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A Note from Rep. Edming

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Thank you for taking the time to read this week's e-update. There was a lot that happened this week related to COVID-19, and I'm looking forward to providing an update for you.   

As you can imagine with the unprecedented COVID-19 situation, my office has seen a significant increase in the number of constituent contacts. My staff and I are doing our very best to assist constituents of the 87th Assembly District as quickly as we can.

During this time my physical office in Madison will be closed, but our team at the Legislative Technology Services Bureau has done a great job providing my staff the ability to work from home.  We are still able to receive phone calls and retrieve voicemails and emails, however, our response times may be a bit longer than normal.
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An Update on Available Unemployment Assistance

Due to the closure of many businesses during the COVID-19 pandemic, a lot of people around Wisconsin and the nation have found themselves in a place they never thought they would, unemployed.  While unemployment insurance (UI) is an important safety net for folks during these incredibly challenging times, a number of individuals have discovered that they do not qualify for traditional UI benefits. However, the recent CARES Act legislation that was signed into law by President Trump created the Pandemic Unemployment Assistant (PUA) program to help these people who are:

  • Self-employed
  • Certain independent contractors
  • Individuals with limited recent work history
  • Other workers not covered by regular UI

On Tuesday the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) began accepting claims for this program. Click here to find out more information about PUA and to fill out an application for PUA online now.

In addition, the CARES Act also created the Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) program, which is a temporary emergency increase of $600 per week in unemployment benefits to individuals collecting benefits from any of the following programs:

  • Regular UI, including Unemployment Compensation for Federal Employees (UCFE) and Unemployment Compensation for Ex-Service members (UCX)
  • PUA
  • Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC)
  • Work-Share (STC)
  • Trade Readjustment Allowances (TRA)

DWD anticipates that they will be able to start sending out FPUC payments within the next few weeks.  Click here to read more about this program.

Lastly, as our friends, family, and neighbors continue to navigate the bureaucracy of filing for unemployment, please know that fraudsters are attempting to take advantage of those suffering during these tough times. The US Department of Labor is warning of scams in which these criminals offer their help in filing UI claims, while asking for personal information, such as your credit card info or social security number. Do not give anyone this information. Click here to read information from the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development on these scams.

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Challenge to Safer at Home Extension

As I shared last week, the "Safer at Home" order has been extended beginning today until May 26th. Since the announcement was made I have heard from a lot of folks around the 87th Assembly District who have reached out to share their thoughts on this extension. While I have heard from people on both sides of this issue, the consistent message I have heard from a large majority of my constituents is that they do not support the extension of the "Safer at Home order" and they want to begin the process of safely reopening our economy.  Let me be clear, I do not believe that we should go back to normal tomorrow. However, I believe that we need a different approach than the one-size-fits-all plan put forward by Governor Evers. Up until this point, the executive branch has not brought the legislature into the discussion.

As you may have heard, earlier this week the State Legislature filed a petition with the Wisconsin Supreme Court challenging the way the "Safer at Home" order was extended by Governor Evers' administration. Under state law, the governor's emergency powers only last for 60 days unless it is extended by the legislature.  The new "Safer at Home" order that was signed by the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee, Andrea Palm extends beyond that 60 day period, which we believe exceeds her statutory authority, and why we are asking the Supreme Court to intervene.

Again, let me be clear, the Legislature is not asking that all restrictions be removed and for everything go back to normal immediately.  In fact, the petition that the Legislature filed before the Supreme Court asks that if the court rules in our favor that they stay their ruling or delay it from going into effect for six days to allow DHS time to promulgate a new rule that follows the emergency rule process in state law.

Just like Governor Evers and his team, my colleagues and I in the Legislature are equally concerned with controlling the spread of COVID-19 in our state. However, as a coequal branch of government, we also need a seat at the table to represent the views of our constituents and the ability to participate in the rulemaking process as required under our state statutes.

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Aid for Our Farmers

We all know how important agriculture is to our state. However, as you may be aware, in recent years, Wisconsin's $104.8 billion agriculture industry has been troubled by low milk prices, destruction of crops by weather or animals, and other issues. All this was occurring before the COVID-19 pandemic. This pandemic has only made matters worse and I have been hearing from farmers across the 87th District who are really struggling right now.

As a part of the recently enacted federal CARES Act, the State of Wisconsin will be receiving $1.9 billion that Governor Evers has the full discretion of how to spend. Today, I joined with a number of my legislative colleagues to send a letter to Governor Evers asking for him to designate $50 million of this federal funding as direct cash relief to our state's farmers. I am looking forward to seeing the governor's response to this request. 

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Click on the photo above to read the full letter sent to Gov. Evers.

COVID-19 Resources

Quick Links to COVID-19 Resources: