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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

I hope you are having a great summer. With the state budget being signed into law, I wanted to give you a quick update on the major missed opportunities for Milwaukee due to changes made by the Republican majority.

Additionally, as you may know, my office is out in the community this summer going door-to-door seeking input from you and your neighbors. More information on how you can provide your thoughts and ideas is included below.

As always, please let my office know what state and community issues are important to you! 


Sincerely, 

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LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

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Keeping Your Pets Safe During Hot Weather

With the extremely hot temperatures occurring over the past several weeks, it is important to keep yourself and your loved ones safe. For those of us with pets, that means also recognizing the signs of heatstroke in animals, which can be fatal even with prompt treatment.

Signs of heatstroke include panting, staring or stupor, breathing difficulty, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse. If you see any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. Get the animal out of direct heat and get it wet however you can -- with towels soaked in cool water, with a hose, in a wading pool. If you use towels, it will be most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like a dog's belly and legs.

For more tips on keeping your pets safe, click here.

 

Missed Opportunities for Milwaukee in the State Budget
 

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As you may know, Governor Evers recently signed the state budget into law. While having Evers in the East Wing allowed for budget vetoes that resulted in increased investments in key priorities, like education, and forced Wisconsin Republicans to listen to the people of Wisconsin as they voiced their priorities, there is no denying that there were many missed opportunities for Milwaukee. Governor Tony Evers said it best in his veto message:

"While this budget makes critical investments in areas that were included in The People’s Budget, this is a down payment on the progress we must make in the next biennial budget. In the meantime, I will not stop fighting for items that Republican
leadership took out of The People’s Budget." - Tony Evers

As a member of the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee (JFC), I am responsible for ensuring everyone in our state has what they need to thrive, regardless of the zip code of which they live. Unfortunately, with JFC being Republican-controlled, too many Wisconsinites are left behind, especially in our community.  

Still, during his first budget address, Governor Evers talked about a budget that 'connects the dots.' Having a governor that understands how housing, health care and criminal justice are interconnected is extremely critical to make sure we are utilizing our state resources in an intentional, strategic way and ultimately resulted in a budget that is a down payment on the People's Budget. 

For instance, a key budget win was the governor's $1.4 million investment in providing high-quality early childhood education in the 53206 zip code. 
When I met with Governor Evers to discuss my vision for our state, a top priority of mine was supporting my neighbors in 53206–specifically by ensuring the community has access to high-quality childcare –so I was thrilled when the governor unveiled his plan to invest in a childcare grant program and to establish the first five-star childcare center in the 53206 community. While many of Governor Evers’ budget items aimed at assisting residents in the city of Milwaukee were removed by the Republican majority, this critical item survived to be signed into law.


Missed Opportunities for Milwaukee in 2019-21 State Budget 
Governor Evers proposed many items that would have directly supported Milwaukee families. Unfortunately, during the Joint Finance Committee process, Republicans removed many of these items. Here are a few examples:

  • Transform Milwaukee for Childless Adults. Governor Evers’ proposal provided $500,000 in general purpose revenue (GPR) annually to create a program identical to the Transform Milwaukee Jobs program for childless adults over the age of 24.
     
  • After-School and Out-Of-School-Time Program Grants
    The governor’s budget proposal provided $10,000,000 GPR annually for a new grant program to support high-quality after-school programs and out-of-school-time programs to organizations that provide services to school-age children. A number of positive outcomes have been attributed to participation in after-school programs. For example, research cited by the National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) in March 2018, report suggests that pupils who participate in after-school programming show improvements in their grades and test scores, behavior, and attendance, and reductions in drop-out rates and participation in risky behaviors.

  • Milwaukee Mathematics Partnership
    Recognizing the previous success of the Milwaukee Mathematics Partnership program in closing the achievement gap, the governor’s budget proposal provided $10,000,000 GPR beginning in 2020-21 for a mathematics partnership between Milwaukee Public Schools (MPS) and UW-Milwaukee.

    This proposal would have required the Board of Directors of MPS, in consultation with UW-Milwaukee, to develop and implement a plan to improve mathematics instruction in MPS schools. The achievement gap between MPS and the rest of the state in mathematics is significant and persistent. Although this gap continued during the initial years of the Mathematics Partnership, mathematics scores improved significantly for pupils in the 4th and 8th grades, and slightly for pupils in 10th grade. Since the Partnership ended in 2013, the proficiency gap between MPS and the rest of the state has increased.

    Although the statewide assessment changed between 2010-11 and 2015-16, so the proficiency rates in the two data sets cannot be directly compared with one another, assessment data shows that substantial gaps remain between MPS mathematics scores and statewide scores. In 2017-18, only six out of approximately 150 MPS schools had a mathematics proficiency rate above the statewide average.
     

  • Urban School District Initiatives
    A 2017 report titled "Race for Results" published by the Annie E. Casey Foundation identified Wisconsin as the state with the largest disparities between African-American children and white children, based on a number of education, health, family, and poverty indicators. Similarly, in recent years Wisconsin's gap between African-American pupils and white pupils on the National Assessment of Educational Progress (NAEP), has been among the largest in the nation.

