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Proposed legislation expands the powers of AG to investigate, bring action against civil rights violations

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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WFRV) – The newest bill in Madison would expand the powers of the Attorney General so the state could investigate and bring civil action against alleged civil rights violations.

Attorney General Josh Kaul said, “With this kind of authority the Attorney General could bring civil causes of action in the name of the state of Wisconsin when people’s civil rights have been violated. Under the bill, we are proposed the ag would be authorized to investigate and in some cases bring enforcement actions when there are certain civil rights violations that have occurred.”

The bill says that action can be taken when there is a pattern of violations of the constitution or Wisconsin state laws regarding housing, employment, education, or public accommodations.

Kit Kerschensteiner, the Director of Legal and Advocacy Services, Disability Rights Wisconsin, “I think that it’s important that it stay bipartisan. Civil rights are not blue or red.”

Advocates for this bill say they don’t want it to become a partisan issue because it could benefit all Wisconsinites.

“And my concern having this move forward, it is needed because there aren’t folks to help take these cases is that it will become somehow as seen as expanding rights. It’s not expanding any rights it’s just helping people to get a remedy and their rights restored,” said Kerschensteiner.

Another important aspect of this bill is that it provides resources to those who might not otherwise have them.

Clayborn Benson, the Founder of the Wisconsin Black Historical Society said, “To have the state and the weight of the state attorney general to support them and help them is crucial to whether or not people will step forward to complain about discrimination practices and get some resolutions.”

This bill is in the very early stages and needs to work its way through the legislature before it ends up on the governor’s desk to potentially be signed into law.

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