Two bills authored by State Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) will soon become state law.
By Heather Asiyanbi
February 15, 2012
To help veterans and their families with death and disabilities benefits, a bill authored by State Sen. Van Wanggaard incorporates two parts of the federal HEART (Heroes Earning Assistance and Relief Tax) Act into state law.
Under the new legislation, service members who die on active duty and who are enrolled in the Wisconsin Retirement System will be treated as if they are employees of the state. This change allows families to collect both the employee and employer contributions to WRS.
The second change makes it easier for WRS service members who become disabled on active duty and can’t return to their jobs to qualify for disabilit benefits.
“This is a simple change that recognizes the important service of veterans,” Wanggaard said in a press release. “The Wisconsin HEART Act honors veterans while preserving the integrity of the Wisconsin Retirement System.”
Both Wanggaard and Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester) will hold a Veterans Listening Session from 10 to 11:30 am this Fri., Feb. 17, 2012 at Veterans Home at Union Grove, Boland Hall, 21425 G Spring Street, Union Grove.
Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs Secretary John Scocos will also be in attendance. The listening session is open to veterans and their families.
“One of the most important parts of my job is to listen to my constituents,” said Rep. Vos in a joint press release. “We’re currently considering several important bills that will have a positive impact on our veterans and I would like to get their input on the legislation.”
A new law to help protect victims of domestic violence will be signed into law by Governor Scott Walker in the coming weeks.
Also authored by Wanggard, the new law puts teeth into 72-hour no-contact orders by not just upping the fines and potential jail time, but elevating how violators will be charged.
Currently, abusers who don’t follow the order face a $1,000 civil forfeiture. Under the new law, violators can be charged with a Class A misdemeanor which carries penalties of up to nine months in jail and/or up to $10,000 in fines. Repeat offenders could find themselves up against a felony.
The law also prohibits the accused from having any contact with witnesses to the alleged abuse.
“The risk of domestic violence is most prevalent in the days following an initial attack,” Wanggaard said in a written statement. “By strengthening the penalties for violations we are more likely to prevent such acts from recurring, preventing further abuse.”
After passing both the Senate and the Assembly by bipartisan votes, the new law only needs Governor Scott Walker’s signature.