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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.

In solidarity,

Robyn Vining    

Risk of Losing Federal Funding for K-12 Education in Wisconsin

On Wednesday, a memo by the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau stated that Wisconsin was at risk of not qualifying for $2.3 billion of federal funding for K-12 education, after the U.S. Department of Education previously stated that the amount would be $1.5 billion. This is due to the Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance not allocating enough funds for K-12 education in the state budget to qualify for the federal funding, if the budget is signed into law.

Read my full statement on this subject HERE.

Session This Week

On Wednesday, the Assembly was in session and voted on two bills including Assembly Bill 293 which would prohibit the enforcement of any federal act, law, statute, rule, regulation, treaty or order banning or restricting certain types of firearms. 

This bill not only would violate the interstate Commerce Clause of the U.S. Constitution, but it would have other detrimental, and unconstitutional, impacts.

A memo from Legislative Council, which Rep. Tip McGuire (pictured) shared on Wednesday in a pre-session press conference after receiving the memo late yesterday, clearly states that “federal law may be in tension with this bill’s directives”.

Both state and federal law restrict possession of a firearm by certain groups of people. For example, both state and federal law prohibit a person from possessing a firearm if they have been convicted of a felony, was the subject of an order in various types of mental health proceedings, or is subject to various types of restraining orders.

Although the state and federal restrictions are similar, federal law restricts firearm possession by certain additional groups of people who are not prohibited from possessing a firearm under state law. One federal prohibition, the Lautenberg Amendment, that does not exist under state law prohibits the possession of a firearm by any person “who has been convicted in any court of a misdemeanor crime of domestic violence”.

This bill would violate this federal law by limiting the ability of law enforcement to protect public safety by preventing domestic violence perpetrators from possessing firearms. According to End Domestic Abuse WI there were 48 incidents of domestic violence homicide in 2019. Domestic violence victims live in fear of their abusers, and the Lautenberg Amendment seeks to provide safety and security to those victims.

The other bill we voted on, Assembly Bill 336  would eliminate Wisconsin’s participation in federal unemployment benefit programs including Lost Wages Assistance (LWA), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). The bill would also require that work search requirements be in place for the remainder of the COVID-19 pandemic. 

This bill is based on a false narrative that these additional benefits have led to a shortage of workers. In March 2020, the unemployment rate in Wisconsin was 3.6%. In May 2021, the unemployment rate was 3.8%. That return to nearly the same low unemployment rate as prior to the pandemic raises concerns that it is not the COVID-related emergency unemployment program that’s shrinking the workforce -- the workforce had shrunk prior to the pandemic. And so, I think we should be working to figure out the many factors -- such as access to affordable childcare, Wisconsin’s aging population paired with young people leaving the state, the need for safe and secure housing, lack of transit and transportation, lack of access to broadband -- and seek solutions. As the ranking Democrat on the Committee on Small Business Development, I am committed to that work.

A recent analysis by the Legislative Fiscal Bureau shows these additional federal unemployment have had a significant impact, in addition to other American Plan Rescue Act investments, in driving our recent economic growth. By ending the federal unemployment benefits program, an estimated 137,000 jobless Wisconsinites will not receive almost $650 million, resulting in a loss to consumer spending. Now is not the time to stifle Wisconsin’s economic growth.

I want to highlight my colleague, Representative Katrina Shankland, who happens to be my new seatmate on the Assembly floor, and share with you the speech she gave on this bill. If you don’t know the issue well, this speech is worth a listen. And if you think you know the issue well, I’d kindly challenge you to make sure you do.

Tweets and headlines have pushed a narrative that simply doesn’t accurately portray what’s going on in Wisconsin, or Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance laws— particularly now that the “work search requirement”, and what that actually means, has returned.

Rep. Shankland speaks to explain the issue, and I hope this is helpful as you think through the issues.

As I’ve stated many times, I’m committed to the hard but necessary work of empowering Wisconsin’s workforce. I voted against this bill because I don’t think it properly addressed the issues at hand.

Lincoln Hills & Copper Lake Update

2017 Wisconsin Act 185, passed with unanimous bipartisan support and signed into law by former Governor Walker, requires the youth justice facilities, Lincoln Hills and Copper Lake, to close by 2021. The deadline was then delayed to July 2021 due to lack of funding from the Republican-controlled legislature in the previous budget.

Governor Evers’ proposed funding for a Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee so that Lincoln Hills may finally close.

The Republican-controlled Joint Committee on Finance voted on Tuesday night to only allocate $4 million for planning the new Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee, effectively once again delaying the closure of Lincoln Hills.

It is clear what needs to be done to finally close Lincoln Hills, and the plan has been in place for nearly four years. As my colleague Rep. Evan Goyke (pictured) said on Wednesday, “Everyday of delay, from here on, rests solely and squarely on the shoulders of Legislative Republicans.”

