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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for taking a few minutes to read this edition of my e-update. I hope you all had a wonderful Thanksgiving. I'm looking forward to sharing with you a bit about what's been going on around the state this week. If you would like to jump to a specific story please click on the links to the left under "In This Edition...".  As always thanks for taking the time to review this e-update.

Monday is the 79th commemoration of the 1941 attack by the Japanese on Pearl Harbor in Hawaii, which resulted in the deaths of 2,403 American citizens and pulled the United States into World War II. I encourage everyone to take a moment and reflect on this event in our past which continues to live on in infamy. 

While the next legislative session does not begin until January, my staff and I are still available to assist you. Navigating the bureaucracy of state government can be frustrating, so if you believe that my office can be of help to you, please do not hesitate to contact me.

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Assembly GOP Announces COVID-19 Relief Package

In my last e-update, I shared some ideas that Assembly Republicans would like to see included in the next round of the state's response to COVID-19. After further discussions, earlier this week Assembly Republicans announced a formal legislative proposal to help our constituents combat the hardships created by COVID-19, helping families and businesses in need. Not only does this legislation build upon 2019 Act 185, which was passed earlier this year, but it also improves upon Governor Evers' proposal last month.

The Assembly Republican COVID-19 Relief package includes the following:   

  • Creation of a $100 million fund to respond to the public health emergency
  • Double the number of local public health staff working on the COVID-19 response
  • Require the Department of Workforce Development to eliminate the backlog of unemployment insurance claims
  • Offer weekly rapid antigen tests for home use
  • Continue the prohibition of co-payments for any COVID-19 tests
  • Establish legislative oversight of vaccine distribution plan
  • Reauthorize state employee transfers
  • Establish limited liability for schools, businesses, and local governments
  • Allow for an essential family member/caregiver to visit a loved one in nursing homes in specific circumstances
  • Re-establish personal electronic computing device grants for schools ($9 million)
  • Require teacher instruction from school buildings by end of January, providing exceptions
  • Require two-thirds vote of any school board for virtual instruction
  • Allow health service providers from other states to practice in Wisconsin
  • Require the UW System to provide credit to students who assist in the COVID-19 response
  • Create business grants for the hospitality industry
  • Makes a necessary change in state law that will also allow for the safe distribution of certain COVID-19 vaccines.

At this time negotiations, between Governor Evers and legislative leadership continue. In the end, I hope that the final result is a good bipartisan proposal that both Governor Evers and the Legislature can support.

For more information on the Assembly Republican proposal, check out the Legislative Fiscal Bureau memo on the legislation.

2021 State Park Sticker Now Available

With folks looking for a way to get out of the house, Wisconsin's state parks and forests have seen a dramatic increase in visitors this year. I hope that many of you had the opportunity to get out and enjoy some of our state's outstanding parks and forests, including the Flambeau River State Forest in the 87th District. If you are looking forward to enjoying more of Wisconsin's outdoors next year, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that the 2021 Wisconsin State Park admission sticker and state trail passes are now available. The vehicle admission stickers are required on all motor vehicles visiting one of our state's more than 60 state parks, forests, and recreation areas throughout the state.

Annual admission stickers cost $28 for Wisconsin residents. If there is more than one vehicle registered to the same household, additional state park stickers are available for $15.50 for Wisconsin residents. Also, a senior citizen annual sticker for $13 is available for Wisconsin residents 65 years of age and older. Annual trail passes are $25 for residents and non-residents. Order your annual vehicle admission sticker online by clicking here or by calling 1-888-305-0398, open seven days a week 8 am - 4 pm. State park stickers make a great Christmas gift. If you'd like to order a sticker as a gift for someone else, the DNR recommends calling the call center.

In addition, high school students can now enter artwork in the 2022 Wisconsin State Park Sticker Design Contest. The contest will run through Friday, April 30, 2021. It's open to all high school age students (9th through 12th grades) attending public, private, or parochial schools or home-schooled in Wisconsin. The winning design will be displayed on hundreds of thousands of vehicles. More information can be found here.

Advocating for a Strong Tourism Leader

As you may have heard, it was recently announced that Tourism Secretary-designee Sara Meaney will be leaving the governor's administration. Wisconsin's tourism sector is a $22 billion industry, and particularly vital to the 87th District and all of the Northwoods. Because of the importance of tourism to our state, it is important that the Department of Tourism has strong leadership as the tourism industry continues to work its way back from the devastation that has been caused by the COVID-19 pandemic. This week, I joined my colleagues in writing a letter to Governor Evers, asking him to quickly appoint new leadership at the Department of Tourism to ensure this happens. We are asking for someone with a strong background in tourism, and someone who will understand how to revive the tourism sector, post-COVID-19. Click here to read our letter. 

Giving Tips

Although Giving Tuesday has already passed, 'tis still the season for giving. As you know, this has been a tough year for many in the 87th Assembly District. Donors are needed to help support the needs of many charities. While there are many out there looking to genuinely care for others with their donations, others may be looking to take advantage of these donors and even online shoppers during Christmastime. 

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) are offering tips to help donors and shoppers fight against scammers:

  • Do not make a payment over the phone, hang up, and do additional research first.
  • Do not click on links or attachments in emails, text messages, or social media posts, and do not share information with senders you do not know.
  • Watch for imposter website links or social media profiles; check the spelling of the charity’s name on the account and website.
  • If you don’t recognize the name or number, ask who is making the request
  • Ask for the name, address, and phone number of the organization asking for the donation.
  • Ask how your donation will be used and what percentage of your donation will be used for program services (also referred to as the organization's charitable purpose) rather than for administrative, management, or fundraising costs.
  • Ask a caller to send written material about the organization.

Before you donate to a charitable organization, be sure to check out DFI's webpage on charitable organizations, DATCP's website for more information on protecting yourself from charitable donations scams, and research the charity.

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.