WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted during the 2019-20 session.
2019 Act 33 – Expands the activities for which a person can be prosecuted on felony charges related to trespassing or damaging utility property.
Prior to adoption of this law, damaging another's property without consent of the owner was generally a misdemeanor punishable by 9 months in jail, a fine of up to $10,000, or both. The same actions became a felony punishable by up to six years in prison and a $10,000 fine if the property was owned by an energy provider and the person caused or intended to cause significant disruption to operations. The law said energy provider property had to be part of an electric generation, distribution, or transmission system or part of a natural gas distribution system.
The new law expands the penalty to cover damage to property owned, leased, or operated by water utilities; water production cooperatives, and companies that run gas, oil, petroleum, refined petroleum product, renewable fuel, water, or chemical generation, storage transportation, or delivery system.
Trespassing offenses were treated similarly. In most instances, before Act 33, trespassing was civil violation punishable by a fine of up to $1,000. Trespassing on energy provider property, however, carried the safe felony sanctions as damaging a provider's property.
This section of the bill also expanded the types of properties where trespassing is a felony to include those also included in the damage-to-property provisions.
Exemptions to the penalties were included for monitoring compliance statutory requirements, taking part in otherwise legal picketing or protests that arise out of labor disputes, taking part in legal union organizing activities, and exercising legal free speech and or assembly.
The law was introduced as AB 426; its companion Senate bill was SB 386.
It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Nov. 20, 2019.
No fiscal estimates were filed.
Rep. David Steffen (R - Green Bay) – Critical infrastructure is a term used by the government to describe assets that are essential for the functioning of a society and economy. Most commonly associated with the term are facilities for: shelter, agriculture, water supply, public health, transportation, security services, electricity generation, transmission and distribution (ie. Natural gas, fuel oil, coal, nuclear power) and telecommunication.
In recent years, critical infrastructure sites throughout the Midwest have been the
recipients of worker harassment and millions of dollars of vandalism and damage. Acts such as
these do not only negatively affect the property being damaged but is also putting nearby
communities and environment as risk.
Sen. Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine) – As you know, our power grid and related infrastructure is a target that can be damaged and/or sabotaged. A single person could create a problem that could disrupt energy services for hundreds of thousands of people. This is danger to our economy and our safety.
We saw this happen earlier this year in Madison with the MG&E fire. I know the MG&E fire was an accident, but you can see the impact the accident caused. Now imagine, the impact ifthat fire was intentional. The damage could have been far greater and widespread.
American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, Construction Business Group, International Union of Operating Engineers Local 139, Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, Midwest Food Products Association, Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' Association of Milwaukee, U.S. Venture, Wisconsin Building Trades Council, Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Grocers Association, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Wisconsin Independent Businesses Agri-Business Coalition, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Wisconsin Laborers District Council, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin Pipe Trades, Wisconsin Propane Gas Association, Wisconsin Restaurant Association, Wisconsin Rural Water Association, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, Wisconsin Underground Contractors Association, Wisconsin Utilities Association – In recent years, critical infrastructure worksites in the Midwest have seen millions of dollars of construction equipment set on fire, hydraulic fluid leaked onto the ground due to vandalism, intimidation of labor on worksites, and individuals using force to break into facilities and unsafely turn off this critical infrastructure. Unfortunately, those causing this damage and disruption often either do not fully understand the harm they cause or simply don't care. Workers - usually skilled, union tradesmen and tradeswomen - are increasingly feeling unsafe and are seeing their equipment and even their own personal property being damaged. Attempts to improperly turn off or sabotage critical infrastructure is also putting our communities and environment at risk, and, in some cases, putting the lives of those doing the vandalism in jeopardy.
To address these serious and growing concerns, the Worker Safety and Energy Security Act adds petroleum, renewable fuel, chemical and water infrastructure to the existing criminal statute protecting our critical infrastructure from trespassing and damage, giving these types of critical infrastructure the same protections as electric and natural gas infrastructure. Nothing in this legislation impacts first amendment rights to organize, protest or picket, and to make that clear language has been included to ensure this legislation does not violate those rights.
ACLU of Wisconsin – We understand that there is a difference between exercising one’s First Amendment right to assemble and breaking the law. Legislators must recognize, however, that the Constitution firmly protects protests even when – and especially when – they stir anger, question preconceptions, challenge government policy, and induce dissatisfaction with the status quo.
The First Amendment safeguards protesters’ rights to awaken passions, to make the public aware of their positions and opinions. America’s robust tradition of free speech allows us all to effect change by making our voices heard. This is crucial to ensuring that the government remains responsive to the will of the people; it is what sets our country apart and is the reason it must be carefully and consistently protected....
