The Wisconsin state Senate has passed a bill doubling carjacking penalties. It’s largely in response to carjackings by young men in Milwaukee, but Milwaukee Senator Lena Taylor urged Senate colleagues to innovate, just incarcerate “misguided” youth and others. “Put them on a pathway to a career in industry that can transform their lives and our community.”
While Milwaukee Senator LaTonya Johnson shared Taylor’s concerns about incarceration rates in Wisconsin, she also said that “these children stick guns in the faces of individuals, to take their cars. That is not the time for us to try to give them a job.”
Johnson was one of six Democrats to join majority Republicans in a bipartisan vote to pass the bill, now ready for consideration by the Assembly. The bill increases the penalty for carjacking from up to 6 years in prison to up to 15. Repeat offenders could face 12 and a half years in prison rather than the current six.
The Senate also passed Assembly legislation aimed at assisting people with opiate addictions. One measure would protect addicts from prosecution when they receive assistance from police or other first responders in overdose situations, provided that they seek drug treatment. The second would extend the state’s voluntary and involuntary commitment programs for alcoholics to drug addicts. Both bills are now ready for Governor Walker’s signature.
The Senate also approved a fast-tracked measure to make some changes top the state’s voucher schools program. Voucher schools would be required to conduct background checks before hiring staff, and would no longer need to meet some academic standards.
The Senate also passed – on a voice vote and with no debate – a bill that would allow home bakers to sell “face-to-face” without a state license. Bakers would be required to register with state consumer protection officials and sell less than $25,000 a year.
The Senate also approved making Veterans Day a state holiday. State employees currently get a floating holiday, which would be replaced by the paid day off on November 11th.