Dear Friends,

Good luck to Whitefish Bay Boys Soccer!  The Blue Dukes play Oregon High School on Saturday at 2:00 pm in the WIAA State Boys Soccer Tournament.  Whitefish Bay is ranked number one in the state and number two nationally!  

Wisconsin's job market continues to be strong.  Last month, the unemployment rate in all 72 counties was lower in September than it was in September of 2016.  We also saw a year-over gain of 12,600 manufacturing jobs, which is the second highest in the country!

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!

Bills to Combat Homelessness Clear Senate

As Wisconsin's weather gets colder, efforts to help the homeless are headed to Governor Walker's desk.  On Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate approved two bills to help people get off the streets and on the pathway to success.  
 
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 our citizens.
 
In 2015, more than 27,500 people received services or shelter for being homeless in our state.  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. One bill passed on Tuesday will create a council to review and update statewide policies to better coordinate help for the homeless.
 
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. The second bill approved will prioritize chronically homeless families for the voucher.
 
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.
 
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.  It 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.
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Public Hearing on Senate Bill 422


 

This week, I testified before the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety on Senate Bill 422.  I believe Senate Bill 422 is a crucial step forward for Wisconsin to prioritize the rights of the unborn by prohibiting the unethical sale of fetal tissue, while protecting lifesaving research in Wisconsin.

 

As many of you may have seen, viral videos were released that showed members of Planned Parenthood speaking about selling body parts of children from abortions for profit.  This despicable practice is already illegal under federal law, but there is a loophole in the federal law.  Federal law only criminalizes the interstate sale of fetal tissue for profit, but does not address the intrastate sale.  Without a state law to address the issue, Wisconsinites needed to wait on the federal government to take action.  Along with many outraged citizens and legislators, I felt we needed to take action and pass a bill to ensure that unborn children are treated with dignity and that no one can profit from an abortion.

 

That is why I am a proud author of Senate Bill 422.  This bill moves Wisconsin forward by creating a state law that criminalizes selling the remains of an unborn child for profit.  In addition to criminalizing the profitable sale, my bill also requires the final disposition of fetal tissue.  This means for abortions occurring in Wisconsin, facilities will be required to treat the remains with dignity.

 

Not only does Senate Bill 422 take a significant step to end the unethical sale of unborn remains, but it also elevates research standards in law for fetal tissue research.  Fetal tissue research saves real lives in Wisconsin, across the nation, and around the world.  Vaccines for polio, hepatitis A, measles, mumps, rubella, chickenpox, and rabies have saved countless lives and were all created using research from fetal tissue.  Research in this field continues in Wisconsin today on birth defects, the Zika virus, cancer, diabetes, Alzheimer's disease, epilepsy, Parkinson's disease, organ transplantation, asthma, heart failure, genetic disorders, and more vaccines.  Research in this field has already saved lives and will continue to do so. 

 

Wisconsin is a leader in ethical standards for research.  Senate Bill 422 codifies this high ethical standard into law.  By doing this, Senate Bill 422 protects both the lives of the unborn and the lifesaving research that occurs in the field of fetal tissue research.  Under the bill, it is illegal to obtain tissue from research from an abortion clinic or a for-profit entity.  This provision directly addresses the horrible leaked videos from Planned Parenthood, as the abortion clinics were working with a for-profit clinic known as StemExpress.  The bill also makes it illegal to alter an abortion procedure to obtain tissue for research and requires the physician who performed the abortion to have no part in research.  Finally, researchers in Wisconsin must have written documentation that the woman consented to an abortion before consenting to donating tissue and that all medical and privacy risks were made clear to the woman.

 

During the public hearing, I heard testimony from researchers who were worried their own moral beliefs would penalize them in the workplace if they did not want to work with fetal tissue.  Senate Bill 422 addresses this claim by creating a conscience clause for researchers.  This clause states that no researcher can be compelled to work on research using fetal tissue if it conflicts with their moral or religious beliefs.

 

Senate Bill 422 was modeled after a successful bill in North Carolina.  The bill went through their legislature on a bi-partisan vote and was hailed by the pro-life community for the work it does to end the profitable sale of fetal tissue.  While this bill was modeled after the success in North Carolina, the research standards this bill elevates into law are unique to Wisconsin.  Other states have passed bans on the use of fetal tissue, regardless of how the tissue was obtained.  In these states, the law was never enacted because of expensive law suits over the constitutionality of the law itself.  These legal concerns largely shaped Senate Bill 422, as I believe it is a legally defensible bill, while still creating a new ethical standard for research that is unique to Wisconsin.

 

Wisconsin is now and always has been a leader for our country.  Senate Bill 422 continues this leadership to criminalize the despicable practice of selling the remains of unborn children for profit and codifies our high standards for ethical research into law.  It is my hope that other states will look to Wisconsin and pass similar ethical standards for research.

 

 If you have any questions about this bill, please contact my office for more information.

Family Treatment Court Bill Approved

On Tuesday, the Wisconsin State Senate voted unanimously to approve a bill that I authored, Senate Bill 390.  This bill is very important to continue our state's fight against opioid and drug abuse and allows the Department of Children and Families to administer grants to counties to operate family treatment courts.
Family drug treatment courts allow parents whose kids are in the child welfare system to access the services they need to turn their lives around and reunite with their children.  This bill focuses on providing holistic services for families that have been torn apart by drug abuse.

Milwaukee County's Family Drug Treatment Court has already seen significant results with children reaching permanency faster, increased family reunification, and a significant decrease in parents' relapses.  In addition to these trends, Milwaukee's Family Drug Treatment Court is also largely responsible for the births of 17 healthy babies from mothers who had struggled with drug abuse. 
The statewide expansion of family drug treatment courts is a common sense reform for our state that will reunify families, keep children out of the child welfare system, and teach parents struggling with addiction how to lead clean, healthy lives for themselves and for their children. 

The bi-partisan bill is awaiting a vote in the Assembly before it heads to Governor Walker's desk.
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Looking for Senate Scholars
Senator Darling with 2017 Senate Scholar Joe Pencak from Whitefish Bay High School. 

Do you know a remarkable young person who is interested in government?  The Senate Scholar program is a week-long program, where students get to see first-hand how the State Senate operates.  Only 33 students are picked for the program and applications are due by November 22nd.  You can read more about the program here.

Around the 8th...
I loved meeting these great kids during my tour of the Boys & Girls Club located at Brown Deer High School on Monday!
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Maple Dale Elementary School in Fox Point visited the State Capitol recently!
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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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