Gov. Evers Signs Dozens Of Bills Aimed At Improving Community Safety, Reducing Crime Across Wisconsin

Gov. Evers today enacted 29 bills altogether.

Gov. Evers Signs Dozens Of Bills Aimed At Improving Community Safety, Reducing Crime Across Wisconsin

MADISON — Gov. Tony Evers today signed dozens of bills aimed at improving community safety, reducing crime, and supporting crime victims across Wisconsin. Among legislation Gov. Evers enacted today include bills to invest $10 million to support crime victims, including sexual assault and domestic abuse survivors; create a state Human Trafficking Council and expand employee training to identify and prevent human trafficking; support mental and behavioral health access for local law enforcement and certain other public safety personnel; bolster local 911 and emergency response systems; and help deter reckless driving statewide.

“We’re working to address the cycle of violence, prevent crime, and keep our schools, streets, and communities safe across Wisconsin,” said Gov. Evers. “This legislative session, we made historic shared revenue increases for local communities to help support local public safety, passed bipartisan laws to combat reckless driving statewide, and bolstered our efforts to support crime victims and survivors, all of which will build upon my administration’s work to prevent violence and crime and make our communities safer. Public safety continues to be an important priority for us as a state, and I look forward to continuing our bipartisan work in the next legislative session.”

The governor’s actions today build upon his and the Evers Administration’s efforts to keep Wisconsin’s communities safe and bolster public safety programs statewide. Over the last several years, Gov. Evers has directed more than $100 million of the state’s allocation of American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds toward violence prevention and public safety, including addressing reckless driving, expanding pre-trial GPS supervision, alleviating court backlogs, and supporting evidence-based crime prevention strategies.

Gov. Evers today enacted 29 bills altogether, highlighting several key proposals:

Assembly Bill 573, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 219:

  • Directs the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to establish a pilot program to provide virtual behavioral health crisis care services for county or municipal law enforcement agency officers to utilize while on duty; and
  • Requires DHS to contract with certified county crisis agencies to provide the services.

Assembly Bill 576, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 220:

  • Requires the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) to establish and implement a program for peer support teams and critical incident stress management teams for certain public safety personnel to provide emotional and moral support and coping mechanisms for personnel and volunteers affected by stress or an incident; and
  • Creates a new privilege under the Rules of Evidence related to peer support and critical incident stress management services communications with exceptions.

Senate Bill 514, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 226:

  • Increases the penalty for fleeing or attempting to elude an officer; and
  • Creates a mandatory minimum sentence if it results in death or great bodily harm.

“Every Wisconsinite deserves to feel safe on our streets and roads, including when they’re taking a walk, driving to work, taking their kids to school, or even just running errands. I’m incredibly proud of the bipartisan work we’ve been able to accomplish this session to prevent reckless driving, improve road safety, and expand driver education to promote safe and responsible driving across our state,” said Gov. Evers. “I look forward to continuing to build upon this important work to crack down on reckless driving in the next legislative session.”

Act 226 builds upon Gov. Evers’ and the Evers Administration’s efforts to improve road and street safety and combat reckless driving across the state. Reckless driving has been a major focus of the 2023-24 legislative session, which was the subject of the first bill enacted by Gov. Evers of his second term and this session. Additional information on Gov. Evers’ efforts to improve road safety, crack down on reckless driving, and expand access to driver education is available here.

Assembly Bill 973, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 237:

  • Requires employers to provide training regarding identifying and preventing human trafficking to employees who are likely to interact with the public and vulnerable individuals, including private security officers, public transit managers, owners and managers of lodging establishments, and owners and managers of adult entertainment establishments; and
  • Requires employees of community-based residential facilities who have regular, direct contact with facility residents who are on probation, extended supervision, or parole to receive training on identifying and preventing human trafficking crimes.

Assembly Bill 978, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 239:

  • Creates a 23-member Human Trafficking Council at DOJ that includes the secretary or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Administration, the secretary or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Children and Families, the secretary or a designee of DHS, the state superintendent or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction, the secretary or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services, the secretary or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, the secretary or a designee of the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development (DWD), legislators, the state public defender, a district attorney, law enforcement officials appointed by certain associations, representatives of organizations that provide human trafficking victim support services, a Native American member appointed by the Great Lakes Inter-Tribal Council, a representative of DOJ’s Office of Crime Victim Services, and the director of DOJ’s Division of Criminal Investigation human trafficking and internet crimes against children bureau;
  • Requires the Council to compile and maintain information and data, develop model training and a state strategic plan to prevent human trafficking, assess sex trafficking activities in counties, and make recommendations to establish county-level human trafficking task forces, among other responsibilities; and
  • Creates the Council starting on July 1, 2025, with an end date of June 30, 2029.

