Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes announces legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on October, 30 2019. The legislation, bill LRB-3603, would decriminalize 28 grams or less of marijuana in Wisconsin. The legislation, bill LRB-3603, still in draft form, would decriminalize 28 grams or less of marijuana in Wisconsin. It was introduced by Sen. Fred Risser, D-Madison, Rep. Shelia Stubbs, D-Madison, Rep. David Crowley, D-Milwaukee, and Rep. Dave Considine, D-Baraboo, and back by Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes. Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch
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Dems push decriminalization as marijuana busts are up; racial achievement gap persists; too much rain = expensive washouts; VA official gone; WI key to 2020 election


Of note: This week we highlight stories from other news outlets that add to our series examining the pros and cons of marijuana legalization in Wisconsin. Legislative Democrats are now pushing to decriminalize possession of small amounts of marijuana, but Republican leaders remain cool to the idea. Meanwhile, the New York Times finds that nationwide, the number of drug arrests continues to climb, despite a growing number of states opting to legalize marijuana for medical or recreational uses.

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Lt. Governor Mandela Barnes announces legislation to decriminalize small amounts of marijuana in Wisconsin at the Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wis., on October, 30 2019. Credit: Claire DeRosa / Wisconsin Watch

Democrats push for marijuana decriminalization in Wisconsin

Associated Press — October 30, 2019

Possession of small amounts of marijuana would be decriminalized in Wisconsin under a bill that Democratic lawmakers introduced in their latest push to loosen Wisconsin’s marijuana laws in the face of Republican opposition. It’s past time Wisconsin joined with the 26 other states that have decriminalized the possession of small amounts of marijuana, Lt. Gov. Mandela Barnes and other advocates said at a news conference in the state Capitol. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: Blacks arrested for pot possession at four times the rate of whites in Wisconsin

Is the ‘war on drugs’ over? Arrest statistics say no

The New York Times — November 5, 2019

Despite bipartisan calls to treat drug addiction as a public health issue rather than as a crime — and despite the legalization of marijuana in more states — arrests for drugs increased again last year. According to estimated crime statistics released by the F.B.I. in September, there were 1,654,282 arrests for drugs in 2018, a number that has increased every year since 2015, after declining over the previous decade. Meanwhile, arrests for violent crime and property crime have continued to trend downward. Previously from Wisconsin Watch: ‘I’m still discriminated against’; Wisconsin lawmakers propose easing burdens on marijuana offenders

Demitrius Kigeya, student at Madison Memorial High School, in Madison, on Friday, December 4, 2015. Credit: Michelle Stocker / The Cap Times

Wisconsin has widest racial achievement gap on nation’s report card

Wisconsin State Journal — October 31, 2019

Wisconsin’s wide and persistent achievement gap between black and white students continues to be the largest of any state based on results of a test known as the nation’s report card. The National Assessment of Educational Progress test results show no significant change from statewide results a decade ago. Earlier from Wisconsin Watch: Wisconsin’s black-white achievement gap worst in the nation despite decades of effort

Reengineering infrastructure for a wetter Wisconsin

WisContext — November 4, 2019

Flooding throughout the Midwest, including Wisconsin, is dangerous, costly and becoming a more frequent occurrence. Over the last few years, bridges and roads have washed away during flash floods in the northern part of the state, and in places like Madison, floodwaters took weeks to recede after heavy rainstorms in 2018. But how can engineers tackle the problem in order to prevent this kind of infrastructure damage in the future?

Nitschke, pictured here with former DVA Secretary Kenneth Black in 2009, was dismissed by Black in 2010. He later settled a lawsuit alleging that Black had discriminated against him for $180,000. Credit: Scott Anderson / The Cap Times

Dismissed: Wisconsin Veterans Affairs official who weathered harassment allegations fired under Evers

The Cap Times — November 6, 2019

During his decade-long tenure working in different management roles with the Wisconsin Department of Veteran Affairs, Randy Nitschke faced allegations of harassment, intimidation, mismanagement and risking the safety of his co-workers. The 66-year-old Navy veteran was fired from the agency twice — once in June 2010 and again on June 14, 2019. Despite compiling a lengthy personnel file and facing discipline for an incident involving fellow employees, Nitschke was rehired and repeatedly promoted in a state agency that has come under scrutiny for its treatment of nursing home residents and staff.

All eyes are on Wisconsin, the state that’s gearing up to define the presidential election

The Washington Post — November 5, 2019

Three years ago, Wisconsin was projected to be a cakewalk for Hillary Clinton. As any Wisconsinite can tell you, once Clinton secured the nomination, she didn’t campaign here for a single second. Donald Trump made constant visits, two to this football besotted-city. When many TV networks finally called Wisconsin for Trump, that clinched the election. Now, political organizers are canvassing the state like it’s autumn 2020. “In Wisconsin, we’re already in the general election while the rest of the country is thinking about the primary,” says Democratic state chairman Ben Wikler.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (www.WisconsinWatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, Wisconsin Public Television, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.