Budget Update

JFC TOPIC OF THE WEEK - Transportation & Criminal Justice Reform

TOPLINE HIGHLIGHT: GOP motion failed to adequately fund public transportation, Lincoln Hills closure delayed

Executive Summary from Tuesday June 8th JFC session:

  • Department of Military Affairs
    • Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #82, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for Military Affairs. The motion included full funding for the replacement of the Statewide Interoperable Radio Network (WISCOM) and Next Generation 911. The motion failed along party lines 4-11, with one Republican absent from the meeting.
    • The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #81. The motion declined to fully fund WISCOM, instead reserving $6 million of the $6.5 million needed in the JFC supplemental appropriation in 2022-23, effectively making DMA request that money again in a year and not guaranteeing the project moves forward. Additionally, the motion did not provide additional funding or positions for the Comprehensive Health and Wellness Program, a program that focuses on the mental, social and physical well-being of National Guard members. The motion passed 11-4.
  • Department of the Administration – Division of Gaming
    • Democrats on the committee offered Motion #74, the Governor’s budget request for the Division of Gaming. The motion included an annual appropriation for the Tribal Youth Wellness Center and the creation of a new Director of Native American Affairs position within DOA, which would be responsible for managing relations between the state and the tribes. The motion failed 4-11.
    • The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #83. The motion included one-time funding for the Tribal Youth and Wellness Center (half the money in the Democrats’ motion) and did not create the new Director of Native American Affairs position. The motion passed 11-4.
  • Building Commission, Building Program
    • Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #75, the Governor’s full capital budget request. The motion included several important investments in state infrastructure throughout state government and the UW System, including a new state office building in Milwaukee, plans for a replacement of GEF 1, full $45 million funding for a Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee so that Lincoln Hills may finally close, and several overdue UW investments including a replacement for Humanities at UW–Madison and the completion of renovations of Clow Hall at UW Oshkosh. The full capital budget included $2.3 billion in state investments. The motion failed 4-11.
    • Republicans offered Motion #84. The motion included $800 million less in capital investments and crucially did not invest in critical infrastructure that was in the Democratic motion, including only $4 million for planning the new Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee, effectively delaying the closure of Lincoln Hills. The motion passed 11-4.
  • Department of Transportation, VW Settlement
    • Democrats on the committee offered Motion #85, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOT. The motion included investments in state highway rehabilitation, an increase in Mass Transit operating assistance across the state, and the enumeration of the I-94 East/West corridor. Additionally, it used $10 million from the VW settlement to fund grants for electric vehicle charging stations. It also included minimal transfer of general purpose funds to the transportation fund. The motion failed 3-12.
    • Republicans offered Motion #86. The motion included a 50% cut in mass transit aid for Madison and Milwaukee, a $41 million reduction in state mass transit money for the two most populous cities over the biennium, and over $205 million in state transfers to the transportation fund, an unsustainable use of state general funds in the long-term. It did also fully enumerate the I-94 East/West corridor and took no additional action on the VW settlement money. The motion passed 11-4.

Executive Summary from Thursday June 10th JFC Session:

  • Corrections and Juvenile Justice
    • Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #92. It was quickly ruled out of order for containing policy items that were similar to those removed in Motion 19 (which removed certain items from consideration). The items removed included policies to reform the criminal justice system, including earned release and revocation alternatives.
    • Democrats then introduced Motion #93, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOC and DCF-Juvenile Justice. The motion included over $26 million in annual funding for correctional officer overtime pay and additional funding for the Opening Avenues to Reentry (OAR) program. Motion failed 4-11.
    • The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #96. The motion contained none of the criminal justice reforms that have been shown to work at reducing prison populations across the country, $10 million less GPR funding for overtime pay and no additional spending for OAR programs. The motion passed 11-4.
  • Courts
    • Republicans offered Motion #94, funding the additional circuit court branches mandated by 2019 Act 184 and additional funding for CCAP.  The motion passed unanimously 15-0.
  • Justice, Public Defenders and District Attorneys
    • Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #95, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOJ, Public Defenders and District Attorneys. The motion included one-time pay progression funding totaling over $10 million for district attorneys over the biennium, and expansion of the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program in DOJ totaling over $19 million in GPR funding. The motion failed 4-11.
    • Republicans offered Motion #98. It included less than half of the pay progression increase for DA’s, and over $12 million less additional GPR funding for the TAD program. The motion passed 12-3.
  • Legislature
    • Democrats on the committee offered Motion #97. The motion funded several minor items and required the full legislature to approve any hiring of outside counsel associated with redistricting or the hiring of investigators for any purpose. The motion failed 4-11.
    • Republicans offered Motion #78. The motion funded all items in the Democratic motion at the same level, and created a biennial appropriation to fund the Legislative Human Resources Office, but did not include the Democratic item relating to hiring of outside counsel or investigators. The motion passed unanimously.
  • DNR and DATCP-Environment
    • Democrats on the committee offered Motion #100. The motion was ruled out of order for containing policy items removed in Motion 19, including non-fiscal items from the Clear Act related to PFAS contamination and remediation.  Democrats then offered Motion #99, containing all non-policy items from the Governor’s DNR and DATCP-Environment budget requests. Notably, the motion contained a 10-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, with annual bonding of $70 million. It also contained several fiscal items related to PFAS remediation. The motion failed 4-11.
    • Republicans offered Motion #102. It contained a four-year reauthorization of the Stewardship Program, with annual bonding of just $21.25 million, fewer programs and dollars to address PFAS contamination across the state, and $34 million less overall additional funding for conservation of Wisconsin’s lands and environment. The motion passed 10-4.

