Dear Friends,

In case you missed it, the U.S. economy grew at the fastest rate in three years.  The 
Commerce Department estimates the economy grew 3.3% from July through September.  

It's not just the national economy that is growing, wages are way up in Wisconsin.   According to the Department of Workforce Development, Wisconsin's  private-sector wages increased 3.9% from the second quarter of 2016 to second quarter of 2017.  That's great news for Wisconsin workers!

Wisconsin is on quite a roll.  We achieved our highest ranking ever in the New Economy Index.  Our state beat out Illinois for a 35-acre greenhouse which will employ 70 workers.  Badger Meter says our reforms were key in their decision to move operations from Arizona to Wisconsin.  Germantown vehicle light manufacturer J.W. Speaker is planning a $44 million expansion.  Our great state continues to be open for business!

As always, if you have any ideas on how to improve our great state, please do not hesitate to contact me by email at  Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov or 608-266-5830.   

On Wisconsin!

Remembering Pati Ericson
Patricia "Pati" Ericson February 18, 1943 - November 21, 2017

The test of a life is did you make a difference while you were here on earth.  My dear friend Pati Ericson made a huge difference as a community leader, a mother, a grandmother, and a friend.  Pati passed away recently and she will be greatly missed.

Pati Ericson was the first female president of the Kettle Moraine YMCA and served on their board.  She also served on the board of the Milwaukee Institute of Art and Design.  Pati also was an elementary school teacher before retiring to raise her family.   

My friend Pati was ethical, kind, wonderful person who wanted to make a difference and she did.  You can read more about my remarkable friend  here.

Bill Aimed at Milwaukee Gun Violence Clears Committee

A bill which will help protect the citizens of Milwaukee is one step closer to becoming law.    On Thursday, the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety approved Assembly Bill 524 by a vote of 6-4.  The Senate version of the bill, Senate Bill 408, was approved in committee last month.  State Representative Joe Sanfelippo of New Berlin and I authored the bill to address some of the concerns we've heard from law enforcement in the city of Milwaukee.

Milwaukee's police department seizes the same amount of firearms as New York City, even though New York has 15 times the population. Part of the problem is that criminals, who are not allowed to own a gun, get one from people who can legally purchase them.  It's my hope this bill will help police and prosecutors crack down on criminals who skirt our laws.

The legislation clarifies current law making it illegal to be a "straw purchaser" of firearms, makes it illegal for someone to be a "human holster," and creates a mandatory minimum sentence for habitual criminals who commit a crime involving a firearm.

"Straw purchasers" are  individuals who purchase a firearm for someone who cannot legally own a gun.  A "human holster" is a person who carries a gun for someone who can't legally have a gun in their possession. Our bill also  creates a four-year mandatory minimum sentence for habitual criminals, defined as someone who has committed three or more misdemeanors or one felony within a five-year period, who commit a crime using a firearm.

The City of Milwaukee has a violent crime problem involving firearms.  Last year, 125 people died in gun violence and another 60 died so far in 2017.   Milwaukee is one of the state's primary economic and cultural engines. 

If we want to continue to grow Wisconsin, we need to tackle the City's crime problem.   This bill is an important step forward, making it easier for prosecutors to lock up violent criminals without infringing on the constitutional rights of law abiding citizens.

Both the Senate and Assembly versions of the bill are available for scheduling for votes in both houses.
Governor Walker Signs Homelessness Bills

This week, Governor Walker signed two bills I authored to combat homelessness in our state.   These bills provide real help and real hope to the homeless.  They will streamline and improve policies by enabling agencies to work together to effectively provide services to the homeless.

Wisconsin has departments in eight state agencies and four federally designated Continuums of Care to fight homelessness, but no way for them to collaborate and make sure money is spent wisely.   Governor Walker signed my bill that creates  a council to review and update statewide policies to better coordinate help for the homeless.  Lieutenant Governor Rebecca Kleefisch will lead the council.

Governor Walker also signed my bill that will prioritize chronically homeless families for housing vouchers.   This will ensure money is spent wisely and families can access the services that best suit their needs.  The sooner we are able to get people off the streets and into a home, the sooner they can become productive members of society.

In 2015, more than 27,500 people received services or shelter for being homeless in our state.  Nearly 5,000 people are on a waiting list for federal housing vouchers in our state.  The average wait time for the voucher is around five years. 

These bills build on our efforts to end homelessness in the state budget.  The two-year budget plan included a provision to give the Department of Administration more flexibility in administering housing grants.  The budget also creates the "Better Way" Initiative based on the program of the same name in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The initiative creates a grant program to move homeless citizens to permanent jobs.
How Are Milwaukee Schools Performing?

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce created a great interactive map to track the performance of schools in the city.  Click on the map above to see how the schools in your area are performing.
UW in Big 10 Championship Game!
Around the 8th...

Congratulations to Simone Lee of Menomonee Falls for earning the title of Big Ten Player of the Year in Women's Volleyball!  Simone is a Senior at Penn State.  She also was a unanimous selection for the All Big 10 team.   The Nittany Lions enter the national tournament as the number one team in the nation thanks, in part, to Simone.  Congratulations Simone!
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Tonight is Thiensville's annual Christmas  Tree Lighting sponsored by the Thiensville Business Association i n the Walgree n's parking lot  (corner of North Main Street & Freistadt Road).

Thiensville Tree Lighting Schedule
6:00 PM - Hot cocoa & cookies
6:15 PM - 6:35 PM - Homestead High School choir performs
6:35 PM - 6:50 PM - Coloring contest winners announced. Homestead HS choir performs "Here Comes Santa Claus". Santa arrives. Speakers.
6:50 PM - Honorary Christmas Tree lighter Anna Balinsky of Mila's European Bakery lights the tree. 
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Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
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