What the State of the State means to civil liberties in 2009

29 Jan

Governor Doyle just gave his State of the State Address (PDF or watch it on Wisconsin Eye) and it was a mixed bag in terms of civil liberties.

While it is true that we are all facing hard times with our current economy and a large state deficit, we can’t ignore how important it is to have a budget that includes a plan for educational equity in school funding, repealing or at least defunding Real ID, and including health insurance coverage for the domestic partners of all state employees, among many other issues.

“The ACLU of Wisconsin applauds the Governor’s commitment to public education and changing the way that schools are funded,” said ACLU of Wisconsin Executive Director Chris Ahmuty. “We hope that the Governor establishes comprehensive school funding reform that provides an adequate education for all Wisconsin students. Reform must ensure that all children have an adequate education, whether they are in Superior, Crandon, or Milwaukee; whether they live in concentrated poverty, are English language learners, or have other obstacles in their paths.”

The Governor is right to demand a change in how Wisconsin deals with drunken driving, but the call for sobriety checkpoints will only subject innocent drivers to suspicionless searches.

“While drunken driving is a serious issue, the ACLU of Wisconsin is disappointed that the Governor chose to stress sobriety checkpoints in his State of the State address. We believe that there are more cost effective ways to deter drunken drivers, ones that do not offend the civil liberties of innocent drivers. We urge the Legislature to concentrate on other measures.”

While the Governor can’t include every issue in his State of the State Address, we hope to see more attention to details including a reasonable state position on the now-discredited federal Real ID program and a commitment to providing health insurance coverage to the same sex domestic partners of all state employees.

Stay tuned to Cap City Liberty and ACLU-WI.org for more on the budget and its relationship to civil liberties and equality.

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