thompson.

In the years that followed, La Follette says people have been confused when asking about things like trademarks, notaries public, and other business rules. He said he made a recent pitch to Walker about tossing partisan politics aside and bringing those jobs back.

Today, the Secretary of State’s only duties are to maintain the official acts of the governor and Legislature, affix the state seal to gubernatorial actions, and serve on the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands.

Republican Rohn Bishop says he’ll run against La Follette next year with the goal of eliminating the Secretary of State’s office eventually – a move that requires a constitutional change.

Republican State Treasurer Kurt Schuller ran on the same premise three years ago. He’ll leave after next year without achieving his goal.