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The Sargent Voice Issue #93                                  October 24,  2017

Friends and Neighbors,

A few weeks ago, the Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform held a hearing on SB 275 that would prohibit local governments from refusing to implement federal immigration policies. This proposal is an attack on local control, and perhaps more importantly, an attack on our Latinx friends, neighbors, and families in our community. Hundreds of people came to the Capitol to express their opposition to this proposal, and to support Wisconsin immigrants.

In a time of such division and hatred, I am committed to joining our Latinx neighbors and fighting against this harmful proposal, and registered in opposition to SB 275 when it was before the Committee. I think sometimes people forget that we are a nation of immigrants--country comprised of people from different corners of the globe--and indeed, that we are a better, stronger country because of our immigrant family, friends, and neighbors. Hate has no place in our state, I am holding this space in my update to you to ask you to speak out against this proposal. It is easy to put all our focus the federal level when it concern immigration, but let’s not forget that have work to do right here at home, too.

Together,


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Melissa Sargent

State Representative
48th Assembly District

Issue 93

Our Democracy Initiatives 

Citizen Engagement: How to Track Legislation

A common question I receive from folks is how they can keep up to date on issues they care about as they move through the legislative process. Many aren’t aware that the Wisconsin State Legislature provides a free legislation tracking service for committees, subjects, administrative rules, and legislators. This link will direct you to a page that will allow you to track general subjects (e.g. “mining” or “marijuana”) or a specific bill number such as “AB 482.”

If you’re interested in hearing about some of the perspectives behind a certain piece of legislation, another useful tool is the Wisconsin Ethics Commission “Eye on Lobbying” site, that will show you how to see which lobbying groups and community stakeholders are supporting or opposing a pieces of legislation, or to learn which organizations might share your perspective. Tools like these make it easier to stay plugged into the status of legislation you are particularly interested in and want more information on. Of course, as always, I am here to be a resource to you as well for any questions you have facing the State Legislature!

In District Listening Session 

In just a few weeks I will be hosting a listening session at the AltBrew Tap Room. This is a great opportunity to have a casual conversation over good beer and good food with your friends and neighbors about.

AltBrew Tap Room
Thursday November 16th
5:30 p.m to 7:30 p.m.

I hope to see many of you there!

Rotunda Report 

Special Report: DOJ Audit Request 

I have been advocating tirelessly to ensure that the Department of Justice (DOJ) is held accountable and rectifies the horrifying backlog of sexual assault kits. Over the past several months, I have worked with Representative Chris Taylor time and again to try and communicate with the DOJ and Attorney General Brad Schimel’s office to get a response to the status of the sexual assault kit backlog in Wisconsin.

Even after months of repeated communications asking the same series of questions, the Attorney General’s office has still refused to provide any substantive response
in writing to the questions we’ve asked. This is miscarriage of justice, and the people of Wisconsin deserve better, especially for child victims, whose kits make up 2,000 of those still untested.

In light of this, Rep. Taylor and I have also requested the Joint Legislative Audit Committee to direct the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau to conduct an official state audit of the DOJ, the status of sexual assault kit testing in Wisconsin, and what the department has done with millions in grant funding to address this issue. Please contact your legislator today and tell them to support an audit of the DOJ’s sexual assault kit backlog. It’s time for sexual assault survivors in Wisconsin to receive the justice they deserve.

My Legislative Agenda 

AB 482 Marijuana Legalization: Many of you have asked for a status update on my legislation to #LegalizeOpportunity. I appreciate your continued engagement and advocacy around this proposal. After the co-sponsorship period closed in August, my proposal received a bill number and was referred to the Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

AB 482 is currently not scheduled for a public hearing. In Wisconsin, a bill is not automatically granted a public hearing. So this is a great way to participate in advocacy. Make your voice heard by contacting the
committee chair to express your support for giving AB 482 a public hearing, and contacting your legislators to ask them to add their names in support. Thank you again to everyone who has been part of this process and who continue reaching out to ask how to help--together we can #LegalizeOpportunity in Wisconsin!

LRB-4363 Election Integrity Bill: The cornerstone of our democracy is ensuring the integrity of our elections and the democratic process. Between cyberattacks, redistricting, and voter restrictions, among other threats, the importance of fully funding and staffing the body charged with ensuring the fairness, impartiality, and security of our elections simply cannot be overstated.