This expanded definition sends a message to protesters, who are often members of Native tribes and the organizations that support them, that the government is watching them and wants them to stop vigorously protesting the impending damage to their lands, homes, and livelihoods. The bill also will create additional uncertainty regarding which “energy providers” are covered by the prohibition. The existing law has significant problems that would be greatly exacerbated by expanding the entities covered. What does it mean to intend to substantially interrupt or impair any service? If a person is part of a human chain blocking the access road for a delivery truck as an act of civil disobedience, could they become a felon?
National Lawyers' Guild-Madison Chapter - The justification for this legislation, “worker safety” is a smokescreen for companies like Enbridge and Husky Oil, which have already polluted Wisconsin lands and waters and brought death and injury to workers and residents near their facilities across the U.S. Enbridge is responsible for at least two fatalities from exploding gas pipelines in the U.S. and Husky Oil’s refinery explosion in Superior in April 2016 injured workers and caused a mass evacuation in the city. Wisconsin legislators have stripped workers of collective bargaining rights, unemployment compensation and other protections over the last eight years, so expressions of concern for their wellbeing ring a bit hollow.....
Leased property, which is included in the bill, usually refers to privately owned property that the pipeline company arranged to lease voluntarily or obtained through eminent domain, which was historically only used by public agencies. Leased property is often not marked consistently and oil and gas pipelines are buried underground, so a person might not know where it is. Lessees may not have the legal authority to prohibit others from entering property that is not exclusively used by them, in fact the expired easement Enbridge had in the national forest expressly allowed people to travel through the easement for hunting, gathering and recreation. The “critical infrastructure” bills that have proliferated in states since 2016 threaten civil liberties and public oversight of pipeline operations, which frequently violate the law and employ militarized police to intimidate activists.
Glory Adams: This is a bill that was written by ALEC and forwarded by corporate entities (eg. Enbridge). It is designed to give energy corporations (including pipelines) extraordinary protections at the expense of citizens. It allows an energy company to call law enforcement and demand arrests and charges against a citizen. There have been almost no incidents of vandalism perpetuated by protestors in the state of Wisconsin. However, Enbridge has operated without permits which did result in two protestors being charged. No employees were injured by protestors. Enbridge is currently being sued by the Bad River Reservation for operating illegally on the reservation since 2013. It is clearly not citizens that need extraordinary charges brought against them, but the corporation committing illegal acts.
The real problem between protestors and energy servers is the lack of empowerment given to citizens. There is virtually nothing a citizen can do to stop the use of eminent domain, destruction of the environment, and loss of property values. Trying to do so means hiring high priced lawyers for multiple court appearances and endless paperwork.
Corporations like Enbridge are quick to say they provide energy for Wisconsin. They do not. Their pipelines simply run through the state. This bill is over-kill. There is no justifiable reason to have it in the state of Wisconsin. There are already laws regarding trespassing and vandalism. This bill also has taxpayers paying for the protection of an energy server. That is a misuse of taxpayer money.
Justin Novotney: We will never forgive you.
Registering for the bill: The American Chemistry Council, American Petroleum Institute, BNSF Railway, Construction Business Group, Cooperative Network, EDP Renewables, International Union of Operating Engineers Local #139, Mechanical Contractors Association of Wisconsin, Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce, North Central States Regional Council of Carpenters, Plumbing and Mechanical Contractors Association of Milwaukee and Southeastern Wisconsin, Sheet Metal and Air Conditioning Contractors' Association of Milwaukee, Waukesha County Business Alliance, Wisconsin Central Ltd., Wisconsin Farm Bureau Federation, Wisconsin Independent Businesses, Wisconsin Industrial Energy Group, Wisconsin Laborers District Council, Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce, Wisconsin Paper Council, Wisconsin Pipe Trades Association, Wisconsin Railroad Association, Wisconsin State AFL-CIO, Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association, Wisconsin Utilities Association.
Registering against the bill: ACLU of Wisconsin, Ho-Chunk Nation, League of Women Voters of Wisconsin Inc., Midwest Environmental Advocates, Sierra Club – John Muir Chapter, Wisconsin Democracy Campaign.
The main authors of the bill were Steffen and State Rep. Jason Fields (D-Milwaukee).
The lead cosponsors were Wanggaard and Sen. Janet Bewley (D-Mason).
