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The Sargent Voice Issue #96                           January 16th, 2018

Friends and Neighbors,

Happy New Year! I hope your 2018 is off to a great start. Before returning to the Capitol, I took some time to reflect back on 2017 and what it meant to live in America this past year. Though 2017 challenged the will of many, I would be remiss if I didn’t acknowledge the resilience of so many of our friends and neighbors. Millions of people came together across the country to insist that we can and we will achieve gender parity, that violence will not be tolerated in the home and in the workplace, and that action must be taken to address the firearm crisis our country faces. From lawyers who donated their time to help the Dreamers navigate the muddied waters of immigration, to the women who gathered by the millions to march the streets of their communities, our country came together to remind the world that America is no place for racism, sexism, homophobia, or xenophobia, and that we will no longer turn a blind eye to injustice. 2017 ignited a fire within so many people, and I hope that we can continue this momentum in the new year. Americans-Wisconsinites included-are poised for a revolution where no longer will these wrong-doings be tolerated. Every few generations, Americans are called upon to renew and redefine the tenants of our nation, the course of our culture, and the promise of our democracy. We face that calling now.

With all that we have endured in the past year not left behind us, but emboldening us, I want to take this opportunity to renew my promise to you all. I promise to bring about equity that transcends race or ethnicity or gender or religion; to lift up those among us who need our help and remind them that they are worthy; to make our communities a safer place to live; and to continue down the road to progress, regardless of what obscures the path along the way.

We find resilience in our enduring values, our unyielding spirit, and our strength together. We have a lot of work to do, and I am glad we’re in this fight together.

Working for you,

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Melissa Sargent

State Representative
48th Assembly District

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Our Democracy Initiatives 

With local Spring elections right around the corner, it is vital that each and every one of you are registered to vote come election time. Registering and voting is easy and MyVote Wisconsin provides some guidelines to smooth registration. You will need a form of identification with you at the polls. You could bring:

  • State Driver’s License
  • U.S. Passport
  • Certificate of Naturalization
  • ID card issued by Indian tribe in Wisconsin

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The first election of 2018 is Tuesday, February 20th and polls will be open from 7am until 8pm. You must be registered to vote prior to casting your ballot, which you can do by mail, in person, online, or at your polling place on election day. Here are the details to register. To find out what’s on your ballot, where you can vote, and what to expect at the polls, enter your address here to find out! Want to vote early? Starting Monday, February 5th, you can submit your ballot in person at the City-County Building until the Friday prior to election day. Be sure to get out and vote!

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Rotunda Report 

My Legislative Agenda

Diaper Tax Exemption

I recently introduced LRB-4985 with Representative Krug (R-Nekoosa) to create a tax exemption for diapers and undergarments for incontinence. This bipartisan bill will address the basic necessity for diapers for babies and adults with incontinence, many of whom are unable to afford due to their high cost. By eliminating the tax requirement for these products, more folks will be able to afford these products that are a necessary product to maintain good hygiene and health for babies and adults alike. 

Nearly 1 in 3 families with children struggle to provide adequate diaper products for their children, and consequently are often unable to allow them to participate in activities in which they must provide their own diapers, or even run the risk of having to choose between buying diapers or paying bills. 

Additionally, this is not an inequity only affecting families with young children, but older adults as well, as more than a quarter of adults experience incontinence. Being unable to afford absorbency products can lead to a spiraling of negative outcomes. Without these products, social mobility can be limited, leading to adverse psychological consequences for these adults. No person, young or old, should be limited by their bodily functions or cost-prohibitive products that are necessary to living a healthy, productive life.

Bills Circulated for Co-Sponsorship

LRB-4305: The Water Pollution Notification Act

Representative Jill Billings (D-LaCrosse) introduced a bill that includes some much needed protections for well owners in Wisconsin. Her bill stipulates that the Department of Natural Resources is required to notify municipalities and private well owners if a permit holder under the Wisconsin Pollutant Discharge Elimination System is in violation of the water quality standards in their area. This notice must be made within 30 days of finding, or 24 hours if a serious health risk is posed. By alerting residents and well owners to potentially harmful water, serious health implications could be avoided. This bill is especially important in light of the scathing audit of the DNR which illuminated the ways in which Governor Walker has disadvantaged DNR over the past several years. As he continues to restrict funding to the department, they remain underfunded and understaffed to no fault of their own, leaving them without the resources to enforce these violations. 

LRB-500: relating to: to child care provider rates under Wisconsin Shares and funding for Wisconsin Shares child care subsidies

Child care and early childhood education can be formative experiences for so many children who partake in those systems, largely because of the educators who interact with the kids on a daily basis. These educators are shaping the lives of these young people, equipping them with the tools they need to lead successful lives, amazing work with insufficient compensation. LRB-500, proposed by Representatives Shankland (D-Stevens Point) and Taylor (D-Madison) and Senators Erpenbach (D-Middleton) and Taylor (D-Milwaukee), would increase the amount to be allocated from federal TANF funds by $24 million annually to support these educators. Estimates show that at the end of the 2017-19 biennium the state will have roughly $136 million of unused TANF dollars, more than enough to re-allocate toward our child care providers. Our early childhood education providers work tirelessly to provide reprieve for parents, all while teaching children some of the skills they’ll need to be successful.

