Barrett asks for residency requirement hearing in Milwaukee

    A Republican lawmaker is rejecting a request from Mayor Tom Barrett to hold a hearing in Milwaukee on legislation that would end the city’s residency requirement for police and firefighters.
    A public hearing is currently scheduled for 10:30 a.m. on March 22 at the State Capitol. But Barrett today sent a letter to Republican lawmakers asking for a hearing in Milwaukee.
    "This bill is attempting to solve a problem that does not exist," Barrett wrote in the letter to committee members.
    The city police and fire chiefs are opposed to the bill, he said.
    "Yet suburban legislators, without consultation with City of Milwaukee officials, have moved ahead, deciding that home rule is secondary to special interests," Barrett said.
    However, Scott Kelly, spokesman for Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine), said more than a week’s notice was provided for the meeting, and a large hearing room has been reserved to accommodate all who want to come.
    "It’s unfortunate the mayor decided to release this letter to the media before talking to legislators about it," said Kelly, whose boss chairs the Senate Committee on Labor, Public Safety, and Urban Affairs.
    Kelly brushed off concerns that lifting residency requirements will result in a flight of police and firefighters out of the city. Wanggaard is a former Racine police officer and opted to stay in the city, as did many of his colleagues, Kelly said.
    "That is not the case in Racine, and I do not expect it will be the case otherwise," he said.
    See the letter:

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