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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

First, I want to thank everyone who attended the 6th Senate District's fourth EMPOWER-MKE event. We had a very thoughtful and honest conversation about our criminal justice system and I appreciate that so many community members took time out of their Saturday to attend the event.  

This past month, there has been a lot of discussion about reducing gun violence in our communities. Each of us deserves an opportunity to live without fearing for our safety. However, too many of us have been personally affected by the pain of having a loved one hurt or killed by gun violence. This month's newsletter will focus on what we can do as lawmakers to address this public health crisis.  

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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Celebrate National Voter Registration Day!


On September 24, we celebrated National Voter Registration Day! Voting is the most basic right we have as citizens in a democracy and your voice matters. Our democratic system works best when all eligible voters participate and allow their voices to be heard. The goal for the 2019 National Voter Registration Day is to increase voter participation by encouraging Americans to register to vote. Make sure you are registered to vote at your current address. Registering to vote in Wisconsin is easy and can be done online. 

Click here for more information and to register to vote!

 

Prioritizing Public Safety by Addressing Gun Violence
 

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It wasn’t long ago that we lost 10-year-old Sierra Guyton, who was caught in the crossfire on an elementary school playground in Milwaukee. Sierra’s funeral was the first I’d ever attended for a child. At the time, I told myself her funeral would be the last child funeral I would attend, but it wasn’t.

Five years after Sierra’s death, we continue to lose innocent lives on playgrounds, at shopping centers, places of worship, concerts, night clubs and even in people’s own homes. When I talk with our neighbors in the 6th Senate District, I hear over and over that people are tired of turning on their television screen only to learn of another shooting on their city blocks. Likewise, people across the state and country are fed up with the mass shootings carried out by dangerous people whose only goal is to take as many innocent lives as possible.

Recently, I sat down with my friend and colleague, Senate Democratic Leader Jennifer Shilling, as she shared her own personal experience with gun violence with the Milwaukee Journal Sentinal.

The article, titled, It is unspoken pain: Two Wisconsin lawmakers share a common bond through the anguish of gun violence is a call from Senator Shilling and me for legislators to come together and realize that it is past time to admit we have a gun violence epidemic in our country and that we need to do what we can to keep our communities safe.

Criminal background checks are the foundation of any effort to reduce gun violence. Currently, a dangerous loophole in federal law exists that allows domestic abusers, fugitives, felons, and other people prohibited from possessing firearms to buy guns without a background check at gun shows or through online vendors.

No one should be able to avoid a background check simply by purchasing a firearm from an unlicensed seller.

That’s why I was proud to introduce legislation to expand background checks and close this loophole.


The overwhelming majority of gun owners are consistently responsible with their firearms, especially here in Wisconsin where we take pride in our hunting traditions. Wisconsinites are strong stewards of gun safety and use gun locks, safe storage, and safe handling techniques for their firearms. Expanding background checks only builds on the culture of gun safety by making sure firearms don’t end up in the hands of dangerous individuals.

As legislators, it is incumbent on each and every one of us to keep communities around the state safe. But lawmakers in Madison continue to shirk their duties and push back on commonsense reforms. Public polling tells us that 80 percent of Wisconsinites favor expanded background checks. The lack of action by Republican lawmakers means children will continue to fear for their safety in their classrooms, and Wisconsinites will continue to fear the possibility of gun violence in public spaces.

We owe it to every single person in our state to do all we can to ensure that everyone feels safe in their own community, free from the threat of deadly weapons. We cannot sit idly by and wait for the next senseless act of gun violence to disrupt our neighborhoods and take more innocent lives. Expanding universal background checks is critical to reducing senseless gun violence.

In addition to closing the background check loophole, I am supporting other pending legislation to help reduce gun violence. One of these bills is known as the extreme risk protection order (ERPO) proposal. This legislation balances gun ownership rights and public safety by simply empowering law enforcement and family members of an individual who may be a harm to themselves or others to take meaningful action during a crisis.

Under the ERPO process, 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.

The lives of many have been saved in states with ERPO laws, for instance, by reducing firearm suicide rates. For example, Connecticut has seen a 14% reduction in firearm suicide rates after the implementation of ERPO legislation, and Indiana has seen a 7.5% reduction. Suicide deaths are rising in Wisconsin, making it critical for our state to take action.  

 

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  
Empower-MKE is a bi-annual event meant to make our community a great place to work, live, and raise a family. As part of my efforts to engage and empower the Milwaukee communities, I held an event addressing navigating the criminal justice system on September 21st. This event focused on providing a greater understanding of the role of law enforcement in the community, how residents can work with our local police districts to ensure safe and secure neighborhoods, and what to do if you become involved in the criminal justice system. 

 

Learning Opportunity for High School Juniors & Seniors in the 6th Senate District!
The State Legislature is excited to offer a unique legislative experience to one student from each of the 33 Senate Districts. Chosen students will learn about constituent relations, research and development of legislation, and bill drafting in a classroom setting as well as engaging in roundtable discussions with legislative support agency and staff, media, and lobbyists. The students will also staff the Senate floor during an actual legislative session, witness Senate debates on legislation, draft their own bills and amendments, form their own mock committee, and elect committee leadership. Applications are due by November 8th, 2019 at the latest. A digital copy of the application can be found at www.senatescholar.com 

  

Outreach in the 6th Senate District
This summer and fall, 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 continue to 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 New Testament City Central 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. 

 

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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Senate Committee on Education and State of Education Address
On September 17, the Senate Committee on Education held its first Executive Session of 2019. I will continue to work to ensure the state provides quality education for all Wisconsin children and I look forward to more Executive Sessions so I can continue my efforts with the Senate Committee. It is my mission to ensure that all Wisconsin students have access to high-quality public education. This past September, I worked with Governor Tony Evers to help make this possible so teachers, students, and parents could start this school year with a $329.9 million investment in general aid to Wisconsin schools as well as $100 million more per-pupil aid to school districts compared to the Republican budget proposal. 

In addition to the Senate Committee on Education, State Superintendent Stanford Taylor held her first 'State of Education' address. I want to thank Superintendent Stanford Taylor for her commitment to making sure students can thrive, regardless of zip code.

“Too many of our students of color, students with disabilities, English learners, and students from low-income families struggle to achieve their dreams and reach their full potential. We have to get learning right for our most underserved students on the front end, or Wisconsin, as a state, will never achieve true success.” -Carolyn Stanford Taylor, State Superintendent


Local Municipalities Voice their Concerns about Gun Violence 
Wauwatosa mayor, Kathy Ehley, recently announced the League of Wisconsin Municipalities' letter to the governor and legislative leadership urging that they take action to prevent violence in our communities. Local leaders from almost 140 Wisconsin communities signed the letter, including officials from our largest cities and small, rural communities.  

Rally for Common Sense Gun Laws
On September 18, members of the Wisconsin Coalition for Gun Safety hosted a rally for common-sense gun laws at the Wisconsin State Capitol. Top legislative priorities included universal background checks, extreme risk protection orders, and tax exemption for gun safes. 
 

 

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 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!