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Lena Taylor

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Lena Taylor
Taylor lena.jpg
Wisconsin State Senate District 4
In office
2005 - Present
Term ends
January 2, 2017
Years in position 10
Base salary$49,943/year
Per diem$88/day
Elections and appointments
Last electionNovember 6, 2012
First elected2004
Next generalNovember 8, 2016
Term limitsN/A
Prior offices
Assembly Member, Wisconsin State Assembly
2003 - 2005
Bachelor'sUniversity of Wisconsin, Milwaukee, 1990
J.D.Southern Illinois University, Carbondale, 1993
Date of birth07/25/1966
Place of birthMilwaukee, WI
ProfessionColumnist, Milwaukee Courier
Office website
Lena Taylor (b. July 25, 1966) is a Democratic member of the Wisconsin State Senate. She has represented District 4 since 2004. Previously, Taylor represented the 18th district in the Wisconsin State Assembly from 2003 to 2004. She also ran for Milwaukee County Executive in 2008 but was defeated by Scott Walker.[1]

Taylor graduated from the University of Wisconsin, Milwaukee with a B.A. in English in 1990. She went on to earn a law degree from Southern Illinois University at Carbondale in 1993. She worked as an attorney in the Wisconsin Public Defender's office for a few years before opening her own law firm in 1996 called Taylor and Associates Law Office.

Committee assignments


At the beginning of the 2013 legislative session, Taylor served on the following committees:

Wisconsin Committee Assignments, 2013
Agriculture, Small Business, and Tourism
Economic Development and Local Government
Elections and Urban Affairs
Joint Review on Criminal Penalties


At the beginning of the 2011 legislative session, Taylor served on the following committees:


At the beginning of the 2009 legislative session, Taylor served on the following committees:


Legislative walkout

Taylor and the 13 other Democratic senators participated in a legislative walkout on February 17, 2011 in opposition to Assembly Bill 11 - a Republican-sponsored bill aimed at limiting collective bargaining rights, compensation and fringe benefits of public employees.[2] The Democratic departure left the Senate one vote shy of a quorum. Reports confirmed the senators fled to a hotel in Rockford, Illinois.[3] State police were dispatched by Governor Scott Walker (R) to retrieve the senators, but were unable to cross state lines. [4] The 14 state senators who left the state are being described as the "Badger 14" or "Fab 14."[5][6]

On February 22, speaking from the basement of an Illinois hotel, Senate Minority Leader Mark Miller provided the minority response to Gov. Scott Walker, saying, "The governor has the tools at his disposal to put this issue to an end. As soon as he is willing to take a compromise, we will go back to work in an instant." Miller stated that the legislators payed for the trip themselves, and that no taxpayer money was spent.[7]

Walker called on the Democratic senators to return to the state by March 1 in order to vote to restructure the state's debt. If they did not, he stated he may have to start cutting state jobs, saying:
It’s not just a number, it’s not just a budget, it’s ultimately a real person with a real family, so I’m going to push that back as far as I can. We’ve got to have real numbers to balance the budget to avoid layoffs. My hope is those 14 state senators … realize that in the end, it’s much better off to avoid those cuts, it’s much better off to avoid the most dire consequences that will come if we don’t pass this bill.[8]
The Democratic senators said they would not return until the governor was willing to compromise on the budget-repair bill.

Democrats threatened with arrest

Republicans passed a unanimous resolution on March 3 finding the missing legislators in contempt and threatening them with arrest. It gave them until 4 p.m. to return or the sergeant-at-arms was ordered to take "any and all necessary steps, with or without force, and with or without the assistance of law enforcement, by warrant or other legal process, as he may deem necessary in order to bring that senator to the Senate chambers."[9]

The constitutionality of that resolution was unclear, however, as the Wisconsin Constitution only allows for the arrest of legislators while in session if they are suspected of committing a felony, treason, or breach of the peace. Jim Palmer, executive director of the Wisconsin Professional Police Association, said the resolution was an "unreasonable abuse of police power."[10]

Sen. Jon Erpenbach provided the Democratic response, stating, "All 14 of us remain in Illinois, very strong in our convictions. Issuing arrest warrants at 4 p.m. isn't going to solve the problem. This is a debate about protection of the middle class in Wisconsin; that is what the Republicans should be focusing on."[9]

The move by Republicans came the day after they issued fines of $100 a day for not showing up at the Capitol, along with taking away parking spaces.[11] The week before Republicans also passed a rule suspending direct-deposit of paychecks. Sen. Erpenbach found a way around this by granting power of attorney to two of his aides, giving them power to, among other things, pick up his paycheck. In the end Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald mailed the check to Erpenbaach.[12]

Meeting/possible compromises

On March 7, Democratic leader Sen. Mark Miller sent a letter to the governor and senate majority leader asking for a meeting near the Wisconsin-Illinois border to restart talks on the collective bargaining issue.[13] Gov. Walker responded at a press conference, calling the letter "ridiculous," and saying that several meetings between the two sides have taken place, but that Miller has stood in the way of a compromise.[14]