“Human trafficking is not some faraway concern—it’s an issue in neighborhoods and communities across Wisconsin and can have detrimental, life-long effects on so many lives that deserves our urgent attention and action,” said Gov. Evers. “Expanding training for folks who regularly interact with the public to identify human trafficking when they see it will be a critical tool in our efforts to intervene and prevent human trafficking crimes. The state’s new Human Trafficking Council will also help build upon the important work happening across government to collaborate, coordinate, and work together to address human trafficking and support survivors across our state.”

Assembly Bill 940, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 241:

  • Appropriates $10 million in fiscal year 2023-24 for biennial crime victim grants administered by DOJ; and
  • Directs DOJ to allocate the funding into the three existing state grant programs:
    • Sexual assault victim services grants would be allocated $6.4 million;
    • Domestic abuse grants would be allocated $2.4 million; and
    • Child advocacy grants would be allocated $1.2 million.

“Wisconsin has had alarming increases in domestic and intimate partner violence in recent years—a concerning trend that must be addressed, and quickly, if we want to keep folks safe and out of dangerous situations,” said Gov. Evers. “Making these smart investments in violence prevention and crime victim and survivor services is a critical part of our efforts to keep our kids and families safe, prevent crime, and improve community safety.

“But I also want to be clear today—more must be done,” Gov. Evers continued. “While I’m proud to be signing this bipartisan bill to secure increased investments to support survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault, I’m concerned this legislation may exclude some organizations from receiving critical investments to help provide these services to folks who need them across our state. I will once again propose comprehensive efforts to support domestic violence and sexual assault survivors and crime victims in my next biennial budget, and I urge the Legislature to join me in this important work and approve my request.”

In 2022, Wisconsin saw a record-high number of deaths from domestic violence across the state—a 20 percent increase over the previous year and the largest increase in domestic violence deaths in two decades. In recent years, Gov. Evers directed more than $100 million of the state’s allocation of ARPA funds toward violence prevention and public safety, including $20 million to support Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) grant recipients facing declining federal funding and an increased need for services. $200,000 of the $20 million went toward training and technical assistance for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which is the only statewide membership, training, and technical assistance agency for sexual assault service providers in Wisconsin. In his 2023-25 budget, Gov. Evers proposed investing $10 million over the biennium for crime victim services grants, which was intended to be an ongoing state supplement for VOCA funding. Gov. Evers also proposed significant increases in funding for civil legal aid, domestic violence services, and sexual assault services, in addition to proposing converting state positions that are currently supported by VOCA to general purpose revenue to maximize the amount of VOCA funding available to organizations. Unfortunately, the Wisconsin State Legislature did not include any of those recommendations in the final budget.

Gov. Evers today also took action on the below bills:

Senate Bill 218, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 221:

  • Creates a grant program administered by the Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs (DMA) to provide grants to local units of government that use the statewide public safety interoperable communication system for system upgrades;
  • Requires that for the first four years of the grant program, 70 percent of the grants be awarded to local units of government who are daily users of the statewide public safety interoperable communication system, and 30 percent of the grants be awarded to local units of government who are not daily users of the system; and
  • Allows DMA to prioritize grants to correlate the timing of grant funding with the timing of the upgraded system infrastructure becoming available in the geographic area of the grant recipient.

Assembly Bill 356, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 222:

  • Creates a new Next Generation 911 grant program administered by DMA for local telephone companies operating as originating service providers for the reimbursement of certain costs associated with the deployment of Next Generation 911, including IP-based transport of and the database used to operate Next Generation 911, as well as costs to purchase, install, and maintain Next Generation 911 equipment.

Senate Bill 119, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 223:

  • Expands the application of the confidential informant exception under the public records law to any authority and not only to law enforcement agencies to help protect the identity of an informant in documents subject to public records law.

Senate Bill 314, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 224:

  • Creates a new crime of possession of virtual child pornography, making it a Class D felony to knowingly receive, distribute, produce, possess, or access in any way, with intent to view, obscene material that contains a depiction of a purported child engaging in sexually explicit conduct and the person knew, or reasonably should have known, that the material contains such a depiction; and
  • Applies the child pornography surcharge to the new crime of possession of virtual child pornography and adds investigation expenses related to it as a purpose funded by the surcharge.

