Below is a memo that was sent to the Assembly Committee on State Affairs outlining the State Bar of Wisconsin's support for AB 115 and 116:
To: Members, Assembly Committee on State Affairs
From: Lisa Roys, Director of Public Affairs
Date: March 15, 2017
Re: Support of AB 115 and AB 116
The State Bar of Wisconsin supports AB 115 and AB 116. Access to the courts is vital for all Wisconsin citizens. Everyone is entitled to their day in court in a fair and equitable manner. A well-functioning judicial system contributes to public safety and economic certainty while protecting vulnerable citizens and contributing to the economic climate. AB 115 and 116 and the work of the Joint Legislative Council Study Committee on Access to Civil Legal Services is an important first step in the process of finding a long-term and sustainable solution to the justice gap in Wisconsin.
The State Bar of Wisconsin commends the study committee’s chair, Representative Cody Horlacher, and all of the members of the study committee for their work on this important issue. If you have any questions or need additional information, please Cale Battles at 608-250-6077 or firstname.lastname@example.org or Lynne Davis at 608-250-6045 or email@example.com.
CIVIL LEGAL SERVICES IN WISCONSIN
What is “civil legal services?”
- It’s not about criminal defense services or personal injury lawsuits. Civil legal services programs don’t handle those types of issues.
- It is about helping the most vulnerable Wisconsin residents who need assistance with civil legal issues to protect their safety, family, housing, income and other basic necessities of life.
Helping Those Who Cannot Help Themselves
State funding for Wisconsin’s civil legal services programs helps low-income individuals and families who cannot help themselves due to illness, age, abuse, disability or the complexity of their problem. The people served are:
- Victims of domestic violence and others who need protection from abuse
- Facing the loss of their home due to illegal evictions and foreclosures
- Seniors who want to live in dignity and security
- Disabled residents who need protection and advice
- Families with health and disability issues
- Veterans and service members who need a little extra help
- Children and families trying to rebuild their lives
A Cost-Effective Investment
For every $1 of state civil legal services appropriation funding, Wisconsin's civil legal services providers have a track record of recovering over $10 for their clients in the form of child support, maintenance, federal benefits, security deposits and more.
Helping people resolve legal problems early also means avoiding higher costs later:
- Fewer emergency room visits, shelter stays and police calls for abuse victims,
- Higher property values for neighborhoods when unsafe living conditions are remedied or unlawful foreclosures are stopped and people can remain in their homes.
- Increased child support payments reduces the need for public benefits
- Barriers to employment are removed, reducing claims for unemployment and other benefits
- Veterans who get the benefits they’re due can contribute more to our state’s economy
- Children in safer, stable families can focus on learning