The Sargent Voice Issue #108                                                    August 2, 2019


Friends and Neighbors, 

With the budget process now behind us, Team Sargent is excited to continue to roll up our sleeves and dive further into legislative work and community outreach here in the 48th Assembly District!

I am pleased to share that with the ideas and input from people like yourself, I am working on a diverse legislative agenda that includes: 

  • improving and preserving pollinator health
  • reducing gun violence and promoting firearm safety
  • protecting employees and lifting up the working class
  • fighting for affordable post-secondary education
  • standing up for survivors of sexual assault
  • advocating for the privacy rights of technology consumers
  • & so much more! 

I look forward to continuing to work in these areas, among others, to bring pragmatic and needed change to our state and our community. 

Further, my office is looking for new places to explore and visit in the 48th Assembly District, and would love to hear suggestions! If you have any favorite coffee shops, restaurants, local businesses, outdoor recreational areas, or any other ideas, share with us at Rep.Sargent@wisconsin.legis.gov.


In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District


062519 Assembly Session #282.jpg

Representative Melissa Sargent delivers floor speech while 

debating the 2019-21 Budget on the Assembly Floor (06.25.19)

Our Democracy Initiatives 


Your Voice Matters!

Listening Sessions

The work I do here in the Capitol would not be possible without hearing from people like you! I invite you to come enjoy the summer season and to share your thoughts, ideas, and concerns with me at one of my upcoming summer listening sessions:


Maple Bluff Beach Park 

Lakewood Blvd., Maple Bluff

Thursday, August 22nd  



Warner Park Beach

1101 Woodward Dr, Madison

Thursday, August 29th




What's Happening in 11-North?

Meet Team Sargent

Interns are an integral part of Team Sargent here in 11-North, helping with everything from working with constituents to policy research and community outreach. I am proud to have a team of wonderful interns this summer who are passionate and dedicated to assisting my office in my fight to make Wisconsin a better place for everyone. Read more about some of the fabulous Team Sargent interns below:



Karyn Abrego: Karyn is a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison triple majoring in Political Science, Legal Studies, and Gender and Women’s Studies. She is a Student Custodial Supervisor at UW’s Residence Halls and is the Ask.Listen.Save Walk Coordinator (a suicide prevention club on campus). Originally from Zion, Illinois Karyn aspires to become a civil rights lawyer protecting the rights of marginalized communities such as people of color and the queer community.


Maria Ekern: Maria is currently a Junior at the University of Wisconsin-Madison majoring in Political Science and Communications as wells as receiving certificates in Gender Women Studies, Classics, and Criminal Justice. She is passionate about giving back to her community, and one day aspires to become an attorney to represent minority populations.



Joe Finkelmeyer: Joe is an incoming Senior at Robert M. Lafollette High School and has interned in my office since the Fall of 2018. He is very invested in our Legalize Opportunity initiative, and hopes to pursue a career in government after he graduates in 2020.



Mitch Merfeld: Mitch is a Junior at UW-Madison working toward a Political Science (B.S.) Degree. He is passionate about the environment and ensuring nonpartisan and fair electoral maps for Wisconsin. Mitch plans to get a PhD in Poli Sci and hopes to work in college-level education.


Jade Proctor:  Jade is going to be a Sophomore at Edgewood College this fall where she is studying political science. Following graduation, she plans to continue onto law school. She is passionate about women and LGBTQ+ rights as well as the legalization of cannabis.  

Are you or someone you know interested in joining Team Sargent for the Fall term? We are now accepting new applicants! Fill out an internship application at: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/48/sargent/constituent-services/intern-application/  
Rotunda Report
State Budget Update

A Down Payment on Progress

On July 3rd, Governor Tony Evers signed the 2019-21 state budget, using his partial veto powers to make the best of a tough situation. For the past few months Republican leadership and lawmakers have been obstructionists, putting partisan antics above doing what is best for the people of our state. They stripped Governor Evers’ budget proposal of key provisions such as cannabis reform and accepting Medicaid expansion, while proposing a watered down budget plan that did not listen to the will of Wisconsinites. Republicans put Governor Evers in an impossible situation, stuck between accepting their anemic budget proposal or reverting back to Walker era funding levels.

Fortunately, Governor Evers is resourceful and puts the people first— he rolled up his sleeves and sharpened his pencil in order to do everything in his power to improve the GOP approved budget through using 78 partial vetoes and innovatively increasing education funding by nearly $100 million. I applaud Governor Evers’ creativity in taking important steps to bring equity back to Wisconsin. Although the budget signed today falls short in many areas, the Governor’s use of his constitutional veto power to reshape this budget shows that he is truly prioritizing the needs of our friends and neighbors, and further epitomizing the will of the people.

While the budget that was signed into law this summer is not the Governor’s comprehensive People’s Budget, it is, as Governor Evers said, a down payment on progress. This budget moves the ball down the field, and is crafted to create opportunity for further headway and progress to be made in our state.

