Week of March 19th-25th
There is a
lot happening at the State Capitol and it is my hope that this email will
help you stay in touch with your government. As your Senator, I truly
believe in public service. If there is anything my office can do to
assist you, please feel free to contact us.
Justice Bill Hearing
On Monday, I sat with some of my
legislative colleagues for a public listening session at St. Mark AME
Church in Milwaukee. We appreciated St. Mark opening their doors to the
community for this important discussion about the Juvenile Justice Corrections
bill and our fight to address the ongoing crisis at Lincoln Hills and
Copper Lake Juvenile Correctional facilities. The community turnout was
great and the opportunity to explain the intent, reality and proposed
amendments to the bill was welcomed. The following day, the Senate passed
a slightly amended version of the Assembly bill and soon it should be on
the Governor’s desk to be signed into law. The establishment of a
youth corrections system that keeps youth close to their families and
implements evidenced-based practices is important. We have a chance
to do something for juveniles who have made mistakes. Our goal
should always be rehabilitation and a safe environment for them while in
the state's custody.
On Tuesday, the Senate met for what
was very likely our last session of this legislative period. It was a
marathon session with more than 120 bills and resolutions to that
required our votes. Of great importance to me was the work done by
myself and a group of bi-partisan legislators to author and get to the
floor the Juvenile Corrections bill (SB 807 and AB 953). AB 953 was
passed unanimously in the Assembly and retained its meaningful reforms.
SB 807, however, was gutted of those reforms that would improve our juvenile
corrections system, specifically the closing of Lincoln Hills and funding
county based facilities. Fortunately, the Senate on Tuesday unanimously
voted in favor of the bill that will close down Lincoln Hills and Copper
Lake by 2021, and send youth offenders to different facilities overseen
by counties throughout the state. The passage of this bill represents a
major step towards juvenile justice reform.
This week, the Senate Republicans
passed Governor Walker’s Special Session School Safety package of bills.
I am disappointed that this $100 million dollar package falls woefully
short of providing the common-sense changes our youth are seeking.
On Monday, two amazing high school students visited my office and asked
that I remember that this issue is not just about school safety, but gun
safety. Providing funding for school resource officers and creating a
division within the DOJ are steps, but they are not steps that address
some of the root problems. We need legislation that keeps semi-automatic
weapons out of an 18 year-old’s hands, bans bump stocks, closes private
sale loopholes, and requires universal background checks. The
Governor’s plan failed to address these important issues and given the
fact that the Walker administration has witnessed school shooting after
shooting and done nothing meaningful to help our children, this set of
bills seem like just another set talking points for the fall election
on Juvenile Justice with Fox 6
On Wednesday, I spoke with Theo
Keith of Fox 6 News about the $18.9 million settlement the state awarded
a young girl who suffered brain damage after a failed suicide attempt in
the Copper Lake girl’s correctional facility. This incident, along with
many others, are why I have been working so hard to address the problems
our state has with juvenile corrections. I told Mr. Keith that incidents
like that should never happen, and frankly, I don’t buy that some
Republican legislators didn’t let the settlement factor into their
decision to get behind and pass the juvenile corrections bill. It is
shameful that it took a federal investigation and a
something of this nature to finally do what is right. We have
known about the issues at these youth facilities since 2012, and it has
taken us 6 years to finally complete legislation that will begin to help
fix the problems. Hopefully a lesson can be learned from this settlement
and we can continue to improve our state’s juvenile justice system.
with Feeding America
On Thursday, I sat down with
administrators from Feeding America to discuss resources, legislation,
and future work that we can connect on in the community. Feeding
America is a fantastic organization that serves as a food bank for
southeast Wisconsin, and is located at 1700 W Fond du Lac Avenue in
Milwaukee. I love to work with organizations like Feeding America. They
not only provide an incredible service to our community, but I hope to
work closely with them as I bring my LOVE&FAITH initiative to life.
Barbee Elementary School Visit
On Friday I visited Lloyd Barbee
Elementary School in Milwaukee and had the chance to talk to a group of
students about the levels of our government and how they can get involved
at each one. We talked about the importance of voicing your concerns and
staying civically engaged, in both the government and your community. I
was impressed to see how much they already knew about our government and
how eager they were to learn more. It will be great to see what they
accomplish as they continue to grow and learn.
Brainstorm Monthly Meeting
Saturday morning, I will be
attending the Community Brainstorm Breakfast in Milwaukee. Here, the
public will have the opportunity to ask local candidates for public
offices about their positions on a wide range of issues. Candidates for
Wisconsin Supreme Court and the Milwaukee County Board of Supervisors
will be present to connect with people over breakfast food. The Community
Brainstorm Conference has a long-standing, grassroots tradition of
putting those running for, and in, public office, in direct contact with
anyone who chooses to stop by. These forums serve as great platforms for
civic engagement, and fosters the type of direct contact that I believe
is essential to serving those in our communities.
Each week, Isaac Alter, a communications intern in my
Capitol office, writes a short feature on a fellow intern working in the
office. Take it away Isaac!
Chew is one of the policy interns in Senator Taylor’s office. She is from
Malaysia and is in her final semester at the University of
Wisconsin-Madison, where she is majoring in political science and
economics. Cherui chose political science
because of her interest in local and domestic Malaysian politics, and
during her studies, she has developed an interest in comparative
politics. She ended up in Wisconsin because there are a lot of transfer
programs in Malaysia, and the UW is a very popular school there due to
its high international ranking. In the future, Cherui
would like to work in business development, or a career that deals with
international communications. She chose to work in Senator Taylor’s
office because she thought it would be good exposure to legislative work.
One thing Cherui says she’s learned from this
position is that you have to be adaptive, and take in information fast in
order to keep up with all the different things going on in the office.
Briefing on City of
Milwaukee Voter Registration and ERIC Concerns
Please see the briefing below from Neil
Albrecht, the Executive Director of the City’s Election Commission, and
attached document discussing the impact of ERIC (Electronic Registration
Information Center) on our voters.
As you may be aware, Wisconsin recently joined with 23 other states
that share voter registration data through a system called ERIC, the
Electronic Registration Information Center. ERIC has a two-fold approach
to voter registration: to encourage people not currently registered to
register, and to flag voter registration records for individuals that, as
identified by data, have moved or are deceased. This data is provided by
the WI DMV, the U.S Post Office (USPS) and the Social Security
In January of this year, nearly 45,000 registration records were flagged
during the ERIC review of Milwaukee’s registration records. When a record
is flagged, voters should receive a notification postcard through the
mail. The postcard identifies that the state has information that they
may have moved and to reply if the information is not correct.
Due to the very high volume of voter registration records impacted by
this process, my office began a careful examination of all data related
to the City of Milwaukee registration records. We quickly identified
several anomalies in the data and immediately notified the state of our
concern. Our concerns were validated by the February Spring Primary,
which saw a relatively low turnout (10%), but where over 100 City of
Milwaukee residents had to re-register at their same address because
their registration records had been inactivated during the ERIC process.
On researching these discrepancies, the Wisconsin Election Commission and
staff from ERIC have identified that data provided by the DMV and USPS
was incorrect and led to the erroneous deactivation of potentially
thousands of City of Milwaukee registrations.
It was imperative for the city to compile an accurate assessment of the
data before communicating information to the public. However, as that
process is nearly complete, I recently met with and briefed the Mayor on
what we now know with certainty.