    Governor Evers’ budget proposal provided additional funding for programs in urban school districts (which included the state's five largest urban districts–Green Bay, Kenosha, Madison, Milwaukee, and Racine). The five urban districts represent 18.8% of the state's total pupil population, but 31.3% of the state's total population of economically disadvantaged pupils, 44.8% of English learners, 68.2% of African-American pupils, and 33.5% of other non-white pupils. Specifically, the governor's budget would have provided:
    • $3,600,000 GPR annually for grants to develop, redesign, or implement a summer school program, and expand the current law program to include all urban school districts, rather than only Milwaukee Public Schools.
    • $5,000,000 GPR beginning in 2020-21 to develop, implement, or administer new or expanded early childhood programming.
    • $1,000,000 GPR annually for community engagement grants for collaboration between the district and a nonprofit organization, a local unit of government, a cooperative educational service agency, a technical college, or a UW System institution to provide additional resources or services to pupils and their families, with the goal of improving the academic achievement of pupils, the well-being of pupils and their families, or relationships between pupils, school staff, and the community.
    • $250,000 GPR annually for principal training, coaching, and professional development.
    • $571,200 GPR in 2019-20 and $652,900 GPR in 2020-21 to increase the size of the annual grants for teachers who are nationally board certified or hold a Wisconsin master educator license, and teach in a low-income school located in either an urban or non-urban school district.

2019-20 Legislative Session Highlights
While the state budget process has concluded, it is important that lawmakers continue to talk about the issues that matter most to the communities they represent. I am working on current and future legislation on the following issues:

  • Lead Lateral Replacement
    Recognizing the crisis of toxic lead exposures in Milwaukee, Gov. Evers proposed $40 million of bonding authority for the replacement of lead laterals. With by far the highest number of lead laterals in the state, Milwaukee would have benefited greatly from this proposal. Unfortunately, as part of their first action on the budget, Republicans on the Joint Finance Committee voted to remove this funding.

    I am not ready to give up on this common-sense response to a public health crisis that is harming our children, so I will be re-introducing the $40 million lead lateral replacement proposal as stand-alone legislation.

  • Universal Background Checks
    This bill requires that, with some exceptions, all firearms sales be done through a federally licensed dealer and thus be subject to a background check. In Wisconsin, federally licensed dealers are required to conduct background checks on all firearm sales, but private sellers are not. Eight out of 10 Wisconsin residents, including gun owners, support a law requiring background checks for all gun purchases.

    We’ve seen firsthand the tragedy that the background check loophole can reap. Radcliffe Haughton, the man who committed the mass shooting at the Azana Spa in Brookfield, was prohibited from possessing firearms under the terms of a temporary restraining order. However, Haughton was able to purchase a gun via an online web site without undergoing a background check.

  • Safe Harbor for Child Victims of Human Trafficking
    In 2016, Wisconsin made a huge stride in aiding children who are victims of sexual exploitation by changing state law to classify child sex trafficking as abuse under the children’s code and provide protective services to trafficked youth (2016 Wisconsin Act 367).

    This legislation takes a final step in recognizing children as victims of exploitation by removing the ability to charge a child with prostitution. By changing this statute, Wisconsin law will no longer conflict with the Federal Trafficking Victims Protection Act, which treats coerced children as victims, even if they have engaged in criminal prostitution activity.


    Sexually exploited children tend to be at-risk, vulnerable youths with troubled backgrounds. According to the U.S. Department of Justice’s Anti-Human Trafficking Task Force, children who become involved with the act of prostitution often have histories of running away, homelessness, and drug dependency. An estimated 70 to 90 percent of youth victims of sex trafficking have histories of sexual abuse. When considered in this light, we can easily see that these children are victims of sexual exploitation and should not be treated as criminals. 

 

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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Outreach in the 6th Senate District
This summer, my office will be out in the community gaining input from you and your neighbors. I consider it a privilege to serve you in the Wisconsin State Senate and want to ensure that you know we are a resource for you and your family. We will be knocking on doors over the next several months to get your opinions and thoughts about how I can best serve you in the state Legislature. If we haven't visited your block yet, you can always contact my office to provide input if you have questions or concerns about state issues. You can also visit my website and fill out a brief survey to let me know your thoughts on how I can best serve you and the rest of our community.
 

Visiting Churches Around the District
This past month, I was honored to visit several churches around the community. I want to thank the community and leaders at Progressive Baptist Church and Cornerstone Church for allowing me to worship with you. I look forward to seeing many more of you at your places of worship throughout the coming weeks. 
 

Participation in the A-LEGO Conference 
I was honored to participate in the African American Ladies Empowered to Grow Opportunities (A-LEGO) conference recently. During the conference, I sat on the “2020 Vision: Making the Budgets Work for People of Color” panel. It was great to take part in this meaningful and important discussion, where I was able to talk about my role on the Joint Finance Committee and provide a recap of what happened during the state budget process and, more importantly, what work remains. 

 

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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Wisconsin Democrats Introduce Legislation in Support of Fair Maps

According to a January 2019 poll from Marquette University Law School, 72% of Wisconsinites support a nonpartisan commission helming the map-making process. Only 18% said the Legislature and governor should be in charge. 46 of Wisconsin’s 72 county boards have passed resolutions calling for nonpartisan redistricting. Redistricting reform isn’t about Republicans or Democrats – it’s about ensuring our democracy reflects the will of the people.

Standing with Dignity Legislation
I was proud to join Representative Jimmy Anderson in introducing legislation that would improve independent living by making it easier for individuals to have access to standing wheelchairs. Removing obstacles for individuals with disabilities, allowing them to live fuller, more productive lives strengthens the entire community and I am proud to be part of this bipartisan initiative. 


Safe Roads Save Lives Legislation
As my office has been going door-to-door in the community, we hear over and over again that our neighbors are deeply concerned with reckless driving. Everyone should have the right to a safe community. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of Representative David Crowley's 'Safe Roads Save Lives' bill to help reduce excessive speeding and red-light running.

 

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.'

 

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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 Evers.....................................................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!