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State Capitol Report

Friends and Neighbors,

As the snow melts and local ice cream shops open for the season, I hope you get a chance to enjoy the wonderful weather. I am writing to share information and updates on the new legislative session, including the 2021-23 state budget and our state's continued efforts to respond to the Covid-19 pandemic and ramp up vaccine distribution.

As of March 5, 1 million people in Wisconsin have received their first dose of the COVID-19 vaccine! There is a light at the end of the tunnel, and I'm grateful for our healthcare providers and public health workers who have guided us through this pandemic.

I was recently on Wisconsin Public Radio's Route 51 to discuss the new legislative session, the state budget, and the Legislature's response to pressing issues like unemployment insurance and COVID-19 relief. You can listen to it here

As members of the Legislature introduce and debate various bills, I am committed to continuing my track record of working with members of both parties to get results for the district. So far, 76% of the bills I have coauthored are bipartisan, ranging from legislation to address small business development to expanding veterans benefits and strengthening the farmland preservation program. 

Please feel free to contact me with any thoughts, questions, ideas, or concerns. To stay informed, feel free to check out my Facebook page and website for updates, including news stories and public health updates about the pandemic.


Thank you for following along, and please let me know how I can best serve you. Your voice is very important to me!


Katrina sig.png

Katrina Shankland 

State Representative

71st Assembly District

Click here or on the icon above to see a flowchart of the vaccine allocation process


COVID-19 Vaccine Rollout

The distribution of the COVID-19 vaccine has been ramping up as Department of Health Services (DHS) and local public health officials work to ensure everyone in our state is vaccinated as quickly as possible. 

I am pleased to share that Wisconsin is now one of the top states in the nation for distributing vaccines. As of the week of March 5, 21.3% of the adult population and 55.4% of people 65 or older have received their first dose. It is especially exciting that Wisconsin is first in the nation for percentage of vaccines administered as of March 9!

For more information and updated statistics, please check out the DHS COVID-19 vaccine webpage.

Recently, DHS launched a new call center to help people find vaccine locations, answer medical questions related to the COVID-19 vaccine, and assist with registration, including but not limited to providers using the Wisconsin COVID-19 vaccine registry. In addition to the numerous resources available on the DHS COVID-19 vaccine page, Wisconsinites can now call (844) 684-1064 (toll-free) for personal assistance with their vaccine-related questions.

DHS community-based vaccination clinics and a few counties are in the early stages of rolling out the vaccine registry. Priority groups, including people currently on wait lists from previously eligible groups within these counties, will be the first notified of the opportunity to schedule an appointment.

Starting March 1, more people are now eligible for the COVID-19 vaccine. Vaccine providers are still prioritizing previously eligible groups, such as individuals age 65 and older, before vaccinating newly eligible groups. Based on the amount of vaccine doses available, it will take months for all newly eligible groups to get vaccinated; however, education staff are the first priority in the newly eligible populations.

The newly eligible groups include the following, in priority order:

Learn more about COVID-19 vaccine eligibility.

The Wisconsin National Guard and DHS have launched the Mobile Vaccination Teams pilot program to reach all corners of Wisconsin, and the Governor and DHS announced $86 million in funding to further support tribal governments and rural communities in their vaccination efforts.

Additionally, the Federal Retail Pharmacy Program recently launched and is ramping up. This program is a collaboration between the federal government and state health officials that will make vaccine doses available at participating pharmacies. Due to limited supply, the program will start small and expand as more doses become available.

Below, you can find information specific to Portage County's vaccination efforts. You can also speak directly with your medical provider, pharmacy, or health department if you have questions. Please only fill out a form for ONE provider.

You can also visit the Portage County COVID-19 dashboard here.

If you need assistance filling out a form, you can call the Aging & Disability Resource Center (ADRC) at 715-346-1401 or 1-866-920-2525 (toll free)

Additional information on the vaccine from other area pharmacies:

You can get the latest updates on who can receive the vaccine, distribution summaries, COVID-19 resources, and more by signing up for the Wisconsin DHS’s weekly COVID-19 Newsletter here.

