February 5, 2021

  

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Update on COVID Relief Bill

Yesterday, I joined my Assembly colleagues in Madison to continue our work on the COVID relief bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1. The bill has taken some effort to get agreement between both the Assembly and Senate, but I do hope we've finally come to an agreement on its amendments. In our Assembly floor session yesterday, I also voted in favor of an amendment to AB 1 which would ensure that Wisconsin could capture roughly $50 million a month in federal FoodShare assistance.

This amended version of AB 1 heads to the Senate today for their vote. In order to meet the federally-set requirement to receive enhanced federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) benefits, provisions in AB 1 must be signed into law before February 7. To meet that deadline, the Senate will meet today in Extraordinary Session to vote on the amended AB 1 and send the bill to Governor Evers' desk for his signature. With the deadline ahead of us, we hope to see a quick signature to preserve the enhanced federal unemployment benefits that so many Wisconsinites are depending on. 
Governor's Health Emergency & Mask Mandate 

During the Assembly floor session yesterday, Senate Joint Resolution (SJR) 3 to formally repeal the Governor's public health emergency order and subsequent mask mandate, was brought forward for a vote. While ultimately the Assembly voted to pass SJR 3 and the order and mandate were repealed, I and a group of legislators ultimately voted against the resolution. Our full press release on the issue can be found on my webpage

While I believe that the Governor's continued issuing of extended emergency orders, including the mask mandate, is likely illegal, the Judicial Branch is responsible for making that determination, not the Legislative Branch. The case on the legality of his actions is still in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, and I urge them to make a ruling on it soon so we can finally have the much-needed legal clarity on the issue. 

Without a final court ruling, Governor Evers' could continue to implement emergency orders each time the full Legislature passes a resolution removing past ones. Already this week, he has re-issued his public health emergency order and a mask mandate. The risk of a never-ending cycle of orders and resolutions removing the orders is not helping our state, our citizens, or the spirit of compromise we need as legislators. Instead, our focus should be on providing COVID-19 relief. 

In addition, it was brought to our attention that by having a public health emergency order in place, it qualified Wisconsin to receive roughly $50 million a month in enhanced FoodShare benefits through the federal CARES Act. I've been hearing from so many residents who are trying to figure out how to get by, and some who are even facing homelessness due to job loss. While I supported an amendment to the COVID-19 relief bill, Assembly Bill (AB) 1, to try and work around the issue, it is still concerning.

I cannot, in good conscience, put my neighbors at risk of losing essential benefits and subject us to endless bickering on this issue, when we could instead be using the time and energy to pass legislation to provide support and recovery tools to our state. While I don't know anyone who enjoys wearing a mask, it's a temporary and relatively minor inconvenience that helps keep our schools and small businesses open and prevents our hospitals from becoming overburdened.  I know those are priorities for all of us.


We've heard so much from the healthcare industry and concerned citizens on this, and with so much at stake, I believe it would be irresponsible to remove the public health emergency order and mask mandate without a proper replacement plan. Now is not the time to further politicize the issue and create more division, when we need cooperation to come up with a strategy to get us back to normal. That is why I did not support the passage of SJR 3 in the Assembly yesterday, and why I will continue efforts to work with my colleagues on COVID-19 relief to get us across the finish line of this pandemic. 

However, I joined my Republican legislative colleagues in sending a letter to Governor Evers, asking him to work together with the legislature on this issue through the administrative rule process. Since state law doesn't allow the Legislature to introduce rules for adoption, we have asked Governor Evers to introduce rules to the legislature for review that would do the following: 

  • Enact reasonable masking requirements in numerous places most susceptible to virus transmission
  • Allow private or public entities that would like to require face masks to do so on their property
  • Require the Department of Health Services to pay for COVID-19 tests taken by Wisconsinites, free of charge
  • Have the rules in place and be up for review every 30 days for any necessary modifications until the majority of Wisconsinites are vaccinated

This is a tough time for everyone, and while we all have different thoughts on how best to move forward, I do plan to continue working with my legislative colleagues to fight for the safety and recovery of our state and the 36th Assembly District. I believe we have a responsibility to rise above petty bickering and find solutions to these issues that are facing our citizens, so I will continue to work towards that goal. 

DWD Unemployment Update 

With the high number of unemployment claims being filed in Wisconsin and nationwide in recent months, delays in determinations and payments have been a too common occurrence. As a legislator, I'm able to reach out to DWD and make an inquiry on your behalf if you are experiencing issues or delays with your unemployment claim.

Click here to request an Unemployment Claim Inquiry

COVID-19 Quick Links

Below are some quick links to essential COVID-19 resources and information:

Follow the Legislative Action

In order to stay up to date on any legislation, proposals, or your legislator, a free notification service is available through the Wisconsin State Legislature's website. You can sign up for nightly personalized email notifications based on our state's legislative activity. This is a wonderful way to stay informed about state politics and proposals that you are interested in.