NS Banner

(608) 266-5780 | State Capitol, Room 307 West, P.O. Box 8953, Madison, WI 53708 |



La Crosse County Health Department

Wisconsin Department of Health Services

Center for Disease Control and Prevention

La Crosse Area Shops and Restuarants:


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

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095


Friends and Neighbors,

This is the second e-newsletter you are receiving from me this week because I want to take a moment to provide you with a few brief updates. Earlier this week, Governor Evers signed Assembly Bill 1038 (AB 1038) into law as Wisconsin Act 185. Included in this COVID-19 relief legislation is a provision that allows me, and other legislators, to continue to send updates to our constituents about the COVID-19 public health emergency, so you can expect to receive periodic e-newsletters from me. Please note, to abide by state law, the updates I send will only contain information about the COVID-19 public health emergency.

Please continue reading for more information about Wisconsin Act 185 and the extension of the Safer at Home order.

As always, please let me know if you have any questions, comments, or concerns. I will continue posting frequent updates and helpful information on the Rep. Jill Billings Facebook page. You can also contact my office by calling (608) 266-5780 or emailing me at Rep.Billings@legis.wi.gov. 

Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

NS Facebook.pngNS Twitter.pngNS Website.png

COVID-19 Relief Legislation Signed into Law

On Wednesday, April 15, Governor Evers signed Assembly Bill 1038 (AB 1038) into law as Wisconsin Act 185. Wisconsin Act 185 contains a number of provisions that will provide assistance to Wisconsinites impacted by COVID-19 and capitalize on available federal dollars.

Suspend the unemployment insurance waiting week. WI Act 185 repeals the one-week waiting period for benefits that begin after March 12, 2020 and before February 7, 2021. Therefore, if you started a new claim in the week of March 15, 2020 or later and already served the waiting week, you will receive back payment for that week. The Department of Workforce Development is expecting to complete back payments by April 25.

uspend Medical Assistance provisions to qualify for federal dollars. The federal Families First Coronavirus Relief Act (FFCRA) provides a 6.2% increase in Federal Matching Assistance Percentage (FMAP) for states during the federal public health emergency. To qualify for the 6.2% increase from the federal government, the Department of Health Services needed to eliminate BadgerCare Plus childless adult premiums and suspend Medicaid and Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP) participant termination. WI Act 185 authorizes the Department of Health Services to take these actions to qualify for the FMAP increase.

Expand the period to apply for the low-income home energy assistance program. WI Act 185 allows households to apply for heating assistance under the low-income home energy assistance program (LIHEAP) until December 31 of 2020. The federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act provides Wisconsin with an estimated $8 million for the LIHEAP program.

Allow retired employees to return to critical work without penalizing their annuity payments. WI Act 185 permits a Wisconsin Retirement System participant to return to work in a critical role without needing to suspend their annuity payments.

Prohibit insurers from cost sharing for COVID-19 testing and discriminating based on COVID-19. WI Act 185 requires all self-insured health plans to provide coverage of testing for COVID-19. The law also prohibits insurers from discriminating against an enrollee for a current, past, or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19.

To expand the impact of the COVID-19 relief legislation, my Democratic colleagues and I offered several amendments that would have aided the tourism economy and childcare workforce, provided hazard pay to some essential workers, and expanded insurance coverage for COVID-19 diagnostics and treatment. Unfortunately, the amendments were voted down along party lines. I believe this legislative package is a good first step in providing much needed relief to our state, but the legislature will need to take further action to address the growing and future needs of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

Governor Evers Issued Emergency Order #28 to Extend the Safer at Home Order

Yesterday, with guidance from the Department of Health Services (DHS), Governor Evers announced that the Safer at Home order will be extended to May 26, 2020. The order also calls for public and private K-12 schools to remain closed for the rest of the 2019-2020 school year. Finally, it makes several changes to the original order that will permit some businesses and activities to begin again. Public libraries, arts and craft stores, golf courses, optional lawn care services, and other non-essential businesses may begin operating in limited capacity. These changes to the Safer at Home order are intended to ensure safety and compliance, while also allowing certain operations to resume. This order still allows you to leave your home for essential trips and to engage in outdoor activities while maintaining social distance.

at’s new in the Updated Safer at Home order? Further details can be found here.

Duration: The changes in this order go into effect on April 24. The order will remain in effect until 8:00 a.m. on May 26, 2020. 

Schools: Public and private K-12 schools will remain closed for the remainder of the 2019-2020 school year. 

Local parks and open space: Local health officials may close public parks and open spaces if it becomes difficult to ensure social distancing or if public areas are being mistreated. 

Travel: People are strongly encouraged to stay close to home, not travel to second homes or cabins, and not travel out of state if it is not necessary.

Businesses and activities that may increase services and operations:

  • Public libraries: Libraries may provide curb-side pick-up of books and other library materials. 
  • Golf courses: Golf courses may open, with restrictions including scheduling and paying for tee times online or by phone only. Clubhouses and pro shops must remain closed. 
  • Non-essential businesses: Non-essential businesses can do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Arts and craft stores: Arts and craft stores may offer expanded curb-side pick-up of materials necessary to make face masks or other personal protective equipment (PPE). 
  • Aesthetic or optional exterior work: Aesthetic or optional exterior lawn care or construction is allowed, so long as it can be done by one person. 

Ensuring safe business practices:

  • Essential Businesses and Operations must increase cleaning and disinfection practices, ensure that only necessary workers are present, and adopt policies to prevent workers exposed to COVID-19 or symptomatic workers from coming to work. 
  • Retail Essential Businesses and Operations open to the public must limit the number of people in the store at one time, must provide proper spacing for people waiting to enter, and large stores must offer at least two hours per week of dedicated shopping time for vulnerable populations. 

The extended Safer at Home order is to ensure we continue the trend of flattening the curve and do not return to normal activities too soon, and spike the cases and spread of COVID-19. According to a DHS model, Wisconsin was projected to have between 440 and 1,500 deaths from COVID-19 by April 8. These numbers were based on projected exponential growth in positive cases. However, since the Safer at Home order, there has been a decrease in exponential growth in the number of cases and on April 8, only 99 people had died from COVID-19 in Wisconsin. 

This is evidence that the Safer at Home order, physical distancing, and other preventative measures are making a difference and slowing the spread of infection. Although it’s too early to know if we are at peak, the precautionary measures taken have been important in keeping the public healthy and not overwhelming our health care system.

I understand that the extension of this order is frustrating for everyone. People are concerned about their jobs, students are concerned about school and missing out on milestones, and we are all getting restless. But if we lift orders too quickly, we could easily cause an exponential growth in infection. Until there is treatment or a vaccine, life will continue to be different for everyone. 

Flatten the curve.png