Additionally, DHS has added two new data features to their website. The first displays the number of Wisconsinites who have successfully completed their COVID-19 vaccine series. The second new feature allows users to filter the COVID-19 vaccines administered per day in a graph by county or healthcare emergency readiness coalition (HERC) region. You can view this here

If you're on a wait list for the COVID-19 vaccine and are wondering why you haven't been called yet, it's important to note that supply is not keeping up with demand yet. You can listen to an informative podcast from Marshfield Clinic about this here. Additionally, the Hospitals Association wrote this column about the need to increase supply here. Fortunately, President Biden recently announced that the United States will have vaccine supply for all adults by May. 

The Statewide Public Health Emergency and Mask Order

In early February, the majority of Legislative Republicans voted to end our statewide public health emergency and overturn the mask mandate. Governor Evers responded by issuing a new statewide mask order immediately to replace the one that was struck down. The new statewide order is currently being challenged in court.

Scientists and public health professionals keep telling us that wearing a mask is one of the simplest and most effective ways to slow the transmission of COVID-19. Official statewide orders make a significant difference in how many people wear masks in public places, and how many businesses feel comfortable enforcing mask wearing on their premises. While local governments and individual businesses have the independent authority to require masks, a statewide order offers certainty and consistency to everyone while protecting the public health.

Although vaccine distribution is ramping up, we are not out of the woods yet, and we must continue to slow the spread of Covid-19 and protect ourselves and each other by staying home when we can, washing our hands, social distancing, and wearing a mask.

You can see my full statement on this by clicking here.


Click here or on the image above to visit 

Some Students Currently Enrolled in Institutions of Higher Learning Now Temporarily Eligible to Participate in Wisconsin FoodShare

Wisconsin students who are enrolled at least half time in an institution of higher learning and meet certain criteria can now participate in FoodShare and receive assistance to purchase groceries during the pandemic. The provision loosening federal restrictions on these students was included in the COVID-19 relief bill passed by Congress and signed into law in December 2020.The duration of these provisions is determined by the length of the federal public health emergency.

More information from DHS is available here.

State of the State 

Governor Evers' State of the State address reflected on the grim realities we have faced over the past year, while highlighting that Wisconsin is as strong as our commitment to one another. His dedication to investing in rural broadband and fixing our unemployment system addresses the gaping inequalities that have been laid bare as a result of this public health crisis.

I was thrilled by the governor’s proposal to invest nearly $200 million in broadband expansion for the entire state of Wisconsin. It is well past time we take the necessary steps to propel our state into the 21st century. This is about people’s livelihoods, economic stability, and more -- from business development and education to accessing healthcare and news.

You can see my full statement on the State of the State Address by clicking here.


Click here or on the image above to watch the full State of the State Address.

 2021-23 State Budget Address

On February 16, Governor Evers debuted his proposed 2021-23 state budget, which will include urgently-needed investments in a range of critical initiatives.

I was thrilled to see many of the issues I have championed in the Legislature addressed in the governor’s budget. Whether investing in broadband, making college more affordable, capping the price of life-saving prescriptions like insulin, fixing our unemployment system, expanding clean energy in Wisconsin, or supporting farmers and water quality, this budget delivers on many priorities for the people of Wisconsin.

I am excited to advocate for our shared priorities in the state budget. I am hopeful that my colleagues in the Legislature will be able to find common ground and that together, we will ensure that the 2021-23 state budget represents meaningful investments that work for the people of Wisconsin.

You can see the full budget by clicking here. My statement on the governor's proposed budget bill is here

This week, Governor Evers announced a series of six virtual budget listening sessions he is hosting to hear your feedback on his proposed budget. You can read more about them and sign up to participate and make your voice heard here.

Additionally, the Joint Finance Committee, the Legislature's budget committee, is hosting four listening sessions on the proposed state budget in the coming weeks. 

The public hearings will begin at 10 a.m. and end by 5 p.m. and capacity will be managed at the venue. If you'd like to testify at the virtual hearing, you need to register in advance. The registration process and details are in development and will be released as soon as possible via the new JFC website, which is also a portal for constituents to provide input. You can access the portal here. You may also email your budget comments to

  • Friday, April 9, 2021 UW-Whitewater, Whitewater, WI
  • Wednesday, April 21, 2021 The Hodag Dome, Rhinelander, WI
  • Thursday, April 22, 2021 UW-Stout, Menomonie, WI
  • Wednesday, April 28, 2021 Virtual

You can watch the Governor's full budget address here or by clicking the image below.


