MacIver News Service | April 18, 2013[Madison, Wisc…] Assembly Democrats put up a fierce fight on Tuesday over a bill they argued was inconsequential.
“It’s mean spirited and it’s unnecessary,” said Rep. JoCasta Zamarripa (D-Milwaukee) about Assembly Bill 82, which makes Food Share trafficking a state crime.
“It’s not necessary to be codified in our statutes forever, because it’s already happening at the federal level. The federal government is doing its investigations and cracking down on fraud. And in fact the USDA reports that fraud has decreased down to one percent or less than one percent today,” Rep. Evan Goyke (D-Milwaukee) said.
Democrats argued for over an hour that debating the bill was a waste of time.
Rep. Sandy Pasch (D-Shorewood) said they should be focusing on creating jobs.
“We are 44th in the country in job growth,” she said.
Rep. Chris Taylor (D-Madison) tried to turn the conversation towards the alleged War on Women. “[This bill] does nothing to address the fact that women are still paid only 78 cents per dollar that their male collegues are paid,” she said.
Meanwhile, Rep. Cory Mason (D-Racine) introduced a religious element to the debate.
“I am hard pressed to believe that when any of us are born into eternal life we’ll be receiving stigmata for any of the work we are doing here today on assembly bill 82. Let’s stop scapegoating people who are poor and trying to get back on their feet, and instead work together across the aisle to move people out of poverty into family supporting wages into family supporting jobs,” he said.
Democrats also argued that district attorneys don’t have enough funding to prosecute Food Share fraud.
“If this is a tool in their toolbox, they don’t have enough resources to use those tools,” Goyke said.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R-Burlington) defended the bill.
“I don’t see how people can stand up and defend the status quo, which is the argument you’re being forced to make here today. What we are suggesting is simply following federal law and giving additional tools to prosecutors. If you don’t want to give additional tools, vote no,” he said.
Although Democrats seemed to be united against the bill during the debate, many still voted for it. The bill passed the Assembly 73-24 with 15 Democrats voting for passage, including the Democrats’ leader, Representative Peter Barca of Kenosha.
Assembly Bill 82 now heads to the State Senate for consideration.