2 More Wanggaard Bills to Protect Victims Signed into Law
On Wednesday, March 30, Governor Walker signed two more bills into law that would help protect children and victims of hit and run accidents. I authored these bills after hearing personal stories of families who were tragically victimized. After being in law enforcement for almost thirty years, this in not the first time I've seen families have to go through these types of tragedies. Protecting the public is one of my top priorities, and I am glad these bills will help protect families in the future.
Stiffer Penalties for Predators
The first bill signed into law was Assembly Bill 566, which increases penalties for offenders who install or use a surveillance device or view a victim for sexual arousal in a place of privacy, such as a locker room or home. I brought this bill forward with Representative Samantha Kerkman in response to the locker room hidden-camera case in which women and children were secretly video-taped in the locker room of the recreation facility in Kenosha County by another facility-user.
The bill signing was attended by Kenosha County residents Christina Walker and her daughter Mia (pictured above, far left) who initially discovered the hidden cameras and called authorities, and later traveled to Madison to testify in favor of the legislation. Because many of the victims in the case were children, the legislation focuses on increasing penalties for peeping tom and depicting nudity offenses when the victim is under 18 years old. Prior to the signing of AB 566 these types of crime carried the same penalties whether the offense was committed against an adult or a child.
These actions are reprehensible, but become even more despicable when these videos are taken of children. Our children cannot protect themselves, and this bill stiffens penalties to help shield Wisconsin children from predators in an age when technology makes crimes like these all-too common. A special thanks to Pleasant Prairie Police Chief Smetana, and Assistant District Attorney Gravely for their hard work on this important bill.
Closing the Hit-and-run Loophole
On Wednesday, Governor Walker also signed Assembly Bill 201, which I authored with Representative Andre Jaque to close a loophole for hit-and-run crimes. In 2011, Colleen and Jeff Kennedy of Green Bay lost their 20-year old son, John, when he was hit and killed by a hit-and-run driver. The driver claimed in his defense that he thought he hit a garbage can, and later reached a plea deal with prosecutors and was released from prison. I heard Jeff and Colleen bravely tell their story while bravely testifying in favor of this legislation, where they explained that a witness of the crime saw John fly through the air in his wheelchair before the driver fled the scene.
I am pleased to see these bills signed into law, and I look forward to authoring more bills to help victims and their families and increase public safety.
AB 201 closes the hit-and-run loophole by requiring drivers who believe they have hit something in the road to get out of their car and investigate. This removes the requirement for prosecutors to prove that a driver knew they struck a person or a vehicle occupied by a person. This can not only stop criminals from exploiting this loophole, but it could also be the difference of life or death for the victim. I am thankful for the unanimous support from my colleagues on this measure, and hope that it will help victims and their families.