Assembly passes punishments for disrupting campus speeches

MADISON — Republican lawmakers continued their drive Tuesday to punish students who disrupt conservative speakers on college campuses, pushing a bill that calls for suspensions and expulsions after multiple incidents through the state Assembly.

Under the bill, students who disrupt another's free speech on the University of Wisconsin System and Wisconsin Technical College System campuses twice would be suspended. Three-time offenders would be expelled. The Assembly approved the proposal 62-37, sending it to the Senate.

The GOP introduced a similar bill last session after protests disrupted conservative speakers on college campuses around the country, including conservative commentator Ben Shapiro's appearance at the University of Wisconsin-Madison in November 2016. That bill died in the Senate, but UW System regents adopted an identical punishment policy in 2017. It hasn't gone into effect yet as system officials draft regulations implementing it. Regents have scheduled a March 5 public hearing on the final version of the regulations.

The latest bill appears doomed. Even if it gets through the Senate this time Democratic Gov. Tony Evers looks set to veto it. He cast the lone vote against the UW System policy when he was a regent in 2017 and vowed in October to kill any regulations implementing it.