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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Spring is approaching meaning winter is coming to an end and warmer weather will soon be here. Beyond that, it means the 2017-2018 Legislative Session is coming to a close. 

As this was my first session serving in the state senate, I am proud to have worked on several bills that will positively impact our community. Of course, there is also a feeling of disappointment in what was left undone.  A recap of the good, the bad, and the future will be the focus of this month's Community Connections newsletter. 

Additionally, don't forget we have an election coming up on April 3. Find out 
what's on the ballot and make sure you have the proper documentation to cast your vote on Election Day! 


Also, make sure to check out the In the District section of this edition of the newsletter. I want to hear from you about your thoughts on state and community issues and will be holding a town hall listening session in May. More details are included below. 

Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)Protecting Yourself from Tax Scams 

Most of us use the internet at least once in awhile to check email, pay bills, and of course keep in touch on Facebook or Instagram. 

It's important for each of us to remember that the convenience of the internet also comes with the risk of being hacked or scammed, especially for older adults in our community. In fact, a study by Home Instead Senior Care found that 66 percent of surveyed older adults have fallen victim to a scam or hack online. 

There are things you can do to protecting your identity and sensitive financial information during this tax season. 

Click here for more information on cybersecurity and protecting your information.
Reflecting on the 2017-2018 Legislative Session

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On March 20, the State Senate met for what is expected to be their last regular day of session for the year. This also marks the ending of my first full session as your state senator. I have been proud to serve you in the Senate, and have worked hard to reach across the aisle to ensure our community has the tools and resources needed to be strong and prosperous. Bipartisanship wasn't always possible, of course,  and a lot of work is needed to make sure families in Milwaukee and Wisconsin have what they need to thrive. 

Below is a summary of some bills I have worked on to create positive change in our communities, harmful bills that I worked hard to oppose, and bills that myself and other Democrats proposed but were not taken up that we will push to advance next session. 

Positive Bills I Championed this Session

  • Safety of Kids at Correctional Facilities (Senate Bill 35)
    Senate Bill 35 requires juvenile correctional officers to report suspected child abuse and neglect. This bill was passed by both the Senate and Assembly and was signed into law.

  • Truckers Against Trafficking Legislation (Assembly Bill 540) This bill creates a driver education instruction program for truck drivers to assist in the fight against human trafficking. This bill has passed the Assembly but, unfortunately, did not receive a vote in the Senate. 

  • Safe Harbor (Senate Bill 344)
    Senate Bill 344 works to protect children under the age of 18 from being prosecuted for acts of prostitution. This bill passed in the Senate but, unfortunately, was not given a vote in the Assembly. I will be working with my colleagues on both sides of the aisle to push this bill forward next session. 

  • Green Alert Legislation (Senate Bill 473)
    This bill creates an alert system for vulnerable veterans similar to Amber Alerts to find missing children and Silver Alerts for seniors. This bill has passed both the Senate and the Assembly and was signed by the governor on Wednesday, March 28! If you are a veteran and would like to know more about the benefits and services you've earned, click here. 

Bills I Worked Hard to Oppose*

  • Foxconn Giveaway (Special Session Assembly Bill 1) 
    At a time when far too many people across the state are struggling to make ends meet and provide for their families, I would have loved to support legislation that brings quality, well-paying jobs to Wisconsin. Unfortunately, the Foxconn scheme is a bad deal for Wisconsin workers, taxpayers, and communities. This bill gave the largest state taxpayer giveaway to a foreign company in U.S. history without adequate protections for our communities. While this, unfortunately, was passed, I will continue to fight to bring quality, well-paying jobs Wisconsin.

  • Dangerous Deregulation (Senate Bills 108 & 109) Senate Bills 108 and 109 undermine important consumer health and safety standards, as well as jeopardize business and economic development. These bills place consumers at risk of contracting infectious diseases or receiving painful burns and scarring due to improper styling techniques. Beyond eliminating the basic requirement of continuing education for cosmetology professionals, these proposals remove the requirement that instructors of cosmetology are even licensed to teach in their field. This will lead to the spread of bad practices, multiply the potential for harm to the public, and particularly impact women who are the largest consumers of these services. Both of these dangerous bills passed the full Legislature and were signed into law by Governor Walker. 