Committee Update

Joint Legislative Audit Committee

The Audit Committee met during the first week of the new year to discuss SB 511 changes the frequency of which an audit must be performed on the Milwaukee County Health Board, giving discretion to the Audit Committee and the state auditor to make a decision on how often this audit must occur. Additionally, the bill will require the LAB to perform an annual audit of the Read to Lead Development Fund. Finally, included in SB 511 is a final audit of Local Government Property Insurance Fund upon the cessation of the fund. This bill, passed unanimously in committee, is a step in increasing transparency among the state organizations and allowing citizens to be informed about where their money is being spent.

Assembly Committee on Small Business Development

On Thursday the Small Business Development Committee met for an executive session to vote on AB 498 and AB 640, relating to exempting students from the filing fee for a limited liability corporation and creating an innovation fund, respectively. I am optimistic about AB 498 as it is so important to do whatever we can to remind students that we believe in them and that they are shaping our tomorrow. AB 640 establishes the Innovation Fund Council which create a means by which monies would be allocated into this investment fund under the purview of SWIB and tangentially, WEDC. Although I voted in favor of this bill in committee, I am still concerned about the transparency and accountability of this fund overseen by WEDC, which has a notably troubled history of job creation and executing contracts. I look forward to continuing to work on this bill to make it more transparent and accountable to Wisconsin taxpayers.

Assembly Committee on Energy and Utilities

The committee held a public hearing last Tuesday morning to take up AB 774 and AB 583. The bill would exempt folks from sales and use taxes for electric cooperatives during and after a state of emergency as declared by the government. This would allow people some financial relief during an emergency.

Assembly Committee on Mental Health

The Mental Health committee met on January 9th in an executive session to vote on all five dementia-related bills. They include alerts for missing adults, adult guardianship, dementia specialist certification, creating a grant program for Alzheimer’s and dementia awareness, and creating a tax credit for family caregivers who are take care of their family members. I voted in favor of passage on all but one of these bills, and am especially excited about AB 631 which will create a tax credit for a family caregiver who is taking care of a family member. For many individuals, they thrive in the care of a loved one, but it can be a taxing job to be a caretaker of a family member. Offering a tax credit incentivizes folks to care for their family member in the comfort of their own home. After hearing during public testimony from the AARP and dementia specialists, these bills are important steps toward acknowledging the needs of folks who suffer from dementia or Alzheimer’s disease.

Community and In-District Events

Sargent Satellite

Kick off the new year with the first 2018 Sargent Satellite! I'd love to hear about your new year's resolutions, how your holidays went, or what issues you're going to be working on in 2018. Here are the details: 

Friday, January 19th
2:00 p.m. to 4:00 p.m.
Karben4 Brewing
3698 Kinsman Blvd
Madison, WI 53704

Time slots usually go quickly, so sign up here today! Looking forward to seeing you this Friday!

Rep. Sargent In The News

End Domestic Abuse-WI, Bill to Address Teen Dating Violence Officially Introduced in WI Legislature

WDJT-Milwauk
ee, Bill would require Wisconsin schools to educate 7th to 12th graders about dating violence

Wisconsin State Journal, Madison-area lawmakers: Lack of transit access to new DMV location 'alarming'

WTMJ4-Milwaukee, New Wisconsin bill proposes dating violence education for teens

Special Highlight

State of the State

Prepare yourself for the mother of all fairy tales at 2 p.m. on January 24th as Governor Walker addresses Wisconsinites in the State of the State, which you can watch on WisconsinEye or Wisconsin Public Television. As we sit down to the Walker Show 8.0 next week, the tall tale that has been spewed from the GOP for the past eight years will surely be recounted once again. Except this year, Governor Walker no longer has the same captive audience he may have once held. The transparent cloak that Governor Walker has thrown over his re-election campaign can no longer take the shape of business as usual in Wisconsin.

The people of Wisconsin will not be hoodwinked by yet another year of superficial rhetoric during the State of the State. Wisconsinites know the state of their state. We know things are worse off than they were eight years ago. The state of the state is that there remains an insolvent transportation fund, leaving roads broken with no fix in sight; it is that public schools have received less funding over the past eight years under Walker’s terms; it is that “working families” has taken on the meaning of working two full time jobs only to remain in poverty; it is that the teens living at Lincoln Hills needed help yesterday, yet the plan put forth by Governor Walker can hardly be considered to have a realistic future based on the lack of interest by the Governor up until this election year. However, the state of the state is also that its citizens are more resilient than ever, ready to challenge the election year rhetoric put forth by Governor Walker and the Wisconsin GOP, and to continue fighting for our shared progressive vision for Wisconsin.

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