Two Armstrong Workforce Bills Advance in Busy Week

Testifying on Assembly Bill 940

With Assembly and Senate floor sessions on the horizon, this week was extremely busy, as a multitude of committees convened to vet legislative proposals.  Among the bills committees heard and voted on this week were several items from the Assembly Republicans' Stronger Workforce package, including two I introduced, Assembly Bills 938 and 940.

The Department of Workforce Development's reaction to COVID was a disaster, with thousands of Wisconsin residents in need of unemployment insurance waiting weeks and even months for their claims to be processed and paid.  AB 938, which the Assembly workforce development committee heard on February 8, makes several changes to the UI system to improve its efficiency and integrity.  Among many other things, it requires DWD to extend UI call center capacity and hours during certain declared emergencies and periods of unusually high call volume.  AB 938 also updates the definition of “misconduct” for the purposes of determining benefit eligibility, requires random audits of 50% of reported work-search actions, and requires weekly comparisons of UI recipients’ records with state and national databases, including death, employment, and prison records.

The Assembly workforce development committee, on which I serve, approved AB 938 on February 10.  The Senate economic and workforce development committee held a hearing on AB 938's companion, Senate Bill 932, on February 9 and has scheduled a vote for February 14.

AB 940, which the Assembly small business development committee heard on February 8, requires the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to submit a plan to the Legislature's Joint Finance Committee for how it plans to spend at least $3 million on talent attraction and retention programs.  The 2021-2023 state budget requires WEDC to spend that amount on these programs, but WEDC has been slow to do so, despite the ongoing labor shortage in Wisconsin.  Although I hear WEDC may finally be starting to act, AB 940 will keep things moving while making sure WEDC keeps the Legislature in the loop. 

The small business development committee, on which I also serve, approved AB 940 on a unanimous, bipartisan vote on February 9. 

AB 938 and 940, along with several other Stronger Workforce proposals, are now available for Assembly votes.  The Assembly currently plans to meet next Tuesday and Thursday, February 15 and 17.  Governor Evers will present his annual State of the State address to a joint session of the Legislature on February 15.

Welcome, Realtors!

On February 9, I joined other area legislators in meeting with members of the Realtors Association of Northwestern Wisconsin, including residents of the 75th Assembly District.  It was a good conversation, including a discussion about workforce housing and the general housing shortage, which are absolutely critical issues for Wisconsin to address if it wants to move the economy forward.

Legislative Website

If you are interested in learning more about bills that I have authored, co-sponsored, or voted on, please click here.  This link will take you directly to my Wisconsin State Legislative page.  Also, if you are interested in viewing my office website, click here.