November 5, 2015
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Supporting our neighbors and being involved in our community is of the utmost importance. Some community events that might be of interest to you and your family are listed below.
Friends of Cudahy
Library Fall Vendor Fair
Cudahy Family Library
3500 Library Ave.
Cudahy, WI 53110
Kelly Senior Center
6100 S. Lake Dr.
Cudahy, WI 53210
Dear Wisconsin Neighbor,
The Republican leaders in the Senate are pushing for an extraordinary session to rush bills that will dismantle Wisconsin's good government laws. See below for an important call to action.
Also, this week's newsletter will focus on the need for policies that promote safe communities and support families. These include, ensuring equal access to opportunities, reducing disparities, and creating flexible workplaces.
Also, I wanted to let you know that,
due to State Statute 11.33, the Larson Report will be on hold starting
at the end of November to Tuesday, April 5, 2016. As such, the last
Larson Report newsletter before it is placed on hold will go out on
November 19. In an
effort to keep you up-to-date on the latest in state news and community
happenings, I encourage you to follow me on
Twitter and connect with me on
Facebook, where I will be posting regular updates. Additionally, I
will post important updates for you on my
|Action Alert: Help Save Clean Government in Wisconsin!|
Senate Republican leadership had
signaled that the Senate would be in session on Tuesday, November 3 to
pass two destructive bills that would blow open the doors to more
cronyism and corruption in Wisconsin. However, for the second week in a
row, the GOP temporarily balked, slowing the runaway Tea Party policy
With increased spending and influence being plied on the few remaining moderate Republican legislators, Republican leadership -- with the help of billionaire special interests -- are strong-arming enough votes to pass a bill to politicize the Government Accountability Board as well as a bill that would allow an avalanche of special interest money to flow to political parties, burying principles and values under a mountain of money. Indications are bullying tactics are winning the votes and the GOP will rush the Senate in an extraordinary session on Friday, November 6 to take up these bills.
Democrats, hold-out Republicans, and the majority of our Wisconsin neighbors know that the passage of these bills will shred vital safeguards on clean government in Wisconsin.
Help Senate Democrats kill these misguided bills -- that will squash Wisconsin's open government policies -- by doing the following:
|Wisconsin is in Need of Policies that Promote Safe Communities|
Every year, nearly 500 children,
women, and men are killed with guns. These senseless acts devastate
entire communities. Unfortunately, instead of focusing on ways to make
our communities safer, such as implementing background checks for all
types of firearm sales -- which polling has shown a vast majority of the
public and even 74% of National Rifle Association members support --
Republicans are taking Wisconsin in the wrong direction.
For instance, just this past June,
the Republican-controlled Legislature passed Senate Bill 35, a dangerous
proposal that eliminated the cooling-off safety period for handgun
purchases. This 48-hour cooling-off period served as a vital pause that
allowed those who wanted to purchase a handgun to reconsider the intent
and outcome of possessing a deadly weapon. The facts are clear, the
cooling-off period saves lives. However, in rushing this proposal
through, Governor Walker and his fellow Tea Party Republicans argued
that the tragedies that result from immediate access to firearms was
outweighed by the shopping inconvenience an additional gun store visit
would create. I know that this opinion is not shared by the majority of
our neighbors, in fact, I am a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 264, a proposal
to restore public safety by re-establishing the 48-hour cooling-off
period. With growing public concern and advocacy, I hope we can remedy
the mistake that Walker made when he stripped away this public safety
Wisconsin Needs to do More to
Allowing Guns on Campus
As noted by University of Wisconsin Milwaukee Student Body President Mike Sportiello in a strong statement to legislators, the outcome of such a law will foster an environment that invokes a state of worry and fear, rather than one of learning. Not only does this proposal fail to meaningfully protect our students and campus neighborhoods from violence, it does not have the support from those who would be impacted.
