Wisconsin Legislators Relent: Open Climate Forum to Public

Just days after digging in and declaring that the public and media would not be allowed to attend a climate change forum hosted at the state Capitol, state Rep. Jeff Mursau has relented. Mursau, a Republican and chairman of the Assembly’s Environment and Forestry Committee, and Democrat state Rep. Fred Clark, who also sits on the committee, issued a joint statement late Tuesday afternoon welcoming anyone to attend their event.

“If people want to come, we can accommodate them,” Mursau said in the written statement. Clark clarified that “Entry to the forum will be open to all legislators, legislative staff, the general public and media.”

Invited to speak at the event are numerous scientists and researchers with expertise in the area of climate change. A majority of the speakers work at the University of Wisconsin or an organization affiliated with UW.

Last week, Mursau attempted to explain his rational for the climate change forum to talk show host Jerry Bader, but without much success. On Tuesday, the CapTimes in Madison ran a story about the event and noted that Media Trackers and others had brought attention to the closed-door nature of the forum.

Although not a formal committee meeting, if Mursau and Clark had insisted on keeping the forum off-limits to the public and a majority of their fellow committee members attended, they were potentially at risk of violating the state’s open meetings law.