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 Moving FORWARD

Here is a guest column that I wrote with my colleague Rep. Mike Kuglitsch (R-New Berlin) to share with our local media publications this week. We are asking Governor Evers to work with the WI Legislature and other willing partners in the business and health care communities to define “what success looks like” for getting Wisconsin “Open for Business” again and moving FORWARD.

 

Wisconsin residents are becoming increasingly distressed by the limitations imposed on our everyday lives and liberties by Governor Tony Evers and his administration.

Over the last several weeks Republicans in the Legislature have utilized every resource available to us to get the information and legal guidance we need to make informed and strategic decisions during the public health emergency.

Legislators can and should be able to offer constructive input regarding how Wisconsin responds to and recovers from COVID-19 and we stand ready to be part of the solution. We also know there are willing partners in the business and health care communities who want to be part of that conversation.

Since the initial safer at home/public health emergency order was issued, my colleagues and I have been actively engaged in our districts, alongside our constituents (virtually and physically), observing the toll the public health emergency is taking on our daily lives, our economy and our individual freedoms.

We have been very aggressive in asking the Evers’ administration for more data, quantitative benchmarks, and a clear sense of the strategy and timeline for ending the order.

We are also suggesting alternatives to some of the more extreme decisions the administration has made. Personally, we believe that all businesses are “essential” since they represents someone’s livelihood. We understand that some may need to modify their operations (with engineering controls or changes to policies and procedures) to reduce the risk of transmission from COVID-19. We also realize some businesses may not be able to demonstrate they can operate safely, and may not be able to reopen right away and some may understandably choose to voluntarily close for a while.

We understand COVID-19 poses a real threat to public health. If Governor Evers lifts the “Safer at Home” order in two days or two week or two months, we believe many Wisconsinites, especially vulnerable populations and people with underlying health conditions, may still choose to shelter in place or self-quarantine, limit their activities and travel, and do whatever they need to do to keep themselves and their families safe. We respect their decisions to do so.

Government can provide guidance, but ultimately we must allow individuals to decide when they feel confident and safe to reenter society. A one-size fits all solution is impractical in a state as large and diverse as Wisconsin.

We ask Governor Evers and his administration to answer the question – “What does success look like?” Wisconsin residents need know what needs to happen in order for him to start rolling back any, many or all of the restrictions he has placed on us. We have had several weeks to adapt our behaviors to incorporate proper etiquette and social distancing measures, and his administration has said those measures are working.

Last week the Legislature passed, and Governor Evers signed into law, a bipartisan package of policy items to facilitate the allocation of federal funds for Wisconsin, to reduce red tape, and provide flexibility so Wisconsin agencies, health care providers and other industry sectors can respond quickly. Now that the bill is passed, we can completely focus on recovery efforts and planning for getting Wisconsin “Open for Business” and moving FORWARD.

COVID-19 Data

One unique challenge with a pandemic is the need for data to help us make safe choices and plan ahead. Public health officials need to know who gets sick, where, and when. UW-Madison's data scientists are helping to track and visualize COVID-19 data so that we all can see exactly how coronavirus is spreading.

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DWD is Now Taking Applications for Pandemic Unemployment Assistance 

 The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) announced today that it is now accepting applications for Federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA). 

Under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, PUA may be available to individuals who became unemployed as a result of the COVID-19 pandemic and are:

  • Self-employed (e.g., self-employed, free lancers, independent contractors, and part-time workers),
  • Do not have sufficient work history to be eligible for a regular unemployment insurance (UI) claim, or
  • Have exhausted other forms of state and federal UI benefits. 

The maximum PUA weekly benefit rate is $370, with the minimum rate at $163.  This program is 100% federally funded and is available for 39 weeks beginning the week ending February 8, 2020 through the week ending December 26, 2020.  Individuals receiving PUA may also receive the $600 weekly benefit amount under the Federal Unemployment Compensation (FPUC).  

** Please note, most of these applications must be reviewed manually, which could affect timing of fund distribution.

 

To Qualify:

Individuals must meet eligibility requirements and be fully or partially unemployed for one of the following COVID-19 reasons:

  1. The individual has been diagnosed with COVID-19 or is experiencing symptoms of COVID-19 and is seeking a medical diagnosis.
  2. A member of the individual’s household has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  3. The individual is providing care for a family member or a household member who has been diagnosed with COVID-19.
  4. A child or other person in the household for which the individual has primary caregiving responsibility is unable to attend school or another facility that is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency and such school or facility care is required for the individual to work.
  5. The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because of a quarantine imposed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  6. The individual is unable to reach the place of employment because the individual has been advised by a health care provider to self-quarantine due to concerns related to COVID-19.
  7. The individual was scheduled to commence employment and does not have a job or is unable to reach the job as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.
  8. The individual has become the breadwinner or major support for a household because the head of the household has died as a direct result of COVID-19.
  9. The individual had to quit their job as a direct result of COVID-19.
  10. The individual’s place of employment is closed as a direct result of the COVID-19 public health emergency.

To Apply:

Beginning on April 21, 2020, there will be a link on the claimant's dashboard for filing an initial PUA application. After a claimant is determined to be eligible for PUA, a link will be offered on the claimant's dashboard for filing weekly claims.

For more information on who qualifies for the program, how payment is calculated, and how to file an application for PUA, please visit https://dwd.wisconsin.gov/uiben/pua/.

 

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!

 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.

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| |