The September 2011 edition of the Municipal Law Alert is now available online. View the latest articles by clicking here. Archives of the Municipal Law Alert, including the ability to key word search, are also available.
Municipal Law Alert, September 2011
This summer, Wisconsin passed Act 35 and became the 49th state to adopt some form of a concealed carry law. The legislation, which takes effect on November 1, 2011, has significant implications for Wisconsin municipalities.
Prior to the new law, Wisconsin prohibited individuals from carrying concealed weapons. The new law allows licensed individuals to carry a concealed weapon. Most individuals who are at least 21 years old (felons are generally not eligible) will be eligible to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Once a permit is obtained, the permit holder may carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the state, except in schools, police stations, sheriff’s offices, prisons or jails, courthouses, government offices that have electronic screening devices and airports (but only beyond security checkpoints) and any portion of a building that is a municipal courtroom if court is in session. The above prohibitions do not apply to a weapon in a vehicle driven or parked in a parking facility located in a building that is used as, or any portion of which is used as, one of the locations that is the subject of the prohibition.
Thus, once the law takes effect on November 1, 2011, if the municipality has taken no action, licensed individuals may carry a concealed weapon in buildings owned or operated by the municipality. However, property owners, including municipalities, may choose to ban weapons in buildings they own or control.
Therefore, each municipality must make a decision: to ban weapons, to allow weapons, or to do nothing (which effectively allows weapons) in its municipal buildings. This is a threshold decision. If a municipality decides not to ban weapons in municipal buildings, no action is necessary. However, if a municipality decides that it is going to ban weapons in municipal buildings, some action must be taken.
In making this decision, it is advisable that consideration be given to the immunity provided by Act 35 if the municipality does not ban weapons in municipal buildings. Under the new law, a person that does not prohibit an individual from carrying a concealed weapon on property that the person owns or occupies is immune from any liability arising from its decision. Wis. Stat. § 175.60(21)(b) and (c). Thus, if the municipality does not ban weapons, it is immune from any liability arising from that decision.
If, however, the municipality decides to ban weapons, there are two categories of people to be concerned about: employees and visitors. First, employers may prohibit employees from carrying guns by adopting a policy. However, employers may not prohibit their employees from keeping a weapon in a vehicle in the parking lot.
The second group of individuals to consider is visitors. Obviously, this second group is not subject to a municipality’s employment policies. The only way to prohibit visitors from carrying weapons in municipal buildings is to provide the notice required under the new law. In order to give notice that weapons are banned, under Wis. Stat. § 943.13(1m)(c)4, a municipality must post a sign located in a prominent place near all of the entrances to the part of the building to which the restriction applies and where any individual entering the building can be reasonably expected to see the sign. The sign must state the restriction and be at least five inches by seven inches.
If the decision is made to ban weapons in municipal buildings, it makes sense to adopt a resolution or ordinance setting forth those restrictions. If such a resolution or ordinance is adopted, care should be taken to make sure it is narrowly tailored in order to avoid violating Wis. Stat. § 66.0409(2). You should consult with your municipality’s attorney to make sure your ordinance or resolution is compliant with Wisconsin law.
Municipal Law Alert, September 2011
As we reported in the last issue of the Municipal Law Alert, one of the provisions in Act 10 (the Budget Repair Bill) requires that municipalities without a civil service system (most of you) must establish a grievance procedure no later than October 1, 2011. The procedure must address at a minimum, the following three situations:
- Employee terminations;
- Employee discipline; and
- Workplace safety.
Although Act 10 does not identify specific penalties for failure to comply with the October 1st deadline, if your municipality hasn’t already done so, it should take action as soon as possible to enact a grievance procedure. You don’t want to be in the position of having an employee wishing to file a grievance, and your municipality either has no grievance policy at all, or has one that doesn’t comply with the new requirements, now codified in Wisconsin Statute § 66.0509.
Although § 66.0509 provides a municipality with a great deal of flexibility in drafting its grievance procedure, there are several minimum elements that must be present.
