Archive for category Rep. Marlin Schneider

State Rep. Marlin Schneider Loses Re-Election – What Does This Mean for CCAP?

State. Rep. Marlin Schneider lost his bid for re-election last week to Scott Krug for the 72nd Assembly District.  As many of you know I am not a big fan of “Snarlin Marlin.”  Besides being voted one of the worst legislators in Wisconsin byMilwaukee Magazine, he also was a persistent thorn in the side of landlords due to his wishes to either restrict information that appeared on CCAP or to restrict who could access such information.  I have blogged about Schneider more times than I care to admit, but each term he kept proposing new legislation to restrict CCAP.  He was like the Energizer Bunny — he just kept on going . . .  and going.  The rabbit’s batteries have finally been drained.

With Schneider gone from Madison, what does this mean for CCAP?  Will this valuable database of information finally be left alone?  Not a chance.  While Schneider was the loudest proponent for restricting CCAP there were other politicians in Madison that seemed to always jump on Schneider’s bandwagon. 

In fact there is already a committee fromed to debate the subect.  Called the Special Committee on Review of Records Access of Circuit Court Documents, this committee has already held meetings about CCAP restriction issues.  There is not one representative from the rental industry on this committee.  When the AASEW and other rental organizations attempted to be included on the committee they were told that there was no room.  When we asked to speak at an upcoming meeting of the committee to give our two cents, we were told that all speaker slots were filled.  Thus, the rental industry was relegated to submitting a written comment to the committee.

Retired Milwaukee County Assistant District Attorney Nancy Ettenheim wrote a very well argued opinion piece in the Journal Sentinel against the restriction of and/or the elimination of information on CCAP.  NOTE: It takes a long time for this link to load but it is worth the wait — all jsonline pages take forever for me to download.

Opponents of CCAP often argue that landlords use the information on CCAP to discriminate against potential tenants.  Such comments upset me because  – at least in Milwaukee – individuals that have been evicted or who have been sued for eviction even if the case was later dismissed, are not members of a protected class, and thus a landlord is legally entitled to refuse to rent to that person.  One cannot be discriminated against in a legal sense if they are not members of a protected class.

Ms. Ettenheim cogently addresses this argument in her opinion piece by pointing out that “informed decisions” do not constitute discrimination.  Making a decision to not rent to someone based on their behavioral history is legitimate information upon which to base a decision.  Ms. Ettenheim was much more artful in her wording than I was and I will most likley be reiterating her statement on this issues as long as this debate continues.

The State Supreme Court has also weighed in on the topic of CCAP recently.  Wisconsin State Supreme Court Justice David Prosser has indicated that he thinks CCAP should be restricted to the public.

Here is another recent article about CCAP in which the author states that some counties are unilaterally removing data regarding criminal charges if those charges were dismissed as part of a plea deal.  Milwaukee is not one of the counties doing this.

So while Marlin Schneider is no longer around to propose new laws trying to keep public records out of the hands of the public, that does not mean that CCAP will be left alone.  With Schneider’s friends on the new special committee mentioned above, the Wisconsin Supreme Court jumping into the fray, and some counties deciding to unilaterally remove information regarding some criminal charges, we will continue to hear about attempts to curtail CCAP in the future.

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The Topic of CCAP Restriction Is Back!

As the followers of my blog well know, many of my posts have centered on State. Rep. Marlin Schneider’s attempts to restrict CCAP access to the public.  Restriction of CCAP will greatly affect landlords as CCAP is one of the best avenues to conduct background checks on prospective tenants.  Here is a link to my prior posts on this topic.

Well, Rep. Schneider and his Special Commottee On Review of Records Access of Circuit Court Documents, have resurfaced.  On September 8, 2010 a notice of this special committee’s upcoming meeting was circulated.  The meeting will be held on September 15th and will address several topics, including Proposals Limiting Access to Consolidated Court Automation Programs Information Considered During 2009 Legislative Session, and several other topics intimately related to CCAP.

Here is a copy of the Notice that was circulated.

If you would like to read the actual reports and memos referenced in the above Notice click here and you will be directed to a page with all the necessary links.

Looks like we will have to prepare for another year of battling for our continued access to CCAP and the Open Records law in general.

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State Supreme Court To Jump Into The Debate Over Restricting Information on CCAP

The Journal Sentinel published an article on Saturday, March 13, 2010 entitled “Supreme Court Considers Limits To Online Court Records.”  It appears that while landlords have pretty much quashed Rep. Schneiders attempts to pass legislation on the restriction of infromation posted on CCAP, that the State Supreme Court will be reviewing the issue in the near future.

Patrick Marley’s article states that Rep. Schneider did not believe his CCAP bill would come up for a vote this spring.  However, Marley states that in an administrative meeting last month, the Wisconsin Supreme Court agreed that they should study limiting what is posted on CCAP.  Justice Prosser was quoted as saying that “whatever problems we have has been incredibly exacerbated by CCAP and the Internet.  The case for redress is much too compelling to just let it die.”

