Official Government Communication

Week of Feb. 12th - 16th

Dear Friend,

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.

Here to serve,      

Sen. Lena Taylor

4th District

Juvenile Corrections Can't Wait week, a group of bipartisan legislators and I introduced a comprehensive bill to address the serious allegations of abuse and mistreatment in Wisconsin's juvenile corrections system. For a number of years, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake juvenile facilities have been fraught concerns that have been identified by subsequent federal investigations and findings from the courts.  Additionally, after hearing from countless officials, parents and community members, in April 2016 and February 2017, I wrote to the Governor Walker to request a special session on the Juvenile Justice System.  Those letters and my phone calls went unanswered.

Last year, I circulated bills seeking to transfer Juvenile Corrections within agencies, provide for regional juvenile facilities in Milwaukee County, and ultimately to close Lincoln Hills Juvenile Correction Facility.  Far too many Milwaukee youth are placed at Lincoln Hills and there is a continued concern for their safety and rehabilitation.

I wasn’t alone, as other legislators brought forward bills.  Ultimately, we have all joined forces to combine the best from all of our bills and create a singular piece of legislation.  Last week the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety and the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety heard SB 807 regarding juvenile correctional facilities, youth aids, and the need to change the way we operate these facilities. This bill is a step towards creating a Juvenile Justice system that better addresses the needs of the majority of stakeholders, juveniles and community members that engage the system.  I am hopeful that it will pass the full legislature and make its way to Governor Scott Walker’s desk.  Our youth and staff have waited for relief for years, and they cannot afford to wait any longer.


#MeToo week I sat down for an interview with a reporter from USA Today to discuss the impact of the #MeToo movement.  As I discussed personal incidents of either sexual assault, harassment or inappropriate workplace incidents, it became painfully clear how embedded these moments have become in the day-to-day experience of so many people.  I appreciated the opportunity to share these experiences in the hopes that it will continue to raise awareness, help other women find their voice, and change behaviors of the perpetrators.  For far too many women, they have felt alone or isolated.  Through opportunities such as this, we are able to get information regarding employment rights and resources to those impacted.  Organizationally, it forces companies, and yes even the legislature to review our policies and training regarding this issue.


State of Black and Brown Wisconsin Caucus Meeting Monday, I joined other members of the legislature’s Black and Latino Caucus for the 1st Annual State of Black and Brown Wisconsin address.  We were joined by keynote presenters, Dr. Eve Hall, President and CEO of the Milwaukee Urban League and Reverend Dr. Alexander Gee of Madison’s Justified Anger. The event centered on the current challenges and opportunities facing communities of color.  Legislators provided an overview of areas to include education, corrections, economic development and more.  Following the address, my office received a few calls from members of the press asking about information of a portion of my remarks that indicated Wisconsin has been identified as the worst place in the nation to raise a black child, as if the statement was shocking to hear.  It was calls like that that amplify the need for such events. 

A growing body of research has shown that, along many different metrics—such as reading scores, incarceration and unemployment rates, graduation rates, and children living in poverty ratios—black children have some of the most comparatively stunted outcomes in the country. Many people are aware of Milwaukee’s infamy for hosting the zip code with the highest black incarceration rate in the country, but studies show that horrible statistic is the product of many other problems—problems first faced by our children.  There are any number of factors that contribute to outcomes for Wisconsin’s black and brown residents.  The work of the caucus to address systemic, institutional and policy barriers to inclusion and equity.

Early Childcare Helps Students Succeed Monday, the Joint Committee on Finance held a public hearing to discuss five bills, one of which I co-sponsored (SB 793) that increases the funding for child care subsidies.  A recent survey conducted by Childcare Aware of America showed that there are over 300,000 children in need of childcare services; but, there is only adequate funding for 160,000 kids in Wisconsin. This is due to there being less funding available through the state’s child care subsidy program, Wisconsin Shares, as well as the way in which monies are provided to childcare programs. 

Evidence-based studies have shown the profound effects early childcare has on a person’s opportunity to be successful later in life, and I believe all of our children deserve nothing but the best possible chance to reach their full potential. This bill is a bipartisan step toward getting our children the head start they deserve and I look forward to continued work on this issue.


