Gov. Evers signs bill inspired by Ashley Peggs
MADISON, Wis. (WEAU) - Wisconsin parents can now change their children’s last names without the other parent signing off in certain situations.
Gov. Tony Evers signed legislation Thursday allowing one parent to change the last name of their kid under 14 when the other parent is convicted of homicide certain sex crimes, or possession of child pornography.
Originally sponsored by state Rep. Jesse James, R-Altoona, the legislation was inspired by Ashley Peggs. She is the ex-wife of former Altoona School District Superintendent Dan Peggs. He pleaded guilty in 2021 to felony possession of child pornography in federal court. Ashley Peggs wants to change their four kids’ last name.
“I just wanted to protect them and give them a clean slate and a fresh start,” she said. “They don’t need a black mark over them, they don’t deserve that. Living where we live, it’s easier for them to just have their own name and their own identities.”
She said the change will make their lives a lot easier.
Despite having full custody of the kids, allowing her to make virtually all decisions without Dan Peggs signing off, Ashley Peggs could not drop his last name without him consenting.
“It felt defeated and kind of powerless,” she said. “It was just another thing that he can control and hang over our heads and kind of use as a tact for the things that he wanted.”
That’s why she contacted James in Sept. 2021.
“We never took into consideration the young victims that are a part of this,” James said. “Not only the impact of the family, but the mental and emotional status of children that have to answer for their parents’ bad choices and actions that they’ve taken and the consequences that they take of a successful conviction.”
For Ashley Peggs, it’s a chance to help her kids and other who fall victim in the future to their parents’ crimes.
“That’s what it’s all about,” she said. “It’s making a difference, helping those in the future so that they don’t have to have the same struggles.”
Ashley Peggs said she plans to change her name, as well as her kids’ last name, as soon as possible.
Dan Peggs is currently serving an eight-year sentence in federal prison.
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