Dear Friends,

My heart is broken over the tragedy in Uvalde, Texas. I am praying for the families and communities affected by this senseless crime. While we mourn, it's important to reflect on the efforts we have made and continue to make in Wisconsin to protect our school children here at home.

A few years ago, the Wisconsin State Legislature approved a $100 million school safety package. Hundreds of grants were awarded to schools to improve safety in their facilities and improve mental health training. We also created the Office of School Safety within the Wisconsin Department of Justice. In addition to safety funding, I have personally fought for mental health funding for our schools and have consistently supported common-sense gun reforms that keep guns out of the hands of people who shouldn’t have them. You can read more about those initiatives below.

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!
School Safety
In addition to providing $100 million to help protect our schools and children, I have also worked to make sure kids get the mental health care they need.

In 2013, I helped take steps to counteract the psychiatrist shortage by providing funds for the Child Psychiatry Consultation Program (CPCP). This innovative program connects primary care providers with child psychiatrists. Operated by the Medical College of Wisconsin, the program allows providers to receive consultations on youth mental health cases and also provides educational seminars on mental health for providers.

This session, I worked with Representative Jim Steineke of Kaukauna to expand the program and create a comprehensive Mental Health Consultation Program (MHCP) for Wisconsin. The MHCP would be a resource for primary care providers throughout the state for services related to perinatal, child, adult, geriatric, pain, veteran, and general mental health consultation services. The MHCP would provide education, consultative support, and community resource referrals for primary care physicians.
Our bill is an innovative solution to serve more constituents’ mental health needs and better prepare our primary care providers to face the emerging mental health concerns in our communities.

I've long been a proponent of focusing on "trauma-informed" care. Trauma-informed care shifts our perspective from "what’s wrong with you?” to “what happened to you?” Adverse childhood experiences are a measure of trauma an individual has experienced. About 60 percent of Wisconsinites report at least one adverse childhood experience. The trauma children experience influences their learning, health, and behavior.

I'm very proud of my work in improving mental health care in our state. I helped create and fund mental health programs in the budget, and we doubled our investment into school mental health services in the most recent budget. Next session, I hope to build on those successes.

I'm not afraid to pass common-sense gun reforms either. I worked with law enforcement and advocates alike to author a comprehensive law to crack down on gun violence in Wisconsin. These reforms created mandatory minimum sentences for gun crimes committed by repeat offenders closed the straw purchase loophole and created a penalty for people who carry guns for criminals.

Research has shown that in most cases, criminals who obtain firearms do so through “straw purchases,” which is when one individual who cannot legally purchase a firearm has another individual do so on their behalf. I authored 2017 Act 145, which passed the State Legislature with wide bipartisan support and made it a felony to straw purchase for a criminal in Wisconsin.

Considering that we already have a strong involuntary commitment law on the books, I believe our first priority should be making sure that our current laws are being enforced to their fullest extent in order to combat gun violence. One of my main focuses in making our state safer is championing legislation that works to mitigate the root causes of gun violence by working to prevent guns from getting into the hands of people who shouldn’t have them.
Sexual Assault Tracking Database Now Active
Sexual assault survivors will now have access to information about their sexual assault kits. I authored a bill this session to create a database in Wisconsin for health care professionals, law enforcement, state crime laboratory personnel, and prosecutors to update information on the location and status of a sexual assault kit. This week, the Wisconsin Department of Justice announced that this database is now up and running.

2021 Wisconsin Act 117 empowers survivors of sexual assault as their case goes through the legal system. The bill ensures that the Wisconsin statutes protect victims and prevent another backlog of cases.

Wisconsin is now part of a nationwide movement to make sure victims of sexual assault are able to follow the status of their case and the location of their kit. It is my hope this new process will help victims find closure and provide the transparency needed to prevent another backlog of kits.
Around the 8th...
Memorial Day Parades