I introduced this proposal with Representative Genrich and Senator Erpenbach which would appropriate $304,100 to the Wisconsin Elections Commission for five full-time equivalent staff positions, a provision in the budget that was support and passed by Republican members of the Joint Finance Committee months ago, but was among 99 provisions vetoed by Governor Walker last week, ultimately cutting six jobs from the Commission.

Be sure to check out this column I wrote with Senator Jon Erpenbach, who’s the Senate author of the bill, on how important this bill is and why we need to fully fund our Elections Commission.

Bills Circulated for Co-Sponsorship 

Anti-Environment Package: Senator Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) and Representative  Jesse Kramer (R-Kewaskum) recently introduced a package of four bills aimed at reducing environmental protections in our state (LRB-1181, LRB-2441, LRB-4288, LRB-2709). These proposals include stopping Department of Natural Resources (DNR) from including the air monitoring site located at Kohler-Andrae State Park in its annual Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) air quality plan, requiring the DNR to repeal the regulation of all air pollution not regulated under federal law, and exempting motor vehicles less than 10 years old from emission limitations.

The memos circulated with these respective bills say the DNR and the EPA have recently “promoted some burdensome regulations that have either not been grounded in sound science or updated to reflect current realities.” I’m extremely concerned about these unsubstantiated attacks on our environment and common sense environmental policy. Please call your elected officials and tell them not to support these short-sighted pieces of legislation.

LRB 3615 Uniform Adult Guardianship: Many people living with Alzheimer's or dementia have court-appointed guardians who make their legal or economic decisions. Currently if a guardian lives in another state it can create difficulties in communication between Wisconsin courts and courts in other jurisdictions which impact patient care. This bill allows Wisconsin courts to communicate with other courts when a jurisdictional issue arises and helps address these communication barriers. 

LRB 4231 Guardianship Tax Credits:  Being a caregiver is a difficult and admirable action, and is associated with significant emotional and financial burdens. Many caregivers for people living with Alzheimer's and dementia have either significantly reduced their ability to work full time, or have left the workforce entirely. To help alleviate the costs associated with caregiving, this bill offers a $1,000 tax credit to qualifying families for expenses related to caregiving.

2017-19 Biennial Budget Roundup 

Since the last time we had a regularly-scheduled e-update, Governor Scott Walker released 99 partial vetoes of the $76 billion 2017-19 biennial state budget. Per the Wisconsin Constitution, the Governor wields significant power over appropriation bills “in whole or in part,” and is gubernatorial power among the most expansive in the country. The partial veto allows the Governor is able to create language that might go beyond the original intent of the Legislature, such as removing the word “not” to change the meaning of a provision entirely.

Walker’s vetoes include defunding five staff positions at the Wisconsin Elections Commission, removed accountability measures in the Department of Veterans Affairs which would have required legislative approval before transferring funds from the Veterans Trust Fund, cuts to public school funding, among many other provisions. These vetoes completed the overdue budget that was due months ago. Despite many months of waiting, this was the budget Republicans had to show for it. It’s regrettable that the people of Wisconsin didn’t get a fair shake.

Final Foxconn Roundup 

A few weeks ago, Governor Walker signed the Foxconn scheme despite the ongoing problems and unanswered questions surrounding this highly costly and potentially devastating proposal. Not long after it was signed, a memo from the Wisconsin Legislative Council was released, which called into question the constitutionality of the Foxconn proposal regarding how litigation against the company can be handled. In the proposal, Foxconn is given an expedited appeals process and allows the Wisconsin Supreme Court to take certain cases directly from the circuit court, skipping the state appeals court. The memo stated that "A court could hold that the provision is unconstitutional if it finds that this provision violates the judiciary's independence in the fulfillment of its constitutional responsibilities."

Additionally, just last week, WEDC delayed a vote the Foxconn contract on after a quote “unspecified problem” surfaced. WEDC CEO Mark Hogan declined to comment when asked about the progress of the contract negotiation. The boards vote will be delayed until at least November 8th, and may be even later. Many key decisions regarding this $3 billion dollar contract are unfortunately being made behind closed doors and the public has the right to know what is going on in this record corporate giveaway.

