Assembly Session

The Assembly held its first floor session of 2022 on January 20, and it took up legislation in a number of different issue areas.

Governor Evers’ response to the COVID pandemic was disastrous for many businesses, perhaps especially restaurants.  About 15 percent of Wisconsin restaurants closed their doors forever, and many of the survivors are dealing with staffing and supply shortages.  Restaurant Revitalization Fund grants from the federal government were a lifeline, and Assembly Bill 717, which I cosponsored, ensures that these grants are tax-exempt at the state level, as they already are for federal tax purposes.  AB 717 is similar to the Payment Protection Program tax fix I worked on earlier this session.

I also supported several bills dedicated to protecting Wisconsin residents’ Second Amendment rights and promoting our state’s sporting heritage, including allowing legal adults 18 and up to apply for concealed-carry licenses (Assembly Bill 498) and developing a comprehensive firearm education course for interested high schools (Assembly Bill 843).  The sporting package also included requirements for the Department of Natural Resources to increase Wisconsin's stock of pheasants and trout (Senate Bills 609 and 612, respectively).

The Assembly also concurred in a number of health-related bills with my support, including interstate compacts for occupational therapists and psychologists (Senate Bill 412 and Assembly Bill 537, respectively).  The Assembly also passed legislation for the licensing and regulation of naturopathic doctors (Assembly Bill 529) and for standardizing the definition of "telehealth" (Senate Bill 309).

The Assembly will next meet on January 25.

Stronger Workforce

Earlier this week, legislative Republicans unveiled the Stronger Workforce Initiative, a package designed to help end the critical staffing shortages that are hurting many businesses around Wisconsin.  As I mentioned above, Governor Evers' response to COVID-19 severely hurt small businesses and furthermore forced hundreds of thousands of people into unemployment.  Our communities are still recovering from this economic disaster.  In the 75th Assembly District alone, I don't think you can walk down any Main Street without seeing at least a handful of "Help Wanted" signs.

The Stronger Workforce Initiative recognizes that Unemployment Insurance is temporary assistance for individuals who have lost their jobs through no fault of their own while they make good-faith efforts to find new jobs.  One of the proposals addresses concerns from employers about UI recipients who game the system by submitting resumes in order to meet the UI work search requirement and then "ghost" employers by failing to respond to interview requests or job offers.  Another proposal adds Wisconsin to a number of states that use the unemployment rate to determine the maximum number of weeks a claimant may receive UI benefits; the limit would range from 15 to 26 weeks, depending on the rate.

A third proposal, which I am introducing with Sen. Eric Wimberger of Green Bay, addresses, among other things, the obscene wait times many Wisconsin residents had to endure as they attempted to file UI claims and collect benefits.  It requires the Department of Workforce Development to extend UI call center hours during high-volume periods and allows the Department of Administration to temporarily transfer employees from other state departments to assist with UI appeals.  In addition, the bill requires DWD to audit 50% of all work search actions, to ensure that claimants are meeting the requirements, and DWD must also cross-check claimants on a number of state and national databases - including employment, prison, and death records - to combat fraud and reduce erroneous payments.  My proposal also updates the definition of "misconduct" and increases legislative oversight of any future UI "augmentations" such as PUA, PEUC, etc.

The Stronger Workforce Initiative will be introduced in the near future, and I hope it will move quickly through the legislative process in the coming weeks.

Trade and Supply Chain Committee

On January 19, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced the creation of an Assembly Special Committee on Trade and Supply Chain, and I am honored to say that I have been asked to serve on it.  I look forward to working with my fellow committee members to develop practical solutions to ongoing supply chain issues that are affecting almost all Wisconsin residents in one way or another.

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.