June 15, 2005
On June 14th, the WPPA’s arbitration of discipline bill, or Assembly Bill 185, passed the Wisconsin State Assembly in an impressive demonstration of bipartisan support. 69 legislators voted to support AB 185 and only 25 voted against the bill. Of those legislators voting to support AB 185, 39 were Republicans and 30 were Democrats.
Introduced by State Representative Garey Bies, Assembly Bill 185 would provide municipal law enforcement officers with the opportunity to appeal the disciplinary decision of a police and fire commission to an arbitrator, rather than to circuit court, if permitted in the officers’ collective bargaining agreement. The WPPA has sought this bill for many years, and the fact that this bill is progressing is an outstanding development given that, prior to this legislative session, this bill has never even received a vote before an Assembly committee.
Opponents of AB 185 assert that the bill somehow diminishes the power of local police and fire commissions. This argument is absurd given that PFC decisions can already be the subject of an appeal to a circuit court. AB 185 merely provides for an alternative to circuit court review where an employer agrees to it in the collective bargaining process. AB 185 would place municipal law enforcement officers on the same playing field as deputy sheriffs, who already can utilize the arbitration of discipline option. The rights afforded the dedicated men and women of Wisconsin’s law enforcement community should not depend upon the color of their uniform. AB 185 corrects the inequity that exists under current law.
The WPPA appreciates the support of each and every legislator who voted in favor of AB 185. In addition, several legislators deserve special recognition for their individual efforts on behalf of the bill. AB 185 would not have passed without the leadership and support of State Representatives Garey Bies (R-Sister Bay), John Gard (R-Peshtigo), Mike Huebsch (R-West Salem), Jim Kreuser (D-Kenosha), and Sondy Pope-Roberts (D-Verona).
AB 185 now heads to the State Senate, where it will be assigned to a committee for consideration. Future updates on this bill will be posted as developments arise. Anyone with questions or comments is encouraged to contact WPPA Lobbyist Jim Palmer by telephone at 1-800-362-8838, or by e-mail at firstname.lastname@example.org.