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Urgent update: Last-minute public hearing on Wisconsin anti-nude bills
Fast-tracking bills threaten body freedom in Wisconsin—upcoming hearings give the public a chance to oppose
Updated Oct. 5th 9:05 am PDT
The first public hearing to discuss bills SB477 & 478, scheduled for October 5th, was called to order right on time at 9:30 am CDT. The hearing was held by the Wisconsin Senate Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families Committee, consisting of five members: Joan Ballweg (R), Rachael Cabral-Guevara (R), Dianne Hesselbein (D), La Tonya Johnson (D), and chaired by Jesse James (R).
The hearing was brief and consisted of a basic presentation of the bill by bill author Senator Chris Kapenga, followed by witness testimony from Dane County Supervisor Jeff Weigand, who spoke in favor of the measures. Nobody present spoke in opposition. It was clarified that the bills would classify the offenses as a class A misdemeanor, carrying a maximum penalty of a $10,000 fine and up to nine months in prison. It was specified that the definition of nudity included "sensitive areas," rather than just "genitals," thereby including buttock exposure within its scope. The bill would essentially criminalize bringing a child to any event where an adult is nude, as defined by this legislation.
Bill 477 was called into question by committee member Senator LaTonya Johnson, who wanted to know specifically if language in the bill would include concert performances, expressing concern that its passage could seriously harm concert business revenue, a significant business in her district (senate district 6). It was clarified that the bill would include “nudity” in performance, making parents criminally liable for taking children to a concert where performers have exposed “sensitive areas”.
In response to Senator Johnson’s concern, Senator Kapenga said, “A strip of cloth from Joanne's Fabric (sic) costs about 37 cents. So if they've got to buy a hundred strips of cloth to cover their butt crack, um, I'm okay with that. I think they'll still come into town for the tens of millions of dollars that, um, that they will get. And I highly doubt that Beyonce would not come because she can't expose her crack.”
“You're right,” Johnson replied. “Beyonce doesn't come because the audiences here aren't large enough. She only comes to Chicago... I've taken my daughter there. I'm just saying, it's not just a matter of a specific piece of cloth for that one particular entertainer. It's changing their entire costume to play at a venue that isn't as significantly large as someplace like Chicago... So that makes our constituents here have to drive over an hour away for performance and this state not to receive that.”
Jeff Weigand, in his testimony, pointed out that the matter was investigated by Madison Police, including the Special Victims Unit, and that no crime was found. “Sadly, because the city and county law enforcement officers refuse to do their job,” he said, “we are here today and I appreciate this attempt to be explicitly clear that this type of lewd behavior should not be allowed to take place in Wisconsin. Lastly, I'll close with this. Proponents of this bike ride have stated that they believe this is about their freedom to protest. I would ask them, what about my freedom? What about my freedom to walk around, walk down the street and not be assaulted by nudity? What about my children's innocence? That I work very hard to protect. I used to love going to the Dane County Farmer's Market. I used to love walking around places like the Monona Terrace and State Street. I can no longer do those things with my family for fear of what my children will be exposed to.”
With no other witnesses to give testimony, the hearing was adjourned after just twenty minutes. Dates were set for a paper ballot next week, followed by an executive session and public hearing on October 18th, and another public hearing on November 1st.
These bills present a concerning development for those who advocate for body freedom, civil liberties, and artistic expression. By broadly defining ‘nudity’ to include ‘sensitive areas,’ the legislation risks encroaching upon spaces and events that celebrate the human form, from nudist gatherings to artistic performances. They potentially criminalize basic nudity but inhibit cultural practices and artistic freedoms we hold dear.
Given the upcoming paper ballot and public hearings, now is a crucial time to contact the committee members and make our voices heard. 🪐
Original post Oct. 4th 8:00pm
It's imperative for our readers to stay updated on the critical developments in the ongoing saga of anti-nude legislation in Wisconsin that Planet Nude has been covering. Since our last post just this morning, there have been a few crucial developments. Here’s what you need to know:
On September 29th, Republican members of the Wisconsin State Legislature officially introduced two bills—SB477 and SB478—that could severely impact our civil liberties and the naturist businesses and individuals in the state.
