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 May 8, 2020


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If you haven't done so already, I can't emphasize enough how important it is that you participate in the 2020 census.  Probably, you received a mailing in March or April that encouraged you to complete the census online.  Even if you did not receive that mailing, or if you lost yours, you can still do it; just visit the online form, click "Start Questionnaire," and click "I Don't Have a Census ID."


So far, the national response rate in the census has been 58.1 percent.  Wisconsin's response rate of 65.8 percent is in 2nd place out of the 50 states, behind only... you guessed it... Minnesota.  (They're promoting the census very aggressively over there because there is a real possibility that they could lose a seat in the U.S. House of Representatives if their count is too low.)  I'm proud to say that Sheboygan County is doing our part with a 74.2 percent response rate so far; but we hit 76.8 percent in 2010, so I know we can do a little better yet.  In the words of Bob Uecker (and don't we miss that?!  April wasn't the same without the Brewers), if you're keeping score at home, you can track the latest participation stats online here.


I am encouraged that Governor Tony Evers made several statements this week suggesting that he is coming to share the view that the state may reopen regionally and perhaps even sooner than the May 26th date he imposed some time ago.  I, for one, want a Wisconsin reopening plan that is safe, gradual and regional, which includes input and improvements from Democrats and Republicans alike, that we can all be "for" together.


There's not a minute to lose.  We learned this week that the state brought in about $1.1 billion in tax collections in April, which was about $870 million less than what was collected last April.  Ouch.  The Unemployment Trust Fund is in trouble, too: if DWD has to keep paying out 300,000 unemployment claims each week (and they're paying more than that right now), the fund could be empty by early October.


I hear daily from folks who are still having trouble getting connected with unemployment benefits, and in each case my staff and I do what we can to help get things straightened out.  I mention this for two reasons: (1) claims are still on the rise, so it's hard to say whether the "worst-case" October estimate is really the worst case at all; and (2) you should know that I wrote a letter this week with my colleagues in which we urged DWD to consider pre-approving unemployment claims, as is done with Medicaid claims, so that folks who are still receiving no assistance can get some relief.


In lighter news: the University of Green Bay reports that the "murder hornets" that have migrated from their native Asia to the West Coast are unlikely to reach Wisconsin.  Supposedly, they don't live in climates like ours.  Thank.Goodness.


At any rate: I've said previously that I do not support an instant return to normal without any public safety precautions.  COVID-19 is a serious illness; left entirely unchecked, it could still overwhelm our healthcare system.  But I've heard it said that the best advice, when you're stuck in a hole, is to stop digging.  The numbers I've shared with you are a snapshot of the very, very bad financial situation we face together in the near future, and right now, we're still digging.  It is critical that we begin a steady, gradual, regional reopening of the economy in the places where it is safe to begin.  While we're at it, it's time to freeze state spending at last year's levels; if we don't, the automatic spending increases that we budgeted last year will dig us that much deeper.


Best wishes on your weekend... and thank you, mothers everywhere, for holding our families together!


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Driver Licensing Update


Beginning Monday, May 11, many Wisconsin drivers will be able to renew their licenses online at wisconsindot.gov.  Read more details here; there are still a number of situations which may require you to visit a DMV service center in person (in which case, you should pay close attention to the next paragraph!).  If you are able to use this new service, you will receive your new license in the mail after you complete your renewal online.  Be advised that, according to the Department of Transportation's COVID-19 webpage, if your license expires on or after March 12, 2020, it is automatically still valid through July 25, 2020.


Speaking of DMV service centers: they have generally been closed for a number of weeks except for a very few functions.  DMV service locations will be open, with extended hours, between May 11 and May 22 in an effort to serve as many people as possible who require an in-person visit.  Appointments are strongly encouraged; you may use this tool to begin your license paperwork and submit it electronically ahead of time.  Vehicle-related transactions (i.e., titles and registrations) will not be available in-person on these dates, because these transactions can all be conducted electronically and/or by mail.


Also new next week, 16 and 17 year-old first-time driver license applicants may be able to use the same new online system to obtain a probationary driver license without having to pass a behind-the-wheel road test.  Parental permission is required for the road test to be waived; if a parent does not wish to waive the road test, scheduling a road test may now be done online here.  (DMV says there is presently a backlog of about 16,000 road test requests; about 10,000 of these will be eligible to be waived.)




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 |