January 15, 2021

  

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The State of the State Address

This week, Governor Evers delivered the annual State of the State address, which was pre-recorded and delivered virtually to the Wisconsin Legislature. We've faced a lot of unique problems in Wisconsin recently as a result of the pandemic, and just last week I voted in favor of a new COVID-19 relief bill to help address some of these issues. Governor Evers touched on many of the issues in our state, including the unemployment debacle, and the full address can be found online

As we move forward in this session and start working on our biennial state budget, I look forward to continuing to fight for financial responsibility in our state spending. With funds tight for everyone, we need to make sure that we are acting responsibly with the state's budget. Because of smart funding decisions in past sessions, we thankfully are in a better position to handle these new financial challenges, but it's still going to be important to make the smartest decisions we can this budget season. I look forward to working hard as we craft this new budget, and welcome any insights on the process from folks in the 36th Assembly District. 
COVID-19 Vaccine Wisconsin Update 

With COVID-19 having such a massive impact on all our lives over the last year, the vaccine roll-out is some great news for everyone. The COVID-19 vaccine will be an important tool in controlling the spread, along with masking-up and socially distancing. Right now, we don't currently have enough supply yet for everyone in Wisconsin, so until our supply increases, Wisconsin is following vaccine prioritization guidelines from the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) and the Wisconsin State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC).

Vaccine doses are allocated to states from the federal government based on the state's population size. States can order a certain amount from the federal level of their allocated total, but due to limited storage space they aren't allowed to request their entire allocation at once. Pfizer vaccines are shipped to regional hospitals before being sent to where they'll be administered. Moderna vaccines are sent directly to the locations where they will be administered. Once vaccines arrive at a location, vaccinations are administered based on the priority list. Currently, over 200,000 doses have been administered to residents around Wisconsin, with more on the way. 

I've heard from a number of people who've had questions about when a vaccine will be available to them, and when doses will be administered in our area. At this time, Wisconsin is still operating based on the above prioritization guidelines, which divides early vaccination into three distinct phases: Phase 1a, Phase 1b and Phase 1c.

We are currently in Phase 1a, which includes frontline health care providers and skilled nursing facility staff and residents, and it's expected to take many months to vaccinate all eligible Phase 1a individuals before moving on to Phase 1b. Beginning January 18, 2021, police and fire personnel in Phase 1a will be eligible to receive the vaccine as well. Local health departments will be leading coordination for this vaccination, and will work in partnership with local health systems and pharmacies. 

Once we start seeing the vaccine supply increase and vaccinate those in Phase 1a, it's expected that Phase 1b may include folks over 75 and non-healthcare frontline essential workers. The DHS is currently working on a final draft for who is all included in Phase 1b for vaccinations, and the public comment period is now open on the issue. During this period, you can share your thoughts on what individuals or groups should be included in this phase. To see the Phase 1b draft, click here. The public comment period for the draft will close at 4pm on January 18, 2021, and comments can be submitted to: DHSSDMAC@dhs.wisconsin.gov

So far, a number of vaccines have been administered including in the 36th Assembly District. The DHS has a helpful tracking page on how many were distributed, which can be sorted based on area or county. Click the above graph to see more. As Wisconsin continues to get more and more doses of vaccines, we'll see the availability increase to more folks. In addition, Wisconsin will deploy mobile vaccination teams starting on January 19 to help local and tribal health departments that exceeded vaccination capacity or have access gaps in an effort to expand vaccine access. Despite these efforts, it unfortunately looks like the vaccination effort will take many months at this rate, so I will continue to work with my colleagues at the federal and state level to find ways to speed up the process and get these vaccines distributed. 

In the meantime, the Wisconsin DHS has launched a newsletter that folks can sign up for that will provide direct information about the COVID-19 response and vaccine rollout. Each Friday, they'll send out an update, and archived copies will be available on their webpage. Another great way to get local information is through your primary care provider or local health department organizing distribution in your area. 

DWD Unemployment Inquiries

Though last week I voted in the Assembly to pass Assembly Bill (AB) 1, which among other things would require DWD to get through their unemployment backlog, the problem is not solved yet. If you or a loved one is having problems or delays with your unemployment claim, 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

Winter Free Fishing Weekend

This weekend is the Winter Free Fishing Weekend here in Wisconsin. Though due to COVID-19 there won't be any scheduled events to coincide with the weekend, it's still a great opportunity to go winter fishing. On January 16 and 17, anglers can fish any water bodies in the state where there is an open season, without having to get a license or trout stamp. 

As a helpful reminder, fishing isn't allowed in spring trout ponds during this weekend. In addition, all other fishing regulations apply, such as limits on the number and size of fish you can keep and seasons when you must release certain fish species. So best of luck as you enjoy this great chance for some outdoor fun this winter. Good luck and stay safe!

Drive-Thru Registration
for Sturgeon Spearing Season

It's been a long winter, and for those ready to get outside and have some fun in the great outdoors, the 2021 sturgeon spearing season is coming up soon. Whether you've been sturgeon spearing for years or it's your first time, there are some important changes to this year's registration process.

To help keep folks safe, the DNR is starting a contactless registration process at registration stations by making them drive-thru only. These stations have been relocated to boat landings, city parks and government building parking lots for the 2021 season. Changes have also been made to the allowable spear size and tine arrangement. More information can be found here.

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.