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COVID-19 Update #8

 

Dear Friends & Neighbors, 

Thank you to everyone who contacted my office with concerns about the primary election on Tuesday, April 7. Over a period of 3 weeks, I heard from 200+ people about missing absentee ballots and the threat that voting in-person could have on their health and safety. 

On Wednesday, I was informed by the Wisconsin Election Commission (WEC) that three tubs of ballots for Oshkosh and Appleton were discovered at a mail processing center in Milwaukee after polls closed. Like you, I am frustrated with this situation. My wife and I are among the hundreds of people in Oshkosh who did not receive their ballots. 

I’m disappointed that many in our community were face with the decision to either not vote or to risk the health of themselves and others by voting in-person. It is important to get answers on why and how this happened. The WEC and Department of Justice (DOJ) need to investigate this situation and any other irregularities from Tuesday’s election.

This edition of my e-update includes information my recently introduced vote by mail legislation, state park closures, safer at home reminders, unemployment benefit assistance, and more.

As always, if you have any questions or concerns, feel free to reach out to my Madison office at 608-266-2254, my home at 920-232-0805, or my email at Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov

Sincerely, 

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Winnebago County’s First COVID-19 Death 

I am saddened by the news of Winnebago County’s first COVID-19 death. My deepest condolences and prayers are with the family and friends of the individual who passed.

To prevent more tragic deaths in our county, please join me in continuing to follow Governor Evers’ Safer at Home order. We will be able to reduce the spread of this virus, but only if we all do our part by staying at home. If not for ourselves, then for our friends, family, and neighbors.

 

Vote by Mail Legislation 

Voters should not be forced to make the unthinkable choice of risking their health or not having their vote count. It is unfair and irresponsible to ask voters to choose between protecting their health and casting their ballot in the middle of a pandemic, but that is where we are.

During this public health crisis, it is important that we preserve and protect the fundamentals of our democracy. We need to act urgently to maximize voter accessibility. Moving to a Vote by Mail system will protect our democracy and keep Wisconsinites safe. 

Mail voting is becoming increasingly popular around the country. Five states now mail ballots to every registered voter in their state, and many states have taken other steps to maximize ballot access for voters. 

With elections this year in May, August, and November — and uncertainty around when the pandemic will end — it is critical that the State Legislature takes action to implement a mail-only balloting system for 2020. My bill includes necessary funding to support the Wisconsin Elections Commission (WEC) and local clerks in safely and securely implementing this system. This should be an immediate priority.


What this bill would do: 

  • All registered voters will be sent a ballot that must be postmarked by the day of the election and returned no later than 5 p.m. on the Tuesday following the election.
  • Witness signatures, which have proven difficult for many self-isolating voters to obtain, will not be required. 
  • All polling locations will be closed but for limited use by voters who are unable to use a mail-in-absentee ballot due to disability or difficulty reading, writing, or understanding English.
  • To accommodate the increased need for registration under a vote-by-mail system, the deadline for registration is extended to the 5th day prior to an election for all forms of registration.
  • The bill provides funds for additional postage and printing costs incurred to conduct an election by mail. It also appropriates $1 million to the Wisconsin Elections Commission to cover the costs associated with updating the voter registration system as a result of extending registration, and $3 million for a public information campaign on voting by mail. 

40 State Parks Closing 

Effective tomorrow, the Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is closing 40 state parks in the Southeast and South Central regions of the state. This decision was made due to record attendance and increased littering and vandalism. You can read more HERE.

I know that outdoor activity is essential for many people. While many of our state parks will soon be closed, I encourage you to walk around your neighborhood to take a break or get exercise. Whenever possible, remember to maintain a distance of 6 feet between you and other people. 

 

Safer at Home Reminder: Religious Observations  

Governor Evers’ Safer at Home order prohibits gatherings of 10 or more people in a confined space, including rooms, parking lots, and outdoor grounds. Like many of you, I am excited to celebrate the upcoming holidays with my family. It is important that we all stay home to observe the holidays this year, and I am grateful to the many faith-based organizations that have developed new ways to reach their congregation. Contact your place of worship to see if they are offering their services virtually. 

Safer at Home Reminder: Traveling Outside of Oshkosh

Under the Safer at Home order, only essential travel is permitted. This includes: 

  • Travel related to essential activities, special situations, or essential businesses and operations; 
  • Travel to care for vulnerable persons; 
  •  Travel to educational institutions; 
  • Travel to return to a place of residence from outside the jurisdiction; 
  • Travel required by law enforcement or court order; and,
  • Travel required for non-residents to return to their place of residence outside Wisconsin.

Therefore, if you travel outside of Oshkosh, such as to your cabin in another city, you must immediately self-quarantine for 14 days. You can read more HERE.

CDC Guidance on Face Masks 

The Centers for Disease and Control (CDC) now recommends wearing cloth face coverings in public settings where social distancing requirements are difficult to maintain, such as in grocery stores and pharmacies. Face masks are an effective way to capture droplets, which is a common mode of transmission for COVID-19. Read more about why face coverings are important and how to make your own mask HERE.

Having Trouble with Unemployment Benefits? 

My office is available to help you with your unemployment insurance needs. If it has been three weeks since you submitted your application, and you have not received your benefits, email Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov with the following information: 

  • Full name 
  • Phone number
  • Status of your application
    • Did you apply online?
    • Are you awaiting a decision on something that had to be investigated? 

My staff will send this information to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and request that they promptly look into your case. I understand that this is a difficult financial time for many, and I am committed to helping you receive your benefits in a timely manner.

Oshkosh Area School District Free Weekend Meals

The Oshkosh Area School District (OASD) expanded its free Grab-and-Go Meal Program to include weekend meals. There will be no weekend meal distribution sites. Instead, students, families, and community members can visit a meal distribution site on Fridays to receive food for the weekend. You can find the listing of sites HERE

Resource Links

 
 If you have any comments regarding the subject of this E-Newsletter, please feel free to contact me.   


Rep. Hintz
State Capitol, Room #201 W
PO Box 8952
Madison, WI 53708

Toll-Free (888) 555-1234 or (608) 555-1234
Rep.Hintz@legis.wisconsin.gov|