Capitol Access Restricted...Again
Governor Walker and his administration are set to implement a new policy to prevent Wisconsinites from using their First Amendment right to free speech. Starting today, December 16, groups of four or more people must obtain permits for all activity and displays in state buildings, including the Capitol, and apply for those permits at least 72-hours in advance. Families and groups of four or more can also be required to pay a fee or obtain liability insurance or a bond before getting a permit.
Who Would be Affected?
Governor Walker and his Department of Administration (DOA) appointees were rather vague in the language used to draft this new policy. It is expected that Capitol Police will be responsible for determining who is in violation of this policy and what action should be taken on a case-by-case basis. Because of the unclear language and the inability of DOA and Capitol Police to list examples of what does or does not violate the provision limiting access to the Capitol, many people may unknowingly be in violation of this order and be forced to face the consequences.
This provision has the potential to be applied to families of four or more, 4th grade classes on a field trip, tour groups, and advocacy organizations handing out literature on their lobby days. Capitol Police would also have the authority to choose when to enforce it or not as they could penalize a group of six choosing to sing a song in opposition of Walker, while choosing to allow a group of 10 to chant in support of Walker.
Continuation of Policies to Decrease Government Accessibility
Throughout this year, Governor Walker and Republican legislators have:
Abruptly halted public hearings on controversial legislation before citizens were able to speak
Violated Wisconsin's Open Meetings Law
Locked the public and legislators out of the Capitol
Rejected transparency and accountability measures proposed on numerous bills
Pushed special interest legislation that had no public author
Our governor should be encouraging input and participation from his neighbors, not seeking retribution and suppressing those that may disagree with his policies. We must work together to encourage a more open government and increase accessibility to our elected officials, rather than adopting policies that aim to restrict First Amendment rights.
Walker has no respect for you! Why would you not sign the petition?