LaTonya's Legislative Updates Final Border.png

Dear Friends and Neighbors,

First, I want to extend a big thank you to everyone who was able to participate in the Community Connections Survey that was included in the October edition of the newsletter.  Your feedback ensures that I am able to provide you with the critical information and support you need. Stay tuned, as I will be incorporating some of the suggestions I received in the upcoming months! 

This month, I am excited to provide you with an update about some of the legislation I have recently authored and co-sponsored. 

For far too long Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities have been left out of the policy-making process. That is why I am proud to introduce legislation that seeks to disrupt the discriminatory policies and practices that directly impact our district.

My hope is that this legislation will lead to stronger Milwaukee communities, healthy moms and families, and a bright future for our kids. Keep reading for more information about these bills.


Sincerely, 

LJohnson sig.bmp
LaTonya Johnson
State Senator

 

Contents

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Tip of the Month 2.png (1)
Turkey Giveaway!

With Thanksgiving around the corner make sure to plan ahead to receive a free turkey for you and your family. 

When: November 22, 2021 beginning at 10 AM

Where: DR. Martin Luther King Community Center (1531 W. Vliet Street, Milwaukee, WI 53205)

What: The We Care Crew and other partners are hosting a drive-thru turkey giveaway. One turkey per household will be provided while supplies last.

2021 Legislative Update

Currently, Wisconsin is ranked the worst place in America to raise a Black child. This ranking did not occur overnight, but is instead the result of historically racist policies and practices that have sought to disenfranchise Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) individuals and communities. 

Overcoming these structural inequities requires structural changes that promote equity and justice for all. As such, I am proud to have recently introduced and advocated for several bills that promote racial equity within the areas of healthcare and criminal justice reform.

Health Care

Birth Equity Act

The infant mortality rate for Black babies in Wisconsin is 14.3% compared to 4.9% for white babies. We cannot accept this fate without change any longer - lives are at stake. That is why I am proud to introduce the Birth Equity Act, which seeks to disrupt our state's most onerous barriers to child and maternal health, while also bringing awareness to these pervasive disparities. This legislative package includes six bills that will:

The Birth Equity Act is a significant first step toward instituting actionable policy and system changes for Wisconsin’s BIPOC mothers and infants. For more information about the Birth Equity Act and how you can show your support, visit www.wibirthequity.org.


Respect Act

Starting a family, becoming a parent, and ending a pregnancy are some of the most personal, private decisions of our lives. Every person should be able to make these decisions without political interference. That is why I was proud to introduce the Respect Act along with my colleagues, Sen. Kelda Roys and Rep. Francesca Hong. This legislative package includes two bills that will:

The Respect Act supports both patients and healthcare professionals by keeping politicians out of the exam room. Moreover, it will restore the rights of Wisconsinites to make their own reproductive healthcare decisions, free from harassment, intimidation, political interference, or false information.

National Sickle Cell Awareness Month

Across the United States, more than 100,000 people are battling sickle cell disease, with approximately 800 of them residing in Wisconsin. Unfortunately, this disease predominantly affects communities of color and leaves many Wisconsinites seeking a multitude of life-saving treatments, like frequent blood transfusions and other strategies to mediate side effects. 

As such, I am honored to have the opportunity to introduce this joint resolution which seeks to commemorate September as National Sickle Cell Awareness Month. Through this, my legislative colleagues and I hope to bring support and improvements to the lives of all Wisconsinites that battle this disease.


Criminal Justice Reform

Safe Harbor Act

As in past sessions, I have once again authored and introduced the bipartisan Safe Harbor Act, which prohibits children under the age of 18 from being prosecuted for acts of prostitution – a Class A misdemeanor. This vital proposal brings Wisconsin law in line with federal law, which rightfully treats children engaged in commercial sex acts as sexually exploited children and victims of child abuse, not criminals. 

The Safe Harbor Act does not legalize prostitution. Instead, it protects and convinces 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.

On October 14, this bill passed out of the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety, and is now available for scheduling for a full vote by the entire senate. To track the Safe Harbor Acts as it goes through the legislative process, CLICK HERE.


Universal Background Checks

Last year, there were 189 homicides in Milwaukee, making gun safety a critical issue for the 6th district. Lax laws and loopholes have left our community awash in guns - placing our children and families in harm's way. 

To combat these terrifying statistics, my Democratic colleagues and I recently reintroduced legislation on Universal Background Checks. This common-sense proposal ensures that ALL individuals seeking to purchase a firearm undergo a background check, and prohibits the transfer of a firearm unless it goes through a federally licensed firearms dealer - with limited exceptions.

My hope is that this legislation will help to protect our community, as it is a step in the right direction towards decreasing gun violence and protecting our families.


Extreme Risk Protection Orders

In 56% of mass shootings and many instances of suicide, dangerous warning signs were exhibited beforehand – but in Wisconsin, there is no legal remedy to take action before it is too late. With this in mind, my Democratic colleagues and I recently reintroduced legislation that creates an extreme risk protection order (ERPO) in Wisconsin. 

Under this bill, if a person is likely to injure themselves or another person, a family member or law enforcement officer may petition to temporarily prevent the person from possessing a firearm. Moreover, this legislation mirrors existing temporary restraining order (TRO) and injunction processes, such as the domestic abuse injunction process, affording families and law enforcement officers the opportunity to act when they believe someone is at risk of harming themselves or others. 

ERPO empowers law enforcement and family members to save lives while ensuring robust due process provisions, providing harsh penalties for fraudulent claims, and upholding our Second Amendment rights.  