  • Rolling Back Child Labor Protections (Assembly Bill 25)
    Assembly Bill 25, which passed the Legislature and was signed into law as 2017 Wisconsin Act 11, rolls-back child labor protections, and effectively prioritizes cheap child labor over parental oversight and positive outcomes for our youth. By passing this legislation, the governor and legislative Republicans are limiting the ability of parents’ of 16- and 17-year old children to fully protect the life, health, safety, and welfare of their kids. As elected leaders, we should be fighting to promote the growth and well-being of our children and prioritize parental involvement in developing responsibility and a strong work ethic in their kids. Unfortunately, this legislation only erodes parental oversight and makes it harder to ensure that children get a quality education. I will continue to work to find real solutions to help our community grow while focusing on raising family wages and expanding economic opportunities.

  • Not the Way to Support Families (Special Session Bills)
    Recently, Governor Walker and Republican lawmakers pushed through a package of bills that will make it significantly harder to access FoodShare, housing assistance, and other basic necessities. Rather than work with families to find out what they need to ensure a financially secure and healthy family, these bills put into place costly and burdensome administrative hurdles. Wisconsin elected leaders should instead be fighting for what families are asking for, such as a child care tax credit, ensuring a living wage, and providing access to health care for everyone. 

*This is just a handful of the bills that were bad for Milwaukee and Wisconsin families that I fought against. Others included: portions of the state budget, which did not include a long-term transportation solution to fix our crumbling local roads, a bill to ban project labor agreements, and a bill that would preempt local government employment safeguards and standards


Unfinished Business - Key Democratic Bills that were Blocked by the GOP

  • Child Care Tax Credit (Senate Bill 37)
    Across Wisconsin, families list child care costs as a major concern. Our state ranks among the top 15 for more expensive infant care. This bill creates a tax credit that can be claimed for childcare expenses and provides targeted relief to working families.

  • Universal Background Checks (Senate Bill 34)
    Background checks are only required under federal law for sales conducted by licensed dealers. This means that people who would not pass a background check can still make purchases at gun shows and through online sales. Despite growing support for universal background checks, Wisconsin Republicans rejected Democratic efforts to put this common sense law on the books. 

  • Expanding BadgerCare (Senate Bill 606)
    Democrats introduced a bill to expand access to affordable health care for thousands of low-income residents while saving taxpayers more than $1 billion over the next six years. Unfortunately, the GOP-majority chose not to move this bill forward, despite overwhelming public support. 

  • Respect Women Act (Senate Bill 569, 567, and 568)
    This package of bills would keep politicians out of the exam room by repealing abortion restrictions that are not grounded in medical science (Senate Bill 569). Senate Bill 567 ensures medically accurate information when seeking health care. Senate Bill 568 improves patient safety conditions at reproductive health care facilities.

  • Family and Medical Leave Insurance Act (Senate Bill 215)
    No one should have to choose between their health, the health of their loved one, or taking care of a new child and their job. Democrats introduced a bill to expand paid family leave options and workplace flexibility for Wisconsin families.

  • Higher Ed, Lower Debt (Senate Bill 91)
    The rising costs of higher education is a huge concern for parents and young adults. The Higher Ed, Lower Debt Act would allow individuals to refinance their student loans at lower interest rates just like you can with home and auto loans.

 

 

 

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. 

 
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Save the Date! 6th Senate District Legislative Listening
 Session
I want to thank you for providing me the opportunity to represent you in the State Legislature! As your senator, I feel that is it critical to provide ample opportunities for you to ask questions and get updates first-hand on community and state happenings. Please save the date for an upcoming town hall happening soon. Details below. 

Listening Session with Senator LaTonya Johnson and the 6th Senate District 
Thursday, May 31, 2018
6 p.m. to 8 p.m.
Washington Park Senior Center 
4420 W Vliet St, Milwaukee, WI 53208
RSVP on Facebook! 

 

March Lookback 
The 6th Senate District is home to many great organizations and community members, and I appreciated meeting with just a handful of them this past month.

Here are a few of the things I've been up to:

  • Visiting with Milwaukee Area Technical College (MATC) Students 
    I was honored to speak to MATC students on Wednesday, March 7, regarding issues important to our community. The students, who were all enrolled in an English class, were tasked with writing a research paper about issues affecting Milwaukee and Wisconsin, such as quality education, health care, and housing security. It was great to hear about their projects and to talk with them about the importance of civic engagement.

