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Dear Neighbor,

I am sharing a special edition of our newsletter this week to provide you with some information you may need to keep your families safe and healthy.

In addition to this newsletter, you may follow me on Facebook and Twitter for regular updates. You may also follow our Department of Health Services.

 

This will be one of the last newsletters I am able to send out. Under current law in Wisconsin, I cannot send out mass communications after April 15th of an election year. Though the Governor has proposed legislation to ensure that we are able to share this critical information with you beyond that date, it is unclear whether we will hold a vote on that bill.

For now, I ask that you help share this newsletter with your friends and family. An informed community is a strong community, and I appreciate the opportunity to discuss our communities' concerns.

Sincerely, 
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Sen. Patty Schachtner

Coronavirus Update

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In our district, we have multiple confirmed cases of coronavirus in Pierce, St. Croix, and Dunn Counties. Nearby counties like Barron, Chippewa, and Eau Claire, each have multiple cases as well.

State and national officials have stated that the next two weeks will be critical in our fight against this virus. It is important that we all continue to stay safe at home, limit our exposure to other people, and frequently wash our hands to prevent the spread.

You can find the most updated information on the outbreak by visiting www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/outbreaks/index.htm.


 
 

Spring Election

Yesterday, Governor Tony Evers issued Executive Order #74 which called for the suspension of in-person voting on April 7th until June 9th unless the Legislature convenes, passes, and the Governor approves a different date for in-person voting. He also called for the Legislature to convene on April 7th to set that new date.

The Senate and Assembly leadership appealed this order directly to the Wisconsin Supreme Court last night who overturned his order and called for in-person voting to continue on April 7th as planned.

Here are the 10 things you need to be prepared for if you vote in person today.

  1. Because of poll worker shortages, your polling place may have changed due to consolidation.  Before heading out to vote, please double-check your polling location at myvote.wi.gov. Click “Find My Polling Place.”
  2. Wash your hands before heading to your polling place on Election Day.  Hand hygiene is essential for a safe voting experience for everyone at the polls.
  3. Wash or sanitize your hands again when arriving at your polling place and before voting. A 70%  alcohol spray solution will be available at most polling places. 
  4. Things will look different at your polling place.  Social distancing and public health related changes have been made to each polling place for this election.
  5. Please be patient when voting at the polls.  The public health procedures being used will slow down some parts of the process when you have to interact with poll workers.
  6. You may be asked to line up outside your polling place or voting area to ensure only a safe number of voters are in the voting area at one time.
  7. Social distancing is essential even at your polling place on Election Day.  There will be procedures in place to allow for six feet between voters and poll workers to ensure a safe voting experience for everyone.
  8. Please keep your face-to-face interactions brief with both poll workers and other voters.  We want to limit the risk for everyone in the process on Election Day.
  9. If you are ill and still need to vote on Election Day, curbside voting options are available.
  10. If you received an absentee ballot, you can return it at your polling place on Election Day if you have not yet returned it to your municipal clerk’s office. The deadline to return absentee ballots to the clerk’s office is 4 p.m. on Monday, April 13 but they must be postmarked by today, April 7th!

Vote safely today!

 

COVID Special Session

Governor Tony Evers has released two comprehensive packages of legislation that provide additional, immediate relief to families and frontline workers in Wisconsin. Leaders in the State Assembly and State Senate simply have to agree to call the members back into session to address these critical initiatives. On April 1st, I co-signed a letter urging them to take the action that Wisconsin needs to address the COVID-19 crisis swiftly, and in a bipartisan manner. I am hopeful that we can do so very soon and get Wisconsin communities the support they need.

Some of the proposals include:

  • Repeal the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance AND provide state-funded back payment for any lost benefits as a result of the delay in suspending that one-week waiting period
  • Allow employers to continue to partially pay laid-off employees without an effect on eligibility for unemployment insurance
  • Waive certain Work-Share program parameters to help employers avoid layoffs by allowing workers to remain employed and the employers to retain staff
  • Provide $20 million in grant funding to support food banks and meal delivery programs
  • Provide supplemental payments to child care providers if they needed to shut down
  • Provide $150 million in funding to support small businesses and workers
  • Waive interest and penalties on delinquent property taxes included in the 2019 payable 2020 tax roll, on and after April 1, 2020
  • Provide flexibility for municipalities to receive property tax payments
  • Fund an additional round of broadband expansion grants worth $20 million

It is imperative that we step up to get this done for the people of Wisconsin and I am ready to come in and vote whenever Senate leadership calls us into session.

CAREs Act

As you know, the federal government has recently passed into law the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES) which provides an estimated $2 trillion stimulus package to battle the harmful effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. Part of the Act expands unemployment insurance coverage from three to four months, and provides temporary unemployment compensation of $600 per week, which is in addition to and the same time as regular state and federal UI benefits. It also expanded unemployment eligibility to include part-time, self-employed and gig economy workers, and it allows employers to receive an advance tax credit from the Treasury instead of having to be reimbursed on the back end.

The state’s Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is working as quickly as possible to update their technology to ensure everyone who is eligible gets the full amount they are owed. They are also awaiting some additional guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor to make some final changes. That means it will take a couple of weeks to update, with a target launch of mid-to late-April. Any weeks claimed that are eligible for the additional $600 payment will be made once the technology is updated.

Senator Tammy Baldwin has compiled some resources on a few aspects of this Act here:

  • For information on direct cash payments to workers and families and unemployment insurance under the CAREs Act please click here
  • For information on direct support for small businesses and non-profits under the CAREs Act  please click here
  • For information on how our health care system and hospitals will be better supported under the CAREs Act please click here
  • For information on how our veterans and servicemembers will be better supported under the CAREs Act please click here 
  • For information on how farmers and our rural communities will be better supported under the CAREs Act please click here
  • For information on how our education system will be better supported under the CAREs Act please click here
  

Unemployment

Governor Tony Evers has taken additional action to do as much as he can within his authority to alleviate the financial impact of this pandemic on Wisconsin families. On March 18th, he issued an emergency order waiving work search and modifying availability requirements for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for workers affected by COVID-19. Gov. Evers’ order waives the requirement that claimants conduct at least four weekly search actions during the COVID-19 emergency while ensuring that claimants are considered available for work -and therefore eligible for benefits- if they are eligible for but out of work due to COVID-19.

If your workplace shuts down due to this pandemic, you will be eligible to apply for unemployment benefits through the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). You can find more information here.

 

DWD has created a website to connect job seekers to the in-demand jobs posted on JobCenterofWisconsin.com. These jobs include healthcare occupations like registered nurses and pharmacists, but also transportation and material moving occupations, such as laborers and freight, stock, and material movers, and light truck or delivery service drivers who help transport supplies, food, and other products that still need to be delivered to grocery stores, restaurants, and hospitals.