My Northern Wisconsin

Covering Ashland, Iron, Lincoln, Oneida, Price, Rusk, Sawyer, Taylor, and Vilas Counties



On Tuesday, April 4, 2023, residents will see three State of Wisconsin referendum questions on the ballot.  More information always helps a voter make an informed decision; therefore, the questions and a brief explanation of each follow.

Question 1.  "Conditions of release before conviction.  Shall Section 8 (2) of Article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose on an accused person being released before conviction conditions that are designed to protect the community from serious harm?"

According to Ballotpedia, voting "yes" would amend the Wisconsin Constitution.  The following underlined, bold words would be added and the bold, struck-through word would be deleted:

(2) All persons, before conviction, shall be eligible for release under reasonable conditions designed to assure their appearance in court, protect members of the community from serious bodily harm as defined by the legislature by law or prevent the intimidation of witnesses.  Monetary conditions of release may be imposed at or after the initial appearance only upon a finding that there is a reasonable basis to believe that the conditions are necessary to assure appearance in court. The legislature may authorize, by law, courts to revoke a person's release for a violation of a condition of release.

According to NBC News, both Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz, Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates, support a "yes" vote on this referendum question.

State Senator Van Wanggaard supports a "yes" vote, stating, "First, it allows a judge to consider 'serious harm' to others instead of 'serious bodily harm' when setting conditions of release.  This is an important change, because 'serious bodily harm' is a statutorily defined term, essentially meaning harm that could cause death or serious, permanent disfigurement."

State Representative Sue Conley supports a "no" vote, stating, "There is also no question that the cash bail system is broken.  However, we must invest in proven strategies to reduce violent crime and recidivism.  Our justice system should not continue to favor those with the resources to post bail.  We need to look at successful models that better assess risk and develop a long term, evidence-based solution to the problem."

Question 2.  "Cash bail before conviction.  Shall Section 8(2) of Article I of the constitution be amended to allow a court to impose cash bail on a person accused of a violent crime based on the totality of the circumstances, including the accused's previous convictions for a violent crime, the probability that the accused will fail to appear, the need to protect the community from serious harm and prevent witness intimidation, and potential affirmative defenses?"

A "yes" vote supports amending the state's Constitution to authorize judges to consider the totality of the circumstances when setting cash bail for people accused of violent crimes, including considering a previous conviction of a violent crime, the likelihood the accused party will not appear in court, the need to protect the community from serious harm which is defined by the state legislature, the need to prevent witness intimidation, and the potential affirmative defenses of the accused party.

A "no" vote opposes amending the state's Constitution, which would maintain the existing conditions for imposing cash bail.  Those conditions include ensuring an accused person's appearance in court, protecting members of the community from serious bodily harm, and preventing the intimidation of witnesses.

Questions 1 & 2 are related.

According to NBC News, both Daniel Kelly and Janet Protasiewicz, Wisconsin Supreme Court candidates, support a "yes" vote on this referendum question.

Question 3.  "Shall able-bodied, childless adults be required to look for work in order to receive taxpayer-funded welfare benefits?"

Sam Adolphsen, policy director of the Foundation for Government Accountability, supports a "yes" vote, stating, "The workforce crisis in the Badger State has been driven largely by rapidly expanding welfare programs like food stamps, BadgerCare, and other cash benefits that, for three years, have been disconnected from work.  Wisconsin has nearly a quarter million open jobs.  Employers are desperate for workers, and voters will soon weigh in on whether they prefer able-bodied adults to be working for a paycheck or receiving a welfare check."

Senate Minority Leader Melissa Agard supports a "no" vote, stating, "Their resolution, simply put, attacks low-income people in the state of Wisconsin, and it's born out of a consideration to their base for the spring election.  They're trying to gin up their voters, simply put."

All quotes were reported by Ballotpedia.

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