Committee Update

Joint Legislative Audit Committee

King Veterans Home Audit

On October 10th, the Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a public hearing on the results of the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau audits of the Wisconsin Veterans Home at which is operated by the Department of Veterans Affairs. At the hearing, I expressed my continued concerns about inaction at the DVA and demanded the Legislature act on the LAB’s audit recommendations. It is clear that without meaningful legislative oversight, we are going to continue this cycle and have the same conversations over and over again. The public, and our veterans deserve real answers and clear oversight. Be sure to stay tuned as this process will continue to unfold during upcoming audit hearings. 

Energy and Utilities Committee

AB497 would remove the DNR’s permit authority for the protection of over one million acres of non-federally protected wetlands in Wisconsin. These wetlands play an important role in our ecosystem by filtering pollutants and supporting wildlife habitats. I have heard from groups like the Wisconsin Conservation Congress, the Wisconsin Waterfowl Association and the Wisconsin Wildlife federation who all oppose undermining this valuable natural resource.  The group in support of this legislation are concerned with profit, not conservation.

AB532 came before the Energy and Utilities Committee at last week's meeting. This bill would change the way that the Public Service Commission handles the settlement process. AB 532 allows a “settlement” to happen without all parties agreeing. Unanimous agreement would make it in the best interest of all parties to share information that would allow the Public service Commission to make a better and more fair decision. Without that agreement, important information may not be shared and the burden of proof is shifted from the applicant, to the party that objects.  I am unable to support this legislation as it is currently written. While there are redeeming qualities to this proposal, the current version undermines the process and leaves certain stakeholders unable to voice their opinions. 

Community and In-District Events

Outreach to Educators 

Not long after the start of the new school year, I sent letters to over 800 teachers and other educators who work in the 48th Assembly District. I am proud to serve 3 High Schools, 4 Middle Schools and 10 Elementary Schools. Educators and public schools are vital to the success of our kids, and our community and I am so thankful to the people who have dedicated their lives to fostering, educating, and inspiring our future leaders. In order to support educators, I am offering a variety of resources and services to classrooms throughout the district such as:

  • Free Wisconsin Blue Books, “How a Bill Becomes a Law” booklets and state maps
  • Assistance with coordinating Capitol Tours
  • Reading to classrooms and visiting classes

If you have questions or concerns, or if you would like any of the above-mentioned resources, please contact me at (608) 266-0960 or via email at Rep.Sargent@legis.wi.gov. Thank you to everyone, both currently in our schools and retired, for your dedication and tireless work.

Rep. Sargent In The News

The Cap Times,  Suicide prevention bill would let people voluntarily prohibit themselves from owning a gun

The Badger Herald, Concealed carry permit applications double during last year

Urban Milwaukee, Walker Prioritizes Politics Over Public Schools (Again)

The Cap Times, Editorial: Shame on Scott Walker for playing politics with public education

The Cap Times, Audit committee takes up veterans issues

The Badger Herald Student, government leaders advocate for gun control in light of campus carry legislation

The Daily Cardinal, Student organization pushes for menstrual products, reproductive rights

Special Highlight!

2017-2018 Session Blue Books 

Each legislative biennium, we get new Blue Books that are available for anyone in the 48th Assembly District. Blue Books are like an encyclopedia of the State of Wisconsin and are a great resource to learn about Wisconsin’s state government, and to see what makes our state such a special place to live.

In case you missed it, the new 2017-18 Blue Books are in, and I’ll be bringing copies of the new Blue Books to my Sargent Satellite, and other outreach events around Madison. If you’d like to get ahold of a copy of the latest edition, you can pick one up in my legislative office in the State Capitol (Room 321 West).

Otherwise, I am also happy to mail you a Blue Book for just the cost of postage, or will personally deliver it. You can email me at
rep.sargent@legis.wi.gov, call me at (608) 266-0960, or fill out my legislative item request form to request your copy today!

These new Blue Books also include an exciting, special section dedicated to women who serve and have served in the Wisconsin State Legislature. This section highlights the important contributions of women in Wisconsin and is an important addition.

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