Supporting Police and Protecting Elections

The State Assembly took up a wide range of bills on June 22, from countering efforts to defund the police to ensuring truth in food labeling.  The session calendar also included proposals to enhance election security and to improve the broadband expansion grant process.

For over a year I’ve been hearing calls for "defunding the police".  But while I recognize there is room for improvement in police practices and how some officers interact with their communities - and you may read my June 18 E-Update for details about several reforms the Legislature has passed to begin to address this issue - my colleagues and I have a responsibility to our constituents to ensure that they receive proper police protection. 

Under Senate Bill 119, which the Assembly concurred in with my support, if a city chooses to reduce its funding for police services – or for fire or EMS services – the state will cut that city’s shared revenue payment by the same amount.  In essence, SB 119 defunds the defunders, but I think it will be a powerful incentive for local governments to not consider going down the "Defund the Police" road in the first place.

I also voted for a package of bills that will help protect election integrity:  Senate Bills 203, 204, 205, 210, 212, and 292Confidence in the integrity of our elections is vital to a healthy democracy, and these commonsense proposals address a number of concerns I've heard from constituents about the 2020 spring and fall elections.  For example, SB 204 closes several voter ID loopholes for absentee voters.  SB 204 also prohibits clerks and the Wisconsin Elections Commission from sending ballot applications to people who didn't ask for them.  These bills will now go to Governor Evers, although I am not optimistic that he will do the right thing and sign them into law.

(Speaking of elections, my office has recently received a number of new contacts from constituents asking about an election audit.  The nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau is still in the process of auditing Wisconsin's elections administration, and it will likely present its findings this fall.  In addition, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has engaged the services of retired law enforcement officers to perform an investigation into alleged irregularities.)

The Assembly also approved a trio of bills - Assembly Bills 73, 74, and 75 - that require truth in labeling for plant-based or cell-cultured foods, to eliminate consumer confusion about whether a given product includes real dairy or meat.  I also supported Assembly Bill 371, which makes several changes to the Broadband Expansion Grant Program and encourages broader access to high-speed “100/20” service.  In a nutshell, any area of the state that doesn't have access to 100/20 service will qualify as "unserved" for the purposes of the grant program. 

Budget Update

As I mentioned in last week's E-Update, the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee has concluded its work on the 2021-2023 state budget.  The committee's recommendations have been compiled into a substitute amendment - essentially a new budget bill - and the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau has published a summary that compares the committee's version to Governor Evers' original proposal.  The Assembly and Senate will vote on the Finance Committee's budget as soon as the week of June 28.

I have heard from a number of constituents asking me to "Vote for X in the budget" or "Oppose Y in the budget", but as I mentioned last week, once the budget comes to the Assembly floor, my colleagues and I must vote for or against the budget as a whole, not on individual provisions.  At that point, it's about deciding whether the good in it outweighs any bad and voting accordingly.

Legislative Website

If you are interested in learning more about bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on, please click here.  This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State Legislative page.  Also, if you are interested in viewing my office website, click here.