A hearing has been set in the State Senate Committee on Economic Development and Local Government for Senate Bill 150 on Wednesday, June 12, 2013 at 10:00 a.m. The hearing will be held in Room 330 Southwest of the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison.
SB 150 is the senate companion bill at AB 164. According to an analysis by the Legislative Reference Bureau, in cases where the district attorney has declined to prosecute, the bills allow “a local governmental unit or a county to enact and enforce an ordinance to prohibit the possession of any amount of marijuana and to prosecute a person for a second or subsequent offense of possessing marijuana or a synthetic cannabinoid.”
The committee is chaired by Sen. Rick Gudex (R-Fond du Lac), one of two senate sponsors of the bill along with Sen. Joe Leibham (R-Sheboygan), who is also serves on the committee. There are five assembly cosponsors; Reps. Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac), Stephen Nass (R-Whitewater), Andre Jacque (R-De Pere), Thomas Larson (R-Colfax) and Mark Honadel (R-South Milwaukee).
AB 164 received a hearing in the Assembly Committee on Urban and Local Affairs on May 21, 2013 and passed out of committee on June 4, 2013 with a party line 5-3 vote with one absent.
Representatives from three Wisconsin cannabis law reform groups testified in opposition; Wisconsin NORML, Is My Medicine Legal YET? and Wisconsin Americans for Safe Access. Advocates pointed out that the legislation seemed to be going the opposite direction from most of the rest of the country.
Discussion of the bill ran along partisan lines with Republican members stressing the need to punish pot smokers when district attorneys do not proceed. A document submitted by the bill sponsors listed a table of amounts not prosecuted in Fond Du Lac (see slide show).
In an article about the bill, Steve Elbow of the Capital Times described the list:
“At a public hearing on the Assembly bill in May, Gudex provided several examples of second-offense charges, currently pending, that might be dropped by a busy DA. They include one alleged offender who was arrested with six ounces, and 19 others ranging in possession amounts from seven grams to “stems.”
During the hearing, one of the assembly cosponsors, Rep. Honadel, bemoaned the specter of repeat pot offenders asking, “would you want 4th, 5th, 6th time offenders living in your neighborhood?”
When Rep. Thiesfeldt pointed out that cash-strapped local government entities might gain revenue by pursuing cases the DA declined. Rep. Mandela Barnes (D-Milwaukee) countered that taxing and regulating marijuana would also enhance revenues.
State cannabis reform groups are planning on attending the hearing Wednesday and they are urging state residents to attend the hearing and testify or register in support and if you cannot attend to contact their legislators and state they oppose AB164/SB150.