Assembly Passes Stronger Workforce Package, Including Two Armstrong Bills 

MADISON, WI – The Wisconsin State Assembly met on February 17 to pass legislative Republicans’ Stronger Workforce initiative, a package of bills introduced to address the workforce shortages employers across Wisconsin are reporting, as well as to remedy the many shortcomings the pandemic exposed in Wisconsin’s unemployment insurance (UI) system. The Stronger Workforce package includes two proposals introduced by State Rep. Dave Armstrong (R-Rice Lake), Assembly Bills 938 and 940.

“Although I was unable to attend Thursday’s session due to having COVID, I am very glad the Assembly passed the Stronger Workforce package,” Representative Armstrong said.  “As Barron County’s economic development director, I talk to local employers almost every day about their struggles to find workers, and this is a problem across the state.  Part of Stronger Workforce is getting people off the sidelines and back to work, while another is fixing the broken UI system and returning its focus to its main mission:  providing temporary assistance to people who find themselves unemployed through no fault of their own while they actively seek new work.

Assembly Bill 938 aims to improve UI’s efficiency and integrity in several ways, including increased audits of the work-search requirement, enhanced ID measures and database cross-checks, and extended call center hours during periods of unusually high demand,” Representative Armstrong said.  “AB 938 combats fraud while also ensuring that people who need UI get timely service, rather than waiting weeks or months like they did at the height of the pandemic.

“My other proposal, Assembly Bill 940, which had bipartisan support in committee, requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation [WEDC] to submit a plan to the Legislature’s Joint Finance Committee for spending at least $3 million on talent and attraction programs,” Representative Armstrong said.  “WEDC has been slow to act, despite a directive included in the 2021-2023 state budget act, and AB 940 should move things along at a time when demand for employees is surging.”

The Stronger Workforce package, including Assembly Bills 938 and 940, will now go to the Senate for further consideration.