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Dear Friends and Neighbors, 

Welcome to the September edition of the Community Connections newsletter! As we move forward with the 2021-2022 Legislative Session, it is important that lawmakers continue to talk about the issues that matter most to the communities they represent.

That said, I wanted to provide you with an update about some of the legislation I have authored or cosponsored this session, like the Building Economic Security Together (B.E.S.T.) Legislative Package, which seeks to build a solid economic foundation for all Wisconsinites. These timely and common-sense solutions ensure that everyone in our community has the resources they need to thrive.

More information about the B.E.S.T Legislative Package and the other critical issues my legislative colleagues and I are working on can be found 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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Find a Local Food Pantry!

As our state continues to deal with the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic, some families may be struggling with food insecurity. If you or someone you know needs food, click the link below for information on where to find food pantries, meal distribution sites, meals for children, and meal delivery programs.

Click here for list of where you can get free or low-cost meals!

 

What's Next for the 2021-2022 Legislative Session?

 

 


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. As such, I wanted to provide you with an update about the current issues and legislation I am supporting:

Building Economic Security Together (B.E.S.T.) Legislative Package
At every stage in life, Wisconsinites deserve economic security and to know that their government works for everyone. This legislative package, spearheaded by State Senator Melissa Agard, aims to build a solid economic foundation for residents all across Wisconsin for generations to come by restoring and retaining our state’s economic health, addressing economic disparities, as well as strengthening our long-term economy.

The following bills are included within the B.E.S.T. Legislative Package:

  • Housing Assistance:
    Wisconsinites deserve to have a safe, stable place to live. That’s why I am proud to author this timely legislation. The Housing Assistance bill creates a pilot program that would allow counties to apply for grant funding to assist Wisconsinites with down payments on homes. Giving counties the opportunity to aid people with down payments on homes would help to close the homeownership gap and assist Wisconsinites find stable, safe housing.

  • Baby Bonds:
    All of our children, regardless of their zip code, deserve the opportunity to reach their full potential and achieve their dreams. The Baby Bonds bill will allow the state to invest $3,000 in bonds for babies born to eligible families in Wisconsin. Access to these funds would be granted at 18, and the money could be used to buy a home, pursue higher education, start a business, contribute toward retirement or investments, or pay for childcare. This critical legislation will help to level the playing field at a time where income inequality is increasing at an alarming rate, especially in communities of color who have been harmed by historic economic injustices.

  • $15 Minimum Wage:
    All workers deserve to make a wage that exemplifies the hard work they do every day for their families and our communities. We need fair, livable wages that would provide meaningful support for ordinary Wisconsinites. SB 452 would require the state to increase Wisconsin’s minimum wage to $15 within one year of enactment.

  • Retirement Marketplace:
    Financial stability is a crucial element of retirement planning, Wisconsin must play a role in providing avenues to build this vital foundation for folks no matter where they work. The Retirement Marketplace bill creates a state-run marketplace to access information and invest in vetted retirement plans.

  • Pension Relief:
    Wisconsinites should be able to retire with the dignity they deserve after a career dedicated to their communities. That is why I am proud to co-sponsor this legislation, which provides pension relief for Wisconsin’s public safety and frontline workers.

  • Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency:
    Every Wisconsinite should be able to access the medication they need and at a price they can afford. Prescription drug price transparency is a crucial element in managing prescription drug costs and ensuring Wisconsinites have access to their vital medications without fear of financial harm. The Prescription Drug Pricing Transparency bill ensures that prices are not raised unexpectedly by requiring pharmaceutical companies to report to the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance and Department of Health Services when a price will be increasing by more than 25%.

Additional Legislative Proposals to Promote Successful Communities

Increasing the Earned Income Tax Credit
The earned income tax credit (EITC) is refundable, which means that a person may receive a refund check if the credit exceeds their tax liability. Under current law, the Wisconsin EITC is equal to a percentage of the federal EITC. As a result, claimants with one child receive 4%, claimants with two children receive 11%, and claimants with three or more children receive 34%. Senate Bill 465 would allow a person with fewer than three children to claim for Wisconsin purposes 34%, and would apply to taxable years after 2020.

 

Accommodations for Breastfeeding Employees
The decision to breastfeed a child is a personal one, and those who choose to do it should feel supported and should not face unfair barriers in order to do so. That is why I am proud to support this legislation which provides basic workplace protections for breastfeeding employees. Senate Bill 493 makes sure breastfeeding employees who take unpaid break time to breastfeed or express breastmilk do not lose eligibility for employer-sponsored health insurance as a result. Moreover, this bill updates Wisconsin law to bring it in line with federal standards regarding breastfeeding accommodations.

