Week of Nov. 26th - Dec. 2nd
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.
Taylor Bills Become Law
On Monday and Thursday, Governor
Scott Walker signed seven bills that I co-authored into law. I am excited
to work across the aisle to address the issues that matter to our
communities. With runaway mass incarceration and an education system that
suffers from racial and geographical disparities, we need reforms to make
our state the best that it can be. Some of my bills passed this week are
steps that move us forward. The bills pertain to the issues of
corrections, licensing, healthcare, and education. A brief summary of
each bill is provided below.
Assembly Bill 283 – (Savings Prize Promotions) permits banks and
other financial institutions to conduct saving promotion programs using
prizes. This bill is Act 72.
Senate Bill 108 – (Cosmetology and Barbering Licensure
Requirements) removes the continuing education requirement for
cosmetologists, barbers and related professions, and eliminates the
stipulation that licensed professionals from another jurisdiction must
have 4000 hours of experience to gain a reciprocal license. This bill is
Senate Bill 109 – (Regulating Cosmetology and Barbering Managers) would
allow cosmetologists, barbers and related professions to practice in a
non-licensed facility as long as they are the owner, manager or employed
by the facility. It also removes the requirement that managers need
special licensure to be designated a manager, and it eliminates the
stipulation that individuals must be granted a certificate by DSPS in
order to teach their profession. This bill is Act 82.
Assembly Bill 345 – (DOC Inmate Work Release) permits individuals
confined in county and tribal jails to participate in employment related
activities. This bill is Act 89.
Assembly Bill 280 – (Financial Literacy in Schools) incorporates
instruction of financial literacy into K-12 curriculum. This bill is Act
Senate Bill 385 – (Therapeutic Diets) allows certified dietitians
to prescribe therapeutic diets to residents of a long-term care facility.
This bill is Act 101.
Senate Bill 299 – (Montessori Teaching License) would expand
teacher education programs that satisfy a requirement for obtaining an
initial teaching license under the alternative teacher licensure path to
include teacher education programs approved by the Association Montessori
Internationale. This bill is Act 106.
at NBSCL Conference
Thursday, I traveled to Indianapolis to attend the annual legislative
conference for the National Black Caucus of State Legislators. At these
conferences, hundreds of black legislators, advocates, community leaders
and policy experts come together to address the issues facing the black
community nationally. Just this year, Wisconsin ranked dead last in the
areas of racial equality. Most research note the extreme racial
disparities in healthcare, incarceration, education and household wealth.
These issues hit close to home, as in my district, we have the most
incarcerated zip code in the nation. The mass incarceration of black men
for non-violent offenses is not only expensive to our taxpayers, but also
hurtful to our economy, community and families. That is why I have
introduced legislation in line with best-practices that focus on
treatment, rehabilitation, and proactive approaches – such as addressing
poverty and education – that helps reduce crime through prevention.
While mass incarceration and
racial disparities in the corrections system are huge issues for black
Americans, they are just some of the issues we face and must address.
Health, education, and workforce development are all important, and these
areas can impact each other. For instance, a child that goes to sleep
hungry each night will have decreased focus at school and, as a result,
fall behind their peers in academic achievement. An individual who does
not have the necessary workforce skills is less likely to get a job that
provides health insurance benefits; without insurance, there is a greater
chance that this individual will skip out on preventative medical care –
creating costly medical expenses in the future and a lesser quality of
I hope to share my LOVE and FAITH model with my colleagues at the
conference and with you. LOVE and FAITH is a health and wealth model that
seeks to create efficiency through collaboration and hubs. For
individuals who seek assistance, there are often multiple issues that
need to be addressed. By bringing stakeholders together and creating a
one-stop shop for people to connect to services, we are addressing all
the issues, collecting and sharing data to see what works, and maximizing
our reach through efficient use of resources. I am excited to share this
model and discuss the short- and long- run benefits from LOVE and FAITH.
This past Tuesday, I met
with the City of Milwaukee, Wudeward Urban
Forest Products and Hoppe Tree service about workforce development and
apprenticeship programs in sustainable forestry. In Wisconsin, the forest
products industry plays a huge role in the economy, second only to
manufactured goods. For over 50 years we have been the number one paper producer
in the nation. The benefits from forestry are not limited to rural and
non-urban areas. For instance, Milwaukee County is developing the largest
urban organic fruit orchard in the nation. Orchards can provide workforce
and health benefits, as the fruit produced can be distributed to food
deserts – where residents have limited access to fresh fruits and
vegetables. From a previous meeting with Northwood School instructors,
there is also potential to incorporate forestry into an opportunity for
students to gain skills while receiving academic credit. I am excited to
work with partners around Milwaukee and the state to bring forestry’s
benefits to Milwaukee.
Disrespect Shows Need for Indigenous Peoples' Day
On Monday, the White House hosted
Navajo Code Talkers at an event to celebrate National Indian American
Heritage month. However, the 45th President turned this historically and
culturally important event into something disgraceful when he indecently
referred to Senator Elizabeth Warren (D-Massachusetts) as “Pocahontas.”
Beyond slurs, the President chose to host this important event in front
of a prominent portrait of President Andrew Jackson. Andrew Jackson is
infamously known for the 1830 Indian Removal Act, which led to the deaths
of thousands of Native Americans during the Trail of Tears.
The Navajo Code Talkers were essential in war time. From 1941-1942, the
Marine Corps officially started recruiting Navajo Code Talkers to create
a secret code based on their language so soldiers could communicate with
one another without the enemy knowing. As World War II progressed, the
original 29 members grew to 400 code talkers. This program was
instrumental in obtaining victory at World War II battles, especially at
the Battle of Iwo Jima. In 1982, President Ronald Reagan officially
declared August 14th as National Navajo Code Talkers Day to honor these
brave veterans. Currently, there are 13 surviving Code Talkers living
within the United States.
The 45th President’s questionable decision-making represents
insensitivity at best, and given his track record on veterans and racial
issues, raises questions on what his intentions were during this event.
By officially celebrating Indigenous Peoples’ Day, we are staying true to
the history of our nation. Christopher Columbus never stepped foot in
North America, but rather Hispaniola, which now contains the nations of
Haiti and the Dominican Republic. Just as the Navajo Code Talkers are
recognized for their importance in the war, all native people of the
United States deserve the same appreciation and respect for their
experiences in this country; making Indigenous Peoples’ Day a recognized
holiday is one of the primary ways we can show such gratitude.
Grant Bill Gets Public Hearing
On Thursday, one of my bills – Assembly Bill 40 - was heard during
a public hearing. The bill, would provide grants to new businesses that
hire students for paid internships. Providing entrepreneurial assistance
is crucial toward driving small business and startup growth. As we all
know, small and startup businesses are the backbone of our economy.
According to the U.S. Small Business Administration, small businesses
employed over 1.2 million Wisconsinites in 2014 – over half our state’s
private workforce. In the same year, data from the agency showed that
Wisconsin had 440,763 small businesses, which accounted for 97.7 percent
of all Wisconsin businesses. Despite the importance of small businesses,
Wisconsin lags behind the nation in business startup activity. In fact,
2017 represented the third straight year that Wisconsin ranked dead last
in the nation for startup activity under rankings by the Ewing Marion
Kauffman Foundation. That is unacceptable, and it hurts our state’s
ability to attract and inspire entrepreneurs. Assembly Bill 40 will not
only provide needed assistance for our startup businesses, it will help
students get work experience in their field while being paid. This will
not only help students get relevant work experience that is paid and in
their field, it will help businesses develop and train potential future
employees. I am excited for the potential of this bill to help our
businesses, students, and ultimately – our economy.