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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I hope you are staying cool during this hot weather. As you may have heard, Milwaukee had record-breaking temperatures over the Memorial Day weekend. Extreme heat calls for extra safety precautions to keep you, your family, and your pets safe. More about this can be found in the Tip of the Month section below.

I also wanted to take a moment to thank all of you who were able to take part in the 6th Senate District Listening Session last week. It was great to hear from so many of you about the issues that matter most to your family.

If you missed the listening session, or are looking for other ways to be involved and informed, check out the In the District section of this newsletter for information about my next EMPOWER-MKE event. 

Lastly, you may have seen the news that I was recently appointed to the state's budget-writing committee, the Joint Committee on Finance. Read on for more information about what the committee's responsibilities are and how it is structured.  

Thank you for taking the time to read my e-newsletter. Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any questions about state matters. 

Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)Stay Cool this Summer

Memorial Day weekend has already broken heat records in the city of Milwaukee. Make sure you take extra safety precautions to keep you and your family safe from the heat. If needed, make sure you also know about Milwaukee’s ‘cooling sites’ to ensure the safety of you and your family these next couple weeks. Cooling sites are public places that welcome people to come cool off if they do not have access to air conditioning. For instance, most malls and public libraries are available as a place to cool off. 

Click here for more tips to consider for staying cool and safe during extreme heat.
 

Honored to Serve on the Joint Finance Committee!

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In May, I was honored to have been appointed to the Legislature’s budget-writing Joint Finance Committee. As a policymaker, ensuring our community's values and priorities are represented on this powerful committee is of utmost importance to me.

Representing Milwaukee and the state of Wisconsin is a great honor
, and one that I take very seriously. As part of the Joint Finance Committee, I will focus on building a budget that expands economic opportunity in our local communities. Wisconsin’s prosperity is dependent on a thriving middle class supported by family-sustaining jobs, affordable health care, a financially secure retirement, and a continued investment in our children’s education. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the history and inner-workings of this committee, keep reading to learn more!

History of the Joint Finance Committee
Made up of eight senators and eight representatives, the Joint Finance Committee was created in 1911. In that very same year, proposals regarding minimum-wage requirements for women, child labor restrictions, and state-workers compensation were passed, making 1911 one of the most memorable and innovative sessions Wisconsin has ever seen.

Our state's budget-writing committee is one of the most unique. Most other states have various committees that cover all of the complex responsibilities of Wisconsin's Joint Finance Committee, which makes it one of the most powerful state-level committees in the country. 

Purpose of the Joint Finance Committee
The Joint Finance Committee serves as a fiscal watchdog to our state's budgeting practices. The primary responsibility of the Committee is to review the state's budget process, which in Wisconsin is done biennially (two-year period). Specifically, Wisconsin's budget goes from July of an odd-numbered year through June of the next odd-numbered year. For example, the current state budget runs from July 2017 through June 2019. More about Wisconsin's budget process is below.  

While the state budget is the most well-known responsibility of the Committee, it is also responsible for:

  • Required reviews, such as when a bill is introduced in either house of the Legislature appropriating money or the operations of a state agency to determine better methods or procedures for improving state government operations. 
  • Appropriation and position adjustments, such as increasing or decreasing the number of position authorized to an agency in the budget process or supplementing agency appropriations for emergency purposes. 
  • Specific bill introductions, such as introducing the biennial budget bill.
  • Required approvals of agency actions, such as approving and transferring federal block grant money.
  • Agency reports required to be submitted to the Committee, such as the Department of Health Services' report on changes in the Medicaid program. 
  • Required appearances before the Committee, such as the appearance of the chief executive officers of a department or agency administering a federally funded program for which federal aid has been reduced or eliminated and would require state funds to be continued.  

Wisconsin's Budget Process
All of us are impacted by the decisions made during the state budget process every single day. When you drive down the street, the conditions of the road are impacted by the choices lawmakers make during the budget process. Likewise, the quality of your child's school is heavily influenced by the state's spending actions.
 
As mentioned, Wisconsin is unique in the amount of power and influence the Joint Finance Committee has in determining what our state budget looks like. Before reaching the Committee, the process begins in even-numbered years with state agencies submitting their budget requests to the governor after receiving his or her guidance any on spending limits they must abide by. In February of the following year, the governor proposes their preliminary version of the budget.

After receiving and carefully examining the governor's proposed biennial budget and being briefed by the state agencies and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau, the Joint Finance Committee hosts public hearings across the state to get input from Wisconsinites. The Committee then makes changes to the budget, based on the feedback they receive from the public and other stakeholders, during executive sessions.

After making their revisions,  the Joint Finance Committee submits their version of the state budget to the full Legislature for review, final modification, and passage. After both houses of the Legislature pass identical versions of the state budget, it goes to the governor's desk for signature into law.

