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A Note from Rep. Edming

Thank you for reading this edition of my e-update. Last week Saturday, March 20th, was the official start of spring and with it hopefully comes warmer weather. I enjoy our Wisconsin winters, but I think we are all ready for a break from shoveling snow.

There has been quite a bit going on over the past couple of weeks in Madison, and I look forward to sharing with you a little about what is going on down at the State Capitol. This week the legislature took up some important bills relating to preserving the personal freedom to worship and to allow Wisconsinites to decide for themselves whether to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. In addition, a package of bills I have been working on with some of my legislative colleagues to remove government red tape on summer camps took a step forward recently. You can read more about this and more below.

Protecting Personal Freedoms and Providing Oversight

On Tuesday, I participated in a lengthy State Assembly floor session where my colleagues and I considered a number of pieces of legislation. Among the bills that were considered were proposals that protect the personal freedoms of Wisconsinites and provide legislative oversight. Two of these bills, Assembly Bills (AB) 23 and 25 prohibit certain government officials and employers from forcing Wisconsinites to receive the COVID-19 vaccine. A third bill, AB 24  prevents the government from closing places of worship was approved as well.

These three bills address some of the top concerns I have heard from folks around the 87th Assembly District so far this session. The decision to receive a vaccination should be a personal decision, not a mandate from the government, an employer, or anyone else. It is also important that our state protects our citizens' constitutionally-protected right to peaceably assemble and freely exercise their religion. I am pleased to see these important bills move forward.

In addition, the State Assembly approved Senate Bill (SB) 183 also known as the Truth in Spending Act. This legislation provides legislative oversight of the billions of federal COVID-19 relief funds coming to the state. Currently, how these funds will be spent will be at the sole discretion of the governor. I believe that the decisions on how billions of federal dollars will be spent should not be in the hands of only one person. This common-sense proposal gives the people of Wisconsin a voice through their elected legislators in this important decision-making process.

After Tuesday's votes, ABs 23, 24, and 25 advance to the State Senate for further consideration, and SB 183 heads to Governor Evers’ desk for his review.

COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility Expands

As of Monday, March 22nd, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) has expanded the eligibility for the COVID-19 vaccine to people age 16 and older with certain medical conditions associated with an increased risk of severe illness from COVID-19. This newly eligible group adds approximately more than 2 million people into the population eligible for the vaccine. For more information on whether you may be eligible for the vaccine click here to visit the DHS website on vaccine eligibility.

Under the Dome

Removing Red Tape for Summer Camps

There is nothing quite a Wisconsin summer. Thanks to our state's many lakes, streams, and forests, Wisconsin offers some of the best outdoor recreational opportunities in the world and is the perfect place to spend some time away at camp. Camps in Wisconsin attract campers from around the world and are an important part of the local and state economy. Unfortunately, a number of camps in our state have run into some issues with government red tape that is causing headaches for their operators and making it more difficult to compete with camps in other states.

To address these issues, I have been working with some of my legislative colleagues to bring forward the Summer Camp Regulatory Reform Package. Last week the three bills in this package received a public hearing before the Senate Committee on Insurance, Licensing, and Forestry. I testified in support of the bill in the package I authored with Senator Mary Felzkowski, Senate Bill (SB) 168. This legislation will make it easier for out-of-state physicians to serve as camp doctors here in Wisconsin.

Summer camps often rely on volunteer physicians to staff their facilities while they are in operation. Although they are likely at the camp for only a few weeks, many of these doctors are licensed in another state and must obtain a temporary license from the State of Wisconsin. It is a tedious and time-consuming process, making it harder and harder for camps to find volunteer doctors. SB 168 would allow physicians who are licensed in another state or territory of the United States or a Canadian province or territory to practice at a camp in Wisconsin for up to 90 working days per year. To qualify, the licensure standards where the physician is licensed must be substantially equivalent to Wisconsin's standards. Along with that, the doctor would only be allowed to treat campers and staff. If you would like to read my testimony you can do so by clicking here.

In addition to SB 168, the Summer Camp Regulatory Reform Package includes SB 169 and SB 171. SB 169 provides the same exemptions allowed for physicians in SB 168 to nurses and SB 171 allows the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection to waive the licensing inspections for two out of three years for camps that have been accredited by the American Camp Association.

Meeting with Wisconsin Right to Life

Earlier this week I had the opportunity to sit down with Gracie from Wisconsin Right to Life and discuss their efforts to promote the sanctity of life in our state.

Caregiver Day at the Capitol

As part of my day on Wednesday, I met virtually with Dawn Quednow and Kaile Zimmerman from Rib Lake Health Services as part of Caregiver Day at the Capitol. We discussed the budget priorities for long-term care organizations in our state and how they have adapted to meet the needs of those in their care over the past year.

Tax Filing Deadlines Extended 

Recently both the Federal and Wisconsin state tax filing deadlines were extended until May 17th. If you've already filed your 2020 tax return and would like to check on the status of your refund, you can do so by clicking on the links below:

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.

If you subscribed to this service over the past couple of years you will need to resubscribe to proposals, committees, and authors for the new legislative session.