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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Thank you for taking the time to read these legislative updates. The State Capitol continues to be a busy place, as the Legislature wraps-up its current session. 

In the last Community Connections newsletter, I provided an exciting update on the 'Green Alert' bill that would 
help locate missing, at-risk veterans by creating a system similar to Amber and Silver Alerts. Since then, the state Assembly took up and passed the 'Green Alert' bill. It will now head to the governor for signature into law - see the 'In the News' section below for more about this important topic. 

Additionally, throughout February we celebrated Black History Month in our homes, in our communities, and in the state Capitol.  As part of recognizing Black History Month, legislative members of the Black and Latino Caucus gave the first annual State of Black and Brown Address. I'll share more about this critical issue below in this month's feature article.

I want to again 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, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator


P.S. If you are looking for real-time updates on state and local issues, follow me on 
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Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)'Keep your Kids Safe' Newsletter

Each month, the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection releases a newsletter summarizing children's products that have been recalled by the Consumer Product Safety Commission. The most-recent edition of this newsletter announced the recall of several common products, such as the Dream On Me spring and foam mattresses for cribs and toddler beds as well as other mattresses and clothing that pose a fire hazard. You can stay informed on what products are being recalled and what you can do about it by getting these summaries right to your inbox

 Sign up to receive the 'Keep your Kids Safe' Newsletter each month by clicking here.

First Annual State of
Black and Brown Address

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Each February, we celebrate Black History Month as an opportunity to reflect on the history, culture, and progress of African Americans. The month also serves as an important reminder of the challenges African Americans face and what steps need to be taken by state and local leaders to improve the lives of black Wisconsinites.

On Monday, February 12, I joined legislative members of the Black and Latino Caucus and other prominent community leaders for the first annual State of Black and Brown Wisconsin Address. This panel discussed the quality-of-life inequity that African and Latino American’s face compared with white American’s, especially in Wisconsin. In fact, 
Wisconsin has been ranked the worst place in the United States to raise an African American child.

Due to socio-economic, education, and health disparities, African American children face significant challenges. 
The disparity begins at birth with black babies accounting for almost a quarter of infant mortalities in Wisconsin despite only making up 10% of total births, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. Entering into childhood, a third of children in out-of-home care are black, which is especially alarming given that those in out-of-home care are more likely to be incarcerated later in life. As for education in Wisconsin, African American children and their Caucasian counterparts have the largest standardized test score gaps in the United States. Wisconsin also has the worst gap between African American and White children in the U.S. Despite white students in Wisconsin having the third-highest graduation rate in the nation during the 2015-16 school year, at 92.7 percent, their black peers graduated from high school at the second-lowest rate in the country, 64.2 percent.

This is unacceptable and it is clear our state must do more to improve the lives of people of color in our state. There are common sense policies that state lawmakers can champion to support families, increase economic stability, and create more opportunities for our citizens. As such, for the first Black and Brown Address, my peers and I called on lawmakers to remove barriers higher education, challenge the criminal justice system, improve access to technical skills and job training, and improve Wisconsin’s foster care system. The Wisconsin foster care system is an issue close to my heart, and I am thankful that bipartisan efforts are being made at the legislative level to alter Wisconsin’s foster care system to help prevent encounters with the foster care system as well as make improvements to the system for when encounters do occur.

These changes are essential to create better outcomes and a better quality of life for people of color in our state, but they are just a small step and we have much more work to do locally and at the state level. That's why f
ellow members of the Black and Latino Caucus and I used this the State of Black and Brown Address address as an opportunity to demand improvement for people of color in our state and get the ball rolling on making real improvements in Wisconsin.

If you would like more information about the Black and Brown State Address, I encourage you to read this article from the Cap Times.

I also talked about this issue recently on Wisconsin Public Radio, click here to listen.

 

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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A child's first five years offer a critical window for learning with rapid brain development. Recently, I was honored to be part of the Reach Out and Read program. 

Reach Out and Read Wisconsin trains and supports medical providers to give advice to parents about the importance of reading and early literacy. Children receive a book at each well-child visit from the age of six months to five years to promote the importance of sharing books with caretakers, which is an essential component of healthy brain and literacy development. Children will receive a total of 10 books before entering kindergarten. During preschool years, children served at Reach Out and Read clinics score three to six months ahead of their peers on vocabulary tests, preparing them to start school on target. In Wisconsin, 94,000 children receive literacy guidance and more than 165,000 books are given each year.

I appreciate the invitation to participate in this event from the Children's Health Alliance of Wisconsin and Next Door - Milwaukee and want to thank them both for the great things they are doing for our kids and community.
 

 

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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Celebrating Black History Month with Students and Members of Milwaukee Kitchen Cabinet
In honor of Black History Month and the many extraordinary contributions of people of color in the state of Wisconsin, members of the Wisconsin State Legislature’s Black & Latino Caucus hosted a reception in the State Capitol highlighting Milwaukee food and the next generation of aspiring young chefs.

Chefs from Milwaukee Kitchen Cabinet restaurants– Point Burger Bar - Milwaukee, Calderone Club Downtown, ChopHouse, and BelAir Cantina – were assisted by students from Milwaukee Bay View High School’s ProStart Culinary Program, led by the executive chef of SURG Restaurant Group Jarvis Williams.

I was thrilled to be able to share some of Milwaukee’s best food with our friends in Madison, to celebrate Black History Month, and to showcase some of the great work being done in Milwaukee schools.

Milwaukee is lucky to have so many passionate restauranteurs who believe in giving back. The ProStart Culinary Program is a prime example of a successful public-private partnership that helps to inspire our youth, teach them valuable skills, and build up our community.

First-of-its-kind 'Green Alert' Bill Passes State Assembly, Heads to Governor to Become Law
This January, the Senate unanimously approved my ‘Green Alert’ bill. Green Alert will be a similar program as Amber or Silver Alerts, but to instead protect veterans and active members of the armed forces, military reserves, or National Guard. 

I am proud that the bipartisan ‘Green Alert’ bill passed the State Assembly today, and that it will now head to Governor Walker for his signature into law. This bill, known as the Corey Adams Searchlight Act, has gained national attention, as it would be the first of its kind in the United States. 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 Adams 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 might have been different if the public had been enlisted in the search for Corey sooner. 

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.

By creating the Green Alert, we are honoring Corey’s memory and working to prevent other tragedies. I hope to see other states take note of Wisconsin’s leadership and work to implement similar safeguards.

Other articles on this topic: NBC26, KHQ, U.S. News & World Report, and CNN

Live with #414Wisconsin
Recently, I took some time to speak with Darryl Ingram and Bryan Kelly on their radio show on NewsTalk1510AM. We spoke about civic engagement, voting local, and the work of the Black and Latino Caucus. 

In light of the spring election, we talked about how important it is to become educated on what issues are going on in the community and how talking to your district senator makes a difference. We also spoke about the first State of Black and Brown Address put on by the Black and Latino Caucus. Listen to the full clip by clicking the link above!

Speaking at the Working People's Day of Action Rally

On February 24, workers around the country took a stand against policies that infringe on the basic rights of working people. I was honored to speak at the Madison-based rally about supporting families and the benefits of strong worker protections. Other speakers at the rally talked about the power workers have to demand fair treatment, the proud history of labor, and the Supreme Court case, Janus v AFSCME, in which arguments began two days after the rally.

 

 

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!