Evers OKs use-of-force bill, vetoes plan to defund cities

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(AP) – Gov. Tony Evers has signed a bill that establishes a uniform use-of-force policy for police across Wisconsin.

Evers announced he signed the bill on Friday. Under the bill, police can use force based on a situation’s circumstances and whether a suspect is fleeing or resisting arrest. Deadly force is a last resort.

The measure initially included language that would have made an officer who doesn’t intervene when another officer is using force illegally, but Assembly Republicans removed that provision in June at the request of the Milwaukee police union.

“I am glad to sign this bipartisan bill today that provides clear use of force standards and clear requirements for reporting and intervening in noncompliant use of force incidents,” said Gov. Evers. “This is another step forward in creating a more equitable, just, and safer Wisconsin for every community and to ensure accountability and transparency in our law enforcement systems.”

The governor also took action and signed four other bills including:

Senate Bill 17, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 76:  

  • Increases penalties for crimes committed against an elder person; 
  • Increases the penalty for sexual assault of an elder person; 
  • Creates a crime of physical abuse of an elder person; 
  • Creates a procedure for a court to freeze or seize a defendant’s assets if charged with a financial exploitation crime involving an elder person; and  
  • Allows an elder person seeking a restraining order to appear in court via telephone or live audiovisual means.

Senate Bill 91, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 77:  

  • Requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a general permit for hydrologic restoration activities, including wetland, stream and floodplain restoration and management, that result in a net improvement in hydrologic connections, conditions, and functions. 

Senate Bill 151, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 78:  

  • Directs the environmental compliance audit program to change the amount of time a regulated entity has to correct violations identified in an audit from 90 days to 60 days generally, 180 days if the entity is a small business stationary source, and 360 days if the entity is a small business stationary source and the corrective action involves a pollution prevention modification; 
  • Eliminates the requirement that an entity must notify the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) no fewer than 30 days before beginning an audit; and  
  • Requires the DNR and Department of Justice (DOJ) to consider whether the entity is a small business stationary source that has committed a minor violation when determining whether to pursue criminal action.

Senate Bill 248, now 2021 Wisconsin Act 79:  

  • Initiates various changes to the state’s electronic waste recycling program including expanding the definition of covered schools to include all public elementary or secondary schools, charter schools, private elementary or secondary schools, and all tribal schools; 
  • Narrows the types of consumer printers covered, by excluding floor-standing printers, automated teller machines and point-of-sale receipt printers; 
  • Raises the threshold for requiring a manufacturer to pay a registration fee; 
  • Requires manufacturers to report the weight of electronics collected from rural counties separately from electronics collected from urban counties; 
  • Requires the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) to create a program to provide grants to expand electronics recycling and recovery programs in underserved areas of the state; 
  • Creates an 18-month transition period that runs from July 1, 2022, to December 31, 2023, and after the transition year, a program year would run from January 1 to December 31; and  
  • Increases fees and thresholds by 50 percent during the transition period to account for the additional six months.

Evers also vetoed a Republican-authored bill that would have cut state aid to counties and municipalities that cut their police budgets.

“I am vetoing this bill because I object to the onerous restrictions it imposes on the ability of Wisconsin local governments to set their budgets…Rather than help with the fiscal constraints that local governments are experiencing, this bill seeks to micromanage local decision-making. Local governments and local elected officials are well-positioned to make informed decisions about what is best for their communities and how to meet the needs of the people they serve and represent,” wrote Governor Tony Evers.

Copyright 2021 Nexstar Media Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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