Legislature

Justin W Kern

State lawmakers are floating an idea for how to crack down on human trafficking and prostitution. They're considering a bill that would enlist the help of truck drivers, whose routes take them throughout the state. An assembly committee is scheduled to vote on the item Wednesday. Some victims' advocates approve of the measure, but say the state should also employ other innovative strategies.

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr

It’s no secret that there’s division among some of the state's Republican lawmakers. After six years of agreeing on major pieces of legislation, they struggled this past summer to pass a state budget. Some exchanged unkind words during the process. 

Joe Brusky

Hundreds of people packed into a hearing room at the State Capitol on Thursday for a debate about the rights of undocumented immigrants. Most of the speakers who attended were there to argue against a bill that would crack down on so-called “sanctuary cities” in Wisconsin. The Republican measure would prohibit local governments from enacting policies that prevent federal agents from enforcing immigration laws.

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State lawmakers are considering several bills that would limit riots and punish people who participate in them.  The bills define a riot as a public disturbance during a gathering of at least three people;  one makes participating in a riot a felony.

Althouse

The Foxconn deal has cleared another hurdle. The state Senate approved a $3 billion incentives package Tuesday for the Taiwanese electronics giant to build a huge LCD screen manufacturing plant in southeastern Wisconsin.

It appears the factory would be located in Racine County, since the city of Kenosha announced it’s taking itself out of consideration. The city said it couldn’t support the project, citing state laws that restrict tax incremental financing districts and levy limits.

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Althouse

State lawmakers on the budget writing committee Thursday rejected Gov. Walker’s proposed switch to a self-insurance model for state employees. Instead, the panel came up with other ways to save money. One of those methods likely would lead to an increase in health care premiums for state workers.

sauletas, fotolia

The subject of hair was a hot topic among Wisconsin state senators on Wednesday. They approved two pieces of legislation that would eliminate certain requirements for people who style hair. For example, the requirement for continuing education and for instructors to be licensed. Some people see the changes as a way to remove barriers to work, while others worry about potential health concerns.

alumroot

Wisconsin may soon join the list of states demanding a convention to change the U.S. Constitution. Wednesday, the state Assembly voted to request a meeting of states to amend the document, requiring a balanced federal budget.

Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos supports a balanced budget amendment. He says a constitutional change is necessary and blames former President Obama for increasing the national debt to $20 trillion. Vos wants people to visualize the huge number.

Justin W Kern

State budget talks have stalled in Madison, as has happened in the past. Wisconsin lawmakers hope to pass a two-year spending plan by June 30, but it appears unlikely.

The biggest problem the state faces is a $1 billion hole in its transportation budget; Gov. Walker and fellow Republicans who control the Legislature differ on how to plug it. The state collects money through its gas tax and vehicle registration fee. The state gas tax is 31 cents per gallon, while the registration fee is $75 per vehicle.

For an update on this story, read this post: Wisconsin Assembly Passes Measure Calling For Constitutional Convention

An Assembly committee has advanced the idea of Wisconsin joining a states-initiated constitutional convention to draft a federal balanced budget amendment. Thirty-four states are needed; Wisconsin could become number 30.

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Some GOP lawmakers in Wisconsin are looking to get tougher on juvenile offenders. Right now, the state can sentence them to no longer than three year behind bars, but a bill circulating in Madison right now would allow juvenile offenders to be locked up until age 25. While some Republican leaders say the move is necessary to curtail crime, some Democrats prefer a different approach.

Elijah Nouvelage/Getty Images

College campuses have long been hotbeds for protests during divisive political times. And they've invited speakers, some controversial, in an effort to offer multiple perspectives. But as rhetoric has heated up in recent months, some schools are struggling to accommodate such visits. Conservative Wisconsin legislators think they have the answer.

In recent years, Wisconsin has sent several thousand people back to prison, even though they did not commit new crimes. What they did was violated the rules of their release by committing what otherwise might be considered minor offenses. On Wednesday, a panel of legislators debated a bill that could increase the number of so-called “crimeless revocations.”

Henryk Sadura / Fotolia

If you look at the population of Wisconsin and then at the leadership in state government, you’ll notice at least one significant disconnect. Milwaukee is by far the state’s largest city, but the city itself has few residents in leadership roles - particularly in the Legislature.

Writer Joe Potente says it’s a sign of the city’s diminishing political clout at the statewide level. He wrote an article featured in the current issue of Milwaukee Magazine about this phenomenon. 

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