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HESSELBEIN CAPITOL UPDATE

State Relief Package

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On Tuesday, the State Assembly passed AB 1038 which addressed our state’s response to the COVID-19 crisis. Here are some of the things included in the bill:

Repealing the Unemployment Insurance Waiting Period

The Legislature voted to waive the one week waiting period before a claimant’s unemployment benefits go into effect. This is a crucial change, not only to help the hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites who are applying for unemployment benefits but to also allow the state to take advantage of new federal funding.

Temporary Licenses for Former Health Care Providers

In order to address the ever increasing needs in our state’s hospitals, the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS) has enacted a number of emergency rules to allow our doctors and nurses to continue their vital work. They have made it easier for medical professionals to renew their licenses without jumping through bureaucratic hoops. AB 1038 expanded upon this by allowing DSPS to provide temporary credentials to former health care providers so that they can re-enter the health care workforce to respond to this unprecedented crisis.

Additionally, AB 1038 allows

  • pharmacists to extend prescriptions
  • ensures that SeniorCare covers vaccinations
  • provides that there will be no co-pays for COVID-19 testing
  • prohibits discrimination based on COVID-19 by health insurance companies.

The bill also gives school districts the flexibility to finish their year through online education.


Democratic Amendments

My Democratic colleagues and I offered three amendments to AB 1038 which would have made important changes and improvements to this bill. Unfortunately, all three were voted down along party lines. Here is what they would have done:

  1. Extended the timeline for relief: AB 1038 was drafted to limit the relief it provided to only apply to the current public health emergency as declared by Governor Evers almost a month ago. This order expires after 60 days and when that order expires, all the benefits of AB 1038 expire too. Our amendment would have allowed the benefits to continue should the Governor extend the public health emergency or the legislature extend it, and to all future public health emergencies.
  2. Vote by Mail: after thousands of Wisconsinites risked their lives to vote on Tuesday, April 7th when the Legislature refused to cancel in-person voting, my colleagues and I introduced a proposal to ensure that every voter receives a mail-in ballot for all elections in 2020. We strongly believe that no one should be forced to choose between their health and their right to vote.
  3. Funding for UW System, Tourism Industry, Small Business Loans, and Early Childhood Education: the final amendment would have allowed the UW System to receive extra funding that was not covered in the federal legislation, provided much needed support to our tourism industry, ensured that small businesses would have access to loans to help them through this difficult time, and provided assistance to our vital childcare workforce.

Even though these three amendments were not adopted, I remain committed to fighting for all the provisions included in them, and will continue to work to find ways to support Wisconsinites as they face this pandemic.  

During the COVID-19 crisis, it’s all hands on deck and this cannot be the last time the State Assembly meets. We need to continue fighting for solutions that meet the needs and priorities of Wisconsin’s families, health care workers, local governments, and businesses moving forward. People in Wisconsin are looking for leadership not politics. I am disappointed Republicans pushed through a last-minute amendment to AB 1038. In addition, this bill did not go nearly far enough in addressing the concerns of Wisconsinites. States like Minnesota have passed multiple, bipartisan bills addressing COVID-19 and are already considering more legislation. It is important that we act with urgency so we can respond to this crisis and help people during this difficult time. I am grateful we could make some steps forward on Tuesday, but this should not be the final act of the legislature in addressing this crisis.


Healthcare Heroes

On April 13th, my Democratic colleagues and I sent a letter to Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald urging them to support our Healthcare Heroes. Our doctors, nurses, physician assistants, nursing home workers, first responders, homecare agency staff and so many others are risking their lives to help others during this pandemic. We owe it to them to provide them with the necessary protection and support to continue their vital work. As such, I am advocating for:

  • More Personal Protection Equipment
  • Fully-paid sick leave for any worker who contracts or is exposed to COVID-19
  • Hazard pay for all healthcare workers
  • Full healthcare coverage for all healthcare workers

A special thank you to all our Healthcare Heroes and to all essential workers for the sacrifices they are making, whether it is working long hours in our hospitals or ensuring that we can still safely shop for groceries. Thank you for what you are doing to protect our community. Your sacrifice is invaluable, and we are grateful.


Elections Thank You

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I wish to express my sincere thanks to our local clerks, election inspectors, poll workers, and volunteers for all you did to ensure Wisconsinites were able to vote on April 7th. We owe you a tremendous debt of gratitude for your service to our community. Despite the confusion and frustration, the delays and misinformation, many Wisconsinites received their absentee ballots due to your hard work. Additionally, due to your efforts, voters were able to come to the polls on election day and vote in a safe manner. It is my hope that other states can look to the incredible work done by Wisconsin’s clerks to learn what they can do to make future elections safer for their citizens.

I cannot close without commenting on my disappointment that Speaker Vos and Majority Leader Fitzgerald chose to ignore the many warnings expressed by public health officials. Public safety professionals warned of the dangers of mass gatherings, yet these legislators refused to postpone the election. Despite the unnecessary dangers, Wisconsin prevailed.

Again, thank you for everything you do to ensure that our democracy will continue. 


 

STAY IN TOUCH!

Your voice is important, and I encourage you to communicate with me. I am honored to serve as your State Representative, and will continue to speak your views and vote your values within the Wisconsin State Assembly.

Sincerely,

Dianne Hesselbein sig.bmp

State Representative 

79th Assembly District

April 16, 2020

HELPFUL LINKS

Governor Evers' Website on COVID-19

DHS Website

Apply for Unemployment

CDC Website

Worldometer - US and International data 

Dane County

 

TAXES

Important New Tax filing Dates.pngFederal and state tax filing and payment deadlines have been moved from April 15th to July 15th. You will now have until July 15th to file and pay taxes penalty free.

 Free School Meals

The Middleton-Cross Plains Area School District is providing free meals to students even though schools are closed. There are nine locations in the area and there is no sign up required. Learn more here.

 DOT Online Services

Many DMV services can be done online. Instead of waiting in line at the DMV, use these helpful links:

 DNR Counter Service

Counter service at DNR service centers has been suspended. You can still reach customer service representatives via their hotline (888) 936-7463, 7am - 10 pm, 7 days a week. 

Hunting and fishing licenses are available for purchase at www.gowild.wi.gov

Access to Public Utilities

Ensuring that Wisconsinites have water, heat, and electricity continues to be of the utmost importance. Because of the state public health emergency, all water, electric, and natural gas utilities will not disconnect residential service due to nonpayment. If a home has been disconnected from services, utilities must make a reasonable attempt to reestablish service.
To learn more, click here.

 Child Care Information

Child Welfare Information

Small Business 2020

The WEDC Board of Directors on Tuesday approved $5 million in funding for the Small Business 20/20 (SB20/20). SB20/20 will provide grants of up to $20,000 to targeted businesses with no more than 20 employees to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave (including sick, family and other leave related to COVID-19). Visit the following website for more information.

UW System

For the latest information on what each UW System school is doing during this outbreak, please visit this website: UW System COVID-19 Preparedness page.

 Consumer Protection

Governor Evers authorized the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) to enforce Wisconsin’s price gouging protections until this public health emergency has ended. DATCP also investigates all scams and commercial fraud.

If you think you are being scammed or want to report an issue, please contact the DATCP Consumer Protection Hotline at (800) 422-7128, datcphotline@wisconsin.gov, or file a complaint online.
 
 
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Contact Info

State Capitol

P.O. Box 8952

Madison, WI 53708

608-266-5340

Rep.Hesselbein@legis.wi.gov