While the Joint Finance Committee continues deliberations over the state budget, which will come before the full legislature this summer, here in the 76th Assembly District we are hard at work for the people of Wisconsin!
Creating Safe Communities
Last week, I joined my legislative colleagues and community leaders to announce the Safe Communities Coalition and the Safe Communities Act. This package of three bills adopts the best practices regarding law enforcement use of force standards, requires annual training on use of force options emphasizing de-escalation techniques and provides funding. The goal is to enhance community safety for everyone by decreasing incidents of officer-involved deaths and use of force encounters.
Currently, law enforcement agencies are required to have a written policy on when force is used, but very little guidance is given about what should be in that policy. Most of the policies incorporate an almost 30-year old undefined standard from a US Supreme Court case, Graham v. Conner. All of the policy recommendations incorporated in the legislation come directly from law enforcement professionals, including both individual officers and national groups and taskforces that have studied policing issues. Additionally, the Law Enforcement Standards Board (LESB) has indicated these principles are entirely consistent with the way law enforcement officers are trained.
A piece of the package would require a law enforcement agency’s use of force policy to incorporate that the primary duty of law enforcement is to preserve the life of all individuals, that deadly force should be used as a last resort, that officers should use skills and tactics that minimize the likelihood that force will become necessary, that if officers must use physical force, it should be the least amount of force necessary to safely address the threat, and that officers must intervene if they witness a colleague using excessive force. Though we believe many law enforcement individuals are employing these tactics every day, these principles are rarely incorporated into department policies, leaving the public having to look at numerous, voluminous sources to try to figure out current use of force standards.
Other pieces of the package specify that at least 8 of the annual 24 hour officer training requirement focus on use of force options, emphasizing de-escalation. Additionally, the package directs the LESB to establish a model use of force policy addressing interactions with the mentally ill and other vulnerable populations. Finally, the package requires that a law enforcement agency’s written use of force policy be published online to increase transparency and accessibility.
My community has witnessed both the tragedies of officer involved shootings and of officers being targeted for violence. My goal is to heal wounds and reach consensus. I believe these are policies upon which we all can agree and that have been effective in helping to reduce lethal force while protecting officers. We can move forward together in creating safer communities for everyone.
Our full press release is HERE and a more in-depth column can be found HERE.
ACTION ITEM – Constitutional Carry Public Hearing Next Week!
Next week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety will be holding a public hearing on Senate Bill 169 which allows people to carry concealed guns in public without a permit or any training, ends Wisconsin’s ban on tasers, and removes age restrictions for carrying a concealed weapon. Additionally, it expands the ability of people to carry guns in schools by eliminating Wisconsin’s gun free school zones law.
The hearing will be held Wednesday, May 31 at 9:30 AM. It will be held in Room 411 South. PLEASE stop by and register your opposition – it only takes five minutes!
More Office Hours Dates/Locations Announced
Earlier this week, I announced two more Office Hours locations in the 76th Assembly District. For two hours, I will be available at the following small businesses to meet with constituents and neighbors. There is no specific topic that will be discussed, but participants are encouraged to keep their comments focused on state legislative issues.
Friday, May 26, 2017
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Johnson Public House, 908 E Johnson St, Madison
Friday, June 9, 2017
10:00 AM – 12:00 Noon
Barriques – Atwood, 2166 Atwood Ave, Madison
Hope to see you there!
Dems Introduce Commonsense Legislation to Protect You from Health Insurance Companies
Earlier this month, after Governor Walker announced he would be open to eliminating coverage of pre-existing health conditions and Speaker Vos adjourned the Assembly to avoid debate on the issue, I joined Rep. Daniel Riemer (D-Milwaukee) and Sen. Jon Erpenbach (D-Middleton) in introducing commonsense legislation that protects patients, instead of padding the pockets of insurance companies.
This package of legislation would require Wisconsin to maintain popular, commonsense Affordable Care Act (ACA) health protections, including coverage of pre-existing health conditions, preventing health insurance companies from refusing to cover expensive medical services, maintaining essential and preventive health services, and restoring funding to family planning providers like Planned Parenthood.
Despite years of “repeal and replace” rallying cries, legislative Republicans have been eerily silent about the future of health care in Wisconsin since Trump’s inauguration, even in the wake of Governor Walker’s revelation that he would be open to raising premiums on individuals with pre-existing conditions. Examples of pre-existing conditions that may not be covered include rape victims who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorders and women suffering postpartum depression. One in four Americans have a pre-existing health condition.
