For Immediate Release
1/27/2011

WAJ criticizes signing of bill that limits rights of Wisconsin citizens

Gov. Scott Walker signed into law today legislation that will make Wisconsin less safe and create barriers for Wisconsin residents who are injured or killed by negligent or criminal behavior.  Special Session SB1, the Governor's so-called "Jobs Bill," does nothing to create new jobs in Wisconsin. The new law contains no highlights and many lowlights:

  • Concealing nursing home and hospital incident reports from families;
  • Limiting the punishments that deter reckless and criminal behavior;
  • Creating obstacles for district attorneys to prosecute criminals by changing the rules of evidence for expert witnesses;
  • Making it more difficult for families to hold manufacturers that produce unsafe products accountable.

Mike End, President of the Wisconsin Association for Justice, said, "By signing this legislation today the Governor misses the mark entirely.  This law does nothing to create jobs.  It does, however, provide protections to corporate nursing homes that deliver substandard care, makes it more difficult for families to pay for the care of their loved ones injured in accidents, puts limits on the deterrents that serve as punishment for bad behavior, and makes it more difficult to prosecute criminals."

The bill had one hearing at which the legislature's Senate and Assembly Judiciary Committees heard compelling testimony from families sharing their personal stories on how the new law would impact them and their loved ones.

Click here to see people share their stories.

At the same hearing, committee members heard testimony from representatives of advocacy groups representing hundreds of thousands of Wisconsin citizens including:  Coalition of Wisconsin Aging Groups, AARP of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Alliance for Retired Americans, Disability Rights Wisconsin, Brain Injury Association of Wisconsin, Citizen Action of Wisconsin, Wisconsin Council on Children and Families and the Wisconsin State AFL-CIO. 

Additionally, the legislature heard from Wisconsin prosecutors and judges regarding added burdens in prosecuting criminal cases and the higher cost to taxpayers in the change in Wisconsin's law concerning for expert witnesses.  This will not only lead to a back log in Wisconsin courts but, more importantly, it will make it more difficult for district attorneys to prosecute criminals. 

"Despite hearing from individual Wisconsinites, organizations representing people from all across the state and those charged with protecting the well-being of every citizen of this state, the Governor and his party have chosen the special interests of corporations over the best interests of Wisconsin citizens," End concluded.

The Wisconsin Association for Justice stands with consumers to promote a fair and effective justice system for every citizen, not just the privileged and wealthy.

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