Evidence proves that guns endanger
people; adding more guns creates more problems. In fact, several studies
have found that students are more likely to have a firearm at college if
they are male, binge drink, and engage in risky and aggressive behaviors
after drinking. Additionally, suicide is already the leading cause of
death for college and university students in our country, and men are
nearly four times more likely to commit suicide when firearms are
accessible. Suicide attempts with a firearm are fatal more than 90% of
Rejecting the culture of fear and firearms is not unique to Wisconsin as those actually on college campuses across the country have voiced their opposition to concealed carry. In a 2009 poll, only 5% of university police chiefs nationwide thought allowing students to be armed would prevent shootings on campus. Further, another study found that 95% of college and university presidents are opposed to allowing concealed guns on campus. In 2013, a study found that 78% of Midwestern students are not in favor of concealed handguns.
The majority of college campuses in
the United States prohibit firearms on campus. These gun-free policies
are why college campuses have some of the lowest rates of violent crime.
Instead, of promoting policies based on anecdotes rather than evidence,
legislative Republicans should join Democrats in focusing on improving
the quality of life of our neighbors here in Wisconsin. We'd be much
better off as a state if leaders instead promoted our state's shared
values, such as investing in our kids' schools, improving access to
basic health care services, and creating family-supporting jobs that
will help us grow the economy, as well as implementing policies known to
|Education Performance Gap Widens|
Recently, the U.S. Department of
Education released a new report in which they detailed Wisconsin's
overall performance in the areas of mathematics and reading as well as
high school graduation rates for our state. As Wisconsin students remain
steady at past levels of educational performance in mathematics and
reading amongst fourth and eighth graders, we saw a widening racial gap
in our high school graduation rates.
Wisconsin now ranks third in the nation for high school graduation overall; however, the disparity amongst races is something that continues to be of serious concern. In the U.S. Department of Education report, we saw that while white students graduate at a rate of 92.9% black students are graduating at a rate of 66.1%. This disparity -- represented by the 26.8% gap between white and black students -- is the largest in the United States and serves as a harsh reminder that the republican education strategy is failing Wisconsin's students.
Rather than diverting
more funds away from public education and rescinding power from local
school boards, we must focus on what we know works. This includes
investing into our traditional neighborhood schools. Additionally, the
community school model that I introduced with Representative Barnes
helps to address the complex range of factors that lead to
underachievement, while strengthening local communities in the process.
The creation of community schools empowers parents, engages community
organizations, provides social services, as well as enriches a student's
education beyond teaching to a standardized test. With community
schools, we can transform the life of the student and help secure a
positive future for our communities. For instance, if a young student is
living in an impoverished community, they may not have access to regular
meals. We know that kids perform worse in school if they are hungry, so
this student may continue to fall further and further behind in their
classes. Now let's say this same student also has a cavity that is
causing them pain, but they do not have access to a dentist. This will
compound the problem and could cause the student to miss days of schools
because of the pain, even though they are already struggling and cannot
afford to miss. The community schools model takes a wrap-around approach
to help students like this. Through this model, the school would partner with
local nonprofits and other community members to ensure that this child
is able to eat breakfast -- so they can start their day off ready to learn
-- as well as find a way to address the child's cavity. If we want to address
disparities in education, we must look at the whole picture.
I often have neighbors contact me looking for my perspective on various local and state issues. I very much appreciate our neighbors' questions and want to dedicate a portion of my newsletter to common questions that I hear to maintain an open dialogue. Please continue reading for this week's question.
Another major issue facing our community is black male joblessness in Milwaukee. On Wednesday, October 21 I was able to take part in the Urban Economic Development Association of Wisconsin's (UEDA) recent summit meant to tackle the high black male unemployment rate in Milwaukee. Nearly 150 individuals joined the 14th Annual UEDA Community Development Summit.
Since its inception in 1997, UEDA has worked to strengthen the community
and economic development sector by facilitating collaboration among
individuals and organizations in the private,
At the summit, Mayor Tom Barrett stressed the importance of ensuring the doors to opportunity are open and accessible to everyone in the community. "There's an economic imperative. There's also a social and a moral imperative that we do a better job of making sure that people have an opportunity to support their families, just as we all want to support our own families," he noted.
