-by Eyder Peralta
December 2, 2011- The Wisconsin State Capitol building has been the scene of protests since February, when Gov. Scott Walker started the process of passing a law that severely limits collective bargaining for public employees in the state.
Yesterday, the Walker administration took a step that is likely to antagonize protesters further. His administration enacted new regulations that would require permits to protest at the Capitol and other state buildings.
The controversial part is that the bill allows officials to charge groups for the security and clean-up costs of such events.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reports the policy went into effect Thursday:
"State law already says public officials may issue permits for the use of state facilities, and applicants "shall be liable to the state . . . for any expense arising out of any such use and for such sum as the managing authority may charge for such use."
"But Edward Fallone, an associate professor at Marquette University Law School, said the possibility of charging demonstrators for police costs might be problematic because some groups might not be able to afford to pay.
"'I'm a little skeptical about charging people to express their First Amendment opinion,' he said. 'You can't really put a price tag on the First Amendment.'"
The Sentinel reports that the policy also states that police "could require an advance payment as a requirement for getting a permit and also could require liability insurance or a bond."