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 April 2, 2021



There's been a whole lot happening on a whole lot of fronts in recent days.  Please allow me to highlight a few matters that deserve your attention.  In no particular order:


CHEERS to the Brewers for that awesome come-from-behind Opening Day win!


CHEERS to the excellent turnout (see above) earlier this week at legislator listening session events that we held across Sheboygan County.  It was our pleasure to see you, meet you and engage with you on the issues.  As always, please don't hesitate to call, email or write us anytime with your ideas and questions.


JEERS to Governor Tony Evers' veto of a bill requiring a plan for returning state employees to their full and normal duties.  COVID-19 activity is 95 percent lower than it was; after a very rocky start in our state, vaccines are coming to be widely available; and it's about time for people to expect full service from their taxpayer-funded agencies.  But the Governor has published no plan for putting his own people back to work.  He hasn't even said what numbers he is waiting for to make that decision.  Despite the Governor's assurances that many state employees have worked successfully from home, I've heard a lot of bad news lately about people who remain stuck in enormous backlogs with no end in sight.  (For instance: if you are waiting for a workers comp hearing from a Department of Administration agent, you've likely been waiting many months already, and mum's the word as to how much longer you will wait.)  Again, all we asked for was a plan, and his answer was "no."


CHEERS to the Wisconsin Supreme Court majority for upholding the rule of law and the separation of powers that underpins our republic.  Justice Brian Hagedorn wrote for the majority, "... [T]he legislature gave the executive branch expansive, but temporary, authority to respond to emergencies.  When the governor employs those powers beyond the time limits imposed by the legislature, or after revocation of those powers by the legislature, he wields authority never given to him by the people or their representatives . . . Legislative, rather than executive, policy-making is how our constitutional design ordinarily works."  In other words: we already have laws that specify how elected officials are to govern together during times of crisis, and these laws are not optional, not even for the Governor.  JEERS to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services' statement decrying the Supreme Court's decision as "dangerous and disappointing."  Apparently, the Evers administration's attitude continues to be that they can and should operate above the law; that dissent from this view is unwelcome and "dangerous;" and that they still do not care for any participation at all from your elected representatives.  Actually, that is dangerous and disappointing.


Similarly, JEERS also to the Governor's veto of a bill that I coauthored to ensure bipartisan legislative participation in the decisions that will put federal relief money to use.  On this latest occasion in which the Legislature has actively sought a cooperative process with the Governor to govern on COVID-19 topics, he has yet again refused.  He has again chosen to go it alone.  This is all the more troubling in the wake of a new discovery that state agencies erroneously applied earlier COVID-19 funding.  Legislative oversight of tax dollars is appropriate and helps prevent mistakes.


That said: I'll readily offer CHEERS to Governor Evers for signing two bipartisan bills into law (Act 18 and Act 19) that expand families' options to connect with education that meets their children's unique needs.  These are steps in the right direction of greater parental choice to select programs that work for their kids, and I hope that Governor Evers will see that this is a principle that we can build on together.


Speaking of education: CHEERS to the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals for their ruling in defense of religious liberty and free speech on our nation's campuses.  In a nutshell: a biological male tried to force a professor to address him using only female pronouns; the professor refused; and the university tried to punish the professor.  In the first case of its kind, the Court ruled that the university cannot compel the professor to affirm a belief with which he disagrees or punish him for refusing.  Hooray for this important victory for academic and religious freedom in the face of political pressure!


Finally, CHEERS to the responsible stimulus plan that Wisconsin Republicans announced earlier this week and which I've helped author.  We can't change the fact that Congress borrowed money they don't have to send money to our state that, frankly, we don't really need.  What we can do is try to work with Governor Evers to invest these one-time funds wisely.



We have common ground with Governor Evers on some ideas he has pitched already.  But he has missed some areas that should be considered.  For instance, we now know that nearly half of COVID-19 deaths occurred in long-term care facilities, but the Governor used less than 10 percent of his discretionary CARES Act funding to assist them.  Nearly 25 percent of rural residents lack broadband Internet access; our plan invests $500 million in one-time federal money to leverage another $500 million in matching private money, which we expect will result in broadband access for 95 percent of our state.  We think you know better than the government how to spend your money, so another of our ideas is to help families and workers directly by sending you a rebate check equal to a percentage (10 percent?) of your property tax bill.  The priorities should be delivering real relief for those hit hardest by the COVID-19 outbreak and making smart, lasting investments that don't grow government.


Have a blessed Easter weekend!


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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|  |