JFC removes statewide GPS tracking funding from budget - WQOW TV: Eau Claire, WI NEWS18 News, Weather, and Sports

JFC removes statewide GPS tracking funding from budget

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MADISON (WKOW) -- There will be no statewide funding for increased GPS tracking in the next state budget, despite the fact that Governor Scott Walker (R-Wisconsin) requested it to cut down on severe incidents of domestic violence.

Gov. Walker proposed $3 million in grants for more GPS tracking of people under domestic violence restraining orders.  But many Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee expressed concerns it would be too intrusive, without providing a true deterrent.

Gov. Walker's request stemmed, in part, from an October 2012 mass shooting at the Azana Salon and Spa in Brookfield.

Radcliffe Haughton was under a judicial restraining order when he bought a gun and drove to the Azana Salon where he killed his wife Zina Haughton, two other women and ultimately himself.

Under Gov. Walker's proposal, its likely Radcliffe Haughton would have been wearing a GPS bracelet.

"And I'll be voting for that and I hope that we'll be able to pass that by unanimous vote," said Rep. Jon Richards (D-Milwaukee).

But Republicans said the changes in the law that would go along with the new funding went too far.

"I haven't been a proponent of the Governor's plan for allowing GPS monitoring for individuals who haven't yet violated a temporary restraining order.  I mean, that's what his original bill was," said Rep. Dean Knudson (R-Hudson).

Others say there's no evidence to support the idea that GPS tracking would prevent crimes such as the one at the Azana Salon.

"I'm not so sure that law enforcement can respond fast enough," said Sen. Luther Olsen (R-Ripon).  "And that's why I think its important to have this pilot project in the counties to see how its gonna work before we go statewide and spend the money."

That's what the substitute motion Republicans passed will do.  It provides $250,000 for one year to establish pilot GPS tracking programs in select counties.  The motion provides another $1.5 million for annual grants to go to domestic abuse shelters statewide.

"We believe that this is a step to help fight domestic abuse at the local level," said Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette).

Republicans also defeated a motion to require background checks on nearly all gun sales and transfers in Wisconsin.  Democrats pushed that motion based on the action of Radcliffe Haughton.

"He was able to buy a gun despite a judicial order saying he couldn't have a gun and he killed three people," said Rep. Richards, who introduced the motion.

"The people who buy guns legally and are acting within the confines of appropriate behavior, you know, they shouldn't be punished," said Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills), who joined her fellow Republicans in defeating the motion.

Meanwhile, the JFC unanimously killed a proposal from Gov. Walker to set up a Solicitor General's Office in the Department of Justice.

But a number of big items on the agenda, including the state transportation budget, funding for the UW System and a controversial provision to deregulate rent-to-own agreements, were still awaiting a vote Thursday evening.

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