The Wisconsin State Senate passed a $100 million safety package Tuesday that would allow schools to obtain grants from the state to enhance building security and train staff on safety measures.
Despite the majority voting in favor of the Republican legislation, Democrats are concerned with the exclusion of stricter gun regulations in the package.
Sen. Chris Larson, D-Milwaukee, issued a statement on the last day of the legislative session that addressed the Republican stance on gun violence in America.
“Gun violence has touched all Americans,” Larson said. “We need to acknowledge that this epidemic is uniquely an American problem.”
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Larson said Democrats afforded legislative Republicans “plenty of opportunities” to take action against further gun-related violence and to follow through on what students want for their communities.
“In the end, those in power chose to ignore them and hope they go away. They won’t,” Larson said.
In the wake of the Parkland shooting, students across the country have been calling on lawmakers for stricter gun reform laws. Last week, thousands of Wisconsin high school and college students took to the streets in a demonstration for change.
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Sen. Lena Taylor, D-Milwaukee, said in a statement students had to come to her with hope for change.
“High school students visited my office yesterday and asked that I remember that this was not about school safety for them, but a needed response to gun violence overall,” Taylor said. “Much of what was done today by Republicans was window dressing [and] taking points for an upcoming election.”
Democratic legislators have voiced further frustration. Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse, said in a statement that a three-month overdue state budget and a last minute attempt to boost polling numbers has caused serious upset among Democratic lawmakers towards their Republican colleagues.
“This session has been dominated by Republican campaign gimmicks to boost Governor Walker’s image and support his re-election bid,” Shilling said. “Wisconsin families are wide awake as local schools, roads and communities have taken a backseat to Republican lawmakers who prioritized the largest state taxpayer giveaway to a foreign corporation in U.S. history. Rather than tackle the tough issues to move our state forward, Republicans are throwing in the towel.”
Furthermore, Shilling voiced concern that after a 15-month legislative session, senate Republicans limited floor debate to six days and prevented issues like child care affordability, student loan debt relief and fair funding of local schools from being addressed.
The legislation will now go to the Assembly, which is expected to address it on Thursday.
“We have witness Sandy Hook and so many other tragedies. And yet our Governor, and the Republican controlled legislature have never been moved to action,” Taylor said. “What’s different now is that November is around the corner.”