March 20, 2013 – Senate Joint Resolution 5, proposed by Senator Lena Taylor (D-Milwaukee), changes a Joint Rule in the Legislature that restricts legislative members from receiving fiscal estimates on important criminal penalty legislation.
The simple but needed reform would require the Wisconsin Legislature to receive fiscal estimates on any legislation that would change criminal penalty provisions.
Cale Battles is a government relations coordinator with the State Bar of Wisconsin. He can be reached at org cbattles wisbar wisbar cbattles org, or by phone at (608) 250-6077.
Current statutes require the fiscal estimates, but the Legislature never removed an exemption to the requirement from the Joint Rules that govern the actions of the legislature. Senator Taylor in her testimony to the Senate Committee on Government Operations, Public Works and Telecommunications said that lawmakers can become better caretakers of the justice system by preserving the balance of resources and expenditures of that system.
The State Bar of Wisconsin has a long-standing public policy position in support of requiring fiscal estimates on legislation that enhances penalties and provides for prison and jail incarcerations. The position further states that a full discussion of legislation is impossible without all relevant information, including the fiscal impact criminal penalty legislation has on the administration of justice and the justice system.
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