By Senator, Lena C. Taylor
Last week’s inauguration was a fun celebration. I’m grateful to my constituents for their support in allowing me to continue to serve you in the State Senate.
Now, it’s time to get to work. That’s why my team has already drafted over 70 bills for this next legislative session. Over the next few months, I’ll be introducing many of them. Here is a firsthand look at my legislative agenda:
LOVE & FAITH Initiative
Government cannot mandate love and cannot mandate faith, but it can change how it works with itself and with outside sources to deliver services.
My model will break down government silos so agencies are working collaboratively rather than in isolation, to help people with whatever their neighborhood needs the most. That could be anything from job readiness to health to urban agriculture.
To learn more about the model and how it works, visit LenaTaylor.org. I’m working on a bill to create a pathway for community health workers to connect people to health services and fill in the gaps where our current system falls short.
Juvenile Corrections Reform
I don’t have to tell you our juvenile corrections system is broken. Early this session, I plan to introduce a series of bills that I believe will turn around our failed outcomes of juvenile lawbreakers.
My first bill will remove juvenile corrections entirely out of the Department of Corrections and put it into the Department of Children and Families. Reforming troubled youth should be the responsibility of people who know best about children.
Second, I will work to ban all forms of solitary confinement for children.
Solitary confinement is cruel, especially for young people whose brains haven’t fully developed. Another bill I will work on will replicate the successful GROW Academy for juveniles in Milwaukee County.
We need to bring more of our children back home near their families and healthy support systems to improve outcomes of reentry.
The GROW Academy focuses on sustainability and agriculture in a small group learning environment.
Finally, I will work on our current Lincoln Hills crisis by organizing community-based visits with members of the Milwaukee community to ensure the children left behind at Lincoln Hills still have a positive connection to their community.
We have to get the lead out. Lead poisoning impacts the brain’s development and has been linked to everything from developmental disabilities to violent crime.
Milwaukee’s lead pipe crisis needs to be addressed now. That is why I will continue to work to secure funding to remove lead laterals from our city.
Additionally, I will introduce legislation that will touch everything from lead disclosure for tenants and home buyers to lead testing to helping put clean water in the hands of every resident who needs it.
For the past six months, I’ve sat on a Legislative Council Study Committee that made more than a dozen recommendations on how to improve the success rate of prisoner reentry in Wisconsin.
As the Senator who represents the most incarcerated zip code in the nation, this is my top priority. In the coming months, I will work to improve everything from expungement to banning the box on job applications. But I won’t stop there.
We need to address job certification, revocation reform and improving the pardon process. At over $30,000 per year, incarceration isn’t the answer and incarcerating someone a second time is just an admission that our system failed someone the first time around. It’s time we start getting smart on this and work on data-driven strategies to reduce recidivism.
I need your help.
I cannot do this work alone. If you want to be part of the solution here are five ways you can get involved:
1. Email me at Sen.Taylor@Legis.WI.Gov and I will add you to my Legislative Update email list. I’ll keep you posted on my legislative agenda throughout this session.
2. Follow me on Facebook, Twitter or Instagram to learn about opportunities to get involved in changing the law.
3. Track my bills at www.Legis.WI.Gov and sign up for the Legislative Notification Service to be one of the first to know what’s going on at the Capitol.
4. Join me and lobby legislators on many of these topics on Feb. 28th at our lobby day at the State Capitol for Black History Month.
5. Join a grassroots group that speaks to the issues you care about.
There’s too much at stake to sit on the sidelines. I hope to see you in the fight.
Join Senator Taylor’s email list to learn more about what’s going on at the Capitol by emailing her at Sen.Taylor@legis.wi.gov. Or, connect with Senator Taylor on social media at Facebook.com/SenLenaTaylor, Twitter.com/SenTaylor or follow her at Instagram.com/Lena.Taylor.