That being said, Wisconsin still has a long way to go to achieve true equality and economic development. Today, thousands of Wisconsinites will go to work to make a wage that cannot support their growing families—others will continue to sit in Wisconsin prisons from out-of-date penalties for low level drug offenses. We cannot become complacent when we see our community members struggle to achieve individual advancement, while a select few profit off of the working class. There is work to be done, and I vow to continue fighting to move Wisconsin forward.

I am proud to stand with the Governor as we open a new chapter in our states economic and social history. Governor Evers’ signing of the budget has taken steps to put the last 8-years of partisan conflict behind us, and has opened new doors to collaboration. I look forward to my Republican colleagues seizing this opportunity for across the aisle partnerships, and following in the Governor’s footsteps as he reaffirms his commitment to leading with kindness, compassion, civility, and respect while working to better our state.


My Legislative Agenda

Diabetes Action Plan

Diabetes deeply impacts the lives of so many people in our state. Not only does diabetes impact the 362,500 people diagnosed in Wisconsin, but another 138,000 people in our state who live undiagnosed and an additional 1.5 million people who are currently living with prediabetes– 99% of whom are unaware of their condition. For those of us who do not live with diabetes or prediabetes, 40% of us, or 2 in 5, will develop type 2 diabetes in our lifetimes. On top of these frightening statistics, are the numerous family members, friends, and colleagues, who we each know, that undergo the stresses of living with and managing diabetes every single day. 

In addition to its alarming prevalence, the costs of diabetes to our state are staggering. In Wisconsin alone, diabetes costs us over 1,300 lives annually. Diabetes– the 7th leading cause of death in Wisconsin– costs our state far too many loved ones. However, with proper education, awareness, and prevention measures, it should not have to. Further, the financial impact of diabetes in our state is a startling $3.9 billion per year. From costly direct medical care expenses to lost productivity, the high occurrence of diabetes in our state is creating an increasingly burdensome and unsustainable economic condition. Working to reduce, prevent, and better manage diabetes in our state will not only improve the lives of numerous Wisconsin residents and save lives, but will save our state billions of dollars every single year. 

We must do more in our state, and as a society, to bring awareness to and educate about this often times preventable disease. As such, I am proud to be a coauthor on AB-238, which works to create and implement a diabetes care and prevention plan here in the state of Wisconsin. This legislation will add to the crucial work already being done by the Department of Health Services to promote awareness and education on this issue, and to reduce the incidence of diabetes in Wisconsin. This bipartisan bill, which directs DHS and partners to create and implement a diabetes action plan to reduce instances of diabetes in our state, improve diabetes care, and control the complications associated with diabetes, along with requiring reporting to the state legislature so that we may take action, is a pragmatic life and cost saving decision for our state. 


Teen Dating Violence Prevention & Education

Teen dating violence is a prevalent problem in the United States where 1 in 3 teens is a victim of physical, emotional, or verbal abuse from a dating partner.

Developing unhealthy relationship practices as a young adult can have lifelong, negative impacts on health, including increased risk for depression, anxiety, and drug and alcohol abuse. Moreover, perpetrating teen dating violence likewise increases the propensity for perpetrating domestic violence in adulthood. To this end, promoting positive relationships and ensuring students learn skills to not only form healthy relationships, but also to identify abusive behavior, is critical to preventing teen dating violence and preventing cyclical abuse patterns.

I am proud to author LRB-2441/1, a bipartisan effort with Representative John Spiros, Senator Jerry Petrowski, and Senator Jennifer Shilling, to prevent teen dating violence in Wisconsin by incorporating essential curriculum into our schools. Partner violence is a public health problem that is completely preventable, and LRB-2441/1 provides a common sense solution to promoting healthy relationship education and development for Wisconsin teens.


Menstrual Equality

Menstrual products are necessities, not luxuries, and the over 50% of the population who menstruate here in Wisconsin should not have to continue to face the undue and unjust burdens of inaccessibility to essential hygiene products.

For far too long, menstruation has been stigmatized, hidden, and treated with shame and derision. The reality is that, on average, individuals who menstruate have their periods for 2,535 days throughout their lifetimes– nearly 7 years of menstruation that requires access to tampons and/or sanitary napkins. Further, the average menstruating person uses almost 17,000 tampons or pads in their life, while one study found that 2 out of 3 people living below the poverty line have experienced having to go without hygiene products due to costly expenses. Lacking access to period care has serious implications, from poor health outcomes and lost work and educational instruction hours to demoralization and embarrassment for those unable to afford essential hygiene products. No one should have to miss work or school, risk their health, or compromise their dignity, because they menstruate.

The ability to manage this normal bodily function is a necessity, not an entitlement or privilege, and is oftentimes an urgent, unexpected need. Menstrual products are not a luxury good, nor a government handout—when those who do not menstruate walk into a public restroom they have everything they need to take care of ordinary bodily functions, while those who do menstruate do not. Further, data from programs around the nation show that the cost of providing these products is significantly less than the cost of soap, toilet paper, paper towel, and other bathroom supplies currently being provided in bathrooms everywhere.

Menstrual products are not optional, they’re necessities, and no individual should have to be without menstrual products when they are in need— especially in our schools and state and local buildings. As such, I am proud to introduce LRB-3714/1, which will take crucial steps in helping to bring menstrual equality to Wisconsin by providing menstrual products in state, local, and school buildings.


