Attorney General Josh Kaul weighs in on progress made in 2019
WISCONSIN (CBS 58) -- Attorney General Josh Kaul's first year in office has been marked by fighting lame duck laws affecting his office, as well as issues facing Wisconsin for years.
Looking back on 2019, he has both areas of pride and areas of disappointment.
"Unfortunately,, it's played out like a lot of us expected it would," he said.
Before Kaul took office, he was facing hurdles in the form of lame duck laws that limited the powers of the Attorney General, something that he says has complicated matters unnecessarily.
"It's led to expensive litigation, it's been a waste of state resources and it's pretty clear the process isn't working."
Another battle Kaul has faced with the Republican-controlled legislature is on the topic of gun safety proposals -- including those that he has advocated for but haven't been taken up for a vote or even a debate.
"I think these measures can make our communities safer and they're ones that can respect people's second amendment rights, so I'd like to see us move forward with it," he said.
But despite challenges in his first year, Kaul also believes progress has been made in important areas, including a backlog of sexual assault kits.
"We had announced that we had completed testing of the kits from the backlog. It shows the importance of continuing to pursue justice in these cases. Wisconsin is one of five states that has filed against Purdue pharma entities."
Kaul has also continued the fight against the opioid epidemic plaguing the state, including legal action against pharmaceutical manufacturers.
"Getting accountability to the extent that companies contributed to the epidemic through unlawful conduct is important -- bust most fundamental is getting resources to communities across the state to help address the epidemic," Kaul said.
While much of the focus for the Department of Justice is on opioids, Kaul says he's concerned about another issue -- the growing meth problem in Wisconsin.
The Attorney General says it has his western and northern Wisconsin particularly hard, but southeastern Wisconsin is not immune to the issue that he believes needs more attention.
"This year Milwaukee County is the third highest in terms of case submissions to the crime labs through the end of September in meth cases, so it's impacting a lot of communities."
In 2020, Kaul wants to continue gaining ground on the challenges facing the state.
Other areas that Kaul wants to see progress in is in recruitment and retention of officers at the local level throughout the state as well as addressing emergency detention issues affecting the state.