The State Bar of Wisconsin has also asked the Supreme Court to make it easier to remove CCAP records and filed a request with the Supreme Court to make it easier to expunge records, both online and at the courthouse.

So while the legislative attempt to restrict CCAP may be over the overall fight appears to be continuing.  Be sure and read the comments to Marley’s article for a lively discussion for and against restrictions on CCAP.

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CCAP Bill Amended to Allow Landlords Full Access; Possibly Going to Assembly for Vote

As many of you know who have been following my updates on the ever evolving attempts by Marlin Schneider to restrict access to CCAPMr. Schneider has again amended his proposed bill.  The bill is now called Assembly Bill 663 but it is practically the same as the amended AB 340.  Why the change in the bill number I have not a clue.

AB 663 was voted on by the State Affairs and Homeland Security Committee on Wednesday, February 3, 2010.

Prior to voting on the bill, several amendments were made.  The major amendment was to was to include real estate brokers and salespeople, bankers and other financial agents, landlords, and those working in the title industry, to the list of the “select few” who would be able to access CCAP in its entirety.  Everyone else would still be limited to the restricted version of CCAP which would exclude information on pending cases and cases in which the defendant was acquitted or the lawsuit was dismissed.

Even with this major changes, AB 663 barely made it out of committee.  The committee was deadlocked at 3 to 3.  Voting for the bill was Rep Fred Kessler (D-Milwaukee), Rep. Leon Black (D-Milwaukee) and Rep. Kelda Helen Roys (D-Madison).  Voting against the proposed bill was Rep. Spencer Black (D-Madison), Rep. Joel Kleefisch (R-Oconomnowac) and Rep. Danield Knodl (R-Germantown).  Two members of the committee were on vacation and therefore did not participate in the vote.  The Chairperson of the committe, and bill c0-sponsor, Fred Kessler advanced the bill, without reccomendation, to the Assembly leaders who will now determine whether or not the Assembly as a whole will vote on it.

While it is great that landlords have now been added to the”chosen few” who are deemed worthy to have access to all open records in Wisconsin – this bill should still fail.  Current President of the Wisconsin Apartment Association, John H. Fischer (also known as Dr. Rent, gave his personal opinion on the AASEWAdvisors list serv, earlier.

He stated, in part:

It is nice that the bill on CCAP was amended to include people like landlords and employers… but to be completely honest, now it has just gotten silly.  He [Rep. MArlin Schneider] wanted this bill so landlords and employers didn’t use the CCAP records in a method that was illegal, but then he modifies the bill to include us…. So what exactly will it accomplish now?  It has been watered down so far to have no real impact, so why even have it at all.  In addition, how are they going to determine who is a landlord, who is an employer?  Are we going to have to register?  (Gee a statewide registration system for landlords, won’t that make licensing something easy to do in the future).
 
In my personal opinion, the stance of the WAA should be similar to that of the Newspapers.  Even though they were allowed full access under the original proposal, they still objected to it because there is something inherently wrong with making public records difficult for the public to have access to.
 
. . .
 
I think we still need to be opposed because once limitations are put in place, what is stopping from them from expanding those limitations in a future session.  They can take away all of our rights at one time, or they can chip away piece by piece until they are all gone.  Either way, the end game is the same.
 
My two cents….
 

I agree with John 100%.

This bill is barely holding on.  It is on life support — we need to put it out of its misery.  Patrick Marley of the Journal Sentinel in his recent article on the topic indicates that Kessler himself, one of the bill’s sponsors, said that it has a “slim” chance of passing.  I would like to change that to NO chance of passing.

This is a very critical time.  We must all contact our representatives in the state legislature and let them know that this bill should be defeated.

If you do not know the contact information for your representatives you can find that information here.

Oh yeah, and here is an article stating that Rep. Schneider is lying in an attempt to push his legislation limiting CCAP through the system.  Good thing the AP caught him.

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Rep. Marlin Schneider Amends AB-340 (CCAP Bill)

On December 2, 2009, Rep. Marlin Schneider (D-Wisconsin Rapids) made an amendment to AB-340.  Referred to as Assembly Substitute Amendment 1 to 2009 AB 340, this revised bill essentially would create two versions of the CCAP database.  Schneider’s amendment appears to be — based on its timing at least — a partial response to the Apartment Association of SE Wisconsin’s critical response to a memo that Schneider sent to other members of the Wisconsin legislature and staff on November 20, 2009.  The problem with Rep. Schneider’s amendment, if it is indeed a response to the AASEW’s criticisms, is that it ignores everything that the AASEW attempted to explain to him.

The original AB 340 can be read in its entirety at  www.DefeatAB340.org.  This site also contains background information on the sponsors of AB 340, responses from across Wisconsin to Schneider’s bill, and Schneider’s earlier attempts to restrict CCAP and prevent landlords from legally screening rental applicants.

Version #1 

Under the amended AB 340, the first version of CCAP would remain exactly as we now know it.  It would continue to provide data on pending cases and completed cases that were resolved by stipulated dismissal, acquittal, or motion.  It would also continue to provide information as to all original criminal charges filed even if those charges were later reduced or dismissed. 

