January 29, 2021


Assembly Floor Session Recap

This week has been quite busy in the Legislature, with two Assembly floor sessions and some important issues up for debate and a vote. On Tuesday, the Assembly considered the COVID-19 Relief Bill,  Assembly Bill (AB) 1, as amended by the Senate. My colleagues and I in the Assembly restored some conservative provisions that were originally removed during the Senate vote on the bill. A summary of the amendments can be found here. After the Assembly vote this week, AB 1 once again includes the following provisions: 

  • Prohibits employers, DHS and local health officers from mandating vaccine
  • Prohibits DHS and local health officers from closing places of worship
  • Increases vaccine efforts by allowing dentists and pharmacy students to administer the vaccine
  • Lets parents transfer kids to school districts that offer in-person learning
  • Protects schools and businesses from certain liabilities to reduce the risk of frivolous lawsuits
  • Requires the Governor to give a plan to reduce outstanding unemployment claims & increase call center hours
  • Allows residents in nursing and assisted living facilities to label someone as an "essential visitor" to support and assist loved ones
  • Creates legislative oversight of any new federal COVID funds

This Thursday, we were also in session to pass another bundle of legislation, and one of the most contentious items on the calendar was Assembly Joint Resolution (AJR) 4, calling for the end of the public health emergency and effectively ending the mask mandate in Wisconsin. However, it turns out that the emergency declaration we have in place makes it possible for Wisconsin to be eligible for certain federal funding, including certain COVID-19 related assistance that many around the state are depending on. Because removing the public health emergency would put that assistance at risk, the Assembly held off on voting on the resolution until we can have a better understanding of exactly how removing the emergency would impact Wisconsin's assistance. 

While I've heard from many people both asking to keep the mask mandate and remove it, I think we made a smart decision at this point to hold off on acting until we have more information. Right now, I am not aware of when the Assembly will be back in to vote on AJR 4, however I do appreciate any insights that you have on this important issue. 

Update on COVID-19 Vaccines

Though the distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine in Wisconsin is underway, there's unfortunately still been delays due to the lack of supply our state receives from the federal level. Because of the limited supply, eligibility for vaccination is currently outlined in a tier system.

Right now, there are a number of people who are currently able to request vaccines, though please keep in mind that, Wisconsin does not yet have enough COVID-19 vaccine from the federal government to vaccinate all eligible populations at this time. Currently, eligible populations in Wisconsin are:

  • Frontline health care personnel
  • Residents in skilled nursing and long-term care facilities
  • Police and fire personnel, correctional staff
  • Adults ages 65 and over

If you or a loved one falls into any of these categories, you are encouraged to reach out to your primary care provider or local health departments, which are coordinating many of the local options. At this time, people will be vaccinated at many places around the state, including: health care providers, pharmacies, local health departments, places of employment, and mass vaccination clinics.

In upcoming months, more and more people will be eligible to receive the vaccine as availability increases, and some health providers may even be reaching out to their patients to let them know how the process will work for their patients. The next groups, which DHS expects will be eligible for a vaccine around March 1 depending on Wisconsin’s supply from the federal government, will include:

  • Education and child care
  • Individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs
  • Some public-facing essential workers
  • Non-frontline essential health care personnel
  • Facility staff and residents in congregate living settings

More information about each priority population can be found on the DHS COVID Vaccine webpage, and to keep up-to-date on the latest in the vaccine rollout, you can also sign up for DHS' Vaccine E-updates

I've also been hearing from a number of people around the district, and particularly in Marinette County, who have shared that there's been an abnormal delay in getting the vaccine out to folks in the current eligible groups. This is quite concerning, and so not only am I coordinating with the DHS to see what we can do to speed up the process, but I've also requested that some of the state's mobile vaccination units be sent to Marinette County to help get us back on track with the rest of the state. While I've not received confirmation that one of the mobile units is being sent up here, I will continue to push for any additional help I can to get this delay cleared up. 

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.