Contact: Laura Smith, Office of the Governor, 608-261-2162

Gov. Doyle: Signs bill to make Juneteenth Day a legal holiday
Also signs into law Senate Bill 80 and Senate Bill 349.

At the Northcott Neighborhood House in Milwaukee, Gov. Jim
Doyle signs a bill that makes Juneteenth Day a legal holiday.
Rev. Ronald Myers (right), who leads a national drive for the
holiday, looks on.

(photo by Michael Sears)

By Laura Smith     December 1, 2009

(Milwaukee, WI) - Governor Jim Doyle today signed into law Senate Bill 170, a bill that designates June 19, Juneteenth Day, as a legal holiday. The Governor was joined by Reverend Ronald Myers, National Chairman of Juneteenth Day, and Mac Weddle, the executive director of the Northcott House and local president of Juneteenth Day, for the signing at NorthcottNeighborhoodCenter in Milwaukee.

“Milwaukee has long celebrated Juneteenth Day and I am proud that Wisconsin is moving forward to recognize this important holiday across the state,” Governor Doyle said. “Juneteenth Day marks a historic milestone in our nation’s history and celebrates the freedom that unites all Americans.”

Senate Bill 170 makes Juneteenth Day, June 19, an official legal holiday. Juneteenth Day is the oldest known celebration commemorating the end of slavery in the United States. On June 19, 1865, slaves in Texas first received word that all slaves in the U.S. had been freed by President Lincoln. Milwaukee first celebrated Juneteenth Day in the 1970s, and the annual event continues today.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Coggs and Taylor and Representatives Grigsby and Young for their work on the bill.

At the event, Governor Doyle also signed into law:

Senate Bill 80 requires the state to provide or pay for legal representation and any damages or fees awarded against a volunteer health care provider, regardless or whether an insurance carrier covers those costs.

Governor Doyle thanked Senators Coggs and Holperin, and Representatives Kaufert and Benedict for their work on the bill.

Senate Bill 349 allows nonprofit organizations to employ a minor 12 years of age or older without a permit to work in and around the home of an elderly person or person with a disability.

Governor Doyle thanked Senator Plale and Representative Sinicki for their work on the bill.


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