State Takes Action on Unemployment Insurance System Upgrades

Our state's outdated unemployment system was never built to sustain the influx of claims that came in the past year, totaling over 8.9 million. Governor Evers called for a special session to fix our outdated system, and I'm pleased that the Legislature took the first step to reform the UI system.

Last month, the Legislature and governor took bipartisan action on modernizing the state's Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. After Governor Evers called a special session on modernizing our UI system, the Legislature passed a bill to continue the waiver of the state's one-week waiting period, allowing the state to leverage additional federal funds, and begin the process of upgrading our outdated UI system. 

Governor Evers signed the bill into law, and under the new law, the state Department of Workforce Development must use existing state funds and any federal dollars available to draft a request for proposals for upgrades and secure a contractor by June 30. You can read my statement on the special session here.

Additionally, in July 2020, I introduced a package of eight bills with some of my legislative colleagues outlining changes that we could make immediately to remove barriers to applying for unemployment insurance, expand eligibility, and allow the Department of Workforce Development to process claims faster. Many of these bills are included in the state budget, and I will continue to advocate for them and for constituents who are waiting for their UI benefits.

Covid-19 Relief Legislation: Assembly Bill 1

On day one of the legislative session, Republicans, Democrats, and Governor Evers submitted their proposals for addressing the economic fallout caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. 

Assembly Bill 1 included provisions to strengthen our state’s COVID-19 response, from allowing out-of-state medical professionals to temporarily practice in Wisconsin to extending call center hours for unemployment insurance.

The bill was amended several times while moving between the Senate and Assembly. I was eager to vote for the compromise bill that the governor and State Senate negotiated and passed on a near-unanimous basis on January 12, 2021. Unfortunately, the State Assembly never took up the compromise bill, instead choosing to amend the bill and send it back to the State Senate multiple times. As a result, the final bill that made it to Governor Evers’ desk was vetoed,  since it was not agreed upon by both parties. I was very disappointed to see this bill fail and am committed to pushing for its passage. The compromise bill can and should pass and be signed into law this legislative session.


You can see my full statement on AB 1's initial passage by clicking here.


Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program Application Open

Do you need rental assistance? The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program is accepting applications!

You can apply here. You can also call 844-314-8004 for assistance in English, Spanish, or Hmong.


You can view details of the program by clicking here or on the picture below


Pandemic EBT

Pandemic EBT (P-EBT) is a program that provides grocery benefits to parents to replace the value of missed school meals. That means you can receive money for groceries to help feed your children—families in Wisconsin could receive up to $1,248 per child!

Children who did virtual learning (learned at home or on a home computer) for any portion of the 2020-21 school year may be eligible to receive P-EBT.

Pandemic EBT (or P-EBT) is a federal nutrition program that the USDA has recently approved in Wisconsin for families with school-aged children. Benefits are based on  the 2020-21 school year and will be available starting March 25.

More information from the Hunger Task Force of Wisconsin is available here.

  In the News

Wisconsin lawmakers work to revive bills left for dead last legislative session, The Capital Times

More Women in State Legislature than Ever Before, WAOW

Agricultural Proposals can Bring Bipartisanship to State Budget, The Capital Times

Additional Information & Resources
  • The Department of Health Services (DHS) website is updated regularly with guidance related to COVID-19 best practices and information on confirmed cases
  • Information from DHS about COVID-19 vaccines can be found here
  • The CDC's website also has information and guidance on COVID-19 
  • You can find COVID-19 information, updates, and resources from the governor's office and all of our state agencies here
  • If you are facing financial hardship, 211 Wisconsin can connect you with resources and information in your area for assistance
  • The Department of Workforce Development has a site listing numerous resources for individuals struggling with financial hardship here
  • The Department of Workforce Development also has a helpful page for navigating the many unemployment programs available in Wisconsin here
  • Resources for small businesses can be found on the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation website
  • If you are having trouble accessing your unemployment benefits, you can contact my office for assistance at or (608) 267-9649
  • This is a stressful time for many of us. If you are feeling overwhelmed, anxious, or scared, please feel free to call Distressline at 1-800-985-5990 or text TalkWithUs to 66746 
  • Visit the Resilient Wisconsin homepage for additional resources and tips for practicing self-care, staying connected, and reducing stress
  • This video from Community Foundation of Central Wisconsin discusses how the stages of grief can apply to the COVID-19 pandemic. 


Thank you for following along. I look forward to staying in touch!

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