June 23, 2017

 

Protecting Free Speech on Campus

Across the nation, violent outbursts on college campuses have forced conservative lecturers and personalities to either spread their message under the threat of violence, or cancel their events. Not only is this is unfair to the speakers themselves, but it deprives  open-minded students from hearing thought-provoking speech from conservative-minded scholars and public figures.  Our higher education system is saturated with leftist ideologues, which has alienated right leaning students and faculty. We must be sure that we protect the First Amendment rights of both liberals and conservatives, especially in places of higher education where all viewpoints should be welcomed and debated in an open forum. Colleges and universities around the country have proven to be unable to balance the right to protest a speech with the right to deliver a speech, and our public colleges and universities will likely one day face the same issue.

In an attempt to solve this issue, Assembly Republicans introduced and passed Assembly Bill 299.  The bill requires the Board of Regents to develop a policy on free expression and sets forth a set of disciplinary measures for anyone who violently suppresses the free speech of another on campus.  If a student is found guilty twice in a single semester, they will be suspended.  If a student is then found guilty for a third time before graduation, they will be expelled. 

There will always be room for peaceful protest, but many of these campus protests have perverted the First Amendment to condone acts of violence. For example, at the University of California - Berkeley a planned speech was disrupted with smoke bombs, broken windows, and a bonfire outside of a student union.  At New York University, a conservative speaker was hit with pepper spray on his way to a seminar planned for the NYU College Republicans.

Before we face a similar situation here in Wisconsin, it is important that we establish the criteria of a peaceful campus protest. It is important that we protect the First Amendment rights of everyone. I believe that this bill strikes an adequate balance between the dissenter's right to peaceful protest, and the speaker's right to explain their point of view without the fear of violence.  I am proud to have voted for this bill, and I encourage my colleagues in the Senate and Governor Walker to look at these violent "protests" around the country and say "Not here. Not in Wisconsin."

Improving Financial Literacy 

Recent data has suggested that less than half of Americans have basic personal finance skills. These are skills that range from balancing a check book to understanding what a credit score is, never mind how it can be improved or hurt. In an effort to reverse this trend, Representative Scott Krug (R- Nekoosa) and Representative Jason Fields (D- Milwaukee) introduced Assembly Bill (AB) 280. 

AB 280 directs each school board to adopt financial literacy instruction in grades K-12. Some schools are ahead of the game. Currently, 74% of school districts incorporate some personal financial literacy instruction. This bill will make sure that each student has access to this valuable form of education.

AB 280 passed the State Assembly with bipartisan support.  It now heads to the Senate for approval, before it goes to Governor Walker to be signed into law.

Combating Credit Card Skimmers

Currently, Wisconsin is one of the few states that do not have explicit laws combating possession, acquisition, or use of credit card skimmers. A credit card skimmer is a device that rests on the outside of a legitimate credit card reader that can steal the information off of a credit card's magnetic strip. Many times they are disguised as the casing around a credit card reader. Once the information is collected from the skimmer, it can be used to steal someone's identity.

To bring Wisconsin in line with most other states, the State Assembly passed Senate Bill 133 on Wednesday.  The bill passed with bipartisan support on a unanimous voice vote. If it is signed into law by Governor Walker, the bill will make it a Class I felony to possess a credit card skimmer with intent to use it to commit identity theft. Additionally, the bill would make it a Class H felony to possess a credit card skimmer with the intent to distribute it to someone else who plans to use it to commit identity theft. Furthermore, the bill provides civil immunity to a seller of motor vehicle fuel and owner or operator of an ATM if a credit card scanner is installed and used on their machines without permission. This will encourage cooperation with law enforcement agencies to help find the actual perpetrator. It is important that we bring our laws in accordance with the rest of the country in regard to identity protection. This bill will give law enforcement agencies and prosecutors the tools they need to prosecute identity thieves.


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