- There must be a written document specifying the process that a grievant and an employer must follow;
- There must be an opportunity for a hearing before an impartial hearing officer; and
- There must be an appeal process in which the highest level of appeal is the governing body.
Other than these minimum elements, municipalities are left to define the terms and provisions of their local procedures. As Attorney Adam Jarchow noted in the July 2011 edition of the Municipal Law Alert, “There are a number of thoughts and theories floating around about what ought to be done, but at this point, they are just that: thoughts and theories. No one really knows how the grievance procedures will work in practice or how the courts will view them.”
What business owners should consider when deciding whether to ban weapons in the workplace and other aspects of Wisconsin’s new conceal carry law are analyzed in the latest edition of Business Notes, Bakke Norman’s newsletter focused on business-related issues. Read the article by clicking here. The new law, which generally allows employees to carry concealed weapons, is effective November 1, 2011.
Sign up to receive each edition of Business Notes in your inbox by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with your name, company and the words “Business Notes”.
Business Notes, September 2011
On July 8, 2011, Wisconsin became the 49th state to adopt some form of a concealed carry law. The legislation, which takes effect on November 1, 2011, has significant implications for Wisconsin businesses.
Prior to the new law, Wisconsin prohibited individuals from carrying concealed weapons. The new law allows licensed individuals to carry a concealed weapon. Most individuals who are at least 21 years old (felons are generally not eligible) will be eligible to receive a permit to carry a concealed weapon. Once a permit is obtained, the permit holder may carry a concealed weapon anywhere in the state, except in schools, police stations, sheriff’s offices, prisons or jails, courthouses, government offices that have electronic screening devices and airports (but only beyond security checkpoints). This means that if a business does not take affirmative action to ban guns at the business, licensed individuals may carry a concealed weapon in the business. However, businesses may choose to ban weapons on their property (with a limited exception discussed below).
Thus, the new law forces Wisconsin businesses to make an important decision: to ban weapons, to allow weapons, or to do nothing (which effectively allows weapons). To implement the decision, businesses must do one of the following: (1) post signs stating that weapons are banned and/or adopt employment policies prohibiting employees from carrying weapons; (2) post a sign that welcomes weapons (think of the signs at Pet Smart that welcome pets); or (3) post no signs and adopt no policies (which effectively allows weapons).
Business owners must weigh a variety of factors when deciding whether to ban, such as customer and employee reactions (both positive and negative). For commercial landlords, an additional complication must be weighed since property owners may ban weapons in common areas, but each individual tenant must decide and post for the tenant’s leased area. Probably the most significant factor, however, is the strong incentive built in to the law to not ban weapons: immunity. People and employers that do not ban are immune from any liability arising from that decision.
“The Future of the Construction Industry in Western Wisconsin” will be the focus of the November 2011 installment of “Breakfast with Bakke Norman”. The panel discussion will be held at the New Richmond Campus of WITC on Tuesday, November 8, 2011, with registration starting at 7:30 a.m. and the discussion running from 8 a.m. to 10 a.m. A panel of guest speakers will share their insights and experiences on the current state of, and outlook for, the construction industry in Western Wisconsin. Attendees will also be able to ask questions of the panelists. Coffee and other refreshments will be provided.
Space is limited. RSVP by Friday, October 21, 2011, by emailing Janet King at: email@example.com.
Click here for more information about the November “Breakfast with Bakke”, including details about the panel of speakers.
On September 13, 2011, Adam Jarchow was elected to the Board of Directors of the Polk County Economic Development Corporation. The Polk County EDC seeks to build and maintain a strong economic base in Polk County. Jarchow stated, “As someone who represents small businesses and municipalities in Polk County and greater northwestern Wisconsin, I have seen firsthand the positive impact that a well-functioning economic development organization can have on job creation. I am looking forward to the opportunity to help the EDC carry out its mission of growing Polk County businesses and jobs.”
To find out more about what the Polk County EDC is doing to promote economic development, visit its website at: http://polkcountyedc.com/.