With the Assembly likely to adjourn this month, Republicans are looking to push through a number of “Tougher on Crime” bills and controversial legislation related to testing of evidence in sexual assault cases.
The Assembly also is scheduled to take up votes Tuesday to rein in efforts to disrupt free speech on campus, money laundering and drunken driving penalties. The Senate is likely to adjourn sometime next month, providing little time for all the bills to proceed.
- The Assembly is due to vote on a bill to create the first statutory guidelines for how to process sexual-assault kits, which could help preserve physical evidence to aid in prosecution. The legislation is aimed at preventing a backlog in testing evidence in sexual assault cases.
- Last year Democratic Attorney General Josh Kaul and a coalition of sexual-assault victim advocates called on Assembly Republicans to take up a bill to create statutory requirements for who should collect and store sexual-assault kits, and when.
Republican lawmakers have introduced a competing measure that would impose more compressed timelines for processing sexual assault kits. But it also contains controversial — and only tangentially related — proposals Democrats have rejected, putting the entire effort at risk.
The proposals include allowing sexual assault victims access to private school vouchers even if they wouldn’t otherwise qualify based on their income, and requiring law enforcement to notify Immigration and Customs Enforcement of immigrants in the country illegally who are under arrest for sexual assault.
- Several bills before the Assembly come as part of a GOP-led “Tougher on Crime” initiative that would increase criminal penalties and likely expand both the adult and juvenile prison populations.
The bills include: increasing penalties for intimidating a victim of domestic abuse; revoking parole, probation or extended supervision if a person commits a crime while serving his or her sentence; expanding the types of juvenile crimes that can result in incarceration; and barring offenders serving time for certain violent crimes from being released on parole or extended supervision.
Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, who has the power to veto the bills, has said he opposes any measures that would increase the state’s prison population. He has advocated for a different package of bills aimed at reducing the state’s prison population.
- The Assembly is also scheduled to vote on a bill to codify protections for public speakers on University of Wisconsin campuses. The rules were adopted last year by the UW Board of Regents and would require disciplinary action against students who disrupt public speeches.
Under the rule, interfering twice in a speaker’s event results in suspension, and a third instance results in expulsion.
Evers has said he likely would veto such a bill, calling it the “speech police in reverse.”
- Another bill before the Assembly would create a statute addressing money laundering in Wisconsin.
The punishment for money laundering — facilitating a transaction with illegally obtained funds or engaging in such a transaction in a concealing nature — would be a misdemeanor if the amount is $2,500 or less and a felony if more than that. Transactions over $100,000 would constitute a Class F felony, punishable by a fine not to exceed $25,000 or imprisonment not to exceed 12 years and 6 months, or both.
Wisconsin statute doesn’t currently define money laundering, meaning any such cases have to reach federal guidelines or be tried as other crimes such as theft.
- Representatives will also vote on legislation to increase the mandatory minimum sentence for fifth and sixth drunken driving convictions to 18 months. Currently, such a conviction results in a fine of at least $600 and a six-month sentence.
Another bill would extend how much time prosecutors have to pursue drunken driving cases, with exceptions.
The prosecution time limit for a misdemeanor drunken driving charge would be extended from three years to six years. The time limit to prosecute a drunken driving ordinance violation would be extended from two years to three years.