Dear Friends,

This was an exciting week! Three important bills I worked on were signed into law by the governor, including one he threatened to veto. You can read more about that below.

There's even more good news! Wisconsin tied for first in the Midwest in average weekly wage growth from 2018 to 2019. Our state ranked seventh in the nation. It's great to see our reforms continue to benefit Wisconsin's working families.

Finally, good luck to Wisconsin hunters as they head to the woods for the annual gun deer season. Before you head out this weekend, the Wisconsin DNR has some last-minute tips. Here's to a safe and successful deer harvest.

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!
Governor Changes Course, Signs OWI Reform
Thankfully, Governor Evers changed his mind and signed an important OWI reform I co-authored with Representative Jim Ott.

Our bill creates a mandatory minimum sentence of five years in prison for committing homicide while driving drunk. If a judge believes that sentence is too harsh, they must put their reasons in writing. 
  
I'm pleased the Governor finally agreed to sign this important reform. Unfortunately, there are instances where an individual's irresponsible act of driving under the influence kills someone. In some of these cases, the driver is only incarcerated for two or three years. When someone takes the life of another, they must be given a sentence that provides justice for the family members who have lost a loved one.

We need to crack down on drunk drivers and get them the help they need. That's why we are investing $13 million in the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program in Wisconsin. This program is an effective way to help people break their addiction.

Earlier this year, I was honored as the "2019 Legislator of the Year" by Mothers Against Drunk Driving. I am proud of that honor and the successes we have had in curbing drunk driving this session. I promise to continue to fight to make our roads safer.

A special thank you goes out to Sheila Lockwood who attended the bill signing. Sheila's son Austin was killed by a drunk driver. Her courage and strength is remarkable. Sheila was instrumental in getting this important legislation across the finish line.
Combating Sex Trafficking
The governor also signed another bill I co-authored which assists truck drivers in identifying sex trafficking. It will help educate truck drivers to recognize the signs of human trafficking. Sex trafficking isn't a rural or an urban problem, it's a statewide issue. 

All 72 counties in Wisconsin have reported incidents of human trafficking. Truckers often find themselves on the front lines of where sex trafficking occurs. This new law will help them recognize these crimes and contact law enforcement so it can be stopped.
Bill to Help Homeless Teens Becomes Law
Homeless teens in Wisconsin will soon have a better chance to get off the streets. On Tuesday, the governor signed a bill I authored that will allow 17-year-olds from broken homes or living on the streets to find shelter and a safe place to sleep.

Currently, minors aren't allowed to enter homeless shelters without an adult. The bill allows 17-year-olds who are homeless and don't have a parent or guardian to get shelter. Kids need a safe place to sleep. DPI's reports say there are nearly 2,300 Wisconsin kids who don't have access to stable housing. This new law removes a barrier for them to access shelters and transitional living programs.

It is very sad so many kids in Wisconsin do not have parents who can provide for them. This new law will get kids off the streets and into a safe living space. Having a safe place to sleep will greatly increase the chances of that student finishing high school and may help protect them from sex traffickers.

According to the National Center for Prosecution of Child Abuse, one out of every three homeless teens is recruited for sex trafficking within 48 hours of leaving home. Researchers at the University of Pennsylvania report that more than two-thirds of homeless females say they were solicited for paid sex. In a report from the National Institute of Justice, nearly 75% of underage survivors of sex trafficking identified housing as a major area of need. This bill will help get kids off the street and away from the purview of potential traffickers.
Preventing Teen Suicides
This week, the Senate Education Committee approved my bill to help prevent suicides among young people.

Tragically, suicide is the 9th leading cause of death in our state. For kids between the ages of 10 and 18, it's the second leading cause of death.

My bill will help fund peer-to-peer suicide prevention programs for our schools. Peer-to-peer programs like Hope Squad and Sources of Strength are making a real difference in preventing suicides. The programs help change the way kids talk about mental health, train peers to identify signs of crisis and seek help, and train student leaders for kids to contact when they need additional support. 

Peer-to-Peer programs will help kids see a support network in their school and help them understand that they are not alone.
Celebrating National Adoption Month
Today, I was blessed to witness an adoption ceremony at the Vel Phillips Juvenile Justice Center in Milwaukee. It was a moving and touching event to see these children find permanent homes.

I've worked for many years to improve the lives of children and make more days like today possible. Governor Tommy Thompson and I shifted the child welfare programs out of Milwaukee and formed the Milwaukee Child Welfare Partnership Council to help stop child abuse. I still serve on the council, where we work to improve outcomes for kids in the Milwaukee area.

Congratulations to the families and children who are celebrating today, and here's to more events like this in the future!
Honored to Receive Library Champion Award
I'd like to thank the Wisconsin Library Association for recognizing me as a "Wisconsin Library Champion." I love our libraries, and I am honored to receive this award.
Wisconsin is Still Winning!
Did you know?
Blue Books Available
Around the 8th...
Representative Jim Ott and I were honored to attend the Eagle Scout ceremonies for Cullen Rogacki of Boy Scout Troop 167 of Richfield, Mason and Bryce Krueger of Boy Scout Troop 865 of Mequon last weekend.

Representative Ott and I presented them with citations to mark the occasion. All three young men have bright futures ahead!
I had a great time at the Glendale Chamber of Commerce event at the Boelter's Super Store this week.

I'd like to thank Dale Schmidt for the personal tour!
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