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Madison Hearing on Legislation Banning Local IDs Draws Tons of Opposition

Wisconsin's State Capitol
Ann Althouse, Flickr
Lawmakers are considering legislation that would ban counties from implementing local identification cards

Several local governments in Wisconsin are interested in issuing local identification cards to residents. One is Milwaukee County. But some state lawmakers believe the locals are overstepping their authority – so legislators are considering a bill that would prohibit municipalities from issuing local ID cards. 

More than 50 people showed up to testify at a public hearing in Madison on Tuesday; most oppose the ban.

Guadalupe Gallardo has a lot to say about any legislation she feels would restrict immigrants. She’s originally from Mexico but has lived in the U.S. for decades.

“We’re going to raise our voice you know to fight for immigrants. They want to be free, they want to work. They are afraid. They’re afraid to go out, they’re afraid to go to doctors or schools because the police are going to stop them,” Gallardo says.

And Gallardo says if police stop you and you don’t have any identification, it can lead to even more trouble. Gallardo was one of dozens of people who boarded a bus and headed to Madison to speak out against the legislation. Milwaukee County, in conjunction with the City of Milwaukee, have been working toward issuing local photo IDs. County Supervisor Marina Dimitrijevic says they are just a few months away.

She says the Milwaukee program is being modeled after one in New Yorkwhere people can use the IDs for a number of purposes, including at banks and doctors’ offices.

“We want a place where everyone feels included in our community. And one of the areas to start with is something as simple as our cultural institutions.  This ID could be used to be included on the free days so that everyone has the opportunity to enjoy things like our great cultural resources,” Dimitrijevic says.

Dimitrijevic says Republicans are making a big issue out of whether people would use a local ID card to vote or register to vote, and she says the answer is no.

GOP Senator Van Wanggaard says local ID supporters and Democrats are missing the point. He co-authored the legislation that would prevent local governments from issuing identification cards.

“Any powers that counties and towns possess are specifically derived from the state. And the power to grant identification cards is not enumerated. That power does not exist. Unfortunately, one county government has a more expansive view of their power making this specific prohibition necessary,” Wanggaard says.

Right before the start of the public hearing, authors amended the language so that the proposed ban would not affect such local cards as student IDs, bus passes and cards for government contractors.

LaToya was a reporter with WUWM from 2006 to 2021.
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