Professionals in academia, construction, health care, and the public sector also came together to discuss the skills gap and explore nontraditional educational pathways, thinking creatively about employing black males, and addressing the issue of confidence. As work around this issue continues to develop, I will keep you updated.
|Extraordinary Session: Partisan Pressure Cooker|
Previously, we discussed that the
Senate may go into an "extraordinary session" to take up the two bills
that will allow for more corruption in Wisconsin. You may be wondering,
"What is an Extraordinary session?" Here is an insiders look at what it
Historically, extraordinary session
is called to take up one or two bills with a specific focus, and has
different rules than regular sessions. To hold an extraordinary sessions
only the approval of legislative leaders is needed. They are also
different than special sessions, which needs approval by the governor.
In the past, the Legislature used extraordinary session to take up bills
related to open records laws, collective bargaining contracts,
redistricting, the state budget, a constitutional amendment to allow a
sports lottery and other issues. Most-recently you may remember the
Senate rushing into an extraordinary session to take up the so-called
"Right to Work" bill.
Since the last scheduled day of
regular session for this year was Thursday, November 5, the Senate
Committee on Organization planned to circulate a ballot to approve
bringing legislators in on Friday, November 6, for an extraordinary
session, to take up the aforementioned bills and potentially other
|November is Family Caretakers Month|
Last year President Obama declared
November as National Family Caregivers Month. Parents and children,
siblings and spouses, friends and neighbors, support those in their
lives affected by illness, injury, or disability. Each day they are
challenged with not only meeting their own needs but also the needs of
loved ones they care for with dignity and respect. It's an act of love,
compassion, and sacrifice, which so many in our community selflessly and
Many caregivers rely on workplace flexibility and reasonable accommodations in order to do so. The Obama administration is fighting to ensure that American citizens do not have to choose between being productive employees and responsible family members. They'd like to ensure caregivers have access to the support they need, including financial assistance, comprehensive caregiver training, mental health services and counseling, and respite care.
Locally, I am fighting to ease the burden caregivers take on each day as well. For instance, I am a co-sponsor of the Wisconsin Family Medical Leave Insurance Act. Ensuring workers have access to paid leave provides our workers compassion and understanding and promotes Wisconsin's shared family values. Our neighbors should not have to choose between taking care of a family member and keeping their job. This bill is designed to help families in a time of need and allows employees to take family leave to care for a family member.
Another bill that has been introduced this session is Senate Bill 19, which will help to make sure caregivers know what their loved one needs after a hospital visit by providing guidance to those who will be caring for them. This will likely prevent return visits to the hospital. Also, under this bill, if a patient designates a caregiver, the hospital must notify the caregiver of a patients discharge, and prepare the caregiver for aftercare assistance. Simple changes can make a world of difference to ease the strains and challenges caregivers face when tending to the needs of loved ones who've fallen ill. I'm pleased to be a co-sponsor of Senate Bill 19 and am joined in this effort by AARP, who recently visited my office to show their support for this legislation.
The citizen advocates from AARP shared some startling facts with my office during their visit. They informed me that there are about 578,000 family caregivers in Wisconsin who provide $7 billion worth of unpaid care. Each week, the average caregiver provides 18 hours of assistance to a loved one. Almost half of these caregivers perform medical or nursing tasks, such as complex medication management and injections.
Strengthening our policies to
support family caregivers would be a tremendous help to individuals in
our community. Neighbors like Laura who shared her story with the
Caregivers Action Network (CAN). Laura is 44 years old and takes care of
her 41-year-old sister, Sue. Sue suffered a brain aneurysm and also had
two strokes after surgery. Laura has been caring for her sister since
2000. Each day, Laura wakes up at 5 a.m. to provide Sue with needed
medication and personal cares. A caregiver comes to help during the day
while Laura is at work. After she gets home from work each day, she must
provide more personal cares and give Sue additional medication. Laura
also takes care of Sue's two sons and is only able to have two weekends
off per year. Laura notes she is saving public resources by taking on
the bulk of the financial costs for Sue's cares, and indicates there is
a need for more policies to assist people in her situation. This
includes, access to respite care so Laura has the ability to recharge
and renew herself.
Are you a family caregiver? I'd love to hear your own story and thoughts on the aforementioned bills. Email me at Sen.Larson@Legis.WI.Gov
|Tips for Driving Safely this Winter|
The weather is starting to change as
we approach winter. Below is a list of safe winter driving tips to
assist you in being mindful of the weather and roads:
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