The Sargent Voice Issue #115                                          January 27, 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

2020 is here, and so is a new opportunity for our state government to come together and prioritize the many important issues that remain before the end of the Legislative session.

Last week, Governor Evers gave his second State of the State address where he highlighted many areas where bipartisan action are needed. From passing funding for homelessness prevention initiatives to clean water and conservation efforts, there are numerous bipartisan bills waiting to be brought to the Assembly Floor for passage.

With a limited number of legislative session days left, due to Republican leadership, it is crucial that we take up these measures now in order to better our state and the lives of Wisconsin residents.

I am committed to continuing to work across the aisle to get things done for the people of Wisconsin, and I am hopeful that we can come together to finish up in these crucial areas that have broad support across our state.


In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District


Citizens United Press Conf 012120-10.JPG01/21/2020: Rep. Melissa Sargent speaks at a press conference regarding the 10 year anniversary of the damaging Supreme Court decision Citizens United.

Our Democracy Initiatives 

Your Voice Matters!

Upcoming Listening Sessions

Now announcing an upcoming listening sessions date for members of the 48th Assembly District! I hope you can join me:


Madison Public Library - Lakeview

2845 N Sherman Ave

Friday, February 7th


Rotunda Report

East Wing Update

State of the State Address

Last week, Governor Tony Evers gave his second state of the state address

Over the past year, under the leadership of Governor Evers, we have made strides in moving Wisconsin forward to a more equitable future. From increasing education funding by nearly $100 million dollars and signing into law a multitude of bipartisan bills, to traveling across the state to hear the voices of the people of our state, Governor Evers has proven his commitment to putting politics aside and getting to work for the people of Wisconsin.

While Governor Evers has taken great steps forward for our state, he also reflected on the work that remains. We know that Wisconsinites want our government to get to work and to do what is right for themselves, their families, and our communities. We know that Wisconsin residents want real relief including fair wages, reducing student debt and bettering college affordability, and ensuring quality and affordable healthcare. Further, Wisconsinites want fair government through nonpartisan redistricting and campaign finance reforms, which protects the foundational principle of ‘one person, one vote’. Finally, the people of Wisconsin want to help their friends and neighbors through measures such as ensuring clean drinking water and assisting homeless individuals in our state. 

These are nonpartisan issues that require bipartisan action to be taken. I commend the Governor for recognizing the work that is left to be done for our state, and his call upon the Legislature to come together to address these vital areas. 

It is past time to set politics aside and get to work. I am committed to rolling up my sleeves and continuing to work across the aisle to fight for these pragmatic policies here in the State Capitol.


The People’s Maps Commission

Our elections are a fundamental part of our democracy, and we must ensure that they are free and fair. Governor Evers takes this responsibility seriously and believes that, to ensure the integrity of the process and the fairness of the maps, Wisconsin must look to the people, not politicians, to assist in drawing maps that fairly and accurately represent our state and its diverse population.

As a part of his State of the State address, Governor Evers unveiled his “The People’s Maps Commission,” to bring together the people of Wisconsin and provide a transparent and participatory process for members of the public as new legislative districts will be drawn after the 2020 Census. The Commission will include members from each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts, members from marginalized communities, and experts in nonpartisan redistricting.

The Commission shall hold at least one hearing in each of Wisconsin’s eight congressional districts, where each hearing will provide information on the redistricting process and gather testimony and evidence from members of the public. Within 30 days of the 2020 Census data being made available to the State of Wisconsin, the Commission shall prepare proposed maps for the Legislature to consider. 

I support Governor Evers plan to bring fair maps to Wisconsin, and look forward to the Commission’s work ahead! 


My Legislative Agenda

Sales Tax Exemption for Menstrual Products & Diapers

I am proud to introduce Assembly Bill 751, a bipartisan effort to remove the sales tax from menstrual products & diapers in Wisconsin. 

So many people across our state use necessary products to control bodily functions and practice proper hygiene. Yet, these populations— people who menstruate, families with infants, people with disabilities, elderly individuals, or those with a bladder condition, among others— continue to face unjust taxation on these needed products. 

Under current Wisconsin law, many goods deemed necessities are exempt from sales tax including food, over the counter medication, medical equipment, and fuel and electricity. Yet, many hygiene products, needed for healthy living, are still taxed luxury goods. Menstrual products, diapers, and undergarments for incontinence are not a luxury or optional, they are necessities. This legislation simply works to recognize these products as the necessities that they are by creating a sales and use tax exemption for the sale of diapers, undergarments for incontinence, tampons, and sanitary napkins. 

Ending the tax on these products advances public health and socioeconomic equity in our state. Assembly Bill 751 works to bring Wisconsin up to speed with a nationwide movement, and bring fairness to Wisconsin’s tax code.