Sen. Chris Larson said, "Dems will return when collective bargaining is off the table. That could be soon based on the growing public opposition to the bill and the recall efforts against Republicans."[15]

On March 8, the Governor's office released an email exchange dated March 6 between Eric Schutt, Walker's deputy chief of staff, and Democratic Senators Cullen and Jauch. The exchange discusses possible compromises on the bill, including allowing unions to bargain for wages beyond inflation rates, permitting collective-bargaining on certain economic issues, allowing public workers to collectively bargain workplace safety issues, and limiting collective bargaining agreements to 2 years or less.[16]

Republicans pass bill

Seal of Wisconsin.svg.png
2011 Wisconsin Senate Recalls

Senators Facing Recall
Robert CowlesAlberta DarlingSheila HarsdorfDave HansenJim HolperinRandy HopperDan KapankeLuther OlsenRobert Wirch

Other Recall Information
Recalls by YearRecall Law in WisconsinRecall laws in other statesRecalls in Wisconsin2011 Scott Walker Budget Repair BillProtests over Budget Repair BillWisconsin Government Accountability BoardRecall timelineElection Results

In a surprise maneuver, Senate Republicans on March 9 passed controversial reforms to the collective bargaining rights of public sector workers. In a process that took just over two hours, Republicans passed the bill by a vote of 18-1, with Sen. Dale Schultz (R) casting the only no vote.[17]

Republicans skirted the need for a quorum by removing the sections of the bill that had to do with appropriating funds. With these removed, the bill only needed to be passed by a simple majority -- rather than requiring a quorum of 20 senators. At 4 p.m. on March 9 a conference committee on the budget-repair bill was convened. Two hours later the committee met and advanced the new measure without debate. Immediately following that, the Senate met and passed the new version, also without debate. It was then sent to the Assembly.[18]

The only Democrat present at the meeting, Assembly Minority Leader Peter Barca (D), attempted to stop the proceedings, stating that the committee was in violation of the state's open meeting law. According to the law, most public bodies are required to give 24 hours notice before a meeting. The two hours notice that the committee provided led Barca to declare, "Mr. Chairman, this is a violation of law! This is not just a rule — this is the law."[17] Ignoring Barca, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R) ordered the vote taken as shouts of protest rang from the galleries.

The bill was given a stay by Dane County Court Judge Maryann Sumi. On May 26, 2011, Sumi struck down the legislative actions leading to the bill eliminating public employee collective bargaining on the grounds that it violated the state's Open Meetings Law. The state Departments of Justice and Department of Administration appealed the decision to the Wisconsin Supreme Court. [19][20] On June 14 the Wisconsin Supreme Court overruled the district court decision, stating it "exceeded its jurisdiction, invaded the legislature’s constitutional powers...and erred in enjoining the publication and further implementation of the act."[21]

Recall campaigns

In the wake of events surrounding the bill, both Democratic and Republican senators were targeted by active recall campaigns. Recall sponsors filed signatures on petitions targeting 6 Republican state senators and 3 Democratic state senators. Challenges were filed in all 9 of those campaigns, and the Wisconsin Government Accountability Board approved the six campaigns against Republicans at meetings on May 23 and May 31, and approved the three campaigns against Democrats on June 8. Democrats held onto the 30th district seat on July 19. Republicans lost two seats in the August 9 recalls, but held onto four. Two incumbent Democrats successfully retained their seats on August 16.



Taylor won re-election in the 2012 election for Wisconsin State Senate, District 4.[22] Taylor was unopposed in the August 14th primary election and defeated David King (I) in the general election on November 6, 2012.[23]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 4, General Election, 2012
Party Candidate Vote % Votes
     Democratic Green check mark transparent.pngLena Taylor Incumbent 86.1% 64,064
     Independent David D. King 13.6% 10,154
     - Scattering 0.3% 208
Total Votes 74,426


See also: Wisconsin State Senate elections, 2010

Taylor's seat was not up for election in 2010.

2008-State Senate

On November 4, 2008, Lena Taylor won re-election to the Washington State Senate, District 4. She ran unopposed. [24]

Lena Taylor raised $233,854 for her campaign.[25]

Wisconsin State Senate, District 4 (2008)
Candidates Votes
Green check mark transparent.png Lena Taylor (D) 66,751

2008-Milwaukee County Executive

Lena Taylor ran for Milwaukee County Executive during the 2008 Spring General Election against Scott Walker[26]. Taylor was defeated on April 1, 2008[26].

2008 Milwaukee County Executive Election Results[27].
Candidates Percentage
Scott Walker 57.74%
Lena Taylor 40.40%
Scattering 0.17%
Total votes 170,251


  • Sen. Taylor entered the Senate declaring that education was her top priority[28].
  • She was one of the main sponsors of the Mortgage Mediation Act and legislation which would increase communication and warnings regarding home foreclosures[29] [30] [31].
  • She helped introduce a bill which would let individual judges decide whether or not to suspend a person's driver's license for being convicted of drugs[32][33].