The impending hearing
A last-minute public hearing has been set for (TOMORROW) Thursday, October 5, at 9:30 AM Central Daylight Time. It will be held by the Committee on Mental Health, Substance Abuse Prevention, Children and Families, in the state capitol building, room 411 south, in Madison. The room has a limited capacity, and public notice for the event was released last-minute, an apparent attempt to minimize public input.
If you happen to be in the Madison area and can arrange to attend the meeting in opposition to the proposed legislation, your attendance is requested.
The bills in question
SB 477: This bill prohibits a person from causing someone under the age of 18 to attend an event where adults intentionally expose their genitals, buttocks, or other intimate parts in a public area. It also restricts taking pictures of a child at such an event unless it's for the purpose of reporting the event to the police.
SB 478: This bill aims to eliminate the need for exposure to be deemed "indecent," and instead requires only that the exposure be intentional.
Both bills have far-reaching implications, especially SB478's change to the definition of indecent exposure—a fundamental alteration that threatens our civil liberties.
Online streaming & participation
If you can't be there in person, you can still participate. The hearing will be streamed online at https://wiseye.org/schedule/. It’s unclear whether or not public comment will be allowed online, but not likely.
Take action online
We must not underestimate the potentially damaging effects of these bills. These are not mere regulatory changes; these are direct attacks on our civil liberties and our community. A robust attendance, either physically or virtually, sends a message and is an actionable way to take a stand against this legislative encroachment. Your voice, your participation, is crucial. 🪐
Read the public hearing notice
Read more about the ongoing saga in Wisconsin
More ways to help
The most direct way to impact this issue is to call the representatives mentioned in this story. Tell them their plans are harmful for Wisconsin and its people. Point out that such laws contradict traditional conservative values by limiting personal freedoms and parental rights.
Phone calls are the best way to reach your reps, as they can't be ignored like emails or letters. If you live in their district, that's a plus. But even if you don't, you can still call. Just be honest about why you're calling and how the legislation would affect you, like deterring you from visiting Wisconsin.
Below is the contact information for the politicians who appear in this story. If you’re a Wisconsin resident living in another district, please make the effort to contact your local representative as well.
Wisconsin State Legislature
Senator Chris Kapenga - Senate District 33
Senator Joan Ballweg - Senate District 14
Phone: (608) 266-0751 or (800) 991-5541
Letters: PO Box 7882 | Madison, WI 53707
Senator Duey Stroebel - Senate District 20
Address: 18 South, State Capitol | P.O. Box 7882 | Madison, WI 53707-7882
Phone: (608) 266-7513 or (800) 662-1227
Representative Cindy Duchow - Assembly District 99
Representative Elijah Behnke - Assembly District 89
Representative Amy E. Binsfeld - Assembly District 27
Phone: (608) 237-9127 or (888) 529-0027
Representative Barbara Dittrich - Assembly District 38
Phone: (608) 266-8551 or (888) 534-0038
Representative Joy L. Goeben - Assembly District 5
Phone: (608) 237-9105 or (888) 534-0005
Representative Chanz Green - Assembly District 74
Phone: (608) 237-9174
Representative Rick Gundrum -Assembly District 58
Phone: (608) 237-9158 or (888) 534-0058
Representative Dave G. Maxey - Assembly District 15
Phone: (608) 237-9115 or (888) 534-0015
Representative Tom A. Michalski - Assembly District 13
Phone: (608) 237-9113 or (888) 534-0013
Representative Nik P. Rettinger - Assembly District 83
Phone: (608) 237-9183 or (888) 534-0083
Representative Donna M. Rozar - Assembly District 69
Phone: (608) 237-9169 or (888) 534-0069
Representative Shae A. Sortwell - Assembly District 2
Phone: (608) 237-9102 or (888) 534-0002
Representative Michael Schraa - Assembly District 53
Phone: (608) 237-9153 or (888) 534-0053
Representative Ron Tusler - Assembly District 3
Phone: (608) 237-9103 or (888) 534-0003
Representative Chuck Wichgers - Assembly District 82
Phone: (608) 237-9182 or (888) 534-0082
United States Legislature
US Congressman Tom Tiffany - Congressional District 7
US Congressman Scott Fitzgerald - Congressional District 5
Dane County Supervisor
Dane County Supervisor Jeff Weigand - Supervisory District 20
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