Dear Friends,

Congratulations to Rosalind Schmitt of Menomonee Falls on her book, Flare Flies On. Rosalind is a second-grader at Ben Franklin Elementary. Her book was inspired by learning during the pandemic and features a phoenix named Flare. You can purchase Rosalind's book on Amazon.

Two of my bills that will help students recover from lost learning during the pandemic had a public hearing this week. You can read more about them and a lot more 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!
Making Cancer Screening Affordable
On Tuesday, the Senate Health Committee held an emotional public hearing on one of my bills that will ensure women have affordable access to essential breast screenings. Senate Bill 413 builds on previous legislation I authored that requires places that perform mammograms to provide a breast density notification to women along with the results of their mammogram.

Around half of women have dense breast tissue. More than 70% of breast cancers occur in dense breasts. Not only is dense tissue a risk factor for breast cancer, but it also conceals tumors that should be identified in a mammogram. For women with dense tissue, a mammogram alone is not always enough to determine the presence of cancer. With this information, women will be able to proactively discuss their options with their healthcare providers.

While mammograms are covered by insurance, additional essential screenings like an MRI or ultrasound can leave women with high out-of-pocket costs, averaging between $350 to $1,084 per screening. These costs are a barrier to women who need additional screenings.

My bill requires insurance policies to cover essential breast screenings for women with dense breast tissue and women at high risk of breast cancer, with a maximum out-of-pocket cost of $50.

I want to especially thank Linda Hansen, Gail Zeamer, and Scott Zellner for their testimony in the committee this week. They each shared moving and personal stories involving breast cancer and dense breast tissue.
Safe Harbor Bill Approved
Sex trafficking continues to be a national tragedy, and it's happening right here in our state. All 72 counties report cases of trafficking, and Milwaukee is considered a hub for the crime.

On Thursday, The Senate Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety approved my bipartisan bill to protect victims of sex trafficking. Senate Bill 245, also known as The Safe Harbor bill, will make sure trafficked children won’t be charged as prostitutes and instead will be referred to victim services.

With few exceptions, 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. Thirty states and the District of Columbia have passed similar bills to protect victims.

On average, children are only 13 years old when they are trafficked for the first time. Traffickers are experts at targeting vulnerable children. One out of every three homeless teenagers is lured toward victimization by traffickers within just 48 hours of leaving home. An estimated 70 to 90 percent of youth victims of sex trafficking have histories of sexual abuse.

The monsters who force children into sex trafficking will no longer be able to use the threat of prosecution for prostitution as a way to keep kids in a cycle of abuse. This simple change to the law is vital to ensuring that children who have been sex trafficked are recognized as victims, not criminals.

The bill now heads to the full State Senate for further consideration.
Senate Education Committee Hears Two Darling Bills
On Thursday, the Senate Education Committee – which I chair – heard Senate Bill 589 which will improve the way we teach reading in Wisconsin. We have a reading crisis in our state.

In 2019, before the pandemic, only 39% of students were proficient in reading. That number is likely worse from the disruptions of the 2020 school year. The data from 2019 shows our state ranks 42nd for black students in reading, 28th for Hispanic students, and 34th for white students. That’s not good enough.

My bill makes prospective teachers pass the most up-to-date version of the Foundations of Reading Test to earn their license. Better trained teachers will better train students in reading.

Also on Thursday, my committee heard Senate Bill 567 which requires school districts to report the number of students who attended a credit recovery course, their grade level, and the subject they attended.

We know the pandemic set many students back in their education. Instead of fixing these problems, many schools loosened standards. This bill provides the data so we know the real effect of the pandemic on our children’s education. The data will help us find ways to get kids back up to speed in their education before it’s too late.
Road Construction Updates
Senate Scholar Program
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 2022 program and applications are due by November 1st. You can read more about the program by clicking here.
Request a Blue Book
The new Wisconsin Blue Books will soon be here!

The Blue Book is an invaluable resource about our state's history, demographics, and data.

If you would like a copy, please click on the picture and fill out the form. We will mail one out to you at no cost.

We expect the Blue Books to arrive in a couple weeks. My office will ship them out as soon as possible.
Please Donate Blood, Plasma
One way you can help is by donating blood. If you have recovered from COVID-19, please especially consider donating your plasma.

You can find out where to donate here and here.
COVID-19 Vaccine, Testing Information
Around the 8th...