Dear Friends,

Wisconsin got some sweet news this week. German candy maker HARIBO will build their first manufacturing plant in North America right here in our state!

On Thursday, HARIBO announced it is investing  $442 million to create a plant in Pleasant Prairie.  The 500,000 square foot facility is expected to initially employ 400 people.

But that's not the only good news on the job front.  Wisconsin's unemployment rate took another dip.  The jobless rate now stands at 3.7% which is the lowest it has been since November of 2000!  Wisconsin is definitely open for business! 

As always, if you have any ideas on how to improve our great state, including how to improve the budget, please do not hesitate to contact me at  Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov or 608-266-5830.   

On Wisconsin!

Three Bills Hope to Deter Drunk Driving 
(Representative Jim Ott prepares to testify on our bills to curb drunk driving)

This week, three bills I authored with State Representative Jim Ott had public hearings in the Assembly Committee on Criminal Justice and Public Safety.

Getting behind the wheel and driving while intoxicated is a serious problem we face in Wisconsin. According to statistics provided by the Department of Transportation, in 2015 alone we had almost 24,000 OWI (Operating While Intoxicated) convictions. I am sure this number would be even larger if we were to factor in the number of individuals who drove intoxicated but were never caught.
 
Despite our advances in fighting OWI abuse in Wisconsin, there is still more work to be done. Unfortunately, there are instances where an individual's irresponsible act kills someone. In some of these cases, the driver is only incarcerated for two or three years. Assembly Bill 97 creates a mandatory minimum of five years for these instances. 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.  

Even though we have seen a decrease in overall OWI convictions in the past few years, one group of individuals that has seen an increase in convictions is 5th and 6th OWI offenders. OWI offenders in this category are at minimum required to be incarcerated for six months.  Assembly Bill 99 would move the mandatory minimum to 18 months behind bars.

The third bill, Assembly Bill  98, would close a loophole in the ignition interlock device requirements.  It's my hope the committee will act on these bills soon.

Stillborn Tax Credit
 
Losing a child is a tragic event. This session, I'm working on a bill to help those parents deal with the expenses associated with losing a child.

In Wisconsin, new parents receive a tax credit to help with the costs of childbirth.  As any parent can tell you, this $1,000 tax credit covers only part of the expenses related to childbirth.  However, if a child is stillborn in Wisconsin, parents are not eligible for this tax credit.  Parents of a child who dies shortly after birth are eligible for this deduction, along with other benefits like maternity leave, insurance-covered autopsies, and bereavement leave.
 
A stillborn child is defined in statute as a miscarriage that occurs after at least 20 weeks of gestation.  Parents of stillborn children undergo many, if not all, the same medical costs that parents of a healthy newborn child undergo.  Yet, our tax code does not currently aid these bereaved parents simply because their child did not take his or her first breath.
 
My bill corrects this inequality in our tax code by creating a $2,000 refundable tax credit for the parents of a stillborn child. The stillborn tax credit is more than the new parent tax credit because even though parents miss work when they have a stillbirth, they may not be eligible for maternity leave.  This increased funding is meant to help parents absorb the costs of lost wages for the time missed during the miscarriage and recovery. 
 
While this bill cannot help parents overcome the tragedy of losing their child, it helps lessen the financial burdens incurred for the sole reason that the child was not born alive.

 
Sussex's Quad/Graphics Apprenticeship Program Highlighted
Closing the skills gap in Sussex, WI

Quad/Graphics in Sussex is getting national attention for their efforts to close the skills gap.  The company's apprenticeship program was recently featured on CNBC's Nightly Business Report.  Click on the video above to watch.
Around the 8th...
John F. Kennedy Elementary School in Grafton visited our State Capitol on Thursday!
______________________________________________________
This is some  of the amazing artwork from the 8th Senate district on display at our beautiful State Capitol as part of Youth Art Month!
Senator Alberta Darling | Sen.Darling@legis.wi.gov | 1-800-863-1113| http://darling.senate.wisconsin.gov
See what's happening on our social sites: