By Gretchen Schuldt
Election workers could face criminal penalties for directing election observers stand more than three feet away from certain tables, under legislation approved by both the Assembly and Senate and awaiting action by Gov. Evers.
The Legislature also approved a bill that would prohibit "sexual misconduct" against a student by a school employee or volunteer. That measure also is awaiting Evers' signature or veto.
More information about the bills is below.
Assembly Bill 543 – Fines and jail time for election workers
Under this legislation election workers would face up to 90 days in jail and fines of up to $1,000 if they direct election observers to stand more than three feet away from the table where people can register to vote and from the table where voters announce their names and addresses and are given a voter number.
The bill, as adopted, also says that municipalities should provide observers equal access “to all stages of the election process, including the certification of election technologies, absentee voting in person, canvassing, elector appeals, vote tabulation, and recounts.”
The ACLU of Wisconsin, the City of Milwaukee, Common Cause in Wisconsin, Disability Rights Wisconsin, the League of Women Voters Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Council of the Blind and Visually Impaired, and Wisconsin Voices all registered against the legislation. No organization registered in favor.
The bill passed the Senate on a party-line vote of 22-10. Sen. Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee) did not vote. The Assembly approved the bill without a roll call vote.
A chart at the end of this post shows the Senate vote.
Senate Bill 333 – Sexual misconduct by a school employee or volunteer
This bipartisan bill would make it a felony for a school employee or volunteer to engage in verbal or sexual misconduct that is aimed at a student.
The legislation defines “sexual misconduct” as verbal or physical conduct of a sexual nature, according to the Legislative Reference Bureau (LRB).
The maximum penalty for violating the law would be 3½ years in prison and a $10,000 fine.
Both the Senate and Assembly approved the measure without a roll call vote.
State law now requires the Department of Public Instruction (DPI) to revoke the license of anyone convicted of certain crimes. That person can seek reinstatement of the license after six years if “the person shows, by clear and convincing evidence, that he or she is entitled to reinstatement,” the LRB’s analysis of the measure said.
The bill would add additional crimes to the automatic suspension statute, including sexual misconduct against a student, certain crimes against student privacy, and theft of property from a school. The bill also would create a lifetime license revocation for some offenses.
The Badger State Sheriffs' Association, the FFRF Action Fund (affiliated with the Freedom from Religion Foundation), the League of Women Voters of Wisconsin, the Wisconsin Catholic Conference, the Wisconsin Chiefs of Police Association, Wisconsin Family Action, the Wisconsin Nurses Association, the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association, and Wisconsin Voices all registered in favor of the legislation. No organization registered in opposition.
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