A number of important public safety bills were signed into law last week to ensure greater protections for victims, enact stronger penalties for offenders, and provide tools for law enforcement and district attorneys. I was honored to have authored two of the bills signed into law by Governor Walker that focused on victims of domestic violence.
Senate Bill 127 is legislation I introduced at the request of an investigator with the River Falls Police Department. Recognizing the impact of domestic violence on families and children, Senate Bill 127 requires a court to consider the presence of a child during an act of violence an aggravated factor at sentencing. This measure provides courts with the ability to acknowledge the affect of domestic violence on children that witness such abuse.
I was also the Senate author of Assembly Bill 379, which allows for the confidentiality for some name changes. Under prior law, all name changes were required to be published in a local newspaper, even as some may have sought a name change in order to escape an abusive relationship or a dangerous situation. This law exempts those that obtain a name change from publishing this information if a court determines the publication could endanger the petitioner and the name change is not an attempt to avoid debt or conceal a criminal record. Both of these bills were supported by advocates for victims of domestic abuse.
In addition to these bills, several other public safety bills were enacted that:
· eliminates the time limit for prosecuting first degree sexual assaults,
· increases penalties for online child sex crimes,
· strengthens the rights of crime victims and witnesses,
· increases penalties for repeat domestic violence offenders,
· expands the law against impersonating a peace officer to include firefighters, EMTs, and first responders, and
· increases penalties for calling 911 to report an emergency that does not exist.
All of these proposals were passed with bipartisan support by the State Legislature, recognizing their value in protecting victims and ensuring efficient law enforcement services for all citizens.
Please feel free to contact me on public safety or other issues by calling my office at 1-800-862-1092 or sending me an e-mail at Sen.Harsdorf@legis.wi.gov.