Swearingen Banner 600 pixels wide.jpg (4)

 District Dialogue

Serving the Greater Northwoods

Oneida - Vilas - Florence - Forest

May 22, 2020

Memorial Day: Honoring All Who Served

Memorial day.jpg (1)


The COVID-19 pandemic has affected every aspect of our lives, and this Memorial Day will be unlike any other. These last few months have been difficult, but they have also proven without a doubt that the American people are willing to make tremendous sacrifices to protect their neighbors, communities, and fellow citizens. For many of us, Memorial Day is the unofficial start of summer, which often means family barbeques, water activities, and enjoying the beautiful nature of the Northwoods. While this year may be a little different, let us not forget why we are able to enjoy these freedoms.

While ceremonies and parades are either canceled or limited this year, I would encourage everyone to reflect on the sacrifices of those brave men and women who so selflessly gave their lives in defense of the freedoms we all enjoy today. I am honored to have been invited to the Phelps Memorial Day Ceremony this Monday at 1:00 pm at the local cemetery. For other tributes that may be going on, please check your local newspaper. 

I would like to extend a sincere thank you to our military families, who so overwhelmingly shoulder the burden of war. Words will never heal the pain felt by those who have lost a loved one in defense of our country. For those who have served and who are currently serving in our armed forces, thank you, and we will continue to keep you in our thoughts and prayers. You are all the embodiment of the American spirit.

“Freedom is a fragile thing and is never more than one generation away from extinction. It is not ours by inheritance; it must be fought for and defended constantly by each generation, for it comes only once to a people. Those who have known freedom and then lost it have never known it again.”

-President Ronald Reagan

DWD: Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claims

Over the last couple of months, my office has been inundated with emails and calls regarding Unemployment Insurance (UI) Claims. Many of you have reached out with your frustrations and asked to request assistance in regards to getting ahold of the department, and I will continue to do everything in my power to assist you with your UI claims. The lack of response after two months from the department has been unbelievable.       

The department recently expanded its call center hours from 7:35 am - 3:30 pm to 7:00 pm - 5:00 pm. According to the Department, calls received by 5:00 pm will be answered that day. This was reported last week, but it is unclear if the Evers Administration has followed through with the expanded hours


This week, State Representative John Nygren asked for Governor Evers to address the shortcomings of the department. The Co-Chair of the Joint Finance Committee recently released a statement calling for Governor Evers and the department to spend more time working to find ways to speed up the claims process. To read the statement please click the link here.  


If you or someone you know is having problems filing your unemployment claim, please send an email to Rep.Swearingen@legis.wi.gov with the following information:

  • Full name of claimant (Last name, First Name, Middle Initial*):
  • Phone number:
  • Date of UI Application:
  • Date of Birth & Last Four of SS#*
  • Status of application (trying to file initial claim, in appeal, etc.):
  • Reason for inquiry (can't get through by phone, unanswered questions, etc.):

* Adding the claimant's middle initial and date of birth/last four digits of their social security number helps the UI staff more quickly confirm the identity of the claimant in their system.

Email is preferred, but you can also call my office at 608-237-9134 if you prefer calling instead.

 JFC Approves CARES Act Funding for Childcare Providers

Last week, the Joint Committee on Finance approved a plan to support childcare providers around the state. Like so many industries across Wisconsin, childcare centers are feeling the brunt of COVID-19.

According to the Department of Children and Families (DCF), there were more than 4,500 child care providers in February of 2020. In April, approximately 38% of providers (1,756) are closed across the state. 54% or 1,206 licensed group child care providers are closed.

To help child care providers, DCF submitted a plan for allocating over $51 million to child care providers to increase pay for workers and re-open closed child care centers. This funding was approved by Congress and President Trump as a part of the CARES Act.

Like the Department of Public Instruction plan that was recently submitted and approved by the Joint Committee on Finance, the DCF plan included a large allocation for administrative costs that would not flow directly to child care providers.

As a result of discussions with the committee, DCF agreed to reduce this amount by $2 million to allow more funding to be directly provided to providers. Recognizing the dire need for these resources the budget committee approved of this plan 3 days early.

Small Business Relief

small business disaster.png (1)

Small business owners can continue to reach out to the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) for disaster relief loans through the Paycheck Protection Program. According to the SBA, more than 2.4 million loans have been approved in round two of the program. The federal government has reopened access to economic injury disaster loans and expanded eligibility to agricultural businesses impacted by the COVID-19 pandemic.


Additional assistance for certain small businesses will become available soon in the state of Wisconsin. The program is geared toward businesses that have yet to receive state COVID-19 assistance and have fewer than 20 employees. The grants will provide up to $2,500 to grant recipients. The Evers administration says it plans to cap the overall cost of the program at $75 million – or roughly 4% of the estimated $2 billion the state is receiving from the federal government. The grant program will be administered by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). More details on the program are expected in the coming weeks with WEDC beginning to accept applications in early June.

 Transitioning from Orders to Guidance

resilient WI.jpg (1)

Wisconsin is currently transitioning from mandates like the 'Safer at Home' order to re-opening guidance from the Wisconsin Economic Corporation about how to stay safe at home, at work, and going out in public. While individuals no longer face criminal penalties for leaving their homes, there’s still a lot you can do to ensure the health and wellbeing of your friends and family. To learn more about what the state is doing to promote public health please click the picture above.  

Federal Funding for COVID  

cares act.png (1)

The Evers administration has announced plans to spend more than $1 billion in federal dollars provided to Wisconsin by the CARES Act to help the state respond to problems associated with the coronavirus pandemic. The effort focuses on increasing local testing and contact tracing, purchasing equipment and supplies, and bolstering emergency operations to ensure the state is prepared for localized clusters. Here's a link to the breakdown of the proposed expenditures. I appreciate that these federal dollars are directed primarily at the local levels of government and hospitals as they're on the front lines of this pandemic. I look forward to more transparency concerning these expenditures to ensure the money is spent where it's needed the most.

Additional Resources  

For the most up-to-date information on COVID-19, please visit the Department of Health Services website.

For information regarding Wisconsin unemployment benefits, please visit the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development website.

For collective information regarding all Wisconsin State Agencies, please visit: Wisconsin COVID-19 Collective Information.

Public Service Commission: Internet Resources for Wisconsin Residents during Public Health Emergency

Local Health Departments

Oneida County Health Department

Vilas County Health Department

Florence County Health Department

Forest County Health Department

Local Chamber of Commerce Business Listings



Eagle River


St. Germain

Land O’ Lakes

Boulder Junction

Sayner-Star Lake


Three Lakes


Manitowish Waters (School Breakfast and Lunch Requests)

National Resources:

Center for Disease Control

World Health Organization