Wisconsin Rep. Dale Kooyenga, R-Brookfield, asks a question of UW System president Ray Cross, not pictured, during state agency budget briefings for the Joint Committee on Finance at the State Capitol in this March file photo.

M.P. KING -- State Journal

State Rep. Dale Kooyenga was one of the 12 members of the Joint Finance Committee who voted for the budget that included a provision changing the state's open records law.

The Republican from Brookfield later apologized for that vote, saying he was mistaken in understanding that the last-minute changes would have made Wisconsin's law more in line for legislators with those that apply to lawmakers from other states and the U.S. Congress.

Why the apology, TV news show host Mike Gousha asked in an interview broadcast Sunday.

"I think people want transparency," Kooyenga said. "I think people know that I'm a details guy and so when they send me to Madison they say Dale gets into details. ...

"When we're wrong — and sometimes in every profession we're wrong — I had to come up there and apologize. I was wrong. It was a bad vote."

Legislators and Gov. Scott Walker pulled the open records changes from the budget before it passed both houses last week. Walker was scheduled to sign the budget on Sunday.

That might not be the end of the subject in the Legislature, however.

Kooyenga said Motion 999 — the Joint Finance Committee's budget wrapup motion that typically includes wish-list items for legislators and special interests and doesn't get much public scrutiny — wasn't the place for changes to the open records law.

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The changes would have restricted access to many legislative records on bill creation, but Kooyenga said there still should be a conversation about the subject.

He cited families of heroin addicts that contact Rep. John Nygren, who has called for reforms to the state's handling of addiction problems.

"I don't think those folks know that their name and their daughter's name or son's name and heroin addiction is now in the public sphere," Kooyenga said. "And so folks like John Nygren say, you know what, we should have a process that actually pulls that back so that it actually protects those individuals.

"We should have that conversation, but we should have that conversation with public input and with the press' input, and that didn't happen."

See the full interview here, and see an extra video on Kooyenga's push for changes at Milwaukee public schools here.

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Todd D. Milewski covers Wisconsin Badgers men's hockey and the UW Athletic Department for the Wisconsin State Journal.