Vote: Reps. Jonathan Brostroff (D-Milwaukee), Nick Milroy (D-South Range), Tod Ohnstad (D-Kenosha), and Chris Taylor (D-Madison) voted against the bill, as did Senators Dave Hansen (D-Green Bay) Chris Larson (D-Milwaukee), Mark Miller (D-Monona_ and Fred Risser (D-Madison).
WJI is taking a look at justice-related bills adopted this session.
2019 Act 31 – Requires that a sentence for intoxicated use of a vehicle (OWI homicide) include a prison term of at least five years. The sentencing judge, however, may impose a lesser term if there is a compelling reason and the judge states the reason on the record.
The law was introduced as AB 17; its companion Senate bill was SB 8.
It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on Nov. 20, 2019.
Department of Corrections –$525,000 annually, including costs for treatment and contract jail beds.
Courts – Fewer than 50 cases annually will be affected. Undetermined, minimal impact.
District Attorneys – Unknown, minimal.
Department of Justice – Unknown.
Department of Transportation – None.
State Public Defender – There may be a slight cost increase as extended threat of incarceration may cause an increase in the number of cases resolved by trial rather than plea.
Rep. Jim Ott – Assembly Bill 17 (SB 8) would impose a mandatory minimum of 5 years incarceration for committing homicide while driving drunk. While many judges sentence appropriately, there is no mandatory minimum. We sometimes hear of sentences of as little as a year or two being delivered, and at least one case of less than a year....The bill allows the judge to use discretion and sentence less than five years if the court finds that it is in best interest of the community, the public will not be harmed and the court puts its reasons in writing.
Mothers Against Drunk Driving and the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association Inc. registered in favor of the bill.
The Association of State Prosecutors registered against the bill.
The lead authors of AB 17 were Ott (R-Mequon) and Rep. Samantha Kerkman (R-Salem).
The lead co-sponsors are Senators Alberta Darling (R-River Hills) and David Craig (R-Big Bend).
WJI is providing summaries of justice-related laws adopted in the 2019-20 legislative session.
2019 Act 8 – Delays closing of scandal-plagued juvenile prisons Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake from Jan. 1, 2021 to July 1, 2021. Also allows the Department of Correction to temporarily move juveniles out of Lincoln Hills to a qualifying juvenile detention facility prior to the opening of new state secure facilities; eliminates the requirement that, to qualify for funding, some secured residential care centers for children and youth (SRCCCYs) be only for females; allows counties with SRCCYs that serve out-of-county residents to qualify for youth aid bonuses; and generally requires approval of the local governing body before the state makes changes to a state secure facility.
The law was introduced as AB 188; its companion Senate bill was SB 168.
The bill passed the Senate, 33-0; the Assembly approved it without a roll call vote. It was signed by Gov. Tony Evers on June 28, 2019.
The legislation was a trailer bill to 2017 Act 185.
Department of Corrections –Previously estimated it would cost $1,186,000 in FY20 and $10,544,800 in FY21 to establish one secure juvenile facility and provide supporting staff by January 1, 2021.
This bill will move the closure date of (Lincoln Hills) and (Copper Lake) into FY22. Prior to opening the new... (secure facilities), DOC will need budget and position authority to begin the process of hiring staff, developing institution policies and procedures, and developing programs. In accordance with DOC's staffing plan, budget and position authority will still be needed in FY20 and FY21 for a July 1, 2021 deadline....The impact of this bill will require DOC to simultaneously work to establish new Type 1 JCFs while continuing to provide services at its existing Type 1 JCFs. This bill does provide any additional budget or position authority increase.
Department of Children and Families – Unknown.
Department of Health Services –Unknown. Governor's budget provided $3,159,500 and 50.5 full-time equivalent positions in existing to open a 14-bed expansion using existing space at Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center. An additional $59 million budgeted for a 50-bed addition for both males and females. Legislation, however, did not include funding for staffing the expansions.
Department of Public Instruction – Unknown.
Department of Safety and Professional Services – None.
Legislative Audit Bureau – Unknown.
Rep. Michael Schraa – I was in the room when Governor Walker agreed to extend the original timeline to accomplish this momentous task. Although he was committed to his ambitious timeline, he agreed to allow more time in deference to the needs of the counties.
Several legislators have asked why we want to extend the timeline yet again. I absolutely do not support Governor Evers' proposal for an indefinite timeline. Troubled youth deserve a timely solution.
Unfortunately, we lost a lot of momentum in the executive transition. The result of which is that the counties have not received the timely response from the Juvenile Corrections Grant Committee that we had envisioned. The counties have requested six more months, so it is in everyone's best interest to make it possible for them to participate. I cannot stress strongly enough that the state cannot accomplish this juvenile corrections reform without the full participation of the counties.
