May 11, 2011

Racine Board of Health Considers Banning Smoking in Parks

The North Beach Oasis and city golf courses would be exempt from a proposal to ban smoking in city parks considered by the Board of Health on Tuesday.

Under the proposal, the Oasis is listed as a "city owned and leased food and recreational establishment at North Beach" and included as an "exception" to a change that would ban smoking in city parks, beaches, sports fields, and playgrounds. "Designated areas" on golf courses are also listed as an exception to the ordinance.

On a voice vote, the board decided Tuesday to table the proposal while it gathers more information.

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Wanggaard Bill Restores Full Sentences for Felons

State Sen. Van Wanggaard had some success today. Racine's state senator passed a bill that would undo a plan to release felons early to save the state money. Gov. Jim Doyle was heavily criticized for the plan, which some said gave violent offenders a path to shorter prison sentences

Here's Wanggaard's press release: 
MADISON – Senate Bill 57 (SB 57) authored by Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) and Assembly Majority Leader Scott Suder (R-Abbotsford), passed the Senate today, 22-11. SB 57 corrects a mistake made in the last budget bill, 2009 Act 28, which allows government officials to release convicted felons before the end of their sentences.

“Our society, our judicial system and our crime victims demand accountability for crimes - not early release,” Wanggaard said. “As a former law enforcement officer, I know firsthand that putting felons back creates more crime and therefore more victims. It also forces municipalities to devote resource to apprehend, try and incarcerate these criminals.”

Under the early release program, Department of Corrections employees could release inmates convicted of Class C through Class I felonies from their sentences were complete. Although proponents of early release make claims of costs savings, the Department of Corrections has been unable to identify any savings from the early release program. In addition, these convicted felons have committed additional crimes while on release. Among the crimes committed by those on early release are OWI, theft, drug use, possession with intent to deliver, and rape.
“Protecting our citizens must be our number one priority as a legislature,” said Wanggaard. “The early release program did not save the state any money, and it put dangerous criminals back on the street. I am glad that we have begun the process to repeal this misguided program.”
Senate Bill 57 now goes to the Assembly, which will likely schedule a vote on the bill next week.

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