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Sanfelippo says Milwaukee’s ID card proposal making puppets out of poor

By   /   February 9, 2016  /   News  /   No Comments

MILWAUKEE – A bill aimed at placing safeguards on city-issued IDs will be the subject of a public hearing Wednesday morning.

The Assembly Committee on State Affairs and Government Operations has scheduled the hearing on the legislation – among others -beginning at 10 a.m. at the Capitol.

The bill, authored by state Rep. Joe Sanfelippo, R-West Allis, and Sen. Van Wanggaard, R-Racine, prevents city-issued IDs from being used for voting or to serve as a substitute for any public benefit that requires a state-issued ID in the application process.

And community IDs could not be issued by towns or counties under the proposal.

Photo by Watchdog.org

IDENTIFICATION DEBATE: A bill up for a hearing Wednesday would prohibit local municipal-issued identification cards, like those proposed in Milwaukee County to be used for voting or for applying for certain state benefits.

The legislation is in response to a coordinated push by the city of Milwaukee and Milwaukee County to create a local identification cards – IDs that would be issued to illegal immigrants, the homeless and others.

“My constituents in West Allis don’t want to pay for the city of Milwaukee to issue a local ID card,” Sanfelippo told Wisconsin Watchdog Tuesday on the Mark Belling Show, on NewsTalk 1130 WISN. “Why should every taxpayer pay for every program the city of Milwaukee wants to do. If the city thinks it’s important to issue this ID card, let them pick up the tab and do it on their own.”

Taxpayers would cover the cost of the ID program, at an initial cost of $300,000 — split evenly between the city and county.

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Such an ID is needed, according to Milwaukee County Supervisor Peggy Romo West, because “many Milwaukee County residents face barriers to obtaining state identification and could benefit from a community identification card…”

That list includes, among others, low-income elderly, individuals with mental illness, survivors of domestic violence and formerly incarcerated individuals re-entering the community, according to a county board resolution.

It also includes the homeless, illegal immigrants and transgendered individuals.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele told Wisconsin Public Radio last month that he supports the municipal ID plan that would make sure homeless and undocumented immigrants have cards.

“In the partnership with the city and county, we have an opportunity to empower a lot of people to get back on their feet and contribute to society,” he said.

Sanfelippo said Abele and supporters of the IDs are manipulating Milwaukee residents, promising that the cards will open the door to employment, to the ability to establish a bank account, or obtain a library card. The truth is, the lawmaker said, service providers are under no obligation to accept municipal ID cards, particularly those cards that cannot definitively verify a holder’s identity.

While municipal ID advocates deny the cards would be used for voting, Sanfelippo said that is the real reason why Milwaukee officials are pushing the program. The proof, he said, is their resistance to any disclaimers on the cards warning that they are not intended to be used for voter ID.

“It’s all about politics,” the lawmaker said. “It’s unfortunate because they are using these poor individuals as puppets.”

Peggy Romo West told Wisconsin Watchdog in December that advocates hope to have the IDs in place by March, before April’s local elections.

“We are all up for reelection in April and we would like to have it in time to make sure it’s in place and implemented by then,” the supervisor said. “It has nothing to do with the election; it’s about the people who are committed to” the community ID program.

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M.D. Kittle is national First Amendment reporter at Watchdog.org. Contact him at mkittle@watchdog.org.