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



The sense of community in the La Crosse area always amazes me. It is so important that we continue to support each other during these trying times. 

Support local businesses:

  • Shop locally online
  • Order takeout or delivery
  • Donate to local charities
  • Tip service workers extra
  • Continue payment for memberships
  • Buy gift cards for later use
  • Ask a business owner what you can do to help

For an updated list of La Crosse area shops and restaurants that continue to provide services, visit News8000 or Be Local La Crosse























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

(608) 266-5780

Toll Free:
(888) 534-0095




Friends and Neighbors,

This newsletter includes content that is different from my usual updates because we are not living in usual times.  For most of us, this is hard. We miss hugs from friends and family, we miss gathering together for meals or worship, we miss working face to face with our colleagues and clients.  Clearly, we are social animals.

For many of us our first inclination is to gather together, to take public action to help. But we are doing the right thing by being “Safer at Home” as requested by the Governor.  As you know, this is the best thing we can all do to flatten the curve and keep people safe, especially our healthcare workers and vulnerable populations.

I, too, miss my face to face work with people in our community and my colleagues in Madison.  I am grateful for the ability to communicate virtually with you all and I’m grateful for my staff.  We are all working hard from home to listen to you and get you the information you need to best function in this time of COVID-19.

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Governor Evers has been working with leadership offices on both sides of the aisle to create a comprehensive legislative package that would provide assistance to local governments, health departments, businesses, families, individuals, and others. Much of what is contained in the Governors’ proposals are issues that I have heard from constituents over the last several weeks. 

Please continue reading for details about the the Governor's legislative proposal, spring election, and other useful information from state agencies.

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

We’re all in this together and we remain Wisconsin Strong.

Best Wishes, 

Jill Billings
State Representative 
95th Assembly District

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Governor Evers Calls Special Session to Address Spring Election Issues

This afternoon, Governor Evers signed Executive Order #73, calling a Special Session to be held tomorrow to take up a proposal to change the April 7 spring election. The Governor’s proposal would end all in-person voting and extend the spring election to May 19, 2020. All registered voters who have not yet cast an in-person absentee vote or received an absentee ballot would be sent one by mail. It further provides that an absentee ballot does not need to be witnessed and signed, and extends the deadline for ballots to be delivered to clerks to May 26, 2020.

Although legislative Republicans have taken a strong stance on continuing to hold in-person voting on April 7th, I hope they will hear the calls from their constituents and reconsider. I support actions that will provide for the health and safety of people in Wisconsin. 

If no action is taken during the Special Session tomorrow, and the April 7 Election Day in-person voting occurs, the state and local clerks have plans in place to make voting as safe as possible. La Crosse County clerks have been working diligently to improve safety measures at their polling locations for voters and poll workers. Please note that some polling locations have changed due to the availability of poll workers. To view your polling location, click here.

Additionally, a Federal Court Judge did make some changes to absentee voting in Wisconsin. Judge William Conley gave the following orders: extend the deadline for receipt of absentee ballot requests by mail, fax or email to 5 pm on April 3, 2020; extend the deadline for receipt of absentee ballots to 4 pm on April 13, 2020; and permit the count of absentee ballots without a witness signature, if the absentee voter has provided a written affirmation that they were unable to safely obtain a witness certification despite reasonable efforts to do so. Therefore if you have requested an absentee ballot, there is an extension and clerks must accept it until April 13 either via mail or drop off. 

Governor Evers Proposes Two Legislative Packages to Address COVID-19

The Governor’s first legislative proposal includes funding for local governments impacted by COVID-19, funding for additional public health personnel, and grants to healthcare systems responding to the COVID-19 outbreak. The proposal would also repeal the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance, expand telehealth service coverage, allow local governments to give flexibility on property tax payments and provide hazard pay to child care providers. Further, the proposal would prohibit private insurance coverage discrimination based on COVID-19 diagnosis, prohibit the cancellation of insurance policies during the public health emergency, and mandate coverage for testing, diagnosis, treatment, prescriptions and vaccines related to COVID-19.

