Last week, the Milwaukee Bucks put the spotlight squarely on the Wisconsin State Assembly. By going on strike and refusing to play Game 5 of their series against the Orlando Magic, the Bucks led the charge in bringing the world of sports to a halt and focusing on the inaction of the state legislature. A special session was called for by Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, and both houses (as expected) responded the same way: doing nothing.
State Senate gavels in, but keeps the special session open for now. pic.twitter.com/1wVRMCIEKH— Emilee Fannon (@Emilee_WKOW) August 31, 2020
NEW: The Wisconsin Assembly gavels in the special session on policing, and immediately recesses until later this week. The Senate did the same. It leaves the session open. @jimsteineke says he wants a compromise by the new year. pic.twitter.com/ByOwhHbak6— Jason Calvi (@JasonCalvi) August 31, 2020
The Wisconsun Assembly and Senate both gaveled in @GovEvers' special session on police reform, then gaveled into recess. In other words, the session is still technically active, but nothing is happening. Here are the empty chambers. pic.twitter.com/PhpyK8gKdv— Shawn Johnson (@SJohnsonWPR) August 31, 2020
This is not new, either. The Republican-led legislature has responded to the call for action with naught but impotence and cowardice before. In November 2019, when the Governor called for action on gun legislation, the legislature did nothing. In April 2020, when the Governor called for action on the coronavirus pandemic, the legislature did nothing. And now, in August 2020, when the Governor called for action on police reform, the legislature is doing nothing. When might they do something? Well, if you listen to Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, maybe...sometime next year?
The special session on policing in Wisconsin was adjourned today, less than 30 seconds after it started.@jimsteineke said he didn’t know when lawmakers would be back buts hopes to have the Legislature act after Jan. 1.— Patrick Marley (@patrickdmarley) August 31, 2020
Representative Steineke, it should be said, has been put in the driver’s seat for how the Assembly will navigate these issues. Whether or not he belongs in any driver’s seat is an open question. According to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Steineke will head up a nebulous “task force” focusing on “the important statewide discussion” of various issues.
Translation: more talk, and no action to follow it up. Governor Evers has already released a statement, clearly stating that the need for action is now, not later. But if Republican state lawmakers (who control both houses of the Assembly) aren’t willing to listen to him, who will they listen to?
None of this is particularly surprising. As Dan Shafer mentioned on the most recent episode of the Brew Hoop Podcast, this was largely expected to happen. How will the Milwaukee Bucks respond? They specifically went on strike to demand that the Wisconsin State Legislature to do something, and now that they’ve done essentially nothing, do they go on strike again? Wisconsinites need to continue to call on Vos and Fitzgerald and Steineke and all of their representatives to do something. While they hide behind procedural gatekeepers and disingenuous social media posts, they must continue feeling the pressure. It’s one thing to try and draft policies that hurt others, but it’s a whole different type of evil to sit around and do nothing while the state suffers from the legislature’s explicit inaction.
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