A bill to prevent future backlogs of untested sexual assault kits, AB 214, passes the state Senate with bipartisan support. Finally, legislators on both sides of the aisle coming together to get something done for the benefit of the whole state, right?
No, not yet, and maybe not at all.
Assembly Republicans have introduced a new bill with regard to assault kits backlogs … but it includes provisions with regard to sexual assaults at school and School Choice, and with regard to sexual assaults by illegal immigrants. While those shouldn’t necessarily be controversial topics, the merits of those provisions should be debated separately, so as not to endanger the bipartisan support for addressing the test kit backlog. We’re afraid those provisions might endanger it.
This is why people get disgusted with politics.
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You have something that has bipartisan support — AB 214 had the support of 47 Democrats and 25 Republicans, and of course no one is opposed to an effort to ensure justice for sexual-assault victims — and then a wrench is thrown in, apparently just to score political points.
It’s no different than if a Democrat-majority legislature had reached across the aisle to get Republican support for a highway bill, then attached provisions for expanded gun control and abortion rights, leaving the hypothetical Republicans stuck either saying yes to things of which they disapprove, or saying no to the whole thing.
It shouldn’t take reminding the Republican majority that it’s an election year to get them to not poison something with bipartisan support. But it is an election year.
More importantly, as we’ve written before in this space, Wisconsin voters in 2018 chose divided government: They kept Republicans in control of both houses of the Legislature, but also installed a Democratic governor. By definition, the Wisconsin electorate expects the two parties to work together.
So when something comes along that Democrats and Republicans can agree upon — especially something as free of controversy as justice for sexual-assault victims — we expect that our elected officials in Madison will see it through.
Work together, this month, to get things done that benefit everybody. You’ll have plenty of time in the fall to bash each other.