The Sargent Voice Issue #116                                        February 14, 2020

Friends and Neighbors,

Here in Wisconsin, we believe in taking care of each other. We believe that putting in an honest day’s work means you earn an honest day’s pay. We believe that when we work hard and play by the rules, we should all have a fighting chance, and that we each do better when we all do better. We believe our economy should work for all of us, not just the top 1 percent, and that our communities are stronger when we’re independent of the government, not dependent upon.

Workers are the fundamental backbone of our function society, yet for too long they have been subjected to stagnant wages and rising costs of living. Wisconsinites are working tirelessly to be able to put food on the table, but our outdated minimum wage system does nothing but hold them back from obtaining true financial security. At $7.25 per hour, no individual can sustainably afford housing and childcare costs, let alone the additional staggering living costs of healthcare, food, transportation, and more.

Wisconsinites deserve comprehensive reform that puts working people first. That is why I am once again introducing legislation that will lift up working-class Wisconsin residents by increasing the state minimum wage for our hardworking friends and neighbors to $15 per hour over a five-year period. After this five-year period, the state would be required to adjust the minimum wage annually to inflation, ensuring that a continued living wage is established for workers across the state. 

I am proud to introduce legislation to raise the minimum wage in our state, and to raise up Wisconsin workers, families, and communities. I look forward to continuing to advocate for the hardworking Wisconsinites across our state.


In Service,

Melissa Sargent
State Representative
48th Assembly District


 February 11, 2020: Representative Melissa Sargent and constituents after the Wisconsin State Assembly formally recognized February as Noonan Syndrome Awareness month. 
Our Democracy Initiatives 


What's Happening in 11-North?

Constituent Survey

It’s my job to be your voice in the Capitol, and I need to know what’s important to you to be able to best represent you. Please help me by filling out this brief survey and telling me where you stand on important issues facing our state so I make sure my goals, values, and priorities reflect your interests: http://legis.wisconsin.gov/assembly/48/sargent/constituent-services/2019-neighborhood-survey/

Rotunda Report

East Wing Update

Task Force on Student Debt

Student debt is holding back our students, our families, and our state. We need to ensure that higher education and further career training doesn't come at the cost of decades of crippling debt. It is clear that Wisconsin achieves when we remove barriers to education. Student loan debt is without question an economic crisis, and we cannot afford to wait another day, month, or year to begin addressing it. 

This month, Governor Evers' took a big step forward in ensuring affordable college education for all Wisconsinites with the signing of Executive Order 67, which creates a task force on Wisconsin's student debt crisis to study the causes and possible solutions to crippling student debt.

We need to be willing to take innovative steps to address the barriers to quality education, and I commend Governor Evers' efforts to take such a proactive stance on an issue that affects so many young people across Wisconsin.


Special Session on Education

This month, Governor Tony Evers also signed an Executive Order calling for a special legislative session on education.

While the 2019-21 biennial budget made historic investments in K-12 education, much work remains. There are many bipartisan proposals to address education needs in our state that have not been brought forth for a vote, and it is vital that they be taken up by the legislature before the end of the legislative session. From two-thirds funding to increasing special education and mental health aid, it is imperative that we come together to invest in our kids and our state's future.

I am proud to support Wisconsin's renowned public education system, and to continue to fight for restoring necessary investments in our schools statewide. What is best for our kids, is best for our state. Thank you Governor Tony Evers for your commitment to education and for bettering the lives of our children and our state's future.


Legislative Agenda

The Wisconsin Promise Program 

Our state prides itself on our renowned education system, from our K-12 schools to our strong University of Wisconsin-System, technical colleges, and private institutions. It is vital that students have the opportunity to take advantage of these highly respected places of learning, and continue to grow for their futures. 

Further, Wisconsin is home to some of the brightest students, strongest youth leaders, and forward-thinking innovators. The fate of our state rests in the hands of these crucial community members and we have an obligation to make sure that they have resources they need to succeed. Sadly, due to rising education costs, these hardworking individuals are forced into a system that does not help them achieve their true potential. 

