Residents ask for explanations from Zipperer

Voter ID bill, conceal carry chief among concerns

Aug. 30, 2011

Sussex - Sen. Rich Zipperer, R-Pewaukee, who represents the 33rd State Senate District, fielded questions from his constituents at a town hall meeting in Sussex on Aug. 22. The senator, elected to his first senatorial term in 2010 after serving in the state assembly, mostly addressed questions relating to the voter ID legislation and the new concealed carry bill passed into law earlier this year.

Zipperer visited Sussex Village Hall to hold the informal meeting with residents, some of whom supported the senator's positions on the issues, and others who leveled their dissatisfaction with his stances.

Voter ID

Sussex resident Emil Glodeski criticized Zipperer's support for the legislation that would require voters to show a form of identification at polling stations on Election Day. The legislation officially takes effect during the 2012 elections.

"The voter suppression bill that passed was aptly racist," Glodeski said of the bill. "That's what it is.

"The suppression bill would fill the Bradley Center two or three times with the number of people that don't have IDs in Milwaukee County alone," Glodeski said. "That's voter suppression. Period. It moves us into Wississippi. We've got a tremendous tradition of protecting voters' rights in Wisconsin and expanding voters' rights. This is first time that we are eliminating thousands of people."

Zipperer was quick to defend his support of the bill. The senator said that he took concerns of people being barred from voting very seriously, but argued that the bill that passed the legislature addressed those concerns. The voter ID bill includes language that would provide government IDs to people at no charge if they do not currently have one.

"We need to make sure that every individual who is a legal citizen has access to an ID, and we certainly cannot allow money to be a factor to them being able to vote," Zipperer said. "I think it is vitally important that we address that aspect of it, and I believe we did so in the bill. Frankly, the bill would be ruled unconstitutional if we did not do it. It would be ruled as a poll tax."

The senator pointed to instances of voter fraud in past elections and argued that even a small number of illegal votes still cancels out the vote of someone that voted legally.

Conceal carry bill

The senator also addressed questions related to the recently passed concealed carry bill. Zipperer, who said he was a supporter of what was dubbed "constitutional carry," or unrestricted carrying of a firearm, explained that the state Senate used Florida and Iowa's respective carry and conceal legislation as models for Wisconsin's.

Under the new law, those who had gone through a hunter's safety course or those that had been honorably discharged from the armed forces would be allowed a permit to conceal firearms without any additional training.

Zipperer, who chaired the senate committee that drafted the legislation and co-sponsored the original constitutional carry proposal, called the current law a "compromise bill."

One man, T.E. Stoeveken, expressed concerns with the bill because he had been a hunter long before the passage of legislation that required hunters to pass a hunter's safety course. Having been grandfathered in as a hunter that did not need to take hunter's safety course, the man asked why the new concealed carry law did not allow those same people to conceal firearms.

"A lot of people didn't have to take a hunter safety course, but yet we've hunted for 50 or 60 years, and we certainly know how to handle a weapon," he told Zipperer.

"We ended up with a pretty strong bipartisan compromise, but I think you certainly have a good argument to be made that if you can hunt, and you can be out in the field with hunting parties fully expecting to shoot your weapon, that that is certainly safe, " Zipperer said.

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