The Governor released a second legislation package
on Wednesday, April 1. This proposal includes increased funding for Medicaid providers, food assistance and delivery programs, the Earned Income Tax Credit, and small businesses and workers. The Governor's second proposal also includes provisions that would provide supplemental payments to child care providers, provide homeowners and renters with financial relief, and create a COVID-19 reinsurance program to lower insurance premiums. 

Please note, these are not exhaustive lists of all that is included in the Governor’s proposals, so please do not hesitate to contact my office if you have any questions relating to a specific issue.

Unemployment Insurance Updates- Individuals Should Apply Online if Possible

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has experienced record numbers of unemployment insurance (UI) claims filed in recent weeks. Last week more than 1.5 million calls were made to the Unemployment Insurance Division, an increase of 6,208% over last year's busiest weekly call volume. On one day alone last week the division received as many as 160 calls per second.

However, the Governor knows how important access to these benefits are to individuals and this week has taken actions to try to improve access, including nearly doubling employees working in the call center, updating the online application process, modifying programs and policies, and more. The DWD continues to urge people who can to file unemployment insurance applications online. This will allow call center lines to be available for those who do not have online access. Over 99% of the people who have applied online have been able to successfully start, complete, and file their claim for unemployment benefits.

On March 18, Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #7 which waived the work search requirement for those applying for unemployment insurance benefits. The Governor has also called upon the State Legislature to repeal the one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance and provide retroactive pay for any lost unemployment insurance benefits as a result of the delay in suspending the one-week waiting period. These provisions are included in the Governor’s recent legislative packages. We must take legislative action immediately, so that impacted individuals and families can obtain much needed relief. 

I encourage you to visit DWD’s Unemployment COVID-19 Public Information webpage for more information. 

Additional Economic Support for Those Impacted by COVID-19

On March 27, Governor Evers issued Emergency Order #15, which places a temporary ban on evictions and foreclosures for failure to pay rent. Additionally, the Public Service Commission directed water, electric, and natural gas utilities to cease disconnecting residential service for nonpayment and also directed services to be reconnected to dwellings that had been disconnected until the state public health emergency is lifted.

Several internet providers are removing caps and offering free services to accommodate students, individuals, and families that need these services to complete work. AT&T is removing data caps associated with their wireless and wired connections, among other programs. They are also offering a $10/month Access from AT&T program for qualifying low-income households. CenturyLink has lifted data caps and delayed disconnecting businesses and residential customers. Charter Communications is offering free access to broadband for 60 days to households with K-12 and/or college students. Eligible low-income households without school-age children may use Spectrum Internet Assist, a low-cost broadband program delivering speeds of 30 Mbps. Verizon, U.S. Cellular, and Sprint/T-Mobile have also taken action to better serve their customers during this time.

For assistance locating local support services, you can call 211 from your cell phone or landline anywhere in Wisconsin.

Loan Programs for Small Business Still Available

The Governor has continuously worked with federal and state agencies to provide relief to Wisconsin small businesses. The Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) created the Small Business 20/20 (SB 20/20) Program to support small businesses economically impacted by COVID-19. SB20/20 will provide grants of up to $20,000 to targeted businesses with no more than 20 employees to cover rent and to meet payroll expenses, including paid leave. The SB20/20 program has the capacity to award a total of $5 million to small businesses in Wisconsin.

Further, the U.S. Small Business Administration (SBA) approved access to low-interest federal disaster loans for Wisconsin small businesses affected by the COVID-19 pandemic. Under the Economic Injury Disaster Loan (EIDL) program, businesses may qualify for up to $2 million in loans to cover losses resulting from the pandemic. For more information about these loans or to apply, visit SBA’s Disaster Assistance webpage.

State Tax Deadline Moved to July 15th

The Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) is providing flexibility to tax filers by extending income tax payment and return due dates until July 15, 2020. A few things to note about this deadline: this relief is solely for income tax payments, you do not have to file any extension forms to be eligible, there is no limit on the amount of payment to be postponed, there are no income exclusions, and this applies to individuals, trusts, estates, partnerships, associations, companies or corporations.

