Welcome to my
email newsletter. 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.
Why I Celebrate
June 19, 1865, is known as "Emancipation"
or "Freedom" Day for African-Americans. This was the day that the
remaining enslaved Africans, being held in the United States finally received
word that they had been set free. More than two and half years after
President Abraham Lincoln's Emancipation Proclamation Order, which took
effect in 1863, June 19th, became known as "Juneteenth". Recognized
as the oldest nationally celebrated commemoration of the ending of slavery, I
co-authored and passed legislation in 2009 making Juneteenth Day a legal,
official holiday in Wisconsin. It is also why I offered a resolution this
year to officially make June 19th "Juneteenth Day".
The day, for me, serves as a reminder of the constant fight for basic human
rights. It has been and continues to be a struggle to attain equity and
inclusion, for all people. While there are many victories, such as the
passage of the Voting Rights Act, Brown v. Board of Education, Civil Right
Act, the Fair housing movements, we know that we are faced with renewed
efforts to suppress the full participation of every citizen in our democracy.
There are efforts by some, to actually roll back the clock on voting
equality, which is designed to negatively impact the voter participation of
African-Americans and minority groups, as well as lower-income, and elderly
populations. Though these actions are currently being challenged in the
courts, we must remember that freedom isn't free. It requires constant
vigilance and work to ensure its protection. Therefore, it was great to see
that so many people continue to value the importance of celebrating
Juneteenth. I thank the organizers, businesses and organizations, elected
officials, and most importantly, community members who continue to make
Milwaukee a national leader in observing this historic annual event.
Officer Involved Deaths
This week, many have
watched the trial of Milwaukee Police Officer Dominique Heaggan-Brown, who is
currently on trial for reckless homicide, in the shooting death of Sylville
Smith. As the jury now deliberates the fate of Officer Heaggan-Brown, many
are reminded of the civil unrest that resulted, in the Sherman Park
neighborhood, immediately after Smith's death. Whatever the outcome, as
legislators, we can certainly work to help create transparency and rebuild
trust between the community and our police departments.
To that end, I previously authored and passed legislation requiring
investigations of officer-involved deaths to be conducted by an independent
law enforcement agency as well as legislation that expanded requirements for
police training and increased accountability for officers making an arrest.
In addition, I am releasing a package of legislative bills aimed at overall
gun safety and responsibility. Creating an environment where both policing
and public safety are priorities is incredibly important to me. As
legislators, we have the ability to enact policies that will assist in
creating safer working conditions for police officers and the communities
Supreme Court Will Hear
Case on WI Redistricting
Wisconsin is under the national spotlight
with Monday's announcement that the U. S. Supreme Court will hear the case of
the unconstitutionally skewed district lines in Wisconsin, that heavily favor
the Republican party. The methods in which legislative and congressional
lines are drawn have long been contentious partisan fights. The implications
of these district maps impact control of state governments and the Congress.
Each state is required to redraw their legislative and congressional maps
every 10 years. Those lines were last drawn in 2011 in Wisconsin, when
Republicans had a majority in the Senate, the Assembly, as well as
controlling the Governorís office. It became clear that my Republican
colleagues used their power to draw district voting maps that would help them
in getting elected. The effect is to create districts that diminish the
voting power of typically minority, low-income, student, and elderly voters.
The aftermath of the unfairly drawn district lines resulted in the 2012 races
saw Republicans win 60 of 99 seats in the Wisconsin Assembly, even though
Democrats actually got more votes. To be more specific, Republicans won only
48.6% of the votes. Sadly, this issue isn't unique to Wisconsin and the
court's ruling will have national implications. Some states have taken their
own steps to remove "politics" or partisanship from the process of
drawing voting maps. It's a shame that Wisconsin has become the poster child
for unfair play in protecting the constitutional voting rights of its
More Accountability for
Choice and Power for DPI
On Wednesday, the
Assembly passed a bill that went through the Senate last week. The bill
provides more power to DPI to hold private schools who accept state vouchers
accountable. Yesterday, State Superintendent Tony Evers called on Governor
Walker to sign Senate bill 293, which is a product of months of collaborative
and negotiated work between DPI and Wisconsin School Choice. Creating the 30
points in this bill was no easy feat as the organizations have been in
contention for nearly thirty years. I have fought long and hard for needed
background checks and school closure procedures to better regulate schools.
Assault Weapons Ban
Added to Gun Safety Package
I have been circulating a gun safety package of
legislative bills aimed at bringing common sense policies to firearm
ownership and use. With the recent public outcry surrounding the proposed
legislation SB169, a bill that would allow any citizen to conceal carry a gun
without a permit or any form of training, it is imperative that take
deliberate steps to ensure public safety, while protecting the 2nd Amendment
rights of our citizens. Over the years I have taken legislative votes to
affirm my belief in the right to bear arms. But I also believe that the right
comes with responsibilities and should have some checks and balances to
ensure that guns donít get into the wrong hands.
I have also been concerned about the type of military grade weapons that are
showing up in the hands of private, civilian hands. Much like police
departments acquiring surplus military gear and equipment, this type of
artillery clearly alters the engagement style of owners and users of this
type of weaponry. That is why this week, I added a ban on assault weapons to
my gun safety package. Because although the 2nd Amendment protects the right
to gun ownership, and the Supreme Court has affirmed that right, the court
has also not barred reasonable gun control measures. The founding fathers
hadn't foreseen the destructive capabilities of much of the military grade
firearms. However, in looking at the Orlando, Florida 2016 mass shooting,
that left 49 people dead, we know all too well the massive damage that can be
done by these assault weapons in a scant amount of time. Not all weapon types
must be considered suitable for private hands.
Quote of the Week::
"The 19th of June has historically come to
represent an opportunity for all Americans to remember the importance of
racial healing, reconciliation, and justice."
Lena C. Taylor on Juneteenth Day
This is an official government
communication from Sen. Lena C. Taylor. If you no longer wish to receive
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Events & Opportunities
Enjoy Wisconsin's biggest music fest
starting on June 28th on the SummerFest grounds next to Lake Michigan. Find
more info here.
All White Affair 2017
event will be held at he Harley Davidson Museum and will be a night of food
and dance on July 1st for $25 a person to benefit scholarships for MPS
students. Find more info here.
what makes Milwaukee such a beautiful city at 2320 N. Cramer St. in East
Branch with a photography exhibit that will be open through June 30th. Find
Black Cinema Film
screenings of award-winning documentaries that highlight African-American
history and achievements will be shown at the Milwaukee Public Library on
N. Sherman Blvd on June 27th. Each film will be followed by an open
discussion. Find more information here.
U.S. Citizenship Classes
citizenship classes will be presented in Spanish and English on July 1st at
the Milwaukee Public Library on W. Forest Home Ave. More information and
dates can be found here.
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