MADISON — Last week was a pretty good week for conservative legislation.
The Legislature passed common sense crime packages, measures checking radical leftist curriculum in schools, and key resolutions that would return power to the people.
The Republican-led crime package taken up by the Assembly requires the use of federal COVID relief funds to help recruit, retain, support, and invest in Wisconsin law enforcement officers.
“Law enforcement officers are facing levels of violence and scrutiny not seen in decades,” said Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna).“Rather than risk not making it home at night, they are leaving the profession all together – making our state less safe.”
Wisconsin saw a 9 percent increase in violent crime in 2021, underscored by a second straight year of record homicides in Milwaukee. The national average was up 5 percent. And targeted police killings also hit a 20 year high recently.
Not surprisingly, law enforcement retirements spiked 45 percent and resignations soared by 18 percent. Wisconsin, meanwhile, has seen its lowest number of law enforcement recruits in more than a decade.
Other legislation would:
— Ensure felons in possession of firearms are prosecuted
— Prevent violent criminals from earning early release from prison or parole
— Force the Department of Corrections to deal with convicts who violate the terms of their probation and parole.
— Add criminal penalties for coordinated “smash and grab” crimes
The Republican-sponsored bills passed along party lines.
Taking on CRT
The Senate, along another party-line vote, passed legislation that would ban so-called critical race theory and other race-centric curriculum in Wisconsin schools. The measure prohibits teaching “that one race or sex is inherently superior to another race or sex and that an individual, by virtue of the individual’s race or sex, bears responsibility for acts committed in the past by other individuals of the same race or sex.”
School districts that defy the law would face losing 10 percent of state aid.
Liberal lawmakers claim the bill would prevent accurate portrayals of racism in America. Proponents of the legislation counter that it would stop the kind of indoctrination that defends using discrimination to fight discrimination and falsely demands students accept that the United States was and remains a nation steeped in “white supremacy.”
The measure is headed to Gov. Tony Evers desk. The Democrat has signaled he will veto it.
Convention of States
Wisconsin this week became the 16th state to pass a resolution calling for a convention of states to rein in the ever-expanding federal government.
“We’ve all seen a federal government that has gone off the rails for some time now. Anything we can do to put limitations on the federal government certainly is long overdue in many of these areas that fall into the Convention of States,” said Sen. Andre Jacque (R-De Pere) before the resolution passed in the Senate, mostly along party lines. A few Republicans cast no votes.
Article V of the U.S. Constitution gives states the power to call a Convention of States to propose amendments. It takes 34 states to call the convention and 38 to ratify any amendments that are proposed. Proponents of this effort, led nationally by Convention of States Action, say the resolutions would only allow the states to discuss amendments that, “limit the power and jurisdiction of the federal government, impose fiscal restraints, and place term limits on federal officials.”
The Senate also passed a resolution seeking an amendment to the constitution capping the number of U.S. Supreme Court justices at nine members, The measure, authored by state Sen. Julian Bradley (R-Franklin) and state Rep. Tony Kurtz (R-Wonewoc), calls for a constitutional convention to get the proposed amendment rolling. It’s designed to prevent court-packing proposals that aim to usurp the conservative majority court.
“As activist liberals in Congress debate packing the court, we must take action to protect the Supreme Court from radical activism,” Bradley said. “Amending the U.S. Constitution to keep the number of Supreme Court justices at nine will protect the court against politically motivated attempts to reshape it.”
And the conservative-led Senate passed a resolution calling for another constitutional amendment — this time at the state level — that would check state executive branch control over federal funds. While it wouldn’t curb the current unilateral power the governor has over the billions of dollars in COVID aid, it would give the Legislature control over how federal funds are spent moving forward.
The resolution requires all initial appropriations of federal funds to be approved by a joint committee of the Legislature. Legislative oversight would give the public “significantly more opportunity to have their voices heard and encourage a more accountable and efficient distribution of those funds,” the resolution’s authors say.
The resolution will have to pass two consecutive sessions of the Legislature before it can be placed on the ballot for voters to decide.