September 20, 2014

Lawmakers call for dropping bail bonds from budget

As Governor Scott Walker considers possible vetoes to the state budget, several Democratic state lawmakers are asking him to consider removing a provision that would bring bounty hunters back to Wisconsin.

The language added to the state budget by the Joint Finance Committee would allow commercial bail bondsmen to begin operating in five counties across the state for the first time since 1979. Law enforcement groups, prosecutors, and even the state’s attorney general have raised concerns about the provision. Democratic state lawmakers sent a letter to the governor Tuesday asking him to drop it from the budget using his veto authority.

State Representative Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) says it’s a terrible idea with bipartisan opposition. He says decisions about bail should be left up to judges, who set bail amounts after weighing the risk to public safety and flight risk of a defendant. Hintz says inserting profit motives into the process could only increase the risk of corruption.

AUDIO: Rep. Gordon Hintz (:13)

The governor vetoed a similar provision that was included in the last state budget and Hintz is hopeful that will happen with the current version of the plan. He says supporters of the change should introduce the proposal as separate legislation, which would give the idea a chance to go through the public hearing process.

Governor Walker’s office says he is currently going over the budget and will announce his veto decisions when that work is complete. Walker has until the end of the month to act on the bill.