Milwaukee Journal Sentinel: "Monday's legislative session on policing policies ended after seconds and GOP leaders aren't promising action later"

August 31, 2020

By Patrick Marley

MADISON - As tensions simmered over a police shooting and the killing of two protesters in Kenosha, Republican legislative leaders convened a special session on policing policies Monday for less than 30 seconds and gave no assurances they would eventually act.

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke of Kaukauna said a task force will review legislation over the coming months. He said he hopes to take votes in 2021 but gave no promises that lawmakers would. 

Those calling for action expressed outrage at the Republican approach. 

"We are here once again to say please show up for work," Brandi Grayson of the group Urban Triage said ahead of the abbreviated session. "I don’t get to not go to work because if I don’t go to work, I don’t pay my bills and you are for sure to evict me.

"You can no longer hide and say that you’re not racist. You can no longer say that you don’t support the killings or the murders that have been taking place in Kenosha. We know through your silence that you support it."

In the Senate, no Republicans showed up for the session. Instead, they left it to Chief Clerk Jeff Renk to bang the gavel to start the session and immediately bang it again to end it, at least for the time being. 

"I guess Fitzgerald is running for Congress and just doesn't care," Democratic state Sen. Dave Hansen of Green Bay said just after the session, referring to Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald of Juneau, who hopes to win a race for Congress in November. 

Republicans treated Monday's special session the same way they have treated others called by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. They quickly shut down those sessions, which he called to try to establish universal background checks for gun purchases and delay last spring’s election for state Supreme Court because of the coronavirus pandemic.

The state constitution allows Evers to force lawmakers into session, but it doesn't give him the power to make them take action once they convene.

Evers wants to ban police chokeholds and no-knock warrants, make it harder for overly aggressive officers to move from one police agency to another and make it easier to sue those who unnecessarily call the police.

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