Past and current endorsements

Sen. Taylor's policies are supported by these interest groups, according to Project Vote Smart:

  • Planned Parenthood Advocates of Wisconsin
  • ACLU of Wisconsin
  • Wisconsin AFL-CIO
  • Wisconsin Association of School Boards

...and others[34]

She was also endorsed by: [35]

  • The Democratic Party of Wisconsin
  • Former senators Herb Kohl and Russ Feingold
  • Citizen Action of Wisconsin
  • The AFSCME Milwaukee District 48 Union

She endorsed Barack Obama in 2008 before he became President[36].

Campaign donors


Campaign donor information is not yet available for this year.


Sen. Taylor's top contributors of 2008, according to the "National Institute on Money in State Politics"[37], include the Wisconsin Democratic Party, Peter Earle, Emile Banks, Ricky Burt, Stacey Herzing, and various labor unions.

In 2008, Taylor collected $233,854 in donations.

Listed below are the top four contributors to her campaign. [38]

Donor Amount
Lena Taylor $7,997
Wisconsin Democratic Party $3,149
Emile Banks $3,000
Ricky Burt $3,000

External links

Suggest a link

Wikipedia® has an article on:


Sen. Taylor was born and raised in Milwaukee, Wisconsin.


  1. Project Vote Smart - Senator Taylor
  2., ASSEMBLY BILL 11, accessed 17 Feb. 2011
  3. Green Bay Press Gazette, Wisconsin Democrats flee to Clock Tower Hotel in Rockford, Ill., to block anti-union bill, 17 Feb. 2011
  4. Bloomberg Businessweek, Senator: Missing Wis. lawmakers left the state, 17 Feb. 2011
  5. The Badger 14
  6. Fab 14 Facebook page
  7. WISN, "State Sen. Minority Leader Responds to Walker," February 22, 2010
  8. Christian Science Monitor, "Wisconsin governor to missing senators: Come back or I'll lay off 1,500," February 28, 2011
  9. 9.0 9.1 Wall Street Journal, "Pressure Mounts on Absent Democrats in Wisconsin, Indiana," March 3, 2011
  10. Wisconsin State Journal, "Senate orders arrest of missing Democrats," March 3, 2011
  11. My Fox Chicago, "Wisconsin GOP Slaps Missing Dems With $100 Daily Fines," March 2, 2011
  12. Talking Points Memo, "AWOL Wisconsin Dem Beats The System, Gets His Paycheck Mailed To Him," March 3, 2011
  13. New York Times, "Wisconsin Democrats Urge New Talks on Labor Bill," March 7, 2011
  14. CNN, "Wisconsin gov: Democratic senator's border meeting idea 'ridiculous'," March 7, 2011
  15. Talking Points Memo, "Wisconsin Dems Deny WSJ Report Of Imminent Return," March 6, 2011
  16. CNN, "E-mails: Wisconsin governor offers concessions on budget bill," March 8, 2011
  17. 17.0 17.1 Miami-Herald, "Wisconsin Republicans bypass Democrats on union bill," March 9, 2011
  18. Milwaukee-Wisconsin Journal Sentinel, "Senate advances collective bargaining changes; Democrats to return after Assembly vote," March 9, 2011
  19. Wisconsin State Journal, "Judge strikes down Walker's collective bargaining law, case moves to state Supreme Court", May 26, 2011
  20. Wisconsin Reporter, "Judge: Collective bargaining bill violated open meetings law", May 26, 2011
  21. Shorewood Patch, "UPDATE: Unions Sue to Block Supreme Court's Reinstatement of Controversial Budget Repair Bill," June 14, 2011
  22. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "2012 Candidate List
  23. Wisconsin Government Accountability Board "2012 Candidate List
  24. Wisconsin State Election Results
  25. 2008 Lena Taylor Follow the Money 2008
  26. 26.0 26.1 Milwaukee County Elections Commission "2008 Spring Election Results", April 1, 2008
  27. Milwaukee County Elections Commission "2008 Spring Election Results", April 1, 2008
  28. Lena Taylor Takes Over Gwen Moore's Seat, WISN 12 News, Jan. 4, 2005
  29. Taylor to Introduce Mortgage Mediation Act, Wisconsin Legislature, December 10, 2008
  30. Renters blindsided by apartment foreclosures, Georgia Pabst of the Journal Sentinel, Mar. 31, 2009
  31. SB 78, Wisconsin Legislature
  32. SJR 6 from the Wisconsin Legislature
  33. Doyle signs bills on drug offenders, fertilizer, Rachel Vesco, Apr. 15, 2009
  34. Interest group ratings for Lena Taylor on Project Vote Smart
  35. DPW Chairman Endorses Lena Taylor for County Executive, Democratic Party of WI, Feb. 28, 2008
  36. Wisconsin Superdelegate for Obama by Sam Graham-Felsen, May 14, 2008
  37. Lena Taylor 2008 contributions on Follow the
  38. 2008 contributors to Lena Taylor
Political offices
Preceded by
Gwen Moore
Wisconsin State Senate District 4
Succeeded by