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A Note from Rep. Edming

Welcome to this week's edition of my e-update. It is hard to believe that we have already reached the beginning of April. On Thursday we were treated to thrilling extra-innings win by our Milwaukee Brewers on Opening Day. With a return of baseball, it is another sign of warmer weather on the way.

This weekend many of us will celebrate Easter which serves as a reminder of renewal and hope. No matter how you choose to celebrate this year I hope your time is filled with joy and memories. Happy Easter!

Advocating "For the People"

On Tuesday, Assembly Republicans held press conferences around the state to share our plan for the $3.2 billion in state discretionary funds coming to Wisconsin under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). I joined some of my Assembly Republican colleagues from northwest Wisconsin at Bloomer Telephone Company to talk about how Assembly Republicans want to prioritize these funds to help the hardworking people in our state. Last week, I discussed the Truth in Spending Act that was passed by the legislature to provide legislative oversight of these federal funds. Unfortunately, instead of giving the people a voice through their elected legislators on how this funding will be spent, Governor Evers vetoed this legislation earlier this week, which will allow him to determine where the funds should go on his own.

However, we’re not done advocating for the needs of the people of Wisconsin. My colleagues and I want to see that the federal funding is spent as best as possible to help meet the needs of Wisconsinites.

Going Bold on Broadband Expansion: While Governor Evers said he would use a portion of the funds for broadband expansion, this one-time influx of federal dollars is an opportunity to address a critical need in many rural parts of our state by investing $500 million of these federal funds to improve broadband access in our state. Throughout my time in the legislature, one of the most common concerns I hear about from constituents is the need for improved broadband access. According to a report from November 2020 by Forward Analytics, nearly 25% of rural residents lack high-speed broadband while folks in urban areas have near-universal access.

Investing in Long-Term Care: Another part of the Assembly Republicans' plan is an investment in our state's long-term care facilities. When Wisconsin received the first round of federal funding through the CARES Act last year Governor Evers only sent them less than 10% of his discretionary funding. Many of our long-term care facilities were hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic and we need to recognize the difficult year their residents and staff have been through. Approximately, 45% of our state's COVID-19 deaths have been in long-term care facilities and it is important to provide these facilities with a funding boost to help them meet the needs of the people in their care.

Aid to Households: This proposal provides $1 billion to send a check directly back to Wisconsin homeowners. This funding is taxpayer's money and they can spend it better than the government to recover from this pandemic.


The Rule of Law Prevails

On Wednesday the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued their long-awaited decision in the
case Fabick v. Evers which challenged Governor Evers’ ability to issue multiple emergency declarations in response to the same emergency. The Court ruled that Governor Evers exceeded his authority
, and declared his orders unlawful. As a result of this ruling, any actions taken under these emergency declarations like the statewide mask mandate are void.

State law says that a state of emergency cannot exceed 60 days unless it is extended by the legislature. Unfortunately, while the law is quite clear, Governor Evers has repeatedly exceeded his authority under the law. Back in February he even went so far as to reissue an emergency declaration just after the legislature repealed his previous unlawful declaration.

It's important to note that while the Court's decision did void the statewide mask mandate, it does not impact local governments and businesses from putting into place their own safety protocols. As you may have heard, some areas of the state such as Outagamie and Dane Counties have their own measures in place. At the time of this update, I am not aware of any local restrictions issued within the 87th Assembly District.

Because conditions vary around the state, I continue to believe that the best course of action is for these types of decisions to be made at the local level. However, if Governor Evers believes that statewide health orders such as a mask mandate are necessary, he needs to work through the lawful rule-making process, where the people of Wisconsin have a say through their elected legislators. The Court's ruling is a win for the rule of law in our state and shows that no one is above the law, not even the governor of the state of Wisconsin.

Update on COVID-19 Vaccine Eligibility

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced on Tuesday that all Wisconsinites age 16 and older will be eligible to receive the COVID-19 vaccine starting this upcoming Monday, April 5th. For more information on where you can get vaccinated, you can check out DHS's vaccination site map by clicking here or call (844) 684-1064.

Also, starting on Tuesday, April 6th DHS will be opening a Community-Based Vaccination Clinic at North Central Technical College in Wausau. To register to be notified if an appointment becomes available at this location you can visit: https://vaccinate.wi.gov/.

State Budget Public Hearings

Next week the legislature's budget-writing committee, the Joint Finance Committee (JFC) will hold the first of four public hearings on the 2021-2023 state budget. Next week's hearing will be held on Friday, April 9th at UW-Whitewater. The closest public hearings to the 87th District will be on April 21st and 22nd. On Wednesday, April 21st JFC will be at the Hodag Dome in Rhinelander, and on Thursday, April 22nd they will be at UW-Stout in Menomonie. Also, the fourth statewide public hearing will be held virtually on Wednesday, April 28th. For more information about these hearings or to provide your written comments on the budget, you can visit the committee's public comment website legis.wisconsin.gov/topics/budgetcomments. You can also submit your comments via email at budget.comments@legis.wisconsin.gov.

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.