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Weekly E-Update

Dear Neighbor,

Welcome to my latest e-update. Here is a summary from the past week as your State Representative. 

As always, previous updates are available on our website and social media. 

Please contact my office with any questions or concerns.

Forward together,

Robyn Vining  

Going Big for Small Business: Roundtable, Bill Jacket, and News!

On Tuesday, Rep. Francesca Hong (Madison) and I hosted a roundtable for our Go Big for Small Business portal! It was fun! Thanks to Tim Vertz from Vertz Marketing , Wonderstate Coffee Madison, Mainstreet Alliance, and others for joining us and for helping us understand how to help small businesses in Wisconsin. 99.4% of businesses in WI are small businesses— we are a small business state! Now let’s get this bill heard and passed and signed!

Here is some excitement about the bill:

  • Irene Strobheen, owner of Strohbeen and Associates, Appleton:

“It’s hard enough to establish and manage a small business. This portal would make it so much easier for business owners to find the resources and state agencies needed, demonstrating Wisconsin’s support to small businesses.”

  • Chef Dan Jacobs, owner of Dan Dan in Milwaukee:

“A more streamlined process to opening your business helps everyone get back to work, generate revenue, and that includes the state.”

  • AJ Dixon, Lazy Susan MKE , Milwaukee:

“As a small business owner myself, having a ‘one stop shop for all’ would have been imperative when I had first opened. Giving much needed tools in a more accessible way to small businesses ensures a better path to success.”

Buttoned up the Go Big For Small Business bill on Wednesday, and sent it off for a bill number and a fiscal estimate! Thanks to our nearly 30 co-sponsors!

For more news about the Go Big for Small Business bill click HERE.

Busy Week in the Capitol: Committee Recap

Started Wednesday with a public hearing in the Committee on Mental Health, where I serve as the Ranking Democrat. Several medical professionals testified and one sentence really struck me: the most critical child birth concern for the mother is a mental health disorder. As I always say— mental healthcare is healthcare, and the mental health of the mother is paramount to her overall health, and the health of her baby, and family.

Here’s a quick summary of the two bills we heard testimony on in Wednesday’s Mental Health Committee hearing:

  • Assembly Bill 952: This bill combines our current child psychiatry consultation program with  additional services into a new mental health consultation program. AB 952 requires the organizations that DHS contracted with for the child psychiatry program (this includes the Wisconsin Medical College) to administer a mental health consultation program (MHCP) that incorporates a comprehensive set of mental health consultation services.
  • Assembly Bill 668: This bill requires the Department of Justice (DOJ), in cooperation with the Department of Health Services (DHS) and the Center for Suicide  Awareness (CSA), to establish a training curriculum designed to prevent suicide committed by law enforcement officers. The training must include the causes, behaviors, warning signs, and risk factors associated with law enforcement officer suicide, identify appropriate intervention strategies to be used by law enforcement agencies to effectively prevent law enforcement officer suicide, and provide information concerning programs that offer crisis intervention and counseling services to law enforcement officers. The bill also provides that the DOJ must provide a $250,000 annual grant to the CSA to provide training to law enforcement officers based on the curriculum that is established. In addition, this bill requires DOJ to collect information about law enforcement officer suicide and publish an annual report on officer suicide on the department's Internet site.

The Assembly Committee on Small Business Development, where I also serve as the Ranking Democrat, also held a public hearing, and the next day,  an Exec (vote) on two bills. We also hosted Secretary Missy Hughes for an update from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC). Here are some highlights:

  • In April 2020 WI’s unemployment rate was a record high of 14.8% (up from 3.8% the month the pandemic hit). It is now at an all-time low of 2.8% (4% is considered “fully employed”). Wisconsin is one of only 11 states with an unemployment rate below 3%.
  • In April 2020 the number of unemployed WI residents hit an all-time high of 453,000. By December 2021 it was down to a record low of 86,000. 
  • Wisconsin’s total wages and salaries dropped $7.5 Billion from 4th quarter 2019 to 2nd quarter 2020. Since then they have surged back, increasing by $20 Billion.
  • Businesses have revived– there are now 10,000 more businesses than at the end of 2019.
  • 5,500 people moved to the state in 2021.

The pandemic hit hard, but the Wisconsin people have shown incredible resiliency. And I want to thank Sec. Hughes for her special care for small businesses. With 99.4% of WI businesses being small businesses, it’s important to have a Secretary at WEDC who understands that Wisconsin is a small business state! 

(Photo depicts Rep. Vining saying exactly this!)

