Dear Friends,

Congratulations fellow Badger fans! Sports Illustrated rated Madison as college football's greatest town. Madison beat out other football powerhouse programs like the University of Texas, the University of Georgia, and Michigan. The magazine said the terrace at UW's Memorial Union may be "the most delightful spot in the Midwest." Badger season is just around the corner and I'm looking forward to another exciting year.

Wisconsin is also ranked as one of the best states that deliver the "biggest bang for your buck." According to the Tax Foundation, Wisconsin is number 19 for the real value of $100. The Foundation says in the Badger state, $100 is worth $108.23. Wisconsin is ranked ten spots higher than Minnesota and 14 spots higher than Illinois.

Over the years, I've worked very hard to keep Wisconsin affordable for taxpayers. We've cut taxes more than $8 billion and kept property taxes in check. I'm glad to see it is paying off for the people of our state.

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!
Mental Health Bills Introduced
This week, I announced a long overdue overhaul of the statutes affecting psychology in our state. The bill I am authoring with Representative Paul Tittl of Manitowoc will help graduates enter the workforce more quickly with interim psychologist licenses, modernize our laws, and help the Psychology Examining Board adapt to the growing need for mental health professionals.

The need is great. Teen suicide has doubled since 2007. Our state ranks near the bottom in the number of youth who experienced a major depressive episode, but did not get mental health services. Twenty-four percent of kids in our state are diagnosed with a mental illness. We are ranked too low (36th) in the number of mental health workers who can help. My bill will help more children get the help they need by getting more mental health professionals into the field.

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. 

You can click on the picture above to watch my comments from Tuesday's news conference.
Safe Harbor Law Will Protect Victims of Sex Trafficking
On Wednesday, I testified in favor of a bipartisan bill which will help protect victims of sex trafficking. Senate Bill 49, known as the Safe Harbor law, makes sure trafficked children won't be charged for crimes they were forced to commit.

Under current law, an individual who is under the age of 18 cannot legally consent to sexual relations. Despite that, minors who have been forced into having sexual relations because of trafficking can still be prosecuted for prostitution. Senator Darling says her bill updates state law to protect minors.

This simple change to the law is vital to ensuring that children who have been sex trafficked are recognized as victims, not criminals. Victims of sex trafficking have undergone incredible trauma that will affect them for the rest of their lives. Traffickers will no longer be able to use the threat of prosecution for prostitution as a way to keep children inside the cycle of abuse they undergo while being trafficked.
Finding Real Solutions to Gun Violence
You may be hearing about a bill that was recently introduced in the Legislature which would require a background check for a person-to-person sale of a firearm and provide a misdemeanor penalty. I am currently reviewing this legislation. One initial reaction to the proposal I've heard is that the bill would be difficult to enforce.

Wisconsin currently has a procedure of involuntary commitment on the books that may be more useful than what is currently being proposed. It creates an emergency process to get someone who is a threat to themselves or others out of their home and into treatment. We also have a legal proceeding to remove firearms from that person's home. I believe we also need to review our current statutes and see if there are ways to update them to make sure people can get help before they act out.

Last session, I worked with police and advocates to author a bill that passed to create a mandatory minimum for gun crimes committed by repeat offenders, close the straw purchase loophole, and create a penalty for people who carry guns for criminals. I also helped Milwaukee Police get funding for ShotSpotter to get criminals who use guns off the street. If used appropriately, these laws can make a real difference.

Many of these shooters share common characteristics that need to be addressed such as childhood trauma, mental illness, and suicidal thoughts. Republicans made serious investments in mental health in the latest state budget including doubling the funding for mental health programs for kids.  Unfortunately, every single Democrat in the Legislature voted against that funding.
Bipartisan RISE Act Will Help Stop Revolving Door of Prison
Too often, inmates learn new skills in prison, but aren't able to use them when they get out. That's why I authored a bipartisan bill to help make use of those in-demand skills.

The Reduce Incarceration, Secure Employment or RISE Act would create a Certificate of Qualification for Employment (CQE) for ex-offenders who are not likely to pose a risk to public safety. Those with certain offenses, particularly those involving violent or sexual crimes, would not be eligible to apply under the bill.

Regardless of the crime committed, the CQE would still not apply to certain facilities where our most vulnerable populations could be at risk, such as childcare centers or certain health care facilities. A CQE also does not apply to jobs substantially related to the applicant's crime. 

The RISE Act will give people a second chance and give employers confidence in their new employees. And it will help stop the revolving door of prison.
Justice Hagedorn Joins Supreme Court
Congratulations to Justice Brian Hagedorn who officially joined the Wisconsin Supreme Court this week.

I had the honor of wishing him well before he took his official oath on Wednesday. I know he will do a great job on the Court.
State Fair Sets Attendance Records - Again
Congratulations to everyone involved in the Wisconsin State Fair. The fair set another attendance record and passed one million visitors for the seventh straight year!

The fair averaged more than 100,000 people per day and set five daily attendance records. They also sold more than 400,000 cream puffs - including the one I bought!
Wisconsin is Still Winning!
Did you know?
Around the 8th...
On Tuesday, Representative Janel Brandtjen and I had the honor of visiting the Community Outreach Health Clinic in Menomonee Falls. We learned about the great work they are doing and some of the challenges they face. Thanks to everyone who helped make the tour possible.
The first annual Jewish Food Festival will be held in Virmond Park, 10606 North Lake Shore Drive in Mequon.
Celebrate the Sounds of Summer this Saturday, August 17, 2019. The evening kicks off at 5:00 pm on Silver Spring Drive and features a performance by Boogie & the Yo-Yo’z from 6:00 pm to 10:00 pm. Food available from Sendik's includes: Italian Sausage, Hamburger, Chicken Breast Sandwich, Hot Dogs, and Corn on the Cob.
The HAWS Pet Fair is set for Saturday, August 17th from 9:00 am to 4:00 pm in the Menomonee Falls Fond du Lac Avenue and Lilly Road. Click on the picture above for more details.