Our Visit to the State Capitol

Today we were at the State Capitol where we met with Rep. Jim Ott, Assembly District 23 (pictured above) and Rep. John Jagler Assembly District 37.

Rep. Jim Ott has worked many years to get tougher OWI laws in Wisconisn. In fact, one of his bills passed last year made 4th offense OWI a felony.

This session, he has introduced Assembly Bill 97 relating to mandatory periods of confinement for homicide by intoxicated use of a vehicle and providing a criminal penalty (which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance); Assembly Bill 98 relating to court orders regarding the installation of an Ignition Interlock Device and providing a criminal penalty (which has passed the Assembly Floor and is now on its way to the Senate); and Assembly Bill 99 relating to committing a fifth or sixth offense related to operating a vehicle while intoxicated and providing a criminal penalty (which has been referred to the Joint Committee on Finance).  He’s hoping to get AB 97 & AB 99 on the schedule in June.

We can see that he genuinely cares about the issue. With Wisconsin being known as the drinking state, he has an uphill battle. Not many lawmakers want to tackle the issue.

Our next stop was Rep. John Jagler’s office. We had a good conversation with him.  He understands our frustrations.  We can tell he’s not quite as supportive as Rep. Ott on certain issues pertaining to OWI legislation. We brought up Ignition Interlocks which we really couldn’t tell if he’s for them or against them. He does not support Sobriety Checkpoints. He says, “The agencies I’ve talked to and the officers I’ve talked to just said that is not, that they would rather be out more in force with massive sweeps of officers spread out looking for them rather than a checkpoint situation.” We do plan on meeting with law enforcement officials to get their perspective on Sobriety Checkpoints since 38 states do allow them.  Rep. Jagler said, “I get your passion on this stuff, but you see how hard it is to pass common sense stuff that we have right now.”

After leaving Rep. Jagler’s office, we went to Rep. Jimmy Anderson’s office.  He was not in, but we did have a good conversation with one of his staffers who advised us that Rep. Anderson will be coming out with some OWI legislation soon. After that, we thought we would see if Senator Chris Larson was in since he was one of the senators that contacted Marla. He was not in, but we did talk with Nick Janis, Policy Analyst/ Outreach Director in Sen. Larson’s office. He was very informative and advised us on what Sen. Larson would be pursuing on OWI legislation. Nick will definitely be a good contact person for us in Sen. Larson’s office.

So overall, I would say we had a good day at the State Capitol. We would have liked to stop by to talk with more Reps/Senators, but we were running short on time. I have a feeling that we will be spending a lot of our time at the State Capitol.

Caralee Butzine