GOVERNMENT AND POLITICAL ROUNDUP: Gov. Walker signed 62 bills into law Tuesday
MADISON -- Governor Scott Walker signed 62 bills into law yesterday, including some of the most notable measures that just recently passed the Legislature. One new law ends the long-time practice of letting families harbor relatives who commit major felony crimes, and throw off police investigators. The Republican Walker also approved a limited plan to make schools more accountable. Private schools that get tax money to teach low-income kids will provide performance data and be graded by the state, just like public schools. However, new penalties for failing schools did not get enough votes to pass. The governor also gave schools more flexibility by ending the 180-day class time requirement, while keeping minimum hours for instruction. Schools can have fewer-but-longer days, saving money on things like busing.
Drunk drivers who cause injuries will have to spend at least 30 days in jail under a bill signed by Governor Scott Walker yesterday. The Republican governor privately signed more than five dozen new laws -- many of which passed in the final days of the just-completed legislative session. Walker approved the so-called "I'm sorry" bill, in which medical professionals can apologize to patients' families for their mistakes without having it used against them in malpractice suits. Other new laws prohibit employers from asking workers and job candidates for the passwords to their social media accounts. Unmanned drones cannot record people where they expect privacy -- and police cannot use drones to obtain evidence without a warrant. And the governor reduced the numbers of suspects having to give their D-N-A to police when they're arrested, but before they're convicted.
Four retired circuit judges are still in the running for a seat on the state Government Accountability Board. A selection panel has given Governor Scott Walker a list of finalists for him to choose from. Incumbent Michael Brennan is seeking a second six-year term on the board. The other finalists are retired Milwaukee judges Victor Manian and John Franke, and former Dane County judge Michael Nowakowski. State law requires Walker to choose one of those finalists. The Accountability Board is made of up of six retired judges who run Wisconsin's elections and investigates political corruption and ethics violations.
Wisconsin's popular do-not-call list for telemarketers will disappear, and merge with the federal no-call list. Governor Scott Walker approved the change yesterday, when he privately signed 62 bills into law. Supporters said the Federal Trade Commission's no-call list still lets people keep their relative peace-and-quiet at home, by keeping unwanted sales pitches away. And the F-T-C does not require people to re-register every two years like the state did. It saves 190-thousand dollars a year. State consumer protection officials said it would give them more time to investigate those who violate the no-call law. Also, the Republican Walker signed a bill to let residents hit by skyrocketing propane bills get emergency loans. It reduces interest rates for qualified borrowers, to address future emergencies like the one in January when fuel shortages caused suppliers to jack up their prices. Other bills signed by Walker will let Wisconsinites buy long shotguns and rifles in other states. Tax-deductible college savings can be made for longer periods in the Ed-Vest program, and contributions are allowed to any students instead of just family members. And small egg producers with 150 birds or less can sell their products at farmers' markets without having to get state food licenses.
Governor Scott Walker has agreed to have state taxpayers give more compensation to a wrongly-convicted murder suspect from Milwaukee. The Republican Walker signed a bill yesterday that increases Robert Stinson's total compensation to 115-thousand dollars. Stinson spent 23 years in prison for a murder he didn't commit. The State Claims Board approved its maximum of 25-thousand dollars, and it urged the Legislature to grant more. Lawmakers approved an extra 90-thousand dollars for Stinson, whose murder conviction for killing a Milwaukee woman in 1984 was overturned a quarter-century later. Also yesterday, the Claims Board awarded 25-thousand dollars to Joseph Frey. He spent eight years behind bars, after being wrongfully-convicted for a 1991 sexual assault in Oshkosh. The panel also granted 76-hundred dollars to Robin Gavinski of Lake Mills, after state officials miscalculated a pair of sentences which caused him to spend an extra 417 days in prison.
Wisconsin has become the third state to ban "revenge porn" -- the posting of sexually-explicit photos online without the subjects' prior knowledge. Governor Scott Walker signed the ban into law yesterday. Freshman Assembly Republican John Spiros of Marshfield says it will prevent vengeance on the part of those jilted by ex-spouses and lovers. Spiros authored the bill, after discovering that 90-percent of revenge porn victims are women. He said a number of victims came to the surface as the bill was going through the legislative process. He said those victims discovered that law enforcement's hands were tied, because there was no law against the explicit postings by their exes. Spiros says the new law provides teeth to perpetrators, with misdemeanor penalties of up to nine months in jail and fines of up to 10-thousand dollars.