Senate Bill 321, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 225:

  • Creates a new crime prohibiting the possession, sale, and advertisement of dolls intended to resemble minors for certain purposes;
  • Establishes graduated penalties depending on the number of dolls involved or whether it is a repeat offense, ranging from a Class D to Class I felony; and
  • Increases any penalty under the bill by one felony classification higher if the person has one or more prior convictions for certain crimes against children (e.g., first-degree sexual assault of a child, physical abuse of a child, and possession of child pornography).

Senate Bill 573, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 227:

  • Doubles the rate that law enforcement agencies would be paid for annual law enforcement recertification training from $160 to $320 per officer; and
  • Provides that such payments, and those for law enforcement recruit training, are made to law enforcement agencies, specifically the agency that employs the officer, and not political subdivisions.

Senate Bill 169, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 228:

  • Expands employment opportunities for individuals with conviction records by requiring DWD to create a free hotline and website to assist and inform employers about hiring individuals with previous conviction records. The website is also required to include information on employing individuals who are eligible for temporary release for employment-related activities, such as work release, Huber privileges, community service, or education; and
  • Requires DWD to provide assistance and information as it relates to current incentives and programs (under both federal and state law) for employing those with a criminal record.

Senate Bill 722, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 229:

  • Requires the Wisconsin Department of Corrections’ (DOC) training program for correctional officers to include identifying symptoms of active psychosis among individuals in DOC’s care and reporting such symptoms to the superintendent of the correctional institution and to appropriate medical personnel; and
  • Requires DOC or a keeper of a criminal detention facility to authorize an emergency transfer of an individual to a mental health treatment facility center if the prisoner is in active psychosis and is a danger to themselves or to others.

Assembly Bill 237, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 230:

  • Enhances a victim’s statutory right to participate in a hearing before an individual is released on parole or extended supervision;
  • Requires that a victim be notified at least 30 days before an individual is released; and
  • Specifies that law enforcement may release information to the public regarding certain recently released individuals.

Assembly Bill 556, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 231:

  • Creates duties in criminal procedure to expedite proceedings and preserve testimony where an elder person, defined as 60 years or older, is a crime victim or witness.

Assembly Bill 960, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 232:

  • Requires communication service providers to disclose the location of a communications device to law enforcement without a warrant if the service provider receives a written request from a law enforcement agency attesting that disclosure is needed to respond to a call for emergency services or an emergency involving the danger of death or serious physical injury to any person and disclosure is necessary to prevent or mitigate such danger;
  • Requires the service provider to notify the customer or subscriber of the disclosure within 30 days after the call or when any case that resulted from the call has been resolved, whichever is later; and
  • Requires service providers to submit their emergency contact information to DOJ and for DOJ to maintain a database of emergency contact information for service providers.

Senate Bill 172, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 233:

  • Requires DOC to contract with at least one nonprofit organization, for-profit entity, or public agency to establish community reentry centers, which serve as initial points of contact for health, identification, financial, housing, employment, education, and supervision services for individuals who are being released from a state correctional institution, in accordance with the 2023-25 biennial budget that set aside $4 million for this purpose;
  • Requires DOC to consider contracting to establish a reentry center in each region of the state and to prioritize contracts with entities that collaborate with organizations to provide services at the reentry center or that propose to operate a reentry center in counties with the highest number of individuals being released to those counties; and
  • Requires DOC to create a comprehensive report examining the outcomes of services provided at each center.

Assembly Bill 965, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 234:

  • Creates the crime of picketing, parading, or demonstrating at or near any residence occupied or used by a judge with intent to interfere with, obstruct, or impede the administration of justice or with the intent to influence any judge in discharging their duties, making it a Class A misdemeanor.

Assembly Bill 966, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 235:

  • Provides privacy protections for judicial officers by creating an exception that the nomination papers for candidates for judicial office include the candidate’s residential address, including if a judicial officer circulates or signs nomination papers for a candidate for nonpartisan office but requires the candidate or judicial officer to file a certification of residence with the Wisconsin Elections Commission;
  • Creates an exception under the public records law for certifications of residence for judicial candidates and a judicial officer’s “personal information”;
  • Creates an exception for certain documents filed with the Ethics Commission from being disclosed if a judicial officer provides a written request to protect personal information; and
  • Requires registers of deeds to shield from disclosure information covered by a written request for protection of personal information from a judicial officer if they identify the document numbers to be shielded.

