Dear Friends,

Congratulations to parents, children, and teachers on completing the first week of school! As a former teacher, I know how this can be an exciting and challenging time. Here's to a great school year!

I'm excited to report the University of Wisconsin - Madison is taking a major step that will help fuel our economy. This week, UW announced its first new school in two decades. The new School of Computer, Data and Information Sciences will help meet the growing need for computer science majors in our state.

I’m thrilled to hear UW is taking an important step to prepare students for the jobs of the future. I have urged UW to elevate the status of the computer science program for a couple of years. I even talked with them about pursuing a legislative solution. Our high-tech economy requires a high-profile computer science department at our flagship university. 

Breaking news! A new report uses Wisconsin as one example of how tax reform leads to economic and job growth. The Institute for Reforming Government looked at five states, including Wisconsin, and found that our $8 billion in tax cuts, Act 10 reforms, and tax reforms helped our state's economic growth go from 35th in the nation to 11th. It's great to see more national attention paid to Wisconsin's amazing turnaround!

Finally, I'm thinking and praying for everyone affected by Hurricane Dorian. I'm happy to report that a Fox Point resident is alive and well after riding out the storm in the Bahamas. Bill Raninen found himself trapped on the island as the storm approached. So glad you are okay, Bill! If you are moved to help out, the American Red Cross is accepting donations for victims of Hurricane Dorian.

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

On, Wisconsin!
Cracking Down on Drunk Driving
Our state has a major drinking and driving problem. According to the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, we had more than 22,000 OWI convictions in 2017 alone. Alcohol related crashes killed 190 people last year. That's way, way too many. Representative Jim Ott and I are trying to do something about it.

This week, the Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety held an emotional public hearing on five bills, authored by Representative Ott and I, to crack down on drunk driving. Our bills attack the problem from many angles.

Senate Bill 6: Creates a mandatory minimum sentence for 5th and 6th offenses of at least 18 months in prison
Senate Bill: 7: Requires first time offenders to appear in court. Standing in front of a judge, should help people take their offense seriously.
Senate Bill 8: Creates a mandatory minimum sentence of at least five years if a drunk driver kills someone.
Senate Bill 9: Increases penalties for first time offenses to a Class C misdemeanor (a fine not to exceed $500 or imprisonment not to exceed 30 days, or both). It also has a second chance provision. If a person doesn't commit another OWI offense after five years, they may petition the court to get their first offense amended to a civil violation.
Senate Bill 345: Decreases the incentive for offenders to delay prosecution to prevent tougher charges.

It's my hope that these bills along with investments we have made over the years in treatment will help make our roads much safer. If you'd like to watch some of the testimony from Wednesday's hearing, please click on the picture.
Expanding Access to Broadband
Making sure all of Wisconsin is wired is a big priority for me. There are still parts of our state that don't have access to broadband, and I want to change that.

Broadband access is crucial for our schools, hospitals, and businesses. That's why in the state budget, I supported investing $48 million for broadband expansion.

This week, the Public Service Commission began distributing $24 million in broadband grants. You can find out more by clicking the picture above.
Budget Committee Invests in Farmers' Mental Health
Farming is always difficult work. This week, the Joint Committee on Finance made a very important investment to make sure our farmers have somewhere to turn for help.

We are providing $200,000 for increased farmer mental health access over the next two years. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection plans to dedicate $25,000 for counseling vouchers, $50,000 for workshops for farmers, and $25,000 for workshops to train mental health providers on how to address the challenges facing the farming community. 

Investing in mental health was a huge priority in the state budget. I made sure we doubled current funding for student mental health programs to help kids access needed services. I led on investing in the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program which connects primary care doctors with child psychiatrists so they can adequately treat the kids in their care. 

We can't ignore the mental health crisis in our state. These investments ensure people all over the state receive the help they need.
September is Suicide Prevention Month
Wisconsin is Still Winning!
Did you know?
Around the 8th...
Wisconsin politics is losing an icon. This week, Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner announced he would not seek another term. His leadership and wisdom will be missed.

Congressman Jim Sensenbrenner fought for taxpayers every chance he got. He is an outstanding representative for our area. I wish him all best in his retirement.
Saturday, September 7, 2019 at 12 PM – 9 PM
11333 N Cedarburg Rd, Mequon
Click on the picture for more information.
Celebrate the new Port Washington State Bank River Stage in Thiensville. Click the picture above for more information.