Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, announced Tuesday that Representative Sheila Stubbs, D-Madison, will co-chair his task force alongside Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna. The task force will address racial disparities, educational opportunities, public safety, and police policies and standards.
“As Co-Chair of this task force, I will elevate community voices, so that we can create an inclusive dialogue that leads to action. In these desperate times, it is the leaders who are invested, knowledgeable and action-oriented that will give us hope,” Stubbs stated in Vos’ press release.
Steineke stated that he was pleased with Stubbs’ agreement to co-chair the task force, which he said will allow lawmakers to reach a consensus on legislation.
“That’s how we show not only the state but the nation that government isn’t completely broken, that Republicans and Democrats can still work together on the big issues of the day,” Steineke said at a joint news conference Tuesday.
Gov. Evers called for a special session regarding policing following the shooting of Jacob Blake in Kenosha on Aug. 23. Republicans took no action at the special session, showing growing divisions within state politics.
“The Democrats and Republicans, we are stuck. Our governor did the best he could with the authority he had and right now this is what we have.” Stubbs said Tuesday. “And I’m willing as a Democrat to come to the table and move forward."
The task force will allow community members to apply to be on the force in order to “have a more robust and meaningful dialogue,” according to Vos’ statement. Those interested in being involved can email a statement and resume to SpeakersTaskForce@legis.wisconsin.gov. Applications will be accepted through Sept. 18.
The task force has noted that it will consider input from the Wisconsin Professional Police Association. The association has stated that they back various ideas presented by the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus, including creating a uniform training program for school resource officers, punishments for those who call the police without good reason and expanding funding for the use of body cameras. New resources for officer wellness and community engagement and innovation have also been proposed.
Gov. Evers has also suggested that the task force consider the nine bills supported by the Wisconsin Legislative Black Caucus. These include a ban on the use of chokeholds and creating punishments for those who call the police on others without good intent.
The task force will also consider other proposals that have circulated within the legislature, including an eight-bill package from Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, and Sen. Alberta Darling, R-River Falls. One bill includes an “Independent Use of Force Review Advisory Board” that would investigate police use of force incidents.
The task force plans to meet beginning at the end of the month, then every two to three weeks, and plan to have legislation ready to present to the Assembly in January.
state news writer