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 February 5, 2021



Not long ago, I was invited to deliver the opening prayer before a meeting of the State Assembly.  Together, we asked Almighty God to give us wisdom for governing; to provide us with relief from the outbreak of illness; to bless our common efforts to serve our state to the best of our abilities; and to grant us peace as we debate our policy differences.


We sure do have differences.  For instance, I voted this week with a slim Republican majority to put a stop to Governor Tony Evers' abuse of his emergency authority.  The law clearly states that after an emergency situation has lasted 60 days, the Legislature's permission is required for the Governor and his administration to exceed their normal roles.  In other words, the law "understands" that emergencies can arise.  The law says that the right way to govern through an emergency is for the executive branch to have extra authority for a brief time and then, if necessary, for the Governor and Legislature to make special emergency rules together through a special expedited process.


But Governor Evers made a mockery of this law.  Remember back in April 2020, when he abused his authority and tried to help Democrats in the spring election by postponing the in-person part of voting?  The courts promptly declared this unacceptable.  Then, immediately after the passage of a wide-ranging Covid relief bill that month, he unilaterally declared a new statewide shutdown order; the courts again promptly declared this to be out-of-bounds.  Just think: if he had his way, we'd probably still be subject to a statewide shutdown.


The Governor backed off for a while on the illegal orders... until it was politically convenient to issue a bunch more, just prior to the fall 2020 election.


That kind of behavior isn't normal.  It isn't leadership.  It surely isn't democratic.  No one governs for a year by himself.


So, yesterday, I signed a new letter (another one) asking the Governor yet again to use the process that the law provides to govern cooperatively with us through crises.  Then I voted to end his fifth self-declared emergency (which is four more than the law permits him to declare).  Before the day was out, he decided not only that he wouldn't participate cooperatively as we asked and as the law requires; instead, he just issued yet another illegal unilateral declaration.


It's like Groundhog Day. 


Meanwhile, new legislation is required to resolve dozens of Covid-related challenges that have arisen.  I am a coauthor of Assembly Bill 1 which will prevent FoodShare recipients from losing their extended federal benefits, help deliver Covid vaccines more rapidly, permit essential visitors at nursing homes, preempt frivolous lawsuits and much, much more.  (It began with 44 provisions; we removed a number of the ideas that Governor Evers indicated he could not support.)  After weeks of work, we have presented a compromise to the Governor today.


As I'm writing this, I'm seeing media reports that Governor Evers says he's going to veto the bill anyway.


It's like Groundhog Day.


In less than two weeks, Governor Evers is scheduled to present his 2021-23 state budget proposals.  Two years ago, his proposals included increasing state spending by more than 8 percent.  He proposed more than $1 billion in new tax hikes.  He included dozens of divisive non-fiscal policy ideas such as eliminating drug testing for welfare recipients and providing in-state tuition rates for illegal aliens.




The people of our state expect to see a responsible plan, not just a liberal wish list.  Our people certainly do not need any tax hikes this year when so many are just barely getting by; when so many businesses have been shuttered and jobs have been lost; and when government is running a budget surplus even despite all the shutdowns.


I hope the Governor presents a responsible plan.  But I'm afraid it will be another Groundhog Day, with more of the same.


Finally, before I sign off, I want to urge you to use your head over the next several days as some harsh weather arrives.  No fewer than 83 people in Wisconsin died last winter from extreme cold.  Here is a long list of good ideas to make sure you're prepared; probably the most important of all is to have a reliable plan for keeping in contact with family and friends in case anybody needs help.


Best wishes on your weekend.


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First Call... and a Heads-Up


Both the federal Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) will begin processing 2020 individual income tax returns on February 12.  There are many reasons why it may be advantageous to file on the early side if you can.  The filing deadline for individuals is April 15.


Also, you should be aware of a new fraud-related issue that could cause headaches for innocent victims at tax time this year.  If a bad guy stole your identity in 2020 and fraudulently claimed unemployment benefits in your name, your first clue that you were a victim might be a tax statement (such as a 1099-G form) or a tax bill that comes to you in the mail.


If you did receive unemployment insurance benefits in 2020, then you should expect a tax statement of how much money you were paid.  Check this document for accuracy!  You will need to report this income on your taxes.


If you receive a tax statement, such as a 1099-G form, documenting income that you did not receive, do not ignore this document!   If this happens to you, contact the agency who sent it to you to (1) report that you may be a victim of fraud and (2) request a corrected 1099-G form for filing your taxes.  The federal IRS has stated that many people in this situation may struggle to obtain a corrected form by April 15; if that happens, the IRS says to go ahead and file your taxes without reporting the fraudulent income.


Finally: keep in mind, as always, that the real IRS and DOR never initiate contact with taxpayers by email or phone.  They conduct business through the mail, and you can always call the phone number shown on such a letter to verify that it is genuine.  Bad guys trick people all the time into revealing sensitive personal information, or steal people's money, by posing as government agents and scaring their victims.  Protect yourself!



Office of Representative Terry Katsma
State Capitol, Room 306 East
P.O. Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-0656
Rep.Katsma@legis.wisconsin.gov|  |