July 16, 2021

  

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Honoring our Emergency Responders

This week, I had the opportunity to honor one of our dedicated volunteer Emergency Responders up in the Townsend and Lakewood area. Carla Van Camp is one of the many dedicated EMTs in our district who has given years of her life to help care for and serve her community. She started in 1980 as an EMT with her husband while also running their restaurant and raising their kids.

After years of service to the community, I was honored to have the opportunity to recognize Carla's 40 years serving on the Lakewood and Townsend Community Ambulance Service. We were able to surprise her with the citation, and her friends, children and grandchildren were there to celebrate with her. I'm glad I could be a part of this special day for her, and am so proud of the work done by all our EMTs and emergency responders around the district. 

Question of the Week: 
GI Bill Eligibility Changes

Since 1944, the GI Bill has helped qualifying veterans and their family members get money to cover all or some of the costs for school or training. Under current law, qualifying veterans and their spouses, along with their 17 to 25 year old children are eligible for full remission of tuition and fees at UW System schools and technical colleges for up to eight semesters or 128 credits, whichever is longer. However, in Wisconsin the veteran must be a resident of this state when he or she entered military service or for at least five consecutive years immediately before they register at a UW System school or technical college. 

A new bill has been introduced that would provide veterans and their families more opportunities to take advantage of the GI Bill funding. Under this bill, the five-year residency requirement would be lowered to three years and the veteran would not be required to be a Wisconsin resident at the time of entry into active duty. The changes would also extend to veterans, spouses and children enrolled in private nonprofit colleges. 

Supporters of the bill say that it would attract more veterans and their families to the state and increase access to education for veterans and dependents. Veterans and their families have made many sacrifices for our freedom, so they say that we should do what we can to help make access to higher education more achievable. In addition, since state university and community college graduates usually stay within state lines of their alma mater, attracting these out of state veterans will also help boost our college-educated, skilled workforce and further stimulate our local and state economy. 

Opponents of the bill are concerned that expanding eligibility requirements would limit the positions open for applicants from Wisconsin under the GI bill, and would make our local veterans compete for university acceptance with out of state veterans. There are also concerns that these out of state veterans and families would leave after graduation and choose not to stay in the community. 

I would like to hear your thoughts on this proposed bill. Please take a moment to answer my question of the week:

Click here for my Question of the Week

Last Week's Results:
Adoptee's Original Birth Certificates

I've heard from many people around the 36th Assembly District in response to last week's question. The chart below represents the responses from constituents to the question as of Friday morning. Because of the amount of support shown through the survey, I have decided to become a co-sponsor of this bill.

Federal Child Tax Credit Payments 

Though you likely have heard it mentioned in the news, eligible families around the state and country can expect to receive Child Tax Credits ($250-$300 per child per month) starting this week after it was extended in the federal American Families Plan. Over the year, this will amount to $3,000 to $3,600 per child for almost all families. This federal assistance is provided in an effort to help reduce child poverty and make it easier for families to make ends meet as they recover from the economic challenges of COVID-19. 

While most families already filing taxes will automatically see the benefit from this, low income families who may have incomes low enough that they aren't required to file taxes can sign up for the Child Tax Credit benefits using a simple sign-up tool for non-filers. Additional resources on the credit, along with answers to common questions about it can be found here.

Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program to Now Include Coverage of Internet Costs

Internet can be a major expense, especially in some rural parts of the state like our own. As affordable, reliable internet has become increasingly necessary in our daily lives, a new resource has been made available that will help folks remain connected and make ends meet coming out of the pandemic. The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program (WERA), which offers rental and utility assistance to households impacted by the pandemic, will now include coverage of internet costs for qualifying households who meet the following criteria: 

  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • A household income at or below 80 percent of county median income.

With us approaching the end of the federal moratorium on rental evictions on July 31, it's important to make sure folks are aware of the resources out there to help afford essential services. This assistance is funded through the over $322 million in Emergency Rental Assistance Funds that we received from the US Department of Treasury. Information about applying for this assistance can be found here, and other resources covering mortgage, housing, insurance and more can be found here.

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.