Gov. Scott Walker vetoes plan to place sex offenders only in home counties

By Chris Mueller, USA Today-Wisconsin 

MADISON - Gov. Scott Walker on Wednesday vetoed a plan that required violent sex offenders to be sent to their home counties after they’re released.

The plan was added to the state budget in May by the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee. State Rep. Katrina Shankland of Stevens Point was the only Democrat on the committee to vote in favor of the plan. Shankland wrote the budget motion with state Rep. Mark Born, a Republican from Beaver Dam.

Shankland’s vote came only months after the release of two sexually violent offenders, Peter Yogerst and Jason Staves, who were sent by judges in other counties to live in the rural Portage County town of Alban.

Yogerst and Staves both were granted supervised release by out-of-county judges only a few months after a Portage County judge decided not to allow another offender, Charles Anderson, to be released to the same house, which is across from the Central Wisconsin Electric Cooperative, a building frequently used to host public events.

Shankland on Wednesday expressed her disappointment with Walker’s decision to veto the plan.

“The placement of a sexually violent person is a sensitive decision that belongs in the hands of local officials, not bureaucrats in Madison,” she said in a written statement.

A few officials from Portage County, including Sheriff Mike Lukas and District Attorney Louis Molepske, provided input while the plan was being drafted.

 “I will continue to work across the aisle to develop a long-term solution to this issue, but in the meantime, our constituents’ concerns aren’t going away,” Shankland said. “The governor’s veto fails our community members at a time when they most needed the state to act.”

Walker explained his veto in a document released Wednesday listing 99 partial vetoes he made to the state budget. The governor said the plan would have eliminated a requirement that offenders be placed a certain distance from schools, child care facilities, parks, churches or youth centers. He said any changes should instead go through the regular Legislative process with input from the public.

Walker planned to sign the state budget into law Thursday afternoon at an elementary school in Neenah.