(12/17/13) Four Amish families face non-criminal citations for not installing home safety devices that go against their religious beliefs.
And a state lawmaker is trying to pass a bill in time to keep those families from being fined or evicted. Clements Borntreger, Roman Borntrager, Eli Gingerich, and Mahlon Miller Junior are all from the Augusta and Fairchild areas. They're due in Eau Claire County Circuit Court tomorrow, when trial dates could be set on civil charges of failing to obtain building permits and not having sanitary permits. State law requires new homes to have carbon monoxide-and-smoke detectors -- but the Amish residents say it forces them to install electronic equipment which goes against their religion. County officials say they sympathize, but they must enforce the law equally -- until it's changed, which is Assembly Democrat Kathy Bernier of Lake Hallie's trying to do. Her bill would exempt one-and-two-family homes without electricity from the mandate of having smoke-and-C-O detectors. Bernier says she hopes the bill can pass in time to avoid the four families from being evicted or fined. They currently face fines totaling up to 52-thousand dollars. Eau Claire County planning official James Erickson says the detectors are especially needed in Amish homes because those people use wood to heat their homes. However, he said he would enforce whatever laws go on the books.