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More trouble in Madison: Wisconsin anti-nude bills advance to State Assembly
The legislative assault on body freedom continues, broadening the scope of challenges faced by naturists and activists in the state
At the close of last month, the Wisconsin State Senate introduced bills SB 477 and SB 478, measures that immediately rang alarm bells for advocates of body freedom and civil liberties. These bills aim to criminalize all public nudity in Wisconsin, using a particularly conservative definition of nudity. Adding to the concern, administrative action followed when the state Department of Natural Resources announced new rule amendments that threaten to outlaw nudity on state lands.
In a concerning development yesterday, Assembly Bills 503 and 504 were introduced in the Wisconsin State Assembly and referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety. These bills serve as the lower house counterparts to Senate Bills 477 and 478, a necessary step for the legislation to advance beyond committee stages in both chambers. Given its influential role in vetting crime-related legislation, the Assembly's Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety will be a focal point for advocates tracking these bills.
Jim Dickey is the secretary of the Naturist Action Committee (NAC), a politically active national naturist organization based in Wisconsin. Dickey told Planet Nude that NAC is vigilantly monitoring the bills’ passage, and at this time is “focused on helping people understand and participate in addressing the Senate and Assembly bills’ challenges.”
The Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety
The bills have been referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety, chaired by Representative John Spiros (R), which plays a crucial role in the scrutiny and passage of crime-related legislation.
For locals in Wisconsin interested in engaging with the legislative process, we urge you to coordinate your communication through the Naturist Action Committee. Contact them at firstname.lastname@example.org, or call 920-415-2900 for key messaging and helpful information on how to most effectively express opposition to this legislation. For more information, refer to their latest NAC alert:
Following the bills’ progress
To track the progress of these bills, one can keep an eye on the committee calendar and sign up for notifications. It's advisable to track both the Assembly and Senate bills, numbered AB 503, AB 504, SB 477, and SB 478 respectively.
(click the bill names above to see bill text)
Assembly Bill 504 / Senate Bill 477 aims to prohibit persons under 18 from attending events “at which a group of adult participants intentionally expose their genitals, buttocks, or other intimate parts in a public area.” The bill also restricts the photography of minors at such events unless the photo is intended for law enforcement reporting within 24 hours.
(click the bill names above to see bill text)
Similarly, Assembly Bill 503 / Senate Bill 478 seeks to amend the statutes around intentional exposure of genitals, moving away from the current requirement that such exposure be "indecent."
For both bills, violators could face a Class A misdemeanor charge.
The introduction of these bills comes on the heels of significant controversy. Wisconsin Republicans have expressed outrage over public nudity, particularly at events like Madison's annual naked bike ride. A photo of a minor attending the event became a flashpoint, prompting Republican U.S. Rep. Tom Tiffany to question Attorney General Merrick Garland about the issue in a national hearing. The annual World Naked Bike Ride, happening globally for over 20 years, promotes body positivity and environmental sustainability, but these Republican lawmakers see it as a threat to public decency and the "innocence" of children.
For more background on the WNBR controversy, check out our in depth report:
What this means for naturists and activists
The Wisconsin State Legislature is bicameral, consisting of an upper house (the State Senate) and a lower house (the State Assembly). Both have been under Republican control since January 2011.
For naturists and activists in Wisconsin, the introduction of these assembly bills represents another challenge to their ongoing efforts to safeguard personal freedoms. Activists are already tracking the progress of the Senate versions of these bills, as well as new Department of Natural Resources (DNR) rules that could further restrict nudist activities. The heightened legislative activity signals that public nudity and body freedom are under renewed scrutiny, which could result in more restrictive laws being enacted.
These new bills represent a significant moment in the ongoing dialogue about body freedom and civil liberties in Wisconsin, and they warrant close attention from activists and concerned citizens alike. Planet Nude remains at the forefront of reporting on these unfolding events. 🪐
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