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 Bipartisan COVID-19 Relief and Response Bill Passes

Today, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted on a bipartisan package of policy items to allow Wisconsin to access federal COVID-19 funds, reduce regulatory red tape, and provide flexibility so Wisconsin agencies, health care providers and other industry sectors can respond quickly to the public health emergency. Assembly Bill 1038 waives the one week waiting period for unemployment benefits to help workers who are unemployed at no fault of their own. I was able to attend the session in Madison and vote in favor of the bill. The final vote was 97-2. Here is a link to a to the bill history.  

Significant funding for COVID-19 response and recovery has been provided by the Federal CARES Act. It is important to note that all of the federal dollars that were directed to Wisconsin may be spent at the sole discretion of the Governor and his administration without Legislative approval, with a few narrow exceptions. I will remain engaged with the Governor’s administration to share my views on priority issues that I believe should be funded based on constituent input. Feel free to share your priorities directly with the Governor’s office at 608-266-1212 or govgeneral@wisconsin.gov and email with a copy to rep.loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov so I can follow up if needed.

 Unemployment

Please see below for helpful information and links for the various changes to unemployment insurance. Click on the headline to each paragraph for more information on each program.

  1. Information for employers
    Under Assembly Bill 1038, UI payments for COVID-19 related layoffs will not result in any charges to the employer’s “experience account”. The benefits will be paid from the UI trust fund.  However, if the UI trust fund balance drops below $1.2 billion on June 30th, solvency tax rates may be increased. The current balance of the UI trust fund is $1.9 billion.

  2. Information for regular employees
    If you are unemployed and have worked for a covered employer (an employer who pays UI tax) in the last 18 months please apply for regular UI benefits.

  3. Information on “Surge Payment”
    Provides most individuals an emergency increase of $600 per week in unemployment benefits 

    NOTE: Wisconsin plans to start making payments the week of April 26, 2020. Claimants DO NOT need to take action for the additional $600 per week benefit.

  4. Information for people not otherwise eligible for UI
    Provides up to 39 weeks of unemployment benefits to people not otherwise eligible for regular UI (e.g. self-employed, independent contractors, workers with limited work history).

    NOTE: Wisconsin plans to start taking applications the week of April 21, 2020. There is no need to call the Unemployment Help Center at this time. DWD is asking you to wait to file because the system is not yet set up to accept your application. For up to date information click here.

  5. Information for people who remain unemployed after they have exhausted their regular UI benefits
    Provides an additional 13 weeks of emergency benefits for people who remain unemployed after they have exhausted their regular UI benefits.

 Workshare

Work-share programs, which are also called "short-term compensation programs" under federal law, are designed to provide a prorated unemployment benefit for employees of employers who voluntarily make an agreement with the state to reduce work hours instead of laying off workers. For states that currently have a federally approved work-share program, like Wisconsin, the CARES Act would provide 100% federally funded UI benefits through December 31, 2020.

Assembly Bill 1038 makes additional changes to Wisconsin's workshare program. As we wait for guidance documents to be finalized, please email my office at rep.loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov if you'd like more information when it's available. 

 Conservation Congress

The Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and Dept. of Natural Resources (DNR) have announced the in-person portion of the 72 public meetings known as the Spring Hearings that were to be held in each county on April 13th were canceled. The public will continue to have the opportunity to provide input on the natural resources advisory questions from the DNR, Natural Resources Board, and WCC through the online input option. Online spring hearing questions and voting are live will be open until 7pm on April 15th.

COVID-19 Data

The Wisconsin Hospital Association has launched a new, statewide dashboard to provide data from the 133 hospitals around the state. In addition to providing an update on COVID-related hospital admissions, testing and hospital bed use, the site also provides users with access to sortable data related to personal protection equipment stocks at Wisconsin hospitals.

Rule of 50

I appreciate the opportunity to communicate with you through E-Updates over this legislative session. Pursuant to s.11.33, of Wisconsin Statutes, a Representative who becomes a candidate for office may not use public funds to distribute 50 or more pieces of identical material after the first day for circulation of nomination papers.

This means that after April 15th, I can no longer send out the E-Update to you as it conflicts with the beginning of campaign season. However, Assembly Bill 1038 makes one change to this, which will allow me to send E-Updates relating to the public health emergency, which I will do if there are important updates to share.

Over the summer, I will post informational updates on my website and social media accounts, so please be sure to follow those if you don't already!

Important Office Update

With the "Safer at Home" order and the CDC recommendations of working from home, I am allowing my staff the flexibility of doing just that. The legislative technology team has done a great job in facilitating secure remote work connectivity. 

If you have any questions or need assistance, please feel free to contact my staff at (608) 266-9967 or toll-free: (888) 534-0031. You can also email my office at Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov

 ICYMI: In Case You Missed It

For all the most recent information from the state agencies on COVID-19, click here and all updates from the Dept. of Health Services can be found by clicking here.

You may have received my spring newsletter in the mail. I had planned on hand delivering them to some of you, unfortunately that is no longer possible. For those of you who haven't seen it, you can see it here. It's full of updates from this legislative session.

My capitol office is here to help you with general inquiries as well as questions and concerns regarding legislative matters. Feel free to contact me or my staff. We are always ready to assist you in your needs. Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.

 If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Update, please feel free to contact me.   


Rep. Amy Loudenbeck 
State Capitol, Room 304 East
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 529-0031 or (608) 266-9967
Rep.Loudenbeck@legis.wi.gov| |