A full list of bills I have authored or co-authored this session can be found here!

In the District

Updates on what's happening locally in our community can be found in this section. I'll also include updates on resources, information, and COVID-19 assistance programs.

EMPOWER MKE: Diving into Wisconsin's Racial Disparities
On November 16 at 5 PM, join me for the first-ever virtual EMPOWER-MKE. This event will provide critical updates about the impact racial disparities have on Black, Indigenous, People of Color (BIPOC) communities, legislative initiatives to address them, and how the public can advocate on the behalf of these initiatives. Through this, I hope to provide information that will aid in all of us coming together to demand change that will lead to strong Milwaukee communities, healthy moms and families, and a bright future for our kids. To participate, at the time of the event CLICK HERE.

Wisconsin Psychological Association Fall Meeting
On October 8, I was invited to present at the Wisconsin Psychological Association’s annual meeting. During the event, I touched on the need for greater state investment into student mental health and maternal mental health and highlighted some of Governor Tony Evers’ initiatives to improve the mental health landscape here in Wisconsin. I also discussed the importance of being involved in the legislative process and how to effectively advocate on issues members care about.

Concordia University Presentation: Racial Equity Legislation 
In October, my office had the opportunity to connect with social work students at Concordia University about the racial equity initiatives that are happening in Wisconsin. Social workers play a critical role in our society by connecting individuals and families to life-sustaining resources. As such, I was honored that my office had the opportunity to discuss the many ways social workers can advocate for legislative policies that improve racial equity outcomes in Wisconsin.

White Cane Day
On October 6, 1964, President Lyndon B. Johnson proclaimed October 15 of each year as White Cane Safety Day. I appreciated being able to attend White Cane Day in Milwaukee on October 15 at the invitation of Beyond Vision. The white cane, which every blind citizen in our state has the right to carry, is a demonstration of the ability to live and fulfill an independent and fully capable life, both privately and in the workforce.

Tabernacle Community Baptist Church: Sunday Service with Governor Tony Evers 

On October 10, I was honored to attend Sunday service at the Tabernacle Community Baptist Church alongside Governor Tony Evers,  Rep. Kalan Haywood, and Nadiyah Groves - Director of the Governor’s Milwaukee Office. I want to extend my deepest gratitude to Rev. Donna Childs for having us.

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. I'll also share articles that I am quoted in when speaking to members of the media about the values of our community.


New Vendor for the State’s Non-Emergency Medical Transportation Program
On November 1, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services switched to a new provider for its non-emergency medical transportation program.

Veyo, a medical transportation service currently operating in seven other states, will take over for the state program that provides rides, gas money and bus fare reimbursement for Wisconsin residents who receive BadgerCare Plus and Medicaid.

More information on how to schedule a ride, receive gas money, or bus fare is available here.

GOP Partisan Gerrymandering
Every 10 years, Wisconsin goes through a legislative map-drawing process, known as redistricting. Over the last ten years, we’ve all seen firsthand the negative impact that partisan gerrymandering has had in Wisconsin. Now, Republicans in the State Assembly and Senate are trying to gerrymander our state for another ten years by passing manipulated maps that Republicans drew in secrecy.

On October 28, a public hearing was held about the Republican-drawn maps with hundreds of people speaking out against them. More information about the hearing is available here.


Governor Tony Evers Violence Prevention Efforts
We all deserve to live in a community where we feel safe at school, on the playground, or in church. During my time in the Legislature, including while serving on the budget-writing Joint Finance Committee, I have made it a priority to fight for policies that will increase safety in our neighborhoods.

Unfortunately, the Republican majority in the Legislature has not sufficiently acted on ways to make our communities safer.

It is critical that we invest in solutions to prevent violence. I was thankful to stand beside Governor Tony Evers when he announced putting federal dollars towards violence prevention. We have a long way to go, but this investment is certainly a step forward. For more information about the initiative, CLICK HERE.


Wisconsin Department of Corrections Vendor Bill
Recently, the Wisconsin Department of Corrections awarded an exclusive contract to a California-based company to sell personal property items to inmates in state correctional institutions. The switch upended 30 years of Departmental contracting practices which had maintained multiple vendors for personal items to state inmates. 

DOC’s move not only changes decades of past practices but also subjects vulnerable persons in the state's care and their families to potential price increases without any market competition and denies them the ability to shop for items in-person in Milwaukee.  

As such, I was proud to testify in support of a bill that would preserve the ability for incarcerated people to shop at different vendors for personal items. You can read my written testimony about the bill on page three of the public hearing materials. More information about how the switch will impact inmates in Wisconsin is available here. 


Postpartum Medicaid Extension in the Federal Build Back Better Act
Nearly half of births in the U.S. are covered by Medicaid. Currently, federal Medicaid and CHIP coverage ends 60 days after birth. Despite women and birthing people experiencing pregnancy-related complications and morbidities up to one year postpartum - with Black and Indigenous people being disproportionately impacted.

Postpartum Medicaid Extension, coverage for one year after giving birth, is a key element of the Biden Administration’s Build Back Better (BBB) Act. As such, I was proud to sign on to an action letter alongside the Black Mamas Matter Alliance, the Center for Reproductive Rights, and SiX Action to call on the U.S. Senate to include permanent and mandatory postpartum Medicaid coverage for one year after birth in the final budget reconciliation package. 

Congress must seize the opportunity to ensure quality healthcare access for pregnant and postpartum individuals in every state across the nation. Through this, state officials can work to meet the needs of women and birthing people in the critical postpartum period.

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 County 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!