MADISON (WKOW) -- On Monday, 10 year-old Michael Iverson of Stoughton died when the car he was riding in was struck by 21 year-old Trevor McGuire of Monroe. Green County Sheriff's officials say McGuire was drunk.
Just a day later, 5 year-old Bailey McCollum died in Kenosha County after 29 year-old Marcus Thornton crashed his vehicle into the car Bailey was riding in as a passenger. Kenosha County Sheriff's Deputies say Thornton, a three-time OWI offender, was drunk once again.
"But there's no mandatory minimum penalty, so, a Judge could sentence for a year or two," said Rep. Jim Ott (R-Mequon).
Establishing mandatory minimum sentences for drunk drivers who kill or injure people is part of a package of bills Rep. Ott already got passed through the Assembly Judiciary Committee he chairs in September. Other bills he authored would make third and fourth time OWI offenses felonies across the board. He is renewing his call to legislative leaders to make the bills a priority.
"Events of this week alone, hopefully, would make anyone who's thinking that getting tougher on repeat offenders or people who injure and kill.... that the penalties in Wisconsin are not harsh enough," said Rep. Ott.
But that plea appear to be falling on deaf ears.
"There might be ways, other than just simply locking people up, to do the same thing in a more cost-effective way, but that's part of the discussion I want to have," said Rep. Robin Vos (R-Rochester), the Speaker of the Assembly.
Speaker Vos said he doesn't know if or when he will put Rep. Ott's OWI bills on the floor for a vote, due to concerns that they will prove too costly for the state. The Department of Corrections estimates the increasing prison population resulting from those bills would cost the the state hundreds of millions of dollars annually.
"If there are more things we can do that would be effective for the investment, of course I want to do those," said Rep. Vos. "I'm just not so sure increasing the penalties in a way that would be fiscally prohibitive is the best way to go."
A spokesperson for Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau) says he feels the same way.
"I've talked to him," said Rep. Ott. "I've made my best case and I will continue to make a case for these bills."
Smaller measures in Rep. Ott's package, such as a bill requiring first-time OWI offenders to appear in court, may have a better chance of passing. Rep. Vos said that is a measure he can support.
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