Firefighting Foam Regulations & PFAs Mitigation

Having access to clean water is a fundamental human right, yet here in Wisconsin our state’s water resources continue to be subject to pollution and degradation, including PFAs contamination. As we well know, high levels of PFAs, the incredibly persistent chemicals that can be found in a range of household cleaners along with industrial firefighting foams, can lead to devastating human health issues that affect some of our community’s most vulnerable individuals. 

Within the 48th Assembly District, we have seen the negative impacts that these severe chemicals can have on our community with the closing down of Well 15, the contamination of Starkweather creek, and more. Instances like this are entirely unacceptable, and it is our job as state legislators to enact legislation that addresses these instances of injustice.  

Fortunately, last week, Wisconsin took a step forward in addressing this contamination, with the passage of Assembly Bill 323.  I am proud to be a co-author on this legislation, and to support this effort to ensure that firefighting foam is used only in emergency situations and with proper containment and storage in place. We need to be willing to take innovative steps in addressing these emerging pollutants, and limiting this use of fire-fighting foams will limit the extent of further PFAs pollution.

However, I also know that this bill does not go nearly far enough in protecting our state’s residents from health hazards, as it does not mitigate currently existing PFAs contamination, invest in research and resources, or set standards for the future. 

I know that Wisconsinites want meaningful action that priorities their well-being. The CLEAR Act (Assembly Bill 321), another piece of legislation that I am a proud co-author of, is a vital step in mitigating PFAs pollution that addresses the many areas that Assembly Bill 323 does not. This legislation create stringent pollution standards and comprehensive clean-up mechanisms, and is crucial to addressing PFAs contaminants in our state. 

To protect our state’s beloved natural resources and our future generations, we must do everything in our power to address this egregious environmental and public health crisis; I am proud to co-author both of these important pieces of legislation to do just that. 


Bills Circulated for Co-sponsorship 

Clean Drinking Water

Having access to clean drinking water is vital for our state. However, after years of degradation, poor management, and a decline in research development, Wisconsin’s water resources have become subjected to uncontrolled pollution. From PFAs to nitrates, it is very clear that our state cannot wait another day to address this issue that truly impacts everyone across our state. This month, the 16-member Task Force on Water Quality released many pragmatic pieces of legislation to address Wisconsin’s declining water quality. In total, the task force released 10 bipartisan bills that advanced the future of drinking water sources. I applaud the bipartisan Water Quality Task Force for their comprehensive legislative priorities and am proud to support the following bills that ensure the longevity of our water resources:

  • LRB-5094/1: relating to groundwater standards and waterborne dangers, & funding for the state laboratory of hygiene.
  • LRB-5092/4: relating to groundwater monitoring, CAFO fees, nutrient management plans, well construction rules, & the SnapPlus program.
  • LRB-5093/1: providing farmers technical assistance related to water quality, organic production, and soil health; increasing cost-share rates.
  • LRB-4534: creation of the Clean Water Fund for Our Future, a new non-lapsable trust fund designated for clean water initiatives.
  • LRB-4717/1 & 5276/1: relating to grants and funding for water stewardship certification, a grazing coordinator position, producer-led watershed protection grants, lake protection, soil and water conservation, and crop insurance premium rebates for cover crops.
  • LRB-5061/1 & 5273/1: funding a University of Wisconsin System freshwater collaborative.
  • LRB-3651/1 & 5281/1: prohibiting the sale and use of coal tar-based sealants and high PAH sealant products.
  • LRB-4716/1 & 5277/1: supporting the Center for Watershed Science and Education, creating a hydrogeologist position, funding research on phosphorus recovery and reuse, creating grant programs for counties to test wells and provide public education.
  • LRB-5062/1 & 5271/1: the well compensation grant program.
  • LRB-4931/1 & 5274/1: creating an office of water policy.
  • LRB-4489/1 & 5279/1: expanding the clean sweep program to include collection of certain firefighting foams.
  • LRB-3915/1 & 5275/1: county conservation staffing.

Forward on Climate

Last month, Wisconsin Democrats released the “Forward On Climate” bill package that includes four pieces of legislation that would move Wisconsin away from unsustainable habits, and towards recreating our economy to adapt to our changing climate. Addressing our climate crisis requires comprehensive policy reform and bold leadership, and we must be willing to take new and innovative approaches to protect our historic natural resources. I am proud to be a co-sponsor of all of these crucial bills:

  • LRB-4811: evaluating the social cost of carbon emissions in this state.
  • LRB-4201: creating a grant program for farmers who use certain sustainable practices.
  • LRB-3971: requiring a study relating to green banks.
  • LRB-3848: grants to school districts for weatherization projects.