Across the United States, there are more than 45 million students who owe approximately $1.6 trillion in student debt and roughly 1 in 5 students are behind on student loan payment. In Wisconsin, our students now see an average student debt of $31,705. Our state is ranked 30th for states with the lowest student debt at graduation. This is unacceptable and is clearly holding back our state’s economic capabilities. 

That is why I am proud to co-author legislation that brings a real solution to Wisconsin’s student debt crisis and college affordability, the Wisconsin Promise Program. This bill ensures that Wisconsin students have the financial resources that they need to succeed, while also making sure that we retain the brightest students that our state has to offer.

This bill extends tuition and educational expense funding to Wisconsin students for 60 credits of academic work-- or typically 4 semesters/2 years for a full-time student. This grant funding can be applied to any UW-System institution, state-recognized technical college, or tribally controlled college in the state. Upon accepting this financial assistance, students would commit to maintaining a GPA over 3.0 and working in the state of Wisconsin for at least three years after graduation. This bill also including important provisions that extend these resources to undocumented members of our community to make sure that everyone in our state has access to this financial life-line.

By promising that anyone who wants to pursue higher education has the resources they need to succeed, we are taking important steps towards freedom of thought and civic justice. I am proud to be the lead author of this important bill and will continue to advocate for real solutions to address Wisconsin’s crippling student and college affordability crisis.


Noonan Syndrome Awareness

On February 11th, I had the honor of passing an Assembly Joint Resolution declaring February 2020 as Noonan Syndrome Awareness month in Wisconsin.

Across the country, February is recognized as Noonan Syndrome Awareness Month to promote awareness and bring visibility to this rare and underrepresented syndrome. Noonan Syndrome is a genetic disorder that prevents normal developments in various parts of the body; a person can be affected by Noonan Syndrome in a wide variety of ways, including physical skeletal abnormalities which can lead to medical complications later in life.

With only 1:1000 to 1:2500 people born with this syndrome every year, members of our state living with Noonan Syndrome often struggle to find adequate support due to a lack of awareness. Bringing awareness to this condition helps the Noonan Syndrome community work to find effective treatments that help in easing life with Noonan Syndrome.

I am so proud to see Wisconsin take steps to bring awareness to this condition while acknowledging everything that these individuals bring to our society.


Bills Circulated for Co-sponsorship 

Second Chance HELP (Housing and Eviction Limitation and Prevention) 

In the ten counties with the highest eviction rates in Wisconsin, there were nearly 15,000 evictions in 2016. Further, we know that the consequences of evictions do not stop with being forced out of your home with no place to go. Renters have much more difficulty finding housing after being evicted, which egregiously perpetuates the cycle of poverty and homelessness in our state. 

The Second Chance HELP package seeks to ease the burdens being faced by residents who have been evicted, and provides much needed resources. I am proud to co-sponsor the following pieces of legislation:

  • LRB-2486/1  the Eviction Redemption Act
  • LRB-0833/1 – rent abatement for tenants
  • LRB-0834/1grants to provide legal services to tenants in eviction actions

Better Broadband Access

Broadband access is a vital issue that impacts our state. Communities, including right here in Dane County, continue to have limited access, poor connections, and not enough resources to provide adequate internet services. There is no reason that our state should continue to lag behind in this area.

That is why I am proud to be a co-author on the Better Broadband Access bill package, which will remove barriers and invest in resources for our communities:

  • LRB 4877/1 – “Better Broadband”– Map Accuracy and Investment
  • LRB 1076/1 – “Better Broadband”– Truth in Advertising
  • LRB 4874/1 – “Better Broadband”– Fiber to Farms
  • LRB 4883/1 – “Better Broadband”– Dig-Once and Mandatory Connection
  • LRB 4876/1 – “Better Broadband Bills” – Municipal-Owned Broadband Networks and Staffing Grants 
  • LRB 4875/1 – “Better Broadband”– Broadband Expansion Grant Program Integrity

Advocacy Group Meetings

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

  • ACLU of Wisconsin
  • Doctor Day at the Capitol
  • Wisconsin Council of Life Insurers
  • National Caucus of Environmental Legislators (NCEL)
  • Co-Op Day at the Capitol
  • Wisconsin Women's Network Policy Institute
  • Alzheimer Association of Wisconsin 
  • Wisconsin Library Association
  • Superior Days
  • Wisconsin Historical Society Day
  • American Institute of Architects
  • Pharmacy Society of Wisconsin


Community and In-District Events

Black History Month Reception

February 03, 2020: This month I joined the Legislative Black Caucus for their Black History Month kick-off. Black History Month is an opportunity to reflect on the many contributions of black Wisconsinites and Americans to our state and society.