It's Raining Bills Wednesday, four bills were voted out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety during our executive session: AB 117, SB 704 and SB 694. I am signed on as a cosponsor for SB 694, which relates to the battery of an officer of the court. Under this bill, it will be a class H felony to intentionally cause bodily harm, or threaten bodily harm to an attorney, guardian ad litem, or corporation counsel who is working in his or her official capacity. This offers them the same protection that is already in place for judges, prosecutors, and law enforcement officers. I also supported SB 704, which increases victim advocacy by keeping victims of sexual assault and domestic abuse personal information more confidential. Lastly, I supported AB 117 which will allow the district attorney, deputy district attorney, or assistant district attorney, to provide legal services to someone of limited means, or to a charitable, religious, civic, community, governmental, or educational organization as long as they provide the service without a fee. This bill will help provide legal assistance for those who may fact barriers to access it.  

AB 351 was also voted on during the executive session, and I opposed it. The bill deals with body cameras on law enforcement, and puts in new regulations that reduce transparency. Specifically, my concern centered on the idea that data from the cameras is presumed to be confidential.  The ability and time to get the authority to release any footage from every identifiable person in the video is extremely cumbersome.   The bill could needlessly reduce transparency by limiting those outside of law enforcement from accessing body cam footage. I have nothing but respect and appreciation for our police officers and first-responders; they have an amazingly important job and an overwhelming majority of the time they do it incredibly well. Still, as the community entrusting a police force with our protection and as taxpayers, people have a right to know what has happened in situations that may have included excessive force or prejudiced misconduct


Common Sense Apparently Isn't Common get ideas of bills from a variety of places, stories and events.  The need for the latest bill I have requested a draft for is something that has me stumped.  While watching the morning news this week, a story was reported about two on-duty New York detectives that were accused of rape by an 18 year-old woman. While in police custody, after being removed from a parked car she was in with her friends, the woman alleges that the officers handcuffed her and took turns sexually assaulting her in the back of an unmarked police van.  After the encounter was over, they released her from the van.  The officers made no arrest and filed no paperwork about the incident. The 18-year old informed her mother, who took her to the emergency room, where it was later confirmed via a rape Kit that there had been sexual contact between with the woman and both police officers.  The officers claimed that the sexual contact was consensual. 

Common sense would dictate that the officers should be punished to the full extent of the law. However, in 35 states, including Wisconsin, there is currently no law prohibiting on-duty police officers from having sex with someone in their custody.  This is an outrageous loophole that allowed the officers in New York to avoid sexual assault charges or any meaningful punishment in court.

According to an article in BuxxFeed News, 26 of the at least 158 law enforcement officers charged since 2006 with sexual assault, sexual battery, or unlawful sexual contact with somebody under their control, have been acquitted or had charges dropped based on the consent defense in looking at a database of more than 700 law enforcement officers accused of sexual misconduct.

Sexual assault is unacceptable and cannot be tolerated under any circumstances, in any profession. With that in mind, I will be introducing legislation that will close this loophole by explicitly prohibiting sexual contact with someone in their custody.  Common sense isn’t as common as I thought.







Events and Opportunities




100 Women Home Buyer Challenge

Feb. 21st

3:00 PM - 7:00 PM

Milwaukee Public Library - Capitol Branch

3969 North 74th Street

Milwaukee, WI 53216



Event Details Here





Free Milwaukee Heritage Day


Feb. 17th

11:00 AM - 3:00 PM

Milwaukee County Historical Society

910 N. Old World Third Street

Milwaukee, WI 53203



Event Details Here





Family Outing at Harley-Davidson Museum


Feb. 17th

12:45 PM - 3:00 PM

Harley-Davidson Museum

400 W. Canal Street

Milwaukee, WI 53201

Event Details Here



Urban Heroes, Urban Wood


Feb. 16th - Mar.16th

Wisconsin Black Historical Society/Museum

2620 West Center Street

Milwaukee, WI 53206



Event Details Here



Milwaukee Comic Con


Feb. 24th

10:00 AM - 4:30 PM

Wisconsin State Fair Park

640 S. 84 Street

West Allis, WI 53214

$5 for adults, free for children



Event Details Here








 Quote of the Week:

"We have made it a career to think for people who can speak for themselves, and we exacerbate a sense of hopelessness when we further denigrate individuals by not asking them: 'What can I do for you?' "

-Madison Pastor Alexander Gee, speaking at the first annual "State of Black and Brown Wisconsin Address"


This is an official government communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive these emails, click here to send me an email to unsubscribe.

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