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State Capitol
Room 307 West
P.O. Box 8953
Madison, WI 53708

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

Happy 2021 to all! Due to Assembly rules, it has been several months since my last e-newsletter, so I'm eager to now bring you into the new legislative session. The past year looked very different because of the COVID pandemic. With the approval and distribution of the COVID vaccine underway, I am optimistic about the future. But we must continue our best efforts to follow public health recommendations as we patiently wait our turn to receive the vaccine. 

On January 4, I was sworn in virtually by Governor Evers to serve the people of the 95th Assembly District! Thank you to everyone who supported me in my run for re-election. I have begun a busy schedule of serving you and working with my colleagues to create legislation that improves the lives of Wisconsinites. The State Capitol Building is currently closed to the public unless meetings are being held.  While I am disappointed that it is currently unadvised to meet in-person with constituents, we have transitioned well to a virtual format and my office and I are available daily to
provide support or field your questions and comments. 

Lastly, I would like to welcome Senator Pfaff to the State Legislature. I have had the opportunity to get to know Senator Pfaff through our previous work together on the La Crosse County Board. Senator Pfaff will bring a new perspective to the State Senate with his background in agriculture and his work at all levels of government. I am off to a great start working with him and his office to address the needs of the Coulee Region.

Now that session has convened we will send monthly newsletters. As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing me at Rep.Billings@legis.wi.gov.

Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

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Mask Order Under Fire, Senate Republicans Vote to Undermine Science and End the Statewide Mask Order

In Wisconsin, we pride ourselves on being good neighbors and for caring for one another. Wearing a mask is an easy way to help protect the health of our community, family, and friends. Despite overwhelming support for a mask requirement among Wisconsinites, public health officials, medical professionals, and the business community, Senate Republicans passed a resolution to declare the public health emergency as over and end the mask order that is working to keep us healthy. 

Shortly before the Assembly was scheduled to vote on Senate Joint Resolution 3 (SJR), we learned that the Republicans’ attempt to end the declared public health emergency in our state would cause Wisconsin to lose $50 million dollars in food assistance for low income families and possibly additional federal funding for other programs. It is unacceptable that in the middle of a global pandemic, Republicans are rushing legislation to end the life-saving mask order which consequently would also cause the loss of vital federal funding at a time when thousands of people are out of work. 

Fortunately, because of the advocacy of the many Wisconsinites supporting the mask mandate and the unknown fiscal impacts of ending the state’s public health emergency, Assembly Republicans have postponed the vote on SJR 3. For now, the mask mandate remains in effect; however, I would encourage you to continue voicing your opposition to SJR 3 and support for the mask mandate to Speaker Vos as he ultimately controls if and when SJR 3 will be voted upon.

COVID Vaccine Update

The COVID vaccination is crucial to the public health and economic recovery of Wisconsin. The vaccination process is a huge undertaking that relies on collaboration between federal, state, and local government, and also private and non-profit sector health care partners. Currently, Wisconsin is utilizing all vaccines that it receives from the federal government. 

Initial vaccine eligibility was prioritized for frontline and essential workers, and those most vulnerable to COVID—those over 65. However, the DHS recently announced future groups that will be eligible tentatively beginning March 1, 2021. Groups are being prioritized due to an increased risk of exposure or vulnerability to COVID and are consistent with the recommendations from the State Disaster Medical Assistance Committee (SDMAC). The groups in priority order include education and child care, individuals enrolled in Medicaid long-term care programs, some public-facing essential workers, non-frontline health care essential personnel, and facility staff and residents in congregate living settings. 

The DHS launched a newsletter the public can sign up for to get direct information about the COVID response and vaccine rollout. Every Friday, a COVID update newsletter will be sent via email to people who sign up to receive it. Registration is now open, and archived copies of the weekly newsletter will also be available.

Assembly Republicans Delay Bipartisan COVID Relief Bill 

I have been calling on the State Legislature to take additional action to provide COVID relief since the last COVID bill package was signed into law in April of 2020. Recently, Assembly Republicans proposed Assembly Bill 1 (AB 1). While it contained some good provisions, I could not support Assembly Bill 1 because it also included provisions counteractive to our state’s ongoing effort to mitigate the spread of COVID. AB 1 passed on a party line vote in the Assembly and was sent to the State Senate for approval.

Recognizing that there were numerous issues with AB 1 and that it lacked bipartisan support, Senate Republicans worked with the Governor and their Democratic colleagues on a compromise bill that improved its outlook of being signed into law. While the Senate’s bill was not perfect, I believe it was a bill that unified the demands from legislators on both sides of the aisle and contained critical provisions to support Wisconsinites during the COVID pandemic. This was a bill I could support. When the Senate voted on this compromise bill there was near-unanimous, bipartisan support and Governor Evers had agreed to sign it.

Unfortunately, just before the Assembly was scheduled to vote on the compromise bill, Assembly Republicans introduced two new partisan amendments that drastically changed the bill. The newly amended version was sent to the State Senate yesterday and a new amendment was adopted. These hastily drawn amendments undermine the spirit of compromise that is needed in the legislature. Every day of delay undermines our state’s ability to battle COVID and provide needed relief to struggling businesses and individuals. We can and should do better for the people in Wisconsin.

Governor Evers Delivered the State of the State Address on January 12

Governor Tony Evers gave his third State of the State Address virtually on January 12. In the speech he called on the Legislature to address the major issues facing our state, including the COVID pandemic, broadband accessibility, the unemployment insurance system, and nonpartisan redistricting reform. These are issues that have existed in Wisconsin for years, and the COVID pandemic emphasized the need for improvement and reform. From the outdated unemployment system causing months of backlog, to gerrymandered maps that were not drawn to honor the will of the people, to the digital divide that continues to inhibit students, families, and businesses in Wisconsin, action is clearly necessary to improve the lives and well-being of the people of our state.

If you are interested, you can watch the Governor’s entire State of the State Address here

Additionally, Governor Evers will deliver his budget message at 7:00 p.m. on Tuesday, February 16, 2021. You may wish to watch the Governor’s budget message on wiseye.org.