Local voters in western Wisconsin will have three referendums on their April 7 ballots: One state, one county and one for Chippewa Valley Technical College.

Victim’s rights

The spring election includes proposed amendments to the Wisconsin Constitution. Known as Marsy’s Law, this would give crime victims specific rights in addition to those already provided.

The amendments include 16 detailed rights, all of which are included and supported in the same manner as a defendant’s rights during a case’s investigations and proceedings. The rights would include:

  • Timely proceedings and disposition.

  • To be heard during any proceedings where victim rights are implicated.

  • To refuse defense attorney’s interviews, deposition or discovery requests from the accused.

The amendments may be read in full at elections.wi.gov.

The referendum question will read:

“Additional rights of crime victims. Shall section 9m of article I of the constitution, which gives certain rights to crime victims, be amended to give crime victims additional rights, to require that the rights of crime victims be protected with equal force to the protections afforded the accused while leaving the federal constitutional rights of the accused intact, and to allow crime victims to enforce their rights in court?”

Gerrymandering

Board supervisors for St. Croix and Pierce counties debated over the last few months whether to include a referendum for each county which would provide support for a nonpartisan procedure to prepare fair district maps.

St. Croix County Board approved including the referendum on ballots Jan. 7, 2020, with three members rejecting the decision. One member Jim Endle asked why the board was “even doing this.”

Member Dan Hansen objected, saying the referendum would prevent giving a “procedural victory for somebody, a group of people, who want desperately to maintain an effort to oppress voters from getting to the poll and exercising their franchise.”

The board approval came three years after passing a St. Croix County resolution supporting nonpartisan redistricting maps.

READ MORE: St. Croix County ballots to include gerrymandering question | Pierce County to back gerrymandering bans?

In Pierce County, the referendum passed with some opposition as well with a final County Board vote of 12-4 on Nov. 12.

County Board and its Finance and Personnel Committee Chair Jeff Holst said in November Nov. 4 that he took offense to the notion that this referendum would support “one person, one vote."

“I believe we have ‘one person, one vote’ ... . Where are you going to find anyone that’s nonpartisan?” Holst said.

“I think just patriotically it's important for us to stand behind this,” county board and finance and committee member Ruth Wood said.

The referendum question will read as follows for each respective county:

“Should the Wisconsin legislature create a nonpartisan procedure for the preparation of legislative and congressional district plans and maps? Yes or no.”

Chippewa Valley Technical College

In January, the Chippewa Valley Technical College District Board of Trustees voted to place a referendum question on this April's ballot to create and expand campus facilities.

Residents across 11 counties will find the referendum in their ballot: Buffalo, Chippewa, Clark, Dunn, Eau Claire, Jackson, Pepin, Pierce, St. Croix, Taylor and Trempealeau.

The referendum is for $48.8 million effectively raising property taxes an estimated $13 per year per $100,000 property value.

The funding would provide for:

  • Construction of the Transportation Education Center: A new center to replace undersized, outdated auto and truck learning labs with larger modern labs, equipped to accommodate larger enrollments, training on gasoline, hybrid and electric vehicles, as well as “smart car” technology.

  • Expand and remodel the Emergency Service Education Center: Expand training facilities for police, fire, and paramedics to improve safety and protection for our campuses and communities.

  • Addition of a Manufacturing Education Center: New automated fabrication manufacturing lab.

  • Enhancement of additional campus renovations and expansions: Upgrades in Chippewa Falls and Menomonie to improve safety and provide more programming.

  • Purchase of land in River Falls for future expansion.

CVTC has listed several reasons why this referendum is being proposed. As student enrollment has increased, current facility space has become inadequate. Local employers depend on the skilled workers that come out of the CVTC and are currently having trouble hiring skilled workers. Program areas highlighted in the proposed projects are in high demand and are projected to grow, according to CVTC.

“About 70% of the jobs in Wisconsin in our district take the skilled training that we provide,” CVTC President Bruce Barker said at a Spring Valley Village Board meeting.

The referendum question will read:

"Shall Chippewa Valley Technical College District, Wisconsin be authorized to issue pursuant to Chapter 67 of the Wisconsin Statutes, general obligation bonds or promissory notes in an amount not to exceed $48,800,000 for the public purpose of paying the cost of capital expenditures for the purchase or construction of buildings, building additions, remodeling and improvements, the acquisition of sites, and the purchase of fixed and other equipment at District locations, including, but not limited to, Eau Claire, River Falls, Chippewa Falls, Menomonie, the Emergency Services Education Center, the Manufacturing Education Center, a new Transportation Education Center, and land near the current River Falls Campus?"

“We have to be good stewards, we invest tax payers dollars and tax payers desire the optimized value,” Barker said. “Which means we need to take care of our buildings, we need to look towards the future.”

If approved, design work will begin immediately with the River Fall property acquisition, automated fabricated lab and new lab equipment purchases being made 2021. Transposition Education Center construction and Emergency Service Education Center remodel are estimated to be completed by 2022 while the updated entrance, commons, offices and science labs are estimated to be finished by 2023.