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Wisconsin Republicans refuse to attend special session on police reform: report

Wisconsin Republicans refuse to attend special session on police reform: report
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Republican Wisconsin lawmakers did not participate in a special session Monday called by Gov. Tony EversTony EversCollege town mayors 'humbly request' Big Ten help combat spread of COVID-19 Wisconsin COVID-19 cases climb ahead of Election Day The Hill's Morning Report - Sponsored by Goldman Sachs - Two weeks out, Trump attempts to rally the base MORE (D) to address police training and criminal justice reforms.

Evers signed an executive order calling the session within 24 hours of the police shooting of Jacob Blake. Under state law, however, the order only has the power to convene such a session. Lawmakers are under no obligation to participate in debate or vote on anything, according to NPR.

State Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) confirmed to NPR on Friday that the session will convene with no senators present. Fitzgerald said in a prepared statement that he expects legislators to consider police reforms “in the coming months” and said he wanted to prioritize increasing penalties for violence against officers.

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"The riots in Kenosha and Madison this week further demonstrated that first responders are performing their public service duties at great risk to their personal safety," he said.

Republican state senators have also unveiled bills that would penalize local government for redirecting police funding to education or public health initiatives.

Fitzgerald’s counterpart in the State Assembly, Speaker Robin Vos (R), accused Evers of calling the session for partisan reasons.

"We have an opportunity to bring people together to find solutions," Vos said shortly after Evers’s executive order. "Instead, the governor is choosing to turn to politics again by dictating liberal policies that will only deepen the divisions in our state."

State Democrats blasted the Republican pushback, with state Sen. LaTonya Johnson (D) saying last week it made her “sick to [her] stomach.”

"The question for us, Wisconsin, is when are we going to make Republicans do their jobs, or do we continue to sit idly by and watch this state burn?" she said, according to NPR.

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Evers was also sharply critical, saying Thursday, "We've got 400 years of systemic racism in this country, and if we don't do something about it, we'll be repeating Kenosha in cities all over our country and in our state.”

The governor lambasted the decision in a statement Monday, saying "The people of Wisconsin don’t want another task force or more delays — they want action and results, and they want it today, not tomorrow or some day months down the road."