JFC will meet next on Tuesday, June 15th at 1pm to vote on the following agencies: 

  • Health Services -- Medical Assistance
  • Health Services -- Medical Assistance and FoodShare Administration
  • Health Services -- Public Health
  • Health Services -- Elder and Disability Services
  • Health Services -- Community Based Behavioral Health
  • Health Services -- Care and Treatment Facilities
  • Health Services -- Departmentwide
  • Insurance -- Agency Operations and Current Programs
  • Insurance -- Drug Costs and Pricing
  • Insurance -- Health Insurance
  • Board on Aging and Long-Term Care
  • Children and Families -- TANF and Economic Support
  • Children and Families -- Child Welfare
  • Children and Families -- Departmentwide and Child Support Enforcement
  • Public Service Commission --  Broadband Provisions
  • Public Service Commission -- Departmentwide and Energy Provisions

JFC will also meet on Thursday, June 17th at 1pm to vote on the following agencies:

  • Employee Trust Funds
  • Compensation Reserves
  • Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief -- Direct Aid Payments
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief -- Property Tax Credits
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief -- Property Taxation
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief -- Forestry Mill Rate
  • Shared Revenue and Tax Relief -- Local Revenue Options
  • Revenue -- Regulation of Alcohol, Tobacco, Nicotine Products, and Vapor Products
  • Revenue -- Lottery Administration
  • Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation     
  • General Fund Taxes -- Income and Franchise Taxes
  • General Fund Taxes -- Sales and Use Taxes
  • General Fund Taxes -- Excise Taxes
  • General Fund Taxes -- Refundable Tax Credits and Other Payments
  • Budget Stabilization Fund

Both meetings can be viewed on WisconsinEye

Breaking Ground on Bus Rapid Transit Line in Milwaukee County

Thursday morning was an exciting morning with Gov. Tony Evers, Congresswoman Moore, Senator Baldwin’s office, Co. Exec David Crowley, Mayor Barrett, Mayor McBride, former Mayor Ehley, Chairwoman Nicholson, Supervisors Haas and Rolland and Sumner, Rep. Goyke and more to break ground on Milwaukee County’s new east/west bus rapid transit line (BRT) - coming soon to connect Milwaukee and Wauwatosa FASTER. This is particularly important to MKE county’s goal to be the healthiest county in the state, and our movement to a more equitable society. 

Mayor Barrett spoke of the shift of medical facilities in MKE to Wauwatosa, and how that affected healthcare access for families in Milwaukee.

Congresswoman Moore remembered being a mother and taking her children places, and sympathized with families for whom it now takes hours to take a bus to and from a medical appointment. And all in attendance joined in loud agreement that *NOW IS NOT THE TIME TO CUT TRANSIT FUNDING*, as the GOP legislators did on Tuesday night when re-writing the Governor’s budget proposal.

I didn’t make it to my shovel in time on Thursday— I won’t be in that big photo. I was paused on the sidelines staring at all the people involved, on both sides of the cameras, and considering the hard work and big hearts that go into properly caring for the people of our communities.  When we all do well, we all do well. It was an exciting morning, indeed. Forward together. 

Assembly Democratic Caucus Press Release

It is important you know what’s happening in your state government, so we have decided to speak out. Please read this thread, or either of the attached articles explaining that GOP Assembly leadership is retaliating against a Democratic member for calling out racism.
As a caucus, we stand together with our colleague, and we will not be deterred.
And, if you were wondering what happened to the Motherhood Month resolution I authored, this is why we are told it wouldn’t receive a vote on the Assembly floor.
We stand with Rep. Hong. 
Read the full statement HERE

Session Next Week 

The Wisconsin State Assembly will be in session on Wednesday, June 16th at 1pm to vote on legislation. Watch live at wiseye.org/live.

The Assembly will be voting on some very hot topics that you might want to weigh in on, so I want to alert you:
  • Republican attempt to delay redistricting to avoid new maps in 2022-- so bad a bill not one Republican will put their name on it, not one! (Expect this vote to be late into the night; it's been scheduled last)
  • Speaker's Task Force on Racial Disparities, various policing reform bills
  • Anti-trans bills targeting girls and women in sports
As always, feel free to email my office:

Other News

 COVID-19 Vaccine Update

As of June 11th, 5,330,836 COVID-19 vaccines have been administered in Wisconsin and 48.9% of Wisconsin residents have received at least one dose, with 43.8% fully vaccinated. 

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

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

For more information about where to get vaccinated in Waukesha County, visit their website HERE.

For more information about where to get vaccinated in the city of Wauwatosa, visit their website HERE.

For more information about where to get vaccinated in the city of Milwaukee, visit their website HERE. En español AQUI

COVID-19 Case Update

For daily updated information on COVID-19 in Wisconsin, visit the DHS website HERE.

14th District Counties

Milwaukee - 107,241 confirmed cases (increase of 27)
Waukesha -  44,117 confirmed cases (increase of 6)

*Changes over day prior


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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