Advocacy Group Meetings

One of my favorite parts of my job is to meet with individuals and groups from the 48th Assembly District, and across our state, as they use their voices to advocate on behalf of the issues that matter most to them. 

I would like to personally thank the following organizations for meeting with me to share their stories and to advocate on behalf of causes they’re passionate about, for the betterment of Wisconsin. As always if there is ever a cause or issue you would like to discuss with me, my door at 11-North in the Capitol building is always open!

Thank you to the following advocacy groups for meeting with my team in recent weeks:

  • Professional Firefighters of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Association
  • Wisconsin Restaurant Association
  • Wisconsin Credit Union League 
  • Wisconsin Association of Convention and Visitors Bureaus
Community and In-District Events

UWHC Nurses Call for Voluntary Recognition of Union

December 19, 2019: It was my honor to stand with and support the nurses of the University of Wisconsin hospitals & clinics as they called for the UWHC Authority Board to voluntarily recognize their union.

The dedication that nurses have in caring for patients and bettering the lives of members of our community is absolutely crucial, yet too often goes vastly underappreciated. From working grueling hours to being severely understaffed and overloaded with patients, nurses are too often facing burdens that are unjust and unsafe. The accumulation of these negative factors make work environments for nursing staff unsustainable, and above all unsafe for patients. Unionization provides the opportunity for a safer workforce, and in the end for better patient outcomes. Further, a union provides employees the ability to have their voices be heard and to be represented. As the people on the ground working directly with patients, it is vital that nurses have a seat at the table when it comes to the decisions that impact them and those in their care.

 I am proud to support the unionizing efforts by the nurses here today, and urge the University of Wisconsin Hospital & Clinics Authority Board to voluntarily recognize these efforts!


Martin Luther King Jr. Tribute & Ceremony

January 20, 2020: It was a privilege to honor and remember Dr Martin Luther King Jr. at Wisconsin’s 40th annual tribute & ceremony here in the State Capitol. Dr. King was a man who’s fight for freedom, justice, and equality for all was extraordinary, but who’s struggle was not unique. Dr. King knew that “the time is always right to do what is right.” While this month we honor his legacy, we must also reflect on our own roles in bettering today’s world in the likeness of Dr. King.


Citizens United Press Conference

January 21, 2020: Last week, I joined my legislative colleagues as we reflected on the 10 year anniversary of one of the most damaging Supreme Court decisions in our nation’s history: Citizens United.

Since its passage 10 years ago, Citizens United has promoted the role of special interest groups and the wealthy few in both our state and national elections. Though our democracy was founded on the principle of “one person, one vote,” this has been compromised by decisions, such as Citizens United, that allows the power and influence of money to jeopardize a major foundation in our democracy. Instead of the power residing in the hands of the people, where it should be, it is now at the mercy of corporations and the wealthy.

When I ran for state Assembly, I heard from thousands and thousands of neighbors. My campaign was about their ideas, not their money. We must restore the integrity and the principles that our democracy was founded upon by limiting the influence of special interest money in our government.

While it has been 10 years since the damaging decision of Citizens United, we must never stop fighting for what is right: valuing the voices of all people—not just the select and wealthy few.

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

Wisconsin Examiner - November 27, 2019 - Wisconsin is taking hemp to the next level


Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - December 2, 2019 - Wisconsin Capitol, state buildings to provide free feminine hygiene products in restrooms under Evers mandate


Wisconsin State Journal - December 4, 2019 - State to provide free menstrual products in women's restrooms


The Cap Times - December 6, 2019 - Rep. Melissa Sargent: Wisconsin stands with sexual assault survivors, but there’s more work to do


Wisconsin Examiner - January 03, 2020 - Hit with hate mail and threats


Madison365 - January 20, 2020 - “The most dangerous thing about cannabis in Wisconsin is that it is illegal”

Wisconsin Examiner - January 22, 2020 - Citizens United and the Big Picture


Special Highlight!

Thank you Senator Mark Miller!

Senator Mark Miller (D-Monona) is the epitome of compassionate, fierce, and dedicated leadership. Last week, with his announcement of retirement from the State Senate, the Wisconsin Legislature has truly lost a progressive champion and advocate. From fighting for clean water and environmental protections, to standing up for unions and working families, Mark’s accomplishments throughout his time here in the state legislature are invaluable and have paved a path forward for Wisconsinites. 

In the 7 years that I have had the privilege to represent the 48th Assembly District, I have also had the honor to work with Mark as my Senator. His presence will be sorely missed here in the Capitol building, as well as by constituents across the 16th Senate District. I have no doubt that he will continue his leadership and service to our community in various other capacities, and I look forward to continuing to work together on these fronts.  

Congratulations Senator Mark Miller on a well-deserved retirement, and thank you for your many years of devotion and passion for improving the lives of Wisconsin residents!


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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