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Pay-parity bill for public defenders amended, approved, sent to state Senate

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//February 21, 2020//

Pay-parity bill for public defenders amended, approved, sent to state Senate

By: Michaela Paukner, [email protected]//February 21, 2020//

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A bill to restore pay parity for Wisconsin State Public Defenders is moving forward in the legislature but now with an attached amendment that would eliminate the state’s judicial council.

The Wisconsin State Assembly voted unanimously on Thursday to pass an amended version of the pay-parity bill and send it to the Senate. The legislation would provide money for merit-based pay for assistant state public defenders in 2020 and 2021. It comes in response to a pay discrepancy that started when assistant state public defenders didn’t receive funding in the 2019-21 state budget, but public prosecutors did.

Rep. Mark Born, R-Beaver Dam, was the author of the amendment adopted on Thursday. The change would eliminate the Wisconsin Judicial Council, a 21-member body that studies and makes recommendations relating to court procedure and operations. If the bill passes in the Senate on March 24, it will head to Gov. Tony Evers. He’d have to veto the amendment to save the judicial council.

The bill to create 12 new circuit-court branches over three years is also heading to Evers’ desk. The state Senate concurred in the bill on Wednesday. It would allow the director of state courts to set up four new branches a year, starting in 2021.

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