March 2018 Legislative Update

Greetings WS&DSA members,

Below is an update on what has been going on in the WI Legislature as the session winds down for the year.

The Assembly finished with their floor session last week and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos has indicated that absent extraordinary circumstances, the Assembly will not reconvene this session. The Senate has scheduled one more floor session on March 20th. When the legislature adjourns, absent extraordinary circumstances, we do not anticipate it will reconvene until January 2019. After adjournment, legislators will shift their focus to Fall 2018 elections and preparation for next session’s budget and legislation.

Here are some of bills that we have been actively involved in or have been monitoring during this past session:

1. Protective Status – As I mentioned in the last update, the Protective Status bill passed the Assembly without any issues. The bill is now in Senator Stroebel’s committee in the Senate, however he refuses to hold a committee hearing on the bill. Without his willingness to hold a hearing, it is extremely difficult to get this bill in front of the full Senate. WS&DSA continues to push the issue with other Senators in an attempt to have Senator Stroebel hold a hearing on this bill. Badger State Sheriff’s Association (BSSA) held a legislative day in Madison last week and a group of sheriffs met with Senator Stroebel telling him why this is such an important piece of legislation to cover our county jailers however, it appears no progress was made. As the session winds down further, I will keep you updated as to any progress on this legislation.

2. Body Cameras – This bill has passed the Assembly and was voted out of the Senate committee and is available for a vote in the Senate. There is a question if this bill will make it to the full Senate, as there are concerns from the Wisconsin Broadcasters Association and Wisconsin Newspaper Association. I know there are sheriffs and police agencies who are waiting for direction from the state before implementing a body camera program, as it pertains to releasing the video under Wisconsin’s Open Records Law.The bill requires law enforcement agencies that use body cameras to have a body camera policy in place and sets parameters for those policies. The bill also sets forth a process by which law enforcement must receive written permission of release of footage, if the footage was taken in a location where an individual may have a reasonable expectation of privacy, such as a home. Overall the bill, gives the direction most agencies are looking for on how to handle video data. We will see in a couple of weeks if the Senate will vote on this bill.

3. Civil Asset Forfeiture – As was given in the February update, after reviewing all the amendments and other changes from the original bill, we changed our position from “Opposed” to “Neutral.” Our association, along with BSSA, did not advocate in support of the bill. This bill has passed both the Senate and the Assembly and is now on the desk of the Governor waiting for his signature. While the original bill contained several problematic provisions for law enforcement, our associations worked with the authors to amend the language so address our concerns. As we had stated in testimony in front of both the Assembly and Senate committees, Wisconsin hasn’t seen the abuse that other states have seen. The amended bill is a balance between a reasonable reform and the preservation of civil asset forfeiture, which we believe is a valuable tool for law enforcement to use to cut criminals off from assets gained while committing crimes.

4. Revocation Recommendation – This bill had previously passed the Senate and was passed last week in the Assembly with amendments. It now has to go back to the Senate for concurrence. The major amendments to this bill are:

  • The automatic revocation was modified so the DOC can make a different/revised recommendation if the person in participating in a substance abuse program or the charges were dismissed or the person was found not guilty.
  • Authorizes $350 million for new prison
  • Adds 53.75 assistant district attorney positions.

5. Juvenile Corrections – This bill will completely change how adjudicated juveniles are treated in the justice system and was introduced fairly recently and sailed through Assembly and is now in front of the Senate. Below are the high level bullet points:

  • Legislation close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools by January 1, 2021
  • Requires the Department of Corrections (DOC) to maintain supervision over juveniles in the Serious Juvenile Offender Program, under community supervision, and under original adult court jurisdiction.
  • Transfers supervision over juveniles who are under any other correctional placement under the Juvenile Justice Code to counties.
  • Creates a Juvenile Corrections Study Committee to research and develop recommendations on the number and location of Type 1 facilities operated by DOC, rules governing the services and programs provided to juveniles in secure RCCs, and updating the administrative rules for juvenile detention centers.
  • Creates a Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee, which is required to establish and administer a juvenile corrections grant program, under which counties may apply for a grant to pay 95 percent of the costs of establishing or constructing secured residential care centers for children and youth.Both the BSSA and WS&DSA are in support of this legislation. This bill has passed the Assembly and is available in the Senate for action.

6. 911 Dispatcher CPR Training – This bill has also passed the Assembly and is in front of the Senate. Our organization worked with the authors to amend the bill to address our concerns, this included adding language to address liability concerns and to provide the state more flexibility to provide the training. The Assembly also amended the bill to delay the effective date by one more year, for a total of three years.

Two other bills of note that have passed the Assembly and are now in front of the Senate are the Law Enforcement Standards Board bill and the Law Enforcement and Public Safety Related to Opioid bill, both of which WS&DSA supported. We expect these bills to be concurred in by the Senate in March.

Finally, there are a handful of bills that our association supported and some we opposed, that the Assembly did not take any action on and more than likely will be dead for this session. Those bills included:

  • WRS Changes (oppose)
  • Crime Reporting Requirements (oppose)
  • Collector Car Front Plate Exception (oppose)
  • Sanctuary Cities (neutral)
  • County Executive Powers (neutral – with amendments)
  • PTSD for Law Enforcement (neutral)
  • Survivor’s Benefits (support)
  • Online Sheriff Sales (support)
  • Emergency Detentions (support)

As always, if you have any questions on the workings of the Legislative Committee or questions on any legislation we have been working on, do not hesitate to contact me.

I will post more information if it becomes available and then once the Senate has concluded their business and the session for the year is over with a small recap of what took place.

Stay safe and have a wonderful summer and fall.

Jeff Klatt
Chair, WS&DSA Legislative Committee