The DOR also took steps to assist small businesses with sales tax payments due on March 31. Small businesses can immediately request an extension to file sales and use tax returns due March 31, 2020 until April 30, 2020 and due April 30, 2020 until June 1, 2020. More information can be found on the DOR’s COVID-19 Information and Announcements webpage.

Child Care Program to Connect Essential Workers with Child Care Providers

To meet the needs of essential workers’ continued need for child care, Governor Evers created the Child Care for Essential Workers Taskforce. Led by the Department of Children and Families (DCF), the taskforce is working with the Early Childhood Association (WECA) and Supporting Families Together Association (SFTA) to connect essential workforce families with locally available child care resources. 

DCF recently launched two new tools to facilitate this connection. Healthcare workers and essential employees can submit a request for care through the department’s updated Child Care Finder or view up-to-date availability across the state using the department’s new child care map. More information for providers, essential workers, and families can be found on the DCF COVID-19 Child Care webpage.

Department of Health Services Programs Expand Coverage of Telehealth Services

On March 12, state run, ForwardHealth programs began covering telehealth services utilizing real-time technology if the service could be practically delivered in a similar way as the face-to-face service. This applies to all service areas and all enrolled professional and paraprofessional providers allowable within current ForwardHealth coverage policy. It is so important that people can speak with their physicians, seek mental health counseling, continue substance abuse treatment, and conduct many other necessary visits remotely via telehealth. Please view the ForwardHealth Update for more information. 

Also of note, many private insurers are also expanding access to telehealth at this time. Contact your private insurer for details to see if your health questions or mental health visit can be provided through a telehealth service.

Consumer Protection Information for Potential Scams and Price Gouging

Please be aware of potential scams and report to the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) using the information provided below. Scams may include, but are not limited to, charity requests, claims of vaccines, or phishing emails, phone calls, and texts. 

Wisconsin’s laws pertaining to price gouging prohibit any wholesaler or retailer from selling consumer goods or services at prices that are more than 15% higher than pre-emergency prices. If you suspect that price gouging or fraudulent actions are occurring, report your concerns to DATCP at DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov, through their toll-free hotline at (800) 422-7128, or online at https://datcp.wi.gov.

For more information about price gouging and common scams, please visit the COVID-19 Resources for Consumers webpage.


The Wisconsin Conservation Congress Moves Spring Hearings to Online

In light of COVID-19, the Wisconsin Conservation Congress (WCC) and the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) recently announced that the in-person portion of the 72 public meetings known as the Spring Hearings are canceled. The public will have the opportunity to provide input on the natural resources advisory questions from the DNR, Natural Resources Board (NRB), and WCC through the online input option. The online input option will be provided on the Spring Hearing page and will go live at 7 p.m. on April 13. The online version will remain open for three days, and results will be posted as soon as they are available.

Federal Government Passes $2 Trillion COVID-19 Stimulus Package

Although the state government is working hard to address COVID-19 in Wisconsin, also know that last week, the federal government enacted the bipartisan Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. The bill provides relief to state and local governments, businesses, health care systems, and individuals. Wisconsin is expected to receive over $2.2 billion in COVID-19 relief from the federal government’s $150 billion Coronavirus Relief Fund. U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin continues to update her website with the latest COVID-19 resources. I would encourage you to direct any questions or concerns relating to the CARES Act to your federal legislators:

U.S. Congressman Ron Kind | Phone:  (608) 782-4588

U.S. Senator Tammy Baldwin | Phone (608) 796-0045

U.S. Senator Ron Johnson | Phone: (414) 276-7282

The DNR is Waiving Wisconsin State Parks and Trail Fees

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) waived fees for Wisconsin state parks and trails because Governor Evers’ Safer at Home Order classifies outdoor activity as an essential activity. The DNR is reminding people of the importance of practicing social distancing and avoid congregating at restrooms, self-registration stations, and electronic kiosks.

It is important to stay active and take care of yourself during this time. Just remember to practice the safe 6-feet social distancing in public spaces.