Further, it is also an opportunity to renew our commitment to equity, and create and reflect on goals for our future. We have a long way to go in Wisconsin to ensure our state is a place where every family can thrive.


Milwaukee Press Club Panel

February 03, 2020: I had the honor of sitting on a Milwaukee Press Club panel to discuss medical marijuana legalization here in the state of Wisconsin. I was joined by experts in the medical field who offered crucial insight into benefits and challenges to cannabis legalization in Wisconsin. Overall, we all wholeheartedly agree that we must remove barriers to research on cannabis usage, and implement strategies to limit impaired driving, reduce youth access to cannabis products, and promote education.

I highlighted that, at the end of the day, marijuana is being used in our communities, and legalization will allow for regulation and more safety in our communities. Additionally, full legalization will bring multifaceted benefits to our growing state while providing alternative pain relief to our community members. It is very clear that it is not a matter of if cannabis is legalized in Wisconsin, but when. We need to have the proper guidelines in place when this reform inevitably occurs, and AB 220 is a true solution to cannabis reform that puts Wisconsin families first.


Shepherd Express Cannabis Expo

February 8, 2020: Again, I had the opportunity to travel to Milwaukee and participate on an informative panel about medical marijuana legalization in Wisconsin. Later in the day, I sat on another panel regarding full legalization and criminal justice. It was great to have the opportunity to meet and speak with so many of the cannabis entrepreneurs from across our state! 

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

WPR - February 03, 2020 - Madison Lawmaker Says It's 'When Not If' Regarding Marijuana Legalization


NBC 15 - February 04, 2020 - Wisconsin lawmakers to propose raising the minimum wage to $15/hour


WKOW 27 - February 04, 2020 - Rep. Sargent pushes for increased minimum wage


TMJ4 - February 05, 2020 - Wisconsin representative proposes raising minimum wage to $15

Wisconsin Examiner - February 10, 2020 - Will Wisconsin be the first state to kill sexual assault prevention with partisanship?


Special Highlight!

Assembly GOP fails to do what is right for survivors & our state

I am deeply disheartened at the shameful actions of my Republican colleagues, who have risen to new and troubling divisive heights. This week, the Assembly GOP has utterly failed to do what is right for survivors of sexual violence and for our state.

In April 2019, a group of bipartisan legislators, including myself, joined with Attorney General Josh Kaul to introduce legislation that would prevent another backlog of untested sexual assault kits from occurring ever again in our state. This bill came to fruition after countless hours of collaboration with stakeholders and pragmatic consideration for how to best implement these changes and protect the residents of our state. This legislation, Assembly Bill 214, has 72 bipartisan co-sponsors—over 50% of all Wisconsin legislators, and a majority of State Assembly members—and the support of law enforcement, health professionals, community advocates, and survivors alike. Ultimately this bill was passed by the Wisconsin State Senate on October 8th, yet still was not given a public hearing in the Assembly.

Egregiously, this week the Wisconsin State Assembly under GOP leadership will take up a different piece of similar, yet divisive, legislation—Assembly Bill 844. This legislation came out less than two weeks ago, was fast-tracked through the legislative process, and has no bipartisan support or consideration from stakeholders. The path that Assembly Bill 844 has taken is shocking, and is not the way that our state should be governing. Over 50% of the Assembly supports AB-214, yet due to political games AB-844 will be passed instead by GOP lawmakers. This legislation is inaccurate and insufficient, and is truly a disservice to our state.

The continued politicization of this issue is despicable. While the outcome of this week’s Floor session and the passage of AB-844 is not what I had hoped, I implore my colleagues to put politics aside and take up AB-214 for the victims of sexual violence. I vow to continue to fight for survivors, and am proud to vote against AB-844.


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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