As we get deeper into Wisconsin's legislative session, we've seen a wave of state bills, some for desperately needed reforms, like expanding expungement, and other harmful items, which would infringe on the voting rights of Wisconsinites and the rights of transgender youth athletes in the state.
Our affiliate and other nonprofit organizations in Wisconsin are still pushing advocacy efforts, along with local grassroots groups and activists like you, to block these harmful measures and build support for the important reforms because we know the importance they have to our state and its residents.
Here are a few major updates happening on the ground that you should be aware of right now:
- Expanding Expungement: Even after a person is released from prison or completes their sentence, they often struggle to get back on their feet due to the tremendous barriers they must overcome. Returning citizens often have great difficulty obtaining stable employment, secure housing, and other basic necessities. Last week, the Assembly passed AB 69, which would ease some of those obstacles – offering people who committed an offense after the age of 25 the chance to qualify for expungement, providing people with the opportunity to petition for expungement of certain crimes, and prohibiting employers from considering expunged records in the hiring process. Before the bill can reach the Governor's desk for signature, its companion bill, SB 78, must pass out of the Senate. Please urge your Senator to pass SB 78.
- Safeguarding voting rights: Voter suppression is nothing new in Wisconsin, and the effort to make it harder to vote has returned with a vengeance in 2021, with elected officials putting forth a series of new bills designed to undermine absentee voting, limit drop boxes, criminalize nursing home workers who encourage residents to vote, and make it much more difficult for disabled, indefinitely confined, and elderly voters to cast a ballot. Please urge your legislators to vote down these voter suppression measures.
- Protecting the rights of transgender youth: Lawmakers across the country have spent months waging attacks on trans people, specifically trans youth. Last week, the Assembly passed AB 195 and AB 196, legislation aimed at preventing trans girls from playing on school sports teams consistent with their gender identity at both the K-12 and collegiate levels. These bills are senseless, discriminatory, and harmful to all students. While Governor Evers has signaled he would veto these bills if they reach his desk, please urge your Senator to vote against the Senate versions of these bills – SB 322 and SB 323. We must let trans youth know that they belong in our state.
ACLU Supporter, we know these legislative sessions have been exhausting, but it's imperative for all of us to remain as vigilant as possible as states continue to cast final votes.
That's why it is so important that you reach out to your state legislators and let them know where you stand on these bills. Find your legislators and their contact information.
Thank you for all you do,
Pronouns: He, him, his
Advocacy Director, ACLU of Wisconsin