Before signing the bill into law, the governor can make item-line vetoes. This means they can cross out whole items, change dollar values, or delete certain words or language from the document.  

For an in-depth look at the Wisconsin budget process, click here to view a document on this topic by the Wisconsin Budget Project. 

Being a Strong Voice on the Joint Finance Committee 
Since its creation in 1911, over 360 individuals have served on the Joint Finance Committee, including 34 senate co-chairs and 34 assembly co-chairs. The duties and responsibilities of each member of the Joint Finance Committee are no small feat. As a new member, I will share the Committee's workload with 15 other hardworking senators and representatives. While this Committee's work can be challenging, it is essential for our communities across the state to thrive and I am looking forward to representing you as a member of the Joint Finance Committee.

For real-time updates on Joint Finance Committee activity, 'like' the WI Joint Finance Committee Democrats Facebook page!
 

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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EMPOWER-MKE: July 17! 
Back in January, I joined elected officials and community leaders for the 6th Senate District's first EMPOWER-MKE event (read more about that event here). I received a lot of great feedback and suggestions and am excited to be hosting another EMPOWER-MKE event on July 17, 2018.

At this EMPOWER-MKE event, titled 53206: A Discussion on Incarceration and the Family, there will be a presentation by UW-Madison Professors Lawrence Berger and Mike Massoglia followed by time for questions and answers.


53206: A Discussion on Incarceration and the Family

Location: Mother Katherine Daniels Conference Center

3466 W Hampton Ave., Milwaukee, WI
Registration: 5 p.m.
Program: 5:30 p.m. to 7:30 p.m.

Please RSVP by July 9 by calling 414.313.1241 or emailing me at Sen.Johnson@legis.wi.gov.

Check out the Facebook event page as well. I will also include further details as they become available at 
www.EMPOWERMKE.com. 

May 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:

  • Touring Beyond Vision
    In May, I had an opportunity to tour Beyond Vision, a manufacturing company of over 100 years. Through their strong community partnerships, Beyond Vision provides services to companies like Harley-Davidson and Caterpillar. In addition to offering fulfillment, assembly, packaging and other services to local companies, jobs at Beyond Vision are provided to individuals who are blind. 


  • Talking about Civic Engagement with Interior Designers 
    I was honored to be asked to speak with members of both the International Interior Design Association and the American Society of Interior Designers. Regardless of what field you are in, it is always important to make sure your voice is heard and that you are engaging with your elected officials on the issues that matter to you. More and more, organizations and associations are realizing that if they are not proactively reaching out to lawmakers, policy will happen to them rather than with them. When you are an expert in your field, it is critical to share your knowledge and expertise with your representatives at all levels of government. I was thrilled to be able to stress the importance of this with area interior designers.  

  • Discussing the Negative Impacts of Toxic Lead in our Community 
    On May 29, I spoke with Milwaukee area residents about the dangerous impacts of toxic lead exposure in the city of Milwaukee as part of the Urban Ecology Center's Our Water: Milwaukee's Mirror - A Community Science Freshwater Series. Toxic lead can have damaging effects on the health and development of our community members, especially our children. The damages to brain development that can occur with lead exposure are irreversible and should be taken very seriously by local, state, and federal representatives. While serving in the State Legislature, I have introduced numerous proposals to help protect our kids from toxic lead exposure and I will continue to work on this important issue. 

 

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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Kicking Off the 2018 Summer Meals Program
All of our kids deserve an opportunity to thrive and be healthy. 
I was honored to join Hunger Task Force, Inc. in May to kick off the 2018 Summer Meals Program. With over 160 sites across Milwaukee that will serve free, healthy meals to children all summer long, over 800,000 meals are expected to be served.

Look for the green signs that say 'kids eat free summer meals' or click on the link above for a list of locations where kids can go, no questions asked, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.


Hearing from Wisconsinites about their Foxconn Concerns
Earlier this month, I heard from citizens about their concerns with their hard-earned tax dollars going to massive corporate tax breaks, like the ones for Foxconn. Wisconsin must change course, and prioritize investing in our kids and families and their future success. To see the CBS58 story about the Foxconn listening session, click on the link above.

'Green Alert' Bill being Pushed at the Federal Level!

As you may recall, the Corey Adams Searchlight Act was signed into law in Wisconsin recently and creates a 'Green Alert' for missing, at-risk veterans. Thanks to U.S. Representatives Gwen Moore and Ron Kind, along with the tireless advocacy of Corey's family, this legislative idea may go national.

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. Green Alerts, like the current system of Amber and Silver Alerts, will give us, the public, the opportunity to be on the lookout and help bring our missing veterans home safely. I am proud that Wisconsin continues to lead the way to put this vital safeguard in place by being the first state to pass such a law and now with Rep. Moore and Kind's leadership to take this to the federal level to prevent other tragedies.



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!