Shannon Reed, DOC assistant deputy secretary – In our current system, local law enforcement officials, human services agencies, prosecutors, and judges have significant discretion and influence on whether and how youth land in secure facilities at the county level or at the state Department of Corrections. The decision to place youth in a secure setting rather than a less secure residential facility, or some other diversionary or community-based justice program, is decided at the local level.
So, it is not enough to simply want there to be fewer children placed in secure settings, as many in this room have stated. It is a matter of all of us who have influence in this process to work together toward the trauma-informed programming, consistent staff training, community involvement, mental and physical health services, and other steps that research tells us increases the likelihood that youth will successfully re-integrate into their families and communities.
Right now, there are 168 youth assigned to Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake Schools. This is a decrease of nearly 80% over the past 17 years. Today, 90% of our youth are identified as having one or more significantly adverse childhood experiences and almost half of the youth are enrolled in special education. More than 75% of the boys and 100% of the girls at Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake are receiving mental health services, in addition to the about 13% of boys who are currently placed at Mendota Juvenile Treatment Center for a serious mental health condition.
As Governor Evers said yesterday, we want to close Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake but we also have to look at the entire youth justice system that considers the continuum of offenses and offenders and where they are mentally and educationally. We at DOC agree a comprehensive plan for juvenile justice in this state is the best path forward. We urge all those who care about the youth involved in the juvenile justice system to consider Act 185 and these technical fixes just the first step in reforming the way we help young people never return to a Department of Corrections facility. Youth justice should not be punitive. It should be a place where vulnerable children - no matter what bad decisions they have made - have the opportunity to overcome the trauma they have experienced in their young lives, receive the education and health treatment services they deserve, and learn the skills necessary to grow into citizens who will successfully contribute to their communities and to our state.
The League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, Milwaukee County, and the National Association of Social Workers – Wisconsin Chapter and the Wisconsin Counties Association registered in favor of the bill.
There were no registrations against the bill.
The main authors of AB 188 were Schraa (R-Oshkosh) and State Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee).
Its two main co-sponsors were State Senators Van H. Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee).
By Gretchen Schuldt
A proposal to require law enforcement to impound any vehicle operated by a person without a valid driver's license would cost the state and local governments up to $50 million a year if the proposal becomes law, according to the State Department of Transportation.
The cost estimate assumes costs of $28.9 million for 258.4 new employees to handle the work involved and $21.2 million in towing and vehicle storage costs that law enforcement agencies would not be able to recover.
In addition, the law proposed by State Sen. David Craig (R - Big Bend) and State Rep. Joe Sanfelippo (R-New Berlin) could leave car owners scrambling to retrieve from the impound lot their vehicles that were stolen and driven by the unlicensed thieves.
"It appears that the owner of the (stolen) vehicle would be responsible for paying the fees to get their own vehicle back," DOT said in a fiscal estimate.
Craig is the lead sponsor in the Senate; Sanfelippo is the lead in the Assembly. Senate co-sponsors are Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Andre Jacque (R-DePere), and Howard Marklein (R-Spring Green). Assembly co-sponsors include Scott Allen (R-Waukesha), Barbara Dittrich (R-Oconomowoc), Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger), Cody Horlacher (R-Muskego), Terry Katsma (R-Oostburg), Daniel Knodl (R-Germantown), Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin), Gae Magnafici (R-Dresser), David Murphy (R-Greenville), John Spiros (R-Marshfield), Ken Skowronski (R-Franklin), Paul Tittl (R-Manitowoc), Ron Tusler (R-Harrison), and Chuck Wichgers (R-Muskego).
The Craig/Sanfelippo bill would, with few exceptions, require that a car operated by a driver without a valid license "be immediately impounded." The requirement would apply in cases of driving on a suspended license, driving after revocation, and driving without a license.
"It appears that the owner of the (stolen) vehicle would be responsible for paying the fees to get their own vehicle back." – Wisconsin Department of Transportation
A person could get a car back at the end of an impound period by paying the fine or forfeiture for the license violation and any impound fees. A vehicle could not be released, however, unless it was properly registered and the person to whom it was registered showed proof of insurance and a valid operator's license.
The State Patrol, which issued 11,292 citations last year for driving without a valid license, doesn't have any impound lots and would have to get some, the DOT said.
"It is estimated that it could cost roughly $500,000 to establish each lot when factoring in the costs to obtain real estate, paving, fencing and the necessary security measures," the agency said. The estimate does not say how many impound lots the state would need.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The State Assembly's Criminal Justice and Public Safety Committee will hold an announced-at-the-last-minute public hearing on a package of partisan "tougher on crime bills" Thursday in the State Capitol.
