MADISON, Wis. (AP) – The Wisconsin Assembly has approved a proposal amending the state constitution to make it harder for violent criminal defendants to get out on bail.
The chamber approved the amendment 70-21 on Tuesday.
The proposal must pass two consecutive legislative sessions and a statewide referendum before it can be added to the constitution.
“It’s only done when we have the most serious issues come in front of the legislature,” Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said during a meeting of lawmakers Tuesday afternoon.
Supporters hope to capitalize on anger over the killing of six people by a driver who plowed into a Christmas parade in Waukesha. The man charged in that case, Darrell Brooks Jr., had posted $1,000 bail on an earlier case two days before the parade.
“When you look at what’s occurred over the course of the past six months and really over the course of the past few years you’ll see this is an issue that’s risen to the point where the people of Wisconsin have earned, and need, to have a say on whether or not we should change the law,” Vos said.
Republicans have been trying to pass the amendment since 2017. The parade incident has given the the proposal new momentum.
Only one Assembly Democrat spoke against the constitutional amendment Tuesday. Milwaukee Rep. Evan Goyke said the resolution, which increases minimum bail amounts for some offenders to $10-thousand dollars.
“We should amend our constitution, we should fix our state statutes to create a workable pretrial detention law in Wisconsin,” Goyke said. “Under this system, release isn’t about risk, it isn’t about danger, it’s about money, and money only doesn’t keep us safe.”
The amendment now heads to the State Senate, which, at this point, has not scheduled a hearing on it.