Lawmakers act to prohibit bans on gas-powered cars, equipment

NOW: Lawmakers act to prohibit bans on gas-powered cars, equipment

MADISON, Wis. (CBS 58) -- Republican lawmakers want to prohibit government officials from implementing bans on gas-powered vehicles and machinery such as lawn mowers, but their efforts face an uphill battle after Gov. Tony Evers signaled opposition.

It comes as Minnesota, California and other cities across the country have imposed bans to prohibit the sale of gasoline-powered lawn equipment along with other tools that have gas engines and instead require them to be powered by electricity.

On Tuesday, Assembly Republicans passed a bill that would prevent local and state governments from introducing these types of bans, but the measure is unlikely to be signed into law after Gov. Evers called it unnecessary.

"I don’t think we need a ban," Evers said during an event in Milwaukee. "We just need to slowly move into making sure our vehicles are electric…we will do it at a better pace than just saying 'tomorrow we can't have that.'"

Republicans defended their bill by saying consumers should be able to make these decisions, not government officials.

"I don't believe the government at any level has the right to tell you if you have the right to buy an electric or gas-powered lawn mower," said Rep. Ellen Schutt (R-Clinton).

Gas stations including Kwik Trip and the American Petroleum Institute support the proposal while the American Lung Association opposes.

California was one of the first states to enact new regulations, and beginning next year, residents will no longer be allowed to purchase gas-powered leaf blowers and lawn mowers in their effort to reduce pollution and move towards a carbon-free economy.

Rep. Christine Sinicki, a Milwaukee Democrat, joined her colleagues in voting against the proposal because she said Wisconsin has yet to propose regulations on gas-powered vehicles or machines.

"The GOP mantra used to be, oh my goodness, Democrats want to take our guns away. Now it's, oh my goodness, Democrats want to take our gasoline away. That is not true. We are nowhere near an EV [electric vehicle] revolution," said Rep. Christine Sinicki (D-Milwaukee).

Carjacking Penalties

Lawmakers also approved a measure that would impose stiffer penalties on carjacking offenses.

If someone steals a car using force or a weapon, they would be charged with a criminal offense and serve jail time, under the proposal.

If a weapon is used in a carjacking incident, the individual would face harsher penalties, a Class B felony and up to 60 years in prison. Under current law, the maximum penalty is a $100,000 fine and up to 40 years behind bars.

Defining "carjacking" in state statute is also included in the proposal, which law enforcement groups say would improve how they report and track these offenses.

The bill will now head to Evers, who has signaled support for the measure, after it passed with bipartisan support in the Assembly and Senate.

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