For months, Governor Walker and my Republican colleagues have been jet-setting to DC for photo ops and fundraisers with President Trump, Speaker Ryan and wealthy special interest groups. Now that chants of “repeal and replace” at political rallies have ended and Trump and Ryan are kowtowing to the demands of health insurance companies rather than the health care needs of Americans, we hear radio silence from Assembly Republicans about protecting the health care of Wisconsinites. To learn more, click HERE.
GOP Advances “First Amendment” Bill that Violates the First Amendment
From my time at ALEC (the American Legislative Exchange Council), I know that the right-wing is now focused on advancing laws under the guise of protecting the First Amendment with policies that actually limit free speech and protest. Currently, there are several bills circulating in the Wisconsin legislature that “protect” the First Amendment by actually violating the First Amendment. Assembly Bill 299, championed by Speaker Robin Vos, is so broad that students could actually be expelled from school for protesting loudly.
One of the tactics we also see being used is establishing “First Amendment” centers to advance a right-wing ideological attack on universities, professors and students under the guise of promoting a more equal balance of voices on campus. For the last almost 50 years, this has been a tactic of the right, as set forth in 1971 by Lewis Powell, then a corporate attorney, in a memo to the U.S. Chamber of Commerce that you can access by clicking HERE.
The recommendations that Powell makes to promote corporate hegemony are eerily familiar to what we are seeing now. In the last several weeks, several campuses within the UW System have announced the establishment of these centers. UW-Stout announced that it had received funding from the Charles Koch Foundation to establish such a center. Yesterday, UW-Madison announced the establishment of the Tommy G. Thompson Center on Public Leadership, despite the fact that we already have the world renowned LaFollette School of Public Affairs at UW-Madison. The difference? This new Tommy Thompson leadership center will receive 2x the amount of funding. Speaker Vos has stated he believes that this Center is needed, “It’s not a conservative think tank… Hopefully it will be able to offset some of the liberal thinking so that we at least have somebody who is bipartisan. Far too many of the organizations (at UW-Madison)… (have) a left-of-center thought. This is just hoping that we can have a balance of thought on campus.” To read my statement, click HERE.
I will be following this situation very closely and will let you know of any developments.
GOP Conclusions on MAC Tax Credit Severely Flawed – Highlight Failures of Largest Corporate Tax Giveaway in Wisconsin History
Last month, former Marco Rubio economic adviser Noah Williams released a paper on the Manufacturing and Agriculture Tax Credit (MAC), touting the success of the $654 million corporate tax giveaway that mainly benefits Wisconsin’s wealthy. Under the MAC, 88 percent of the multimillion dollar giveaway goes to people making more than $500,000, with 11 multi-millionaires making more than $30 million each receiving nearly $22 million in tax breaks. Wisconsin has consistently lagged behind the national average in terms of manufacturing job growth, sitting at 1.4 percent, compared to 2.1 percent nationally, and actually lost 4,000 manufacturing jobs in the last year (September 2015 – September 2016).
Illogically, Williams, whose analysis compares employment trends in counties along the Wisconsin borders with neighboring states, attributes all net manufacturing job creation in Wisconsin since 2013 to the MAC. Yet there are no job creation requirements tied to receiving the tax credit and there appears to be no other documented instances in state and local development literature of a business tax cut having an economic impact of similar magnitude.
According to other economists who have examined the employment data, there is no evidence that the MAC has boosted Wisconsin’s standing among states in year-over-year manufacturing growth. There are significant flaws and critical analysis problems with Williams’ paper.
At a time when President Trump and my Republican colleagues are obsessed with “fake news” they should be more concerned with this “fake study” they’ve been touting. When you spend more than half a billion dollars and have nothing to show for it, I guess you will desperately publicize whatever you can to justify your decisions. To get more information on this flawed study, click HERE.
Hold Scott Walker, Paul Ryan and U.S. Senator Ron Johnson Accountable for Hurting Women
The Women’s Health Workgroup, which I co-chair in the Legislature, is planning a town hall public meeting on Monday, June 5 at 5:00 PM in Kenosha at the UAW Local 72 Hall (3615 Washington Rd, Kenosha, WI 53144). Our goal is to highlight how disastrous the GOP’s healthcare policies of “Pay More, Get Less” are for Wisconsinites, with a focus on the devastating consequences for women.
We would love to have you join us at the town hall! We want to hear your stories about why we all need quality, affordable health care.
As always, if you have questions or concerns on any state legislative issue, please do not hesitate to contact my office at 608-266-5342 or via email at Rep.Taylor@legis.wi.gov.
Rep. Chris Taylor
76th Assembly District