Raising the Legal Age for Tobacco Use 

We know that the easiest way to stop smoking is to never start. In fact, only 10% of smokers start at an age of 21+, and less than 1% begin after age 26. By raising the legal age of selling, purchasing, possessing, and using nicotine and tobacco products, and updating our statutes to include e-cigarettes and vapors, we can deeply reduce the rate of smoking in our state.

Without question, tobacco use and nicotine addiction continues to have negative implications on public health and longevity in our state. Although our society has come along way from the days of total tobacco dependence, with new technologies and marketing techniques, harmful smoking alternatives are on the rise– especially amongst our youth.

In fact, according to the FDA, between 2017 and 2018 alone the use of vapor products by high school students increased by a staggering 78%, while increasing by 48% amongst middle school aged students.

With popular brands like JUUL using flavors, colors, and sleek branding to target young people, it is important now more than ever for our state to work towards reducing the lifelong, and oftentimes life ending, impacts of nicotine use by impressionable youth.

I am proud to co-sponsor LRB-2839, a bipartisan bill which raises the age for tobacco and vapor products to 21, while working to create healthier kids and healthier communities in our state.

Community and In-District Events
Energy Efficiency Excellence Award Ceremony

June 27, 2019: It was my pleasure to attend an award ceremony for American Family Insurance as they were awarded an energy efficiency excellence award for their renowned focus on energy program participation. American Family Insurance has been committed to leading in energy and cost savings at their facilities for many years, completing 25+ energy efficiency projects since 2010, including 5 projects in 2018 alone. To address our planet’s failing climate and rising temperatures, we must take innovative approaches to develop a future that prioritizes sustainability in everything that we do. I applaud American Family’s leadership in the private sector, and showing that sustainability not only benefits our natural places, but also proves to be incredibly cost efficient.

Cherokee Marsh Paddle Tour

July 8, 2019: This July I was welcomed by the Friends of Cherokee Marsh to explore one of the 48th Assembly District’s treasured outdoor spaces. During our paddle canoe tour, we happily discussed environmental initiatives that would advance and protect Wisconsin’s prised natural resources. If we wish to maintain these beloved outdoor spaces, we must provide an outlet for young people to truly experience and appreciate our Wisconsin landscapes, like our stunning Cherokee Marsh. Thank you to the Friends of Cherokee Marsh for a beautiful tour, and for all you do to promote our community’s spaces!

Journey Mental Health Yahara House Tour

July 11, 2019: This past month I also had the pleasure to join residents and staff at Journey Mental Health’s Yahara House here in Madison. I had the opportunity to learn about the fantastic programming and services being provided, and to see first hand the day-to-day operations of this innovative clubhouse model for mental health services. Thank you Yahara House for sharing with me!

LIUNA Training Center Expansion Dedication Ceremony & Open House

July 22, 2019: Laborers are the backbone of our society and provide crucial services for our communities. It is essential that we support our labor unions and the work that they do to recruit, educate, and train the future of our workforce-- who work to keep us safe each and every day. As such, it was my pleasure to attend the dedication ceremony at the Wisconsin Laborer’s District Council new training center and to stand with our union brothers and sisters as they work to make our communities more equal and safe. 

If there is something happening in the community that you think I should attend, please reach out to my office at Rep.Sargent@legis.wisconsin.gov, or at (608)-266-0960. 


Rep. Sargent in the News

The Cap Times - July 4, 2019- State line Wisconsin Republicans dismiss impact of Illinois legalizing recreational marijuana

Urban Milwaukee - July 12, 2019 - Bill Addresses “Staggering” Cost of Diabetes

Wisconsin Public Radio - July 12, 2019 - Lawmakers Look To Address 'Staggering' Diabetes Costs In Wisconsin

Star Tribune - July 14, 2019 - Marijuana arrests in Wisconsin hit black residents hardest

Madison 365 - July 23, 2019 - State Rep. Melissa Sargent: Marijuana Legalization a Gateway to Equity, Opportunity, and Moving Wisconsin Forward

Channel 3000- July 25, 2019 - Pads, tampons would be offered for free in state, local buildings and schools under new bill

TMJ 4 - July 26, 2019 - State representative works to bring menstrual equality to Wisconsin

Channel 3000- August 1, 2019- Sexual violence, teen dating violence would be taught in Wisconsin health classes under new bill


Special Highlight!

Thank you first responders!

On July 19th, Madison and the greater area experienced an alarming power outage due to two explosions that took place, leaving thousands without power on one of the hottest days of the summer.

Although frightening, this day served as a vital reminder of the crucial importance of appreciating our first responders and service workers, who are on the front lines of emergencies such as this, working to keep us safe each and every day.

Thank you to our police, firefighters, laborers, utility workers, and more, for always keeping our community safe, and for risking their lives for the betterment of our own!


Contacting My Office

Team Sargent is here to help you! Please reach out to us with general inquiries, as well as any thoughts, questions, or concerns regarding legislative matters, at 608-266-0960 or via email at rep.sargent@legis.wi.gov

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