However, this fully transparent version of CCAP would be restricted to only a “chosen few,” namely:

1.   Justices, judges, magistrates, court commissioners, and other employees of state, federal, or municipal courts and agencies who require access to court documents and records during the course of their employement.

2.   Law enforcement officers.

3.   Attorneys and their employees.

4.   Members of the Wisconsin Newspaper Assoc., the Wisconsin Broadcaster’s Assoc., and any other Wisconsin media organization designated by the director of state courts.

5.   A debt collector licensed under Sec. 218.04, Wis. Stats.

Version #2

The second version of CCAP would be a redacted version (just as was set forth in the original AB 340) and would exclude any and all information about any civil or criminal case that had not yet been resolved by: (1) a finding of guilt, (2) a finding of liability, (3) an order of eviction, or (4) the issuance of a restraining order or injunction.

Under the revised AB 340, a person would still be able to request that the director of state courts remove all CCAP information relating to that individual’s case if it did not result in a finding of guilt, liability, eviction judgment, or TRO/Injunction, or if it was reopened, vacated, set aside or overturned on appeal.  Thus, even the “chosen few” detailed above would still not have access to this information if an affected individual made a request to remove it from CCAP.

The revised AB 340 appears to have eliminated the requirement that all users must register with the Director of State Courts and pay a $10 fee.  However, still intact in the amended bill is the requirement that a person who has been denied employment, housing, or a public accomodation, be informed that said decision was made after reviewing information contained on CCAP.  The intentional failure to comply with this section could result in a $1,000 fine.

The revised AB 340 is not an improvement over its predecessor.  Yes, I guess it does allow a select few to access most of the information currently contained on CCAP but what about those individuals who are not included?  Landlords, employers, moms and dads, and everyone else excluded from accessing the info on the “real CCAP” are still being prevented from using CCAP to obtain information that falls under Wisconsn’s open records law.

I wonder just how much time Rep. Schneider and his staff spent drafting the revised AB 340?  Since  the revised version still ignores Wisconsin’s open records law and still hinders a landlord’s ability to properly – and legally – screen a prospective renter, I hope that they didn’t spend too much time on it because I still don’t think it will pass. 

What are your thoughts about this revised version of AB 340?  Let me know your thoughts by sending a “comment.”

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UPDATE ON AB-340 (CCAP BILL)

As many of you know a public hearing was held on AB340 – the proposed bill by Rep. Marlin Schneider that would restrict who can use CCAP and what information would be contained on CCAP — at the State Capitol in Madison last week.

Several board members from the AASEW (Dave Ohrmundt and Richard Bishop) and the head of Milwaukee RING (Brian Fleming) attended the hearing to make sure that landlords’ voices were heard.  We appreciate you guys taking the time out of your busy schedules to attend.

A fellow landlord-tenant law blogger from the Wausau area (Dr. Rent a/k/a John Fischer) also attended the public hearing and even testified wrote a recent blog post on the bill and the hearing that gives you his views on the proposed bill and what his thoughts are regarding if it will succeed.  Dr. Rent writes a great blog and if you enjoy my blog you should also sign up for his blog.

Arguments were presented both for and against the propsoed legislation.  On a practical level I thought it was very telling the the director of state courts (who under the proposed bill would be in charge of registering CCAP users and monitoring their searches) felt that the cost and time involved would be a huge undertaking.  It might have been a good idea for the bills’ sponsors to have spoken with the director of state courts and attempted to get him on their side prior to the public hearing.

Two recent articles written about the hearing and AB340 in general were published.  The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel wrote an article on the hearing and the Racine Journal Times also had a good piece on the proposed legislation.  Columnist, Patrick McIlheran, of the Journal Sentinel also wrote a recent piece on Schneider’s proposed CCAP bill.

The Wisconsin State Journal also published an editorial regarding AB-340.

I was also interviewed for an article by the Wisconsin Law Journal about the proposed CCAP legislation. This article does not focus on how AB340 will affect landlords but rather how it might affect lawyers ability to screen their own clients and related issues.

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Public Hearing on AB 340 (Proposal to Restrict CCAP Access and Information) to Be Held on October 1, 2009 in Madison

For those of you following my blog, you are well aware of my thoughts on State Rep. Marlin Schneider’s new legislative proposal to restrict access to and limiting information contained on CCAP (Consolidated Cort Automation Programs).  Schneider’s proposed legislation is referred to as AB (Assembly Bill) 340.

In fact, Patrick McIlheran of the Milwaukee Jornal Sentinel just wrote an article that addressed how AB 340 will hurt landlords.

AB 340 is currently in the Committee on Criminal Justice and that committee has just announced that a public hearing on AB 340 will be held on Thursday, October 1, 2009, at 10:15 am at 328 Northwest of the State Capitol Building in Madison.

If you can attend this hearing please consider doing so.  If you are unable to attend then please be sure and voice your opinion on this proposal to your state representative and/or senator and the members of the Committe on Criminal Justice.

We landlords will be at a great loss if we lose our access to CCAP  or are only able to receive certain information from CCAP.

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