LaTonya's Legislative Updates Final Border.png 

Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Welcome to the first edition of my new e-newsletter, Community Connections!

I am proud to represent and serve families in the 6th Senate District. Through these monthly updates, I hope to share information that is timely and relevant to your interests. 

It's a busy time in the Capitol as the Senate and Assembly start to wrap-up the 2017-2018 Legislative Session. I've been working hard to get the bipartisan 'Green Alert' bill that I introduced earlier this session passed by the full Legislature and signed into state law. Below is a full update on this bill. 

Additionally, there have been many committee hearings happening in the Legislature. Recently, the governor called for a Special Session to take up bills that would restrict access to things like FoodShare and other programs critical to Wisconsin families. A Committee I serve on held a public hearing on these bills. More information about this hearing and the next steps for these bills are included in the 'In the News' section below. 

Thank you for taking the time to read this e-newsletter. Please feel free to contact me regarding any state or local issues that are important to you and your family. 

Sincerely, 

LJohnson sig.bmp
LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)
 Combatting the Flu Season

The flu season is upon us and Wisconsin is getting hit hard this year. Influenza is a contagious disease caused by influenza viruses that infect the respiratory tract (nose, throat, and lungs). It can cause mild to severe illness, sometimes leading to death. Influenza symptoms often begin suddenly, with fever, headache, tiredness, dry cough, sore throat, nasal congestion and body aches. The best way to prevent influenza is to get vaccinated each year. Additionally, taking steps to reduce the spread of germs and accessing antiviral medication at the onset of flu symptoms is important. For more information on combatting the flu season, click here.

Green Alert Bill Passes the Senate

green alert.jpg

Wisconsinites are familiar with Amber and Silver Alerts, which signal to law enforcement and members of the community that a child or elderly person has gone missing. A bill I introduced, known as the Corey Adams Searchlight Act, passed on January 23 by the Senate and gives us the tools we need to offer aid when a veteran goes missing.

The bill is named for a Milwaukee Air Force Veteran and constituent of mine who passed away last year after going missing for 18 days. When Corey went missing, his family knew that something was wrong—Corey had left his eyeglasses, phone, money, and medications at his parent’s home, where he was last seen. Despite his family filing a missing person report within hours of his disappearance, it took eight days before he was determined to meet the critical missing criteria by the police.

On April 7, 18 days after his initial disappearance, Corey Adams’ body was recovered from a pond in Dineen Park, just one mile from his mother’s home. This outcome could have been avoided if the public had been enlisted in the search for Corey sooner.

We all share a duty to those who put their lives on the line to defend our country, and Green Alerts, like the current system of Amber and Silver Alerts, will help fulfill that duty by giving us, the public, the opportunity to be on the lookout and help bring our missing veterans home safely.

If a soldier goes missing in the field, his or her unit will send out a search and rescue party. When an at-risk veteran goes missing at home, it should be all of our jobs to assist with the search however we can. By creating the Green Alert, we are honoring Corey’s memory and working to prevent other tragedies.


I am proud of the bipartisan work on this bill and hope to see the State Assembly take swift action to pass this bill so that it can be signed into law. 

For more information about Corey Adams and the importance of honoring his life by helping other veterans, I encourage you to read this article in the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel. 

 

In the District

I frequently attend and host events in the 6th Senate District, tour local facilities, and visit schools in our neighborhood. Updates on what's happening locally in our community can be found in this section. I'll also include updates on listening sessions and EMPOWER-MKE events in this section in future editions. 

 

Crowd 2_EMPOWER for enews.jpg

 

EMPOWER-MKE: Citizen Advocacy and Resource Summit

All of us deserve to live in a safe and prosperous community. At times, residents in our neighborhood may see changes that need to be made or issues that need to be addressed, but don't always know how to start the wheel of change. 

On Saturday, January 20, State Representatives David Crowley, Leon Young, and Evan Goyke and I joined other community leaders for the 6th Senate District’s first EMPOWER-MKE event. Through EMPOWER-MKE, participants gained the knowledge and tools needed to engage with their government to achieve transformational policy reforms that will have a positive impact on Milwaukee.

It was inspiring to see so many community members come together and be active participants in this event. Panelists at EMPOWER-MKE shared resources and their expertise on a variety of issues, from the inner-workings of local and state government to crisis response and 'when' and 'how' to contact law enforcement. Members of the community also gained valuable skills and knowledge in organizing around issues they care about and advocating for change. 

As this was the first EMPOWER-MKE event, I want to thank all of the participants and panelists for their time and willingness to come together to help make our community a great place to live and raise a family. I received a lot of great feedback and suggestions, and look forward to incorporating them into the next EMPOWER-MKE event. These advocacy and resource summits will be held two times each year. Check my Facebook page or go to www.EMPOWERMKE.com for updates. 

Materials from January's EMPOWER-MKE event can also be found at www.EMPOWERMKE.com. 

 

In the News

I'm working hard for Wisconsinites and am fighting to make our communities a better, safer place to live and raise a family. This section of 'Community Connections' will keep you up-to-date on hot topics happening locally, statewide, and nationally. Additionally, I frequently talk to residents of our community, and share your voice and values when talking to members of the media. That said, I'll share articles that I am quoted in, too. 

 

020817 Black History Month Rotunda #18.jpg 

Public Hearing Held on 'Safe Harbor' Proposal
Recently, I testified at the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on a bill Rep. Jill Billings and I have been working on called the Safe Harbor Act, or Senate Bill (SB) 344.

This proposal prohibits children under the age of 18 from being prosecuted for acts of prostitution – normally a Class A misdemeanor. This bill is tremendously important considering that under Wisconsin law it is illegal for any child under the age of 18 to consent to sexual activity.

