Fixing Unemployment

It's no secret that Wisconsin's unemployment insurance system has been a disaster for the past year, with thousands of Wisconsin residents waiting weeks and even months for decisions on their claims.  A December 2020 report from the nonpartisan Legislative Audit Bureau found that of the 13-week average wait a random sample of claimants had to endure, 11 of those weeks were the responsibility of the Department of Workforce Development, which often failed to resolve claims despite having the information necessary to do so - or even to ask for the relevant information in the first place.

Another issue that came up last year was the obsolete information technology DWD uses to process and pay UI claims.  Although this problem was recognized early on, Governor Evers failed to take steps to rectify the situation, despite having the authority and the funding to order improvements.

Earlier this year, Governor Evers called a special session to address UI issues.  The Legislature's Joint Finance Committee formally introduced the special session bills the Governor requested - SS Assembly Bill 1 and SS Senate Bill 1 - and approved a substitute amendment that directs DWD to update its UI technology systems, with requests for proposals going out within 30 days.  DWD must first seek and exhaust federal funding for this project before using state funds.

In addition to ordering the DWD IT upgrades, the substitute amendment extends several temporary changes to the UI process, including the waiver of the one-week waiting period (through March 13).  It also exempts businesses, schools, and other entities from civil liability for COVID-related injuries or death, except in cases involving reckless or intentional misconduct.

The Senate passed SS SB 1 as amended on a bipartisan 27-3 vote on February 18, and the Assembly concurred on a bipartisan 89-0 vote on February 23.  Governor Evers signed it into law as 2021 Act 4 on February 25.

COVID Resources

Today, March 1, several new groups became eligible for vaccination, with education and childcare workers receiving top priority.

Governor Evers has announced a new Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, which is administered by the state Department of Administration in partnership with Wisconsin Community Action Program agencies and Energy Services, Inc.  The 75th Assembly District falls within the WestCAP service area.

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services has announced that it plans to launch a COVID-19 Vaccine Registry in early March.  The registry is intended to help people schedule vaccinations locally as they become eligible.

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.