(The Center Square) – The next step for police reform in Wisconsin could be as simple as a file.
Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point, and Rep. Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, this week reintroduced a proposal to create a new employee file for police officers and sheriff’s deputies in the state.
“Law enforcement agencies want only the best to join their ranks, and this bill helps to ensure that,” Testin said.
The central idea of the proposed law is a file that travels with officers from job to job. That file would include performance reviews, commendations, and also any black marks against the officer.
“We are working with law enforcement to preclude unsuitable candidates and to elevate the most qualified,” Tusler said.
The proposal would also give the state’s Law Enforcement Standards Board the power to set new minimum qualification standards for new recruits and statewide training standards for all officers.
“The input we’ve received from law enforcement agencies has been invaluable and serves to demonstrate the commitment they have to pursuing excellence,” Testin added.
This is the second go-round for this legislation. Tusler first introduced it back in 2017. It didn’t become law, so he is trying again.
The difference between the 2017 proposal and the 2021 proposal is that there is a new governor and a new attorney general in Wisconsin.
That change may mean a difference in what new training standards for officers will be.
Testin and Tusler said they had at least one Democratic lawmaker on board with the legislation, as well as the state’s major law enforcement groups.
The Wisconsin Department of Justice, the Wisconsin Association of Police Chiefs, the Badger State Sheriffs’ Association, the Wisconsin Sheriffs and Deputy Sheriffs Association and the Wisconsin Professional Police Association all support the plan.
(The Center Square) – A $15 minimum wage would result in 1.4 million jobs lost and disproportionately hurt younger workers and those with less education, a new Congressional Budget Office report says.
President Joe Biden, U.S. Sen. Bernie Sanders and other Democrats have proposed raising the federal minimum wage to $15 an hour by 2025, more than double the current federal minimum of $7.25 an hour.
Biden says such a move would lift million of Americans out of poverty. While the CBO confirms the poverty-reducing impact, it also says it would hurt the economy.
"In 2025, when the minimum wage reached $15 per hour, employment would be reduced by 1.4 million workers (or 0.9 percent), according to CBO’s average estimate," the report says. ... "Young, less educated people would account for a disproportionate share of those reductions in employment."
The higher minimum wage also would result in increased prices for consumers, including on health care, and businesses would be on the hook for higher unemployment premiums because more out-of-work people would seek the benefit.
“Under the bill, Medicaid spending would increase because the effects of increases in the price of health care services and increases in enrollment by people who would be jobless as a result of the minimum-wage increase would outweigh the effects of decreases in enrollment by people with higher income," according to the CBO. "Prices, such as those for long-term services and supports and medical services, would increase as a result of negotiations that accounted for higher costs of labor facing health care providers.”
Other ramifications of a $15 minimum wage, according to CBO, would be less investment by businesses.
"Some businesses would invest in capital goods to replace workers," the report says. "Other businesses, however, would be discouraged from constructing new buildings or buying new machines if they anticipated having fewer employees to use them. On average, over the 2021–2031 period, real investment would be slightly lower than it would be if current laws did not change, CBO estimates. That reduction in investment would reduce workers’ productivity and lead to further reductions in their employment.”
The Georgia Center for Opportunity, which advocates for those in poverty through free-market solutions, said the negatives of such a large minimum wage hike outweigh any benefits.
"Workers need immediate help, but doubling the federal minimum wage when Georgia small businesses are closing left and right is not the right answer," Buzz Brockway, GCO's director of public policy, said in a statement. "Recent data have shown us that unilateral minimum wage hikes hurt low-income, low-skilled workers the most. What's needed for low-income Georgia workers is more than a temporary fix: What's needed is practical training and credentialing to help them 'upskill' into better-paying jobs and careers."
(The Center Square) – Wisconsin’s lieutenant governor is breaking out the puns to support Gov. Tony Evers’ push for legal marijuana in the state.
Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes used one of his two Twitter accounts to offer-up puns over the weekend.
“Maybe I’m being blunt, but it’s high time we stop living in the failed past,” Barnes wrote in one tweet. “Other states take advantage of Wisconsin weed tourists who leave the state for greener pastures. What was once a pipe dream is now long overdue.”
“We have to do this. If Iowa legalizes before us, Wisconsin will be in a geographical weed bowl,” Barnes wrote in another.
Barnes seems to have taken on the role of promoter-in-chief for Evers’ legalization push.
The governor is asking lawmakers in Madison to legalize both recreational and medical marijuana in the state.
“Legalizing and taxing marijuana in Wisconsin — just like we do already with alcohol — ensures a controlled market and safe product are available for both recreational and medicinal users and can open the door for countless opportunities for us to reinvest in our communities and create a more equitable state," Evers said in a statement.
Barnes added from his official Twitter account: “In the year 2021, there's no reason Wisconsin shouldn't join the 15 other states — red and blue — that have legalized marijuana.”
He also tweeted: “[N]ot only will this plan create jobs and reduce justice system costs, we can invest the revenue it raises in creating a more just and equitable state.”
There is little chance Evers’ proposal becomes law. The Republicans who control the state legislature have opposed marijuana legalization in Wisconsin for years.
But they are not alone.
Taxpayer groups are also suspicious of the governor's proposal.
Eric Bott with Americans for Prosperity in Wisconsin said there are real questions to ask about who would benefit from legalization, and not just people who want to use marijuana.
“The details of [Gov. Evers’] regulatory scheme matter a lot (or would if this were passable),” Bott tweeted over the weekend. “Wisconsin doesn’t need another crony three-tier system that helps a few gain advantages at the expense of the many.”
Both Illinois and Michigan have legalized marijuana. Wisconsin’s other neighbors have legalized CBD or medical marijuana in some shape or form.