SB 344 brings Wisconsin law in line with federal law which treats children engaged in commercial sex acts as sexually exploited children and victims of child abuse, not criminals. This bill also aligns our state with Illinois, Minnesota, and Michigan by helping to end the practice and stigma of labeling these minors as criminals by charging child trafficking victims with prostitution. My hope is that it will make it easier for law enforcement and child welfare authorities to convince these children that they have done nothing wrong and are in no way responsible for the horrific acts they were forced into by their traffickers.

This bill does not legalize prostitution—this is illegal and will remain so. This bill only prevents our child victims from being charged with prostitution while providing them with the opportunity to get the services, counseling, and treatment they need to go on to lead healthy, productive lives as an adult.

Wisconsin is known as a human trafficking hub, a place where pimps and traffickers can come and steal our children off of our streets, forcing them into sexual slavery in places like Chicago, Las Vegas, and other parts of the county and little to nothing can be done to rescue them.

Prosecuting our children for crimes they had no choice but to commit does nothing to help put an end to this trend. We care about our kids, and while we are all working hard to protect them, the children who do fall victim to this terrible criminal enterprise deserve SB 344 instead of a criminal record.

Special Session Bills are Not the Way to Support Families
On Wednesday, January 31, a joint Senate and Assembly public hearing was held Governor Walker's special session package of bills. The overwhelming testimony heard at the public hearing affirmed that we must treat people with dignity and respect and provide them with real opportunities if we want Wisconsin children and families to succeed in our communities. I believe this is a core value that all Wisconsinites can get on board with, and our state policies should reflect that.

More importantly, we need to hear and listen from families about the challenges they face and what they need from our elected leaders to help them thrive. By looking at the package of bills being proposed by the governor and legislative Republicans, it is clear that they did not listen to the Wisconsinites who utilize and need the programs they are seeking to block access to.

We need to prioritize what families are asking for and what is proven to be effective rather than create more bureaucracy and hurdles for accessing basic needs like food. Policymakers should be investing in strategies like supporting families through a child care tax credit, ensuring a living wage, and providing access to health care to individuals and small business owners through the BadgerCare for All proposal.

We know this package of bills is going to hurt Wisconsin families because other states have already attempted similar proposals. For example, Pennsylvania stopped their FoodShare asset test after 111,000 households were denied benefits because they had trouble producing all of the required documentation. The asset test being proposed in the Republican package will not help transition families out of poverty. Worse, with over 40 percent of FoodShare recipients in the state being children, putting up roadblocks that will keep people from accessing FoodShare will mean more Wisconsin children will go hungry.

The bottom line is that denying basic necessities to people who are trying to provide for themselves and their families, through costly administrative hurdles, is not the Wisconsin our elected leaders should be creating. I’ll be continuing to push for proposals that will actually create pathways to prosperity.

Roe v Wade Marks 45-year Anniversary
January 22 marked the 45th anniversary of the landmark Roe v Wade Supreme Court decision, recognizing that the constitutional right to privacy extends to a woman’s right to make her own personal medical decisions, including the decision to have an abortion.

All women deserve the freedom to make private, medical decisions in consultation with her family, doctor, and faith and without political interference. That's why I'm proud to be part of the State Innovation Exchange's Reproductive Freedom Leadership Council. This Council, which launched this month, is committed to protecting and enhancing reproductive freedom and includes 200 state legislators from over 39 states.

Upcoming Legislative Children's Caucus Meeting
The bipartisan Wisconsin Legislative Children's Caucus looked through some great proposals from organizations in Wisconsin that are working to improve the lives of our children. Tomorrow, February 7, the caucus will hear from the La Crosse Family Collaborative on their preventative neighborhood-based social work program. You can watch it live tomorrow at 8:45 a.m. on the Caucus Facebook page.

Crisis at Lincoln Hills 
The crisis at Lincoln Hills has gone on for far too long under the watch of Gov. Walker’s administration. It took state and federal investigations to expose layers of systemic failures at Lincoln Hills and a federal court to intervene in restoring safety at the facility.

That said, it's no surprise that the governor's administration is changing their tune regarding the timeline of implementing Democratic lawmaker State Representative Evan Goyke's idea of moving kids in youth corrections to smaller facilities around the state. I'll keep you updated on this critical topic as it progresses. 

MPS Job Fair 
Milwaukee Public Schools will be having a student job fair in March. Click the link above for more information! 

 

Wisconsin Democrats: 
Under the Dome Update

Senate and Assembly Democrats provide a weekly update to help keep Wisconsin citizens informed about activity happening at the State Capitol and stay updated on how your elected officials are voting on important issues in Madison. Click on the links below to view recent editions of 'Under the Dome.'

 

 

Useful Phone Numbers

There are many levels of state and local government that can help answer questions and get you connected with resources you may need. I have listed some useful phone numbers below. You can also see a comprehensive list of numbers by clicking the link below. If you see a change needed or an important number that should be added, please let me know! 

Congresswoman Gwen Moore.............................414-297-1140
Governor Walker..................................................608-266-1212
Milwaukee Common Council...............................414-286-2221
Milwaukee Country Board....................................414-278-4222
Milwaukee Police Department.............................414-933-4444
Poison Control......................................................800-222-1222
Long-Term Care Ombudsman Program..............800-815-0015

Medigap Helpline.................................................800-242-1060
Consumer Protection Hotline..............................800-422-7128
Department of Health Services............................608-266-1865
Workforce Development......................................608-266-3131
Public Service Commission..................................800-225-7729
SeniorCare Wisconsin.........................................800-657-2038
WI Commissioner of Insurance Complaints.......800-236-8517


For other useful phone numbers, click here!