Assembly Bill 967, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 236:

  • Creates an exception under the public records law for judicial security profile forms; and
  • Provides that an authority shall not provide access to a completed judicial security profile form completed by, or on behalf of, a judicial officer and used to develop an emergency response plan.

Assembly Bill 976, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 238:

  • Allows for the testimony of a child witness under the age of 18 to be taken in a room other than the courtroom and be simultaneously televised in the courtroom if it is for criminal prosecution for human trafficking or trafficking of a child.

Assembly Bill 1050, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 240:

  • Creates 14.2 Full-Time Equivalent PR project positions in DOJ’s Office of School Safety; and
  • Funds the positions using revenue collected by the department through fees to conduct background checks on handgun purchases and for licenses to carry concealed weapons.
  • “I’m glad that we were able to reach a bipartisan consensus to fund these additional positions so the Office of School Safety can continue their current operations, help prevent school violence, and keep our kids safe, including through the Speak Up, Speak Out tipline, which provides an important resource for kids, families, educators, and staff alike,” said Gov. Evers.

Senate Bill 812, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 242:

  • Aligns the maximum state penalties for gas pipeline safety violations with federal penalties; and
  • Specifies that the Public Service Commission of Wisconsin must remit all forfeitures paid for these violations to the school fund.

Senate Bill 531, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 243:

  • Prohibits caller identification spoofing, which includes knowingly transmitting misleading or inaccurate caller identification information through a telephone or text message with the intent to defraud or wrongfully obtain anything of value, including personally identifiable information; and
  • Provides that those in violation of the prohibitions would be subject to a civil forfeiture of $100 to $10,000.

Senate Bill 311, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 244:

  • Increases the maximum amount the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection provides in state aid for prizes awarded at local fairs from $10,000 to $20,000; and
  • Allows exhibitors to receive state aid prizes from more than one fair.

Senate Bill 29, now 2023 Wisconsin Act 245:

  • Replaces the state’s adoption of the Uniform Unsworn Foreign Declarations Act with the Uniform Unsworn Declarations Act to enable the person making the declaration to no longer need to be physically located outside U.S. territory.

Senate Bill 450, 2023 Wisconsin Act 246:

  • Renames the state’s Uniform Fraudulent Transfer Act as the Uniform Voidable Transactions Law and incorporates certain changes as recommended by the National Conference of Commissioners on Uniform State Laws (“Uniform Law Commission”).

Senate Bill 541, 2023 Wisconsin Act 247:

  • Establishes a rigorous process for and allows a municipality to create a waterfront development plan for parcels that may have been part of a riverbed or the submerged bed of a Great Lakes water at the time of statehood;
  • Provides that in order for a municipality to create a waterfront development plan for such parcels, the municipality must submit required information to the Department of Natural Resources (DNR), which would include:
    • A map identifying parcels of land that are subject to the proposed plan area;
    • An approximate delineation of the shoreland at statehood based on existing government survey maps;
    • A delineation of upland areas. The bill would define upland areas as property that remained at an elevation above the current ordinary high-water mark from Dec. 9, 1977, to the effective date of the bill, other than for temporary maintenance activities because of accretion or reliction;
    • A delineation of any area that is subject to a lakebed grant or a submerged land lease, a bulkhead line, or a shoreline;
    • An overall plan for the development of the proposed plan area, including a map showing areas that will be dedicated to the public for public use and areas that will allow for private uses. The boundary between the proposed public use areas and the remaining areas must be surveyed and delineated on the map;
    • A description of areas and types of proposed public use consistent with the standards established by the department in this bill and any restrictions on public use to be proposed for safety or security reasons;
    • The plan must describe how the public use areas will be accessible to the public;
    • A plan for implementing and enforcing the development and perpetual maintenance of the public use areas, including appropriate ordinances; and
    • The plan must require that the record title owner grant an easement to the department, ensuring that future use of public use areas will be consistent with the plan and must include appropriate mechanisms for department enforcement;
  • Requires DNR to hold a public hearing no later than 90 days after receiving a waterfront development plan and provide public notice and requires DNR to make a determination on the plan no later than 90 days following the public hearing; and
  • Allows a municipality to apply to the DNR to change an existing authorization of use allowed within filled areas of a fill authorization for an area in a Great Lakes water filled before Aug. 8, 1989.

Last Update: Mar 27, 2024 1:20 pm CDT

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