Civil Rights Enforcement Authority Bill
I was proud to work with Attorney General Josh Kaul and my co-author Rep. Jimmy Anderson to introduce Senate Bill 330. This legislation grants the state attorney general the authority to investigate potential civil rights violations and bring a civil action when there is reasonable cause to believe that a person has either committed a violation or been denied their rights secured by the United States Constitution, Wisconsin Constitution, or any Wisconsin laws relating to housing, employment, education, or public accommodation. All Wisconsinites deserve the opportunity to thrive, and this bill ensures that the constitutional rights of our state’s citizens are duly and justly enforced.

Legalizing Medical and Recreational Marijuana
This bill would fully legalize marijuana in the state of Wisconsin, including manufacturing, distribution, delivering, possession, and use of both recreational and medicinal marijuana. Too many lives and communities have been damaged by out-of-date and backward cannabis policies. I feel it is critical that our state take the important step in rectifying these damages by creating a pathway towards full legalization.


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.

 


56th Anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid
On July 30, 1965, President Lyndon B Johnson signed legislation to establish Medicare for the elderly and Medicaid for low-income adults, children, pregnant women, and people with disabilities. This historic event ensured that millions of Americans were provided basic health coverage.

I was honored to join Citizen Action of Wisconsin and The WI Alliance For Retired Americans for a virtual roundtable to celebrate the 56th anniversary of Medicare and Medicaid. During the roundtable, we discussed the critical role these programs play in the health of our communities, and how we can expand them to support more people. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

Rally for Affordable Child Care
I was proud to join 9to5 for their affordable child care rally to discuss ways our state can improve access to accessible and affordable child care. As a former child care provider, a top priority of mine is ensuring families have access to high-quality childcare, as quality care isn't just essential for our children's development, it is also a critical part of Milwaukee’s economic infrastructure and ensures more people can remain in the workforce. You can read about my remarks at the rally HERE.

New Mental Health Emergency Center 
Mental health care is a critical resource that should be easily accessible. Recently, I had the privilege to attend the groundbreaking of a new Mental Health Emergency Center in Milwaukee County, which will provide crisis stabilization, assessments, emergency treatment, and connections to outpatient services for youth and adults. To learn more, CLICK HERE.


56th HEAR Wisconsin Launches Mobile Audiology Clinic
HEAR Wisconsin is an area nonprofit that helps children and adults of all ages identify and manage hearing loss. Recently, HEAR Wisconsin launched Wisconsin’s first-ever nonprofit Mobile Audiology Clinic (MAC) to eliminate barriers to comprehensive care.

To learn more about MAC, go to www.hearwi.org/mac. To inquire about scheduling a MAC visit to your community, call 414-973-1076 or email mac@hearwi.org.

Honored to Receive State Grant Champion Award!
As a member of the state budget committee, I work tirelessly to ensure Milwaukee gets its fair share of state resources. It is not always easy under a Republican-controlled Legislature, which is why I was relieved to see local community health centers receive additional support. Thank you to the Wisconsin Primary Health Care Association (WPCHA) and Sixteenth Street Health Center for acknowledging this accomplishment and awarding me with the State Grant Champion Award.

 

 

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.

 

 

 

GOP Attempts to Ban Anti-Racist Lessons in Schools
On August 11, the Senate Committee on Education took up a Republican-sponsored bill known as Senate Bill 411. Under the bill, public schools would be banned from teaching lessons about anti-racism and anti-sexism.

As a member of the Senate Committee on Education, I am proud to have fought back against this bill and the false concerns laid out by Republicans on the Committee. This bill serves as a way to distract from the fact that Republicans have been doing everything they can to undermine our democracy and increase the spread of COVID-19.

Moreover, it is insulting to our children--after the measly funding provided by the GOP in the budget, where they short-changed our kids' mental health and special education funding--for these Republicans to act like this is the biggest concern facing our children. To learn more, CLICK HERE.

Governor Evers' Commitment to Milwaukee Transit Services
Our Milwaukee neighbors depend on transit services each day to get to their jobs or go to the grocery store. As a member of the state's budget-writing committee, I was extremely disappointed when Republicans who control the committee targeted Milwaukee by cutting its transit budget by 50%.

I was pleased to stand with Governor Tony Evers, County Executive David Crowley, and other community leaders as the governor announced he will use $25 million in ARPA funds to boost transit funding for Milwaukee and Madison and help backfill the funding reduction made in the 2021-23 state budget.

To hear my comments about this critical decision, CLICK HERE.

50% of Wisconsinites Fully Vaccinated Against COVID-19
As of August 13, 50 percent of Wisconsinites have been fully vaccinated against COVID-19. This is an incredible milestone, and I am proud of everyone in our state who took the step to protect themselves and our communities against COVID-19.

However, we can’t let our guard down just yet, as Milwaukee currently has a high rate of community transmission of COVID-19. Vaccination is critical to slowing the spread of COVID-19, while also preventing severe illness, hospitalization, and death. Help protect your family and community by getting vaccinated. To learn more, CLICK HERE, and to find a vaccination site that’s close to your home, CLICK HERE.

 

 

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!