  • Speed Mentoring for Wisconsin Women in Government
    I strongly believe that it is important for those who are in leadership positions to reach back and provide mentorship to others who wish to promote positive changes in our community. For these reasons, I was thrilled to participate in a 'speed mentoring' session for women in government. The purpose of speed mentoring is to provide a quick overview of your strengths and professional challenges, efficiently and rapidly build your professional network, and, hopefully, find a long-term mentor. I have already heard from some of the women I met at this event, and am excited to see where their professional careers take them! 


  • Milwaukee County Historical Society Tour
    The Milwaukee County Historical Society (MCHS) connects our community members with Milwaukee’s history through a variety of different programming, events, tours and more!  MCHS was founded in 1935 as the repository for County records. Since then, it has continued to expand its services to the community. More than one million documents and photographs and more than 60,000 artifacts are preserved by MCHS. A few weeks ago, I toured the MCHS headquarters, which is located in a historic bank building along the Milwaukee River in downtown Milwaukee at 910 North Old World Third Street. This location houses the museum, research library, offices, some collections storage and events and educational programs throughout the year.  I am thankful to have such a vibrant resource in the 6th Senate District! 

 

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. 

 

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Race and Gender in Wisconsin Politics
On March 7, I spoke with The Cap Times alongside other Women in Wisconsin Legislature to address the gender inequality in politics. The January election of Senator Schachtner to represent the 10th Senate District in Wisconsin sent a message to the other members of the Senate and the Assembly that women are ready to take on these positions in our state. With Senator Schachtner’s election, the State Senate Democrats are now made up of 50% women. This momentum is growing across the nation. Almost 700 women nationwide are expected to run for the Senate, House, Governorship, lieutenant Governorship, or other elected seat in 2018.

Black women only make up 1.7% of Wisconsin lawmakers, and 13% of women in the Wisconsin Legislature. Both Republicans and Democrats claim there is room for all people in politics, whatever race, gender identity, or socioeconomic status, but this is not reflected. As the number of women getting involved in politics is spiking, I hope we also see more racial and ethnic minorities, members of the LGBTQIA community, and other populations who are traditionally underrepresented make their way into elected positions as well. 

Russian Meddling in Wisconsin
Recently, I took some time to speak about the meddling of Russian Twitter trolls here in Wisconsin, and specifically in our own backyards in the neighborhood of Sherman Park. This revelation is infuriating, and the lack of federal action to ensure that our community is safe from such meddling is incredibly frustrating. You can read more about the issue and check out my quotes by clicking the link above.

Black and Latino Caucus Radio Interview
Early this month, I spoke with National Public Radio’s Central Time about the Black and Latino Caucus’ initiatives. The focus of this interview was to bring to light specific issues impacting black and minority children in Wisconsin. The topics we focused on were unfair juvenile detention and infant mortality. There has been recent discussion about closing the Lincoln Hills Correctional School for the purpose of reworking Wisconsin's juvenile justice system. These issues have been building for decades and they are finally coming into focus. These issues did not appear overnight, and resolving them will be a slow process. As the minority population grows in Wisconsin, now more than ever is it important to address these issues head-on. Hear the full interview at the link above. 

Child Tax Credit
The Wisconsin Senate approved Governor Walker's plan to give parents $100 per child, along with a one-weekend sales tax holiday for certain purchases around the start of the school. When the bill was taken up in March, I introduced an amendment along with my Democratic colleagues to provide targeted tax relief through a tax credit for child care services, however, this amendment was rejected by the Republican majority. Many Wisconsinites feel that this tax credit is an election-year scheme meant to help Walker's reelection campaign rather than families. I don't disagree. However, while I represent some vibrant and wealthy parts of the city of Milwaukee, I also represent one of the poorest zip codes in the city - 53206. At the end of the day, voting against the governor's proposal purely on its political merits meant leaving money on the table for families in my district who desperately need it. For those reasons, I decided to vote for the child tax credit. Rest assured, I know that for families across Wisconsin this is a drop in the bucket and will not result in economic security for our neighbors. I am committed to continuing to fight for progressive policies that will ensure our kids and our families are prosperous. 

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!