The hearing is scheduled for 9 a.m. in room 412 East.
If you support criminal justice reform, chances are you will not like these Republican proposals. WJI opposes them.
The bill numbers, links to their text, and short summaries of what the legislation would do are below. The summaries are taken from Legislative Reference Bureau information and from the relevant bill's language. Each one will carry a fiscal cost, but the estimates are not yet available.
Please contact your legislator and join the fight for a reasonable criminal justice system. Find out who your state representatives are by going here and clicking on the "Who are My Legislators?" button.
The members of the criminal justice committee are listed here.
Assembly Bill 758 – Under this bill, a person in a facility to await a commitment trial as a sexually violent person is guilty of a Class H felony if he or she commits battery against an officer, employee, agent, visitor, or other resident of the facility. Class H felonies are punishable by up to six years in prison and / or a $10 000 fine.
Assembly Bill 802 – This bill would allow a judge, when determining when videoconferencing can be used in court, to consider the safety of the witness or the risk that the witness may be unavailable to testify if videoconferencing is not used
Assembly Bill 803 – The allowable use of deposition testimony in court instead of live testimony would be expanded under this bill. Deposition testimony would be acceptable if it appears that the witness is "at risk" of being intimidated and thus may not fully cooperate at trial. It also would be allowed if a judge finds that a witness "may have been" intimidated.
Assembly Bill 804 – This bill would increase the penalty for intimidating the victim or alleged victim of domestic abuse from a maximum of nine months incarceration and / or a $10,000 fine to a maximum of 10 years in prison and / or a $25,000 fine.
By Gretchen Schuldt
Gov. Tony Evers is proposing to grant a $30-an-hour pay hike followed by automatic pay increases to private attorneys who accept State Public Defender appointments to represent poor defendants in court cases, according to the governor's budget proposal.
"Wisconsin has the lowest reimbursement rate for private bar attorneys that represent indigent criminal defendants," the budget notes. "Under our system of due process, everyone has a constitutional right to legal representation yet the low reimbursement rate has caused major concerns as to whether all Wisconsinites are being properly represented."
The proposed budget would increase from $40 per hour to $70 per hour paid to the private attorneys. The increase would take effect Jan. 1, 2020. After that, the amount paid would be adjusted to reflect inflation.
The initiative would cost $25.6 million over the two years of the biennium, according to the budget.
As expected, the proposed budget would legalize medical marijuana and eliminate penalties associated with small amounts of recreational marijuana. Below are related excerpts from the budget.
The state would, under the budget, do the following (we'll be adding to the list in future posts.):
You can show your support or opposition Evers' proposals by contacting your legislators. Hey, don't know who they are, exactly? You can find out by visiting the Legislature's home page here and typing your address in the box on the right side of the page.
By Gretchen Schuldt
The Department of Corrections would spend an additional $13.6 million annually to imprison fifth- and sixth-offense drunk drivers if the Legislature adopts a measure mandating 18-month minimum prison sentences for those offenders, according to a fiscal estimate from the department.
Under current law, fifth or sixth OWI offenders can be fined up to $25,000 and imprisoned for up to 10 years. The minimum sentence is $600 and six months incarceration.
An average of 438 people per year are sentenced to probation for fifth or sixth offense drunk driving. Assuming that all those people would go to prison under the new bill, the proposal would add an estimated 639 inmates to the state's already jam-packed facilities, DOC said in the estimate.
The estimate includes $1.6 million for new substance abuse disorder programs to serve the additional inmates. Those programs would require an additional 23 full-time staff position.
"These costs do not include remodeling/reconstruction costs that may be needed to create the kind of program spaces that are needed," DOC said.
Because the adult prison system is at capacity, the estimate assumes DOC would step up its contracts with local jails to house prison inmates. The agency would require an additional $12 million per year for the contracts if all 639 inmates were held in jails, according to the estimate.
The Department, in a separate estimate, said that criminalizing first offense drunk driving would cost about $3 million annually to provide supervision, electronic monitoring, and substance use disorder programming. That is just DOC's cost - fiscal estimates for courts, prosecutors, and public defenders are not yet available.
A bill pending in the Legislature would make first offense drunk driving a misdemeanor, punishable by a fine of up to $500, up to 30 days incarceration, and / or two years probation.
The estimate assumes that 13,970 people will be found guilty of first offense drunk driving during the year, and that 1,097 of those people would be placed on one year of probation. The probation rolls would permanently swell by that number about a year after the bill's enactment.
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