Feb. 21, 2018 – Washington Co., WI – The state Assembly in Madison is expected to sign a bill on Thursday and forward the legislation to the Governor regarding adding 54 assistant district attorney positions across 40 counties in Wisconsin.
Newly-elected Rep. Rick Gundrum (R-Slinger) took part in today’s ceremony. His update is posted below.
Leading up to the commencement of one of the final Assembly floor sessions, a group of my Republican colleagues convened for a press conference announcing a plan that would add 54 assistant district attorney (ADA) positions across 40 Wisconsin counties. Fortunately, one of these positions would be allocated to
the District Attorney’s Office in Washington County.
The measure would be effective July 1, 2019 and would be implemented through an Assembly Amendment to 2017 Senate Bill 54. Based on salary and pay progression considerations, the estimated total cost of the plan will be roughly $4 million annually.
Seeing that my time in the legislature has thus far been brief, I was delighted to see a measure I championed at the local level pick up broad support in the State Capitol during the final days of the legislative session.
By providing funding for an additional ADA in Washington County, our local court system and law enforcement personnel will be better positioned to efficiently and effectively combat the systemic issues being faced in our communities. Perhaps chief amongst these issues is the enduring opioid epidemic, which has reared its ugly head in every corner of the state.
Speaking in favor of the measure, Washington County District Attorney Mark Bensen provided the following comments: “I appreciate the Wisconsin Assembly’s attention to the strained resources of district attorneys’ offices across the state.
The Washington County District Attorney’s Office experienced a 30-percent increase in felony cases filed in 2017, which is in part a reflection of the opioid crisis and drug-related crime.
New positions will directly impact the limited resources of this office to improve services provided to victims, law enforcement, and the community at large. I am also optimistic that the legislature will continue its commitment to public safety by funding pay progression for existing prosecutors as public safety is also contingent on the ability to retain experienced prosecutors across the state.
The complexity of the opioid crisis (drug related crimes such as drug overdose homicide prosecutions) necessitates that the state retain skilled and experienced prosecutors.”
While this proposal is a considerable step in the right direction, I will continue to fight for reform measures that deliver much needed assistance to Washington County in the sustained effort to enact sensible criminal justice reform.
I applaud my colleagues in the legislature for identifying this measure as a top priority. I would also like to thank Attorney General Brad Schimel, the Wisconsin Department of Justice and local stakeholders for continuing to collaborate and find innovative solutions that seek to address the most pressing issues facing our citizens and families.
Photo courtesy Wikipedia