One of the ways COVID-19 has affected our work in the Capitol is that I don’t see my colleagues in-person as much as previous years (I miss them dearly!). If I don’t serve on the same committee with a colleague, I have to look forward to seeing them on the floor of the Assembly when we are voting. The photo above is with Rep. Dora Drake (D-Milwaukee). We were chatting after she delivered her maiden speech in the Assembly.

The Assembly will be in session twice next week, as well as the following week, and then again in early-mid March. The Speaker’s office plans to conclude the regular 2021-2022 session March 10, 2022.

Always Time to Connect With Constituents

It’s a busy-busy-busy time in the legislature, but not too busy to respond to our district 5th graders! If you have a kiddo who’s written into the office, we are writing responses this week! We love our district kids (and their ideas!). One letter was 4 pages long, typed. Great ideas, and good job citing your work!


This week we’ve also had several meetings with constituents and groups. Just on Wednesday, we chatted with some architects as well as realtors and heard about bills and interests of each group.

Each day I’m at the Capitol I usually walk (or sprint!) about 2.2 miles between meetings.

Tax Season Resources from the Dept. of Revenue (DOR)

Did you know that all tax forms and instructions can be found on the Department of Revenue website and can be downloaded and printed as needed? Below are a few more tips for this tax season: 

  • Volunteer Income Tax Assistance (VITA) Program resources are available for those who would like assistance or prefer to file using paper forms on DOR's website. 
  • Library patrons can call Customer Service at 608-266-2772 or email DORFormsRequests@wisconsin.gov to inquire about paper form options. The Department of Revenue’s Customer Service Team is standing by to print and mail forms and instructions for free to taxpayers that need them.
  • Each year, more Wisconsin taxpayers file their income tax returns and receive their refunds more quickly using our e-file application called Wisconsin e-file, which is FREE, secure, and accurate and available on DOR's website.

Coming Up Next Week

This time in the Capitol is very busy, next week the Assembly has called a floor session, the Governor will give his “State of the State '' address, and the Assembly Health and Small Business Development Committees have public hearings! More details below.


Session Newsletter and Survey


Have you received your copy of the session newsletter and survey? Newsletters landed  in mailboxes over the past few weeks. You can fill out that survey online if you’d prefer. 

As of this week we have received about 170 online responses, and a huge stack in the mail. I have really enjoyed reading through your responses! We look forward to hearing from you! Please leave your contact information when you fill out the form so I can contact you in response to your answers. It’s not required, but it is helpful! 

We are going to be doing a final count of surveys next week in order to start tallying responses! As always, you can write to the office on any topic at any time— you don’t need a survey to make your voice heard. Thank you!

     Here’s a handy link!

     LINK to survey: https://forms.gle/Xf2MWzHA6nMDfh4D9

COVID-19 Vaccine Update

     As of February 9, 9,083,204 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Wisconsin and 63.5% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose, with 59.7% fully vaccinated. Additionally, 1,892,279 additional or booster doses have been administered.

     DHS has reported that new data indicates that unvaccinated individuals are 3 times more likely to be diagnosed with COVID-19, are 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with COVID-19, and die from COVID-19 at 14 times higher rates than fully vaccinated individuals. 

     The best protection against any variant of COVID-19, is to get fully vaccinated and get a booster shot. All Wisconsinites ages 5 and over are eligible for a FREE COVID-19 vaccine series. Additionally, all those 18 years or older who had their second dose of Pfizer or Moderna vaccine at least six months ago, or got their Johnson & Johnson COVID-19 vaccine at least two months ago, are eligible for a free booster shot. Getting your booster shot will provide the best protection from COVID-19, including the new omicron variant.

     Find more information of COVID-19 variants HERE.

     Find additional information on booster shots HERE.

     For more information about where you can get a vaccine, visit the DHS website HERE.

     En español, AQUI. ¿Tiene preguntas sobre la vacuna contra el COVID-19? Llame al 844-684-1064 (llamada gratuita)

COVID-19 Update

14th District Counties

Milwaukee - 237,640 Fri, Feb 4, 2022 and 238,711 confirmed cases Fri, Feb 11, 2022 (increase of 1,071)

Waukesha - 94,223 Fri, Feb 4, 2022 and 94,778 confirmed cases Fri, Feb 11, 2022 (increase of 555)


Forward together,

Rep. Robyn Vining


Contact Us: 

State Capitol
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708 

PH: (608) 266-9180
TF: (888) 534-0014

Email: Rep.Vining@legis.wi.gov 
Web: www.vining.assembly.wi.gov 

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