MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature took no action in a special session called by the state’s Democratic governor to pass a package of bills on policing policies.
The brief session came just over a week after a Kenosha police officer shot Jacob Blake seven times in the back. Gov. Evers signed an Executive Order calling for a special session on policing accountability and transparency a day after Blake’s shooting.
Republican Speaker Robin Vos released a statement ahead of the special session, saying:
“After the tragic events this past week, the best way forward is not through divisive and partisan politics but through bipartisan cooperation. The Speaker’s Task Force is an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions.
“I’m pleased but not surprised the Speaker’s Task Force has garnered a great deal of support. Republicans, Democrats, local leaders and state public health officials have all expressed an interest in participating. In order to have a more productive and meaningful dialogue, the task force will now include community members.
“I have asked Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke (R-Kaukauna) to head up the task force and lead the important statewide discussion on racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards. I will ask the task force to make legislative recommendations that provide a foundation for Wisconsin’s future.”
Republicans started the session and recessed in both the Senate and Assembly in less than 30 seconds.
That satisfied requirements of the law that they meet, even though almost no lawmakers were present.
Gov. Evers released a statement after the session concluded, saying:
“The people of Wisconsin don’t want another task force or more delays—they want action and results, and they want it today, not tomorrow or some day months down the road. It’s disappointing that there’s no sense of urgency from Republicans, and it’s a let down to all the people who are asking us to lead. We have been talking about these bills for months, and Republicans have had plenty of time to consider them on the merits. I encourage Wisconsinites to contact their elected officials and ask them to show up and get to work to pass these bills. We don’t have time to wait.”
It’s a tactic Republicans used in November when Gov. Tony Evers tried to force them to take action on gun control bills.
There is no word yet on when the state legislature will meet again.
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