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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for taking the time to read my final e-update of 2020. It is hard to believe that Christmas is nearly here and that 2021 is just around the corner.

I would like to let you know that my staff will be taking some time off over the next couple of weeks, so if you reach out to my office, it may take a little bit longer for us to get back to you.

My staff and I wish you a very Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year!

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Merry Christmas from Rep. Edming!


Click on the photo above to watch Rep. Edming's Christmas message
Unemployment Claims Processing Audit 

Earlier this week the non-partisan Legislative Audit Bureau (LAB) released their audit report of their review of the processing of unemployment insurance claims by the Department of Workforce Development (DWD). Since this spring, my staff and I have heard from many constituents who patiently waited for months for DWD to review their unemployment insurance (UI) claim and were unable to get any information from the department about the status of their claim. While we were able to assist many in getting a resolution on their claim, there are still people waiting.

Some of LAB's findings include:

  • While DWD paid 53.2 % of initial claims in two weeks or less, it took the department more than five weeks to pay 24.7% of these claims.
  • In the sample group examined by the LAB, DWD was responsible for 11 of the 13 weeks on average to resolve the initial claims.
  • The most-common issues that accounted for time elapsing involved instances when DWD had not resolved issues even though it had the information to do so and because it had not requested information it needed from individuals and employers.

The findings of this audit confirm that mismanagement at DWD is to blame for much of the backlog in processing UI claims. Back in April, the Legislature passed the COVID-19 relief legislation, 2019 Wisconsin Act 185. This legislation gave Governor Evers and his administration the authority to transfer state employees from other agencies to assist with unemployment, but this tool was not utilized immediately nor to the extent that it should have been. DWD could have used these additional employees as well as other tools such as requiring employees to work overtime to extend call center hours and process claims more quickly. It is incredibly disappointing that DWD did not use all of the tools at their disposal to assist Wisconsin citizens who found themselves unemployed through no fault of their own.

As a part of the next round of COVID-19 response, Assembly Republicans have proposed legislation that would require eliminating the backlog within 30 days, increasing call center hours to 12 hours/day, seven days/week, and reducing the salaries of bureaucrats at DWD if the issues are not resolved.

Also, earlier this week the Joint Legislative Audit Committee held a hearing to review this and two other recent audits of DWD. If you would like to watch the hearing you can click here to watch on Wisconsin Eye. If you would like to read the full audit report on UI claims processing you can do so by clicking here.


Under the Dome

When I was in Madison earlier this week, I had the opportunity to sit down with Dr. Russell Swagger, President of the Lac Courte Oreilles Ojibwe College, which is located in the 87th District near Hayward. I had a great conversation with Dr. Swagger about new development on the campus. I look forward to participating in further discussions with the college as the development progresses.

Saying Farewell

For the past two years, Wyatt Cooper has been working hard on behalf of the people of the 87th Assembly District as the Legislative Assistant in my office. At the start of the new legislative session in January, Wyatt will be moving on to a new role in the legislature. He has been an incredible asset to the 87th District office and his hard work and enthusiasm will be missed. I would like to thank Wyatt for his two years of dedicated service to the people of the 87th District and wish him the best in his future endeavors.

Stay Up to Date

One of the best ways to stay up to date with what is going on in Madison is to sign up for the legislature's notification tracking service. This service allows you to follow legislative activity in Madison. Once you create a free account you can sign up to receive notifications about specific bills or committees as well as legislative activity pertaining to a subject area (i.e. agriculture, veterans). You can sign up for this service at notify.legis.wisconsin.gov.