Gov. Walker signs 3 domestic-violence bills

April 17, 2014

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to supporters of domestic-violence victims on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Milwaukee, just before signing three bills aimed at strengthening domestic-violence laws. The measures increase police responsibilities when investigating domestic disturbances and also establish a clear, accountable process for seizing an abuser's guns.

MILWAUKEE Gov. Scott Walker signed three bills Wednesday aimed at strengthening domestic-violence laws, including one measure proposed after a man fatally shot his estranged wife in 2012 while she was working at a Brookfield spa.

The new laws mandate that police track incidents when no arrests are made during a domestic-disturbance call and that they inform abuse victims of their options. The laws also establish a clear, accountable process for seizing an abuser's guns.

One measure came in response to the Brookfield shooting, in which Radcliffe Haughton opened fire inside the Azana Spa and Salon with a .40 caliber handgun. Investigators said he was looking for his wife, Zina Haughton, who had been granted a four-year restraining order against him two days earlier. She and two of her co-workers were killed and four women were injured before the gunman killed himself.

The Brown Deer police department drew criticism because its officers had decided not to arrest him following reports of abuse in 2011 and again several weeks before the shootings.

That measure, proposed by Republican Rep. Andre Jacque of De Pere, requires district attorneys to report to the Wisconsin Department of Justice every time an officer responds to a domestic abuse call but doesn't arrest anyone.

Zina's brother, Elvin Daniel, attended the bill signing in Milwaukee. He remembered his sister as a beautiful person who was always helping others and making people happy.

"With this law in place, I hope other families will be spared the pain of losing someone they love to senseless and preventable gun violence," he said.

Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker speaks to supporters of domestic-violence victims on Wednesday, April 16, 2014, in Milwaukee, just before signing three bills aimed at strengthening domestic-violence laws. The measures increase police responsibilities when investigating domestic disturbances and also establish a clear, accountable process for seizing an abuser's guns.

Jacque's bill also requires police to inform victims about their legal rights and to direct them to shelters and victim advocates. Patti Seger, the executive director of End Domestic Abuse Wisconsin, said seeking help can be one of the most significant steps a victim can take to improve his or her safety.

"This bill will help break down the isolation and fear that allow abuse to thrive," she said.

The second new law gives prosecutors more tools to go after domestic-abuse suspects. It allows them to add stalking, or threatening to stalk, to the list of actions that qualify as domestic abuse. It also specifies that when a new judge takes over a case, any temporary restraining order already in place remains effective until a decision about a new one is made at another hearing.

It also allows prosecutors to start using reports of a suspect's relevant misconduct over the past 10 years as evidence. That includes violations of restraining orders or injunctions, as well as convictions for domestic abuse, stalking or harassment.

The measure drew opposition from Democrats including Rep. Fred Kessler of Milwaukee, who worried that it would allow prosecutors to use information from instances in which a person was never charged or convicted. But Jacque said judges would only consider relevant and non-prejudicial evidence.

The third bill signed by Walker spelled out the process by which people subject to a domestic-abuse injunction have to surrender their weapons. Under the new law, proposed by Republican Rep. Garey Bies, those subjects have to fill out a form documenting their weapons. A judge must hold a hearing to order them to surrender the weapons, and when the injunction expires, they would have to request them back in writing.

Walker said no law can ever guarantee an end to domestic abuse, but he said the three bills gave law enforcement officials the tools they needed to help keep families safe.

"This is one more big step toward trying to make sure that for every gun you take away, it's that much better for (a victim, their) family, and friends and loved ones who care about that person," Walker said.

The governor began the day by signing 55 other bills at the state Capitol in Madison. One measure prohibits people from advertising their children for adoption online, while another legalizes the use of marijuana byproduct cannabidiol to treat children's seizures.

Other bills of note allow University of Wisconsin System researchers to perform classified national security work in campus facilities, give county jailors more authority to strip search inmates, and legalize nonprofits' rubber-duck race fundraisers. The state Justice Department has warned such races amount to illegal gambling.


Walker refuses to back down on jobs promise

MADISON Gov. Scott Walker isn't expected to fulfill his 2010 campaign promise to add 250,000 private sector jobs by next year in Wisconsin, but he said Wednesday that he doesn't think voters will hold it against him.

Walker's detractors, including Democratic gubernatorial opponent Mary Burke, have been hammering Walker on the jobs promise, hoping that voters will keep that in mind this fall when he stands for re-election. About 100,000 private sector jobs have been added since Walker took office, but he promised there would be 250,000 by the time his first term ends this year.

Walker was asked Wednesday whether he would acknowledge not being able to fulfill the promise, but he refused to back down.

"We're still aiming for that because for us ... in the end people are not going to penalize us for aiming big," Walker said.

Burke, a former state commerce secretary and Trek Bicycle Corp. executive, says Walker's policies have failed. She notes that the state ranks 35th in job creation nationwide.

But Walker counters that voters will reward him for the job growth because it comes after the state lost 130,000 jobs during the national recession under his predecessor, Democratic Gov. Jim Doyle.

"To me it's not just some magic number that a clock goes off and balloons fall out," Walker said. "It's about real people. When I saw the number of people that lost jobs under Jim Doyle's last term, I wanted to set a big, bold, aggressive goal not only to make up for those jobs and losses but to try and dream big about how many more people we could help find work."

Like he did last year, Walker also refused to commit to serving a full four-year term if he is re-elected governor. Walker is considering running for president in 2016, a race that would fall in the middle of a second term if he is elected in November.

"I'm committed to running for governor," Walker said. "What I'm going to stay focused on and committed to is telling the people of the state what I plan on doing in the next term. I want to be governor and that's the only thing I've been focused on."


Walker signs bill legalizing pot byproduct

MADISON Republican Gov. Scott Walker has signed a bill that legalizes the use of a marijuana byproduct to help treat children's seizures.

The bill allows the use of cannabidiol, an oil extract, to be administered under the care of a doctor. The measure falls far short of legalizing the use of marijuana for medical purposes.

Walker said Wednesday he signed the bill because it is "very narrowly crafted. It is not medical marijuana."

Walker says his Capitol office was full of families and children who suffer from seizures and who may be helped by using the oil.

The bill unanimously passed the Legislature earlier this year. Republicans who control the Legislature have shown no interest in legalize medical marijuana let alone recreational pot smoking like in Colorado and Washington.


Walker refuses to commit to serving full term

MADISON Gov. Scott Walker is once again refusing to commit to serving a full four-year term if he is re-elected this fall.

Walker on Wednesday was asked if he would commit to serving the full term and he said, "I'm committed to running for governor."

Walker is considering running for president in 2016, a race that would come midway through a second term should he win in November. Democrat Mary Burke is challenging Walker.

Walker says he intends to focus his campaign on what he plans on doing in his next term.

When asked again if he plans to serve out a second term, Walker said, "I want to be governor and that's the only thing I've been focused on."

 

Associated Press