Student government members brainstormed methods for furthering the future of a state bill that would encourage underage individuals to call authorities in emergency medical situations.
The Responsible Action Bill would allow for underage individuals to call for assistance for themselves or friends despite the fact they had been drinking, a case that normally would result in an underage ticket.
University of Wisconsin ASM’s Legislative Affairs Committee Vice Chair Morgan Rae described how the bill would benefit students.
“This applies in two situations,” Rae said. “If they are a victim or a witness of a crime, without being penalized for underage drinking, and also getting medical assistance for themselves or for a friend.”
Rae reiterated the bill would solve the current safety issue created by underagers who are unwilling to call authorities in emergencies because of a fear of being ticketed.
Rae presented the first draft of the Responsible Action Bill to the committee for feedback.
ASM Advisor Michael Moscicke said at the earliest, the bill would be heard at the Wisconsin State Senate in late January.
“Hypothetically, you could get the bill passed before the legislators leave for the summer,” Moscicke said. “If we did want it passed in spring we could, but it would have to be a really strong vote.”
Rae said the next step would be to build a coalition to prove to legislators it is not just students from Madison who care about this bill, further pressing the Legislature to vote on the measure.
Currently, responsible action has been implemented by UW’s Police Department and affects only the UW campus. The measure has no authority in other areas of Madison or other UW-System campuses. Situations arising in off-campus areas would not be under the measure’s protection.
Last year Rae conducted a survey asking students if they would be more likely to call if they knew for sure that they would not be charged with an underage drinking ticket.
“If no one was for sure going to get an underage ticket, the number of those who would call in jumped to 90 percent,” Rae said. “So it’s a huge safety issue getting people the assistance.”
Rae and other committee members have been meeting with various legislative offices and working to make the bill a reality since early last year.
Moscicke applauded Rae’s work on the measure and called her an example of successful lobbying. He encouraged other committee members to follow in her footsteps to promote the bill to Wisconsin’s Legislature.