The Senate Bill 790 decriminalization legislation co-Sponsorship analysis has to mentioned that the basics of this legislation of creating a state level statue for non criminal charges for simple marijuana possession has seen consecutive sessions in which Republicans had taken the lead on this issue. Early in 2021 before the budget process even began, SB 164 / AB 130 was introduced and we saw our first signs of the municipality comply feature. It should have come to no surprise that the municipality comply feature was going to be back, especially to muster support within the GOP controlled legislation and committee process.
What is not surprising is that Democratic Senator Lena Taylor (Milwaukee) is leading her caucus on the issue. The 2021-22 legislation session saw Democrats submit a recreational marijuana bill with a majority of their fellow democrats as co-sponsors!
Newly elected Democrat Assemblywomen Sylvia Ortiz-Velez (Milwaukee) will be the lead in the democratic assembly caucus on this bill. This bill is largely due to her prersistence and willingness to work with the current Republicans. Fellow Democratic Assembly Reps L. Myers, Considine and Drake are also supporting this bill by being original co-sponsors.
The lone and lead Republican Senator on this bill is Kathleen Bernier. Although many Republican Senators have expressed support of this bill, no other Senators signed on.
We were highly expecting Senator Dale Kooyenga (Brookfield) who sponsored a similar bill in 2017 to emerge as a leader this session.
Newly elected Senator Eric Wimberger seemed to understand the need for this type of legislation and he defeated a non supportive Democrat to take the seat in 2020. Apparently Senator Wimberger (Green Bay) did not find this bill important enough to put his name on.
Senator John Jagler (Watertown) replaced former Senator Scott Fitzgerald. Jagler has become more supportive over the years as the popularity of marijuana grows but was still missing in action on this bill.
On the Republican Assembly side of things, we have a re-emergence of Rep Shae Sortwell as the GOP lead author on decriminalization. He brings along Robert Brooks, Paul Tittl, Rachael Cabral-Guevara, Clint Moses and Rob Summerfeld. Note worthy is that Sortwell, Cabral-Guevara and Moses have also been the most vocal supporters in the GOP for out right legalization.
We are missing some Republicans who had previously co-sponsored decriminalization. Going back to 2017, Assembly Reps Mike Schraa and Joel Kitchens had been on board and were also co-sponsors of the first version (SB 164/AB 130) of this decriminalization bill submitted early this session.
In original authors/co-sponsors of this bill, we have eight (8) Republicans and five (5) Democrats making the bill a slightly Republican partisan bill. That alone shows that the times are changing!
Fines not crimes is the rallying cry for this legislation and it is important to contact your elected leaders again and again on the issue(s) surrounding marijuana reform.