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March 13th, 2020

On Thursday, Governor Evers declared a health emergency for COVID-19. The order directs the Department of Health Services (DHS) to take the necessary measures to help prevent and respond to the virus. The order allows the Department to purchase, store, or distribute appropriate medications, regardless of insurance or other health coverage, as needed to respond to the emergency. It also authorizes state funds to support local health departments with costs related to isolation and quarantine, as well as the use of the Wisconsin National Guard. Decisions about the implementation of community measures would be made by state and local officials based on CDC and DHS guidance, as well as the scope of the outbreak.

The Governor also advised the public to take the following steps to avoid getting sick: 

  • Frequent and thorough hand washing with soap and water.
  • Covering coughs and sneezes.
  • Avoiding touching your face.
  • Staying home when sick.

As the situation evolves, please visit the DHS website for updates, and  follow @DHSWI on Facebook and Twitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram. 

Democrats support several polices that would take steps to better prepare Wisconsin families during a public health crisis. Democrats are renewing their push for a family and medical leave insurance program to support workers if they need to take time off of work to care for themselves or family members. Democrats also favor repealing a law that barred municipalities from requiring paid sick leave for employees. 

Also this week, Gov. Evers announced a bipartisan  package of legislation to address flooding in Wisconsin. The bills include investing in local flood prevention, as well as recovery efforts after damaging floods. Due to a changing climate, flooding has unfortunately become more frequent and severe. Democratic legislators from across the state are circulating these common-sense and proactive policies in order to prepare and prevent flooding to keep families and their homes, farms, and businesses safe. Democrats are hoping that the legislature will work quickly to take this legislation up before the end of session. The full list of the bills can be seen below.

 

What Democrats are Saying 

   
​ Democratic Proposals

LRB 5787 Grants to law enforcement agencies for body cameras  (Rep. McGuire and Rep. Neubauer): This bill provides grants to law enforcement agencies to purchase or upgrade body cameras. The bill requires that law enforcement adhere to best practices for body camera usage, including those passed this year in 2019 Wisconsin Act 108 (Senate Bill 50).

LRB 5593 Income tax deduction for flood insurance premiums (Rep. Considine, Rep. Pronschinske, and Sen. Erpenbach): This bill creates an income tax deduction for individuals who pay flood insurance premiums on their owner-occupied primary residence. Standard homeowner’s insurance policies generally do not cover damage related to flood events.

LRB 5792 Bonding for the soil and water resource management program and granting bonding authority (Sen. Erpenbach, Sen. Smith and Rep. Considine): This bill increases the general obligation bonding authority for the soil and water resource management program by $7,000,000. 
 
LRB 5597 and LRB 5808 Disaster Assistance Payments (Sen. Schachtner and Rep. Meyers): Under current law, the Department of Military Affairs is required to make payments to retail electric cooperatives, local governmental units, and federally recognized American Indian tribes and bands in this state for damages and costs incurred as the result of certain disasters. Current law requires that the recipient of a disaster assistance payment cover 30 percent of the amount of the damages and costs resulting from the disaster. This bill reduces that matching requirement to 25 percent.

LRB 4578 Creating a flood mitigation program in the Department of Transportation (Sen. Bewley, Sen. Smith, and Rep. Considine): This bill creates a $15 million pilot grant program administered by the Department of Transportation to modify, replace, or relocate highway bridges or culverts that are at risk of failure during a flooding event

LRB 4579 Funding for the municipal flood control program and making an appropriation (Sen. Smith and Rep. Meyers): The bill would establish a new GPR continuing appropriation to fund the Municipal Flood Control Grant program.

LRB 5591  Aids for certain highways damaged by a disaster (Rep. Meyers and Sen. Bewley): 
This legislation increases the reimbursement rate paid to local governments when transportation infrastructure is rebuilt to a higher capacity (wider culvert, improved road shoulder, etc.) than what was there before it was destroyed by a natural disaster. Under current law, the reimbursement rate of the costs associated with the improvement is 50%, but the bill increases that reimbursement rate to 75%. The amount payable for the increased cost of the reconstruction to a higher type or improved facility may not exceed $75,000.

LRB 5802 Juvenile Justice Reform (Rep. Goyke): This bill makes a number of substantive changes to the Juvenile Justice Code. The Juvenile Justice Code was written in the early 1990’s and has not been substantially amended since.  States across the country, under Republican and Democratic control, have successfully reformed their Juvenile Justice systems to realize better outcomes, including reduced juvenile crime rates.

This Week in the Senate

Senate Session

The Senate was not in session this week. The full Senate Calendar can be viewed here

 

Senate Committees

Committee on Universities, Technical Colleges, Children and Families
The committee held  a public hearing on the following: Senate Bill 586- legal custody and physical placement factors for a child of a service member; Senate Bill 734-guardian training requirements and making an appropriation; Assembly Bill 786-  guardian training requirements and making an appropriation; Senate Bill 748- purchase and renovation of a center for the employment of blind and visually impaired individuals, sale of the existing center, granting bonding authority, and making an appropriation

Committee on Utilities and Housing
The committee  held an executive session on Assembly Bill 544- workforce housing tax credits and economic development revolving loan funds; Assembly Bill 655- regulation of home inspectors, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from emergency rule procedures, and granting rule-making authority; Elizabeth Lauer- Real Estate Broker Representative on the Real Estate Examining Board; Melissa Allen-  Public Member on the Wisconsin Housing and Economic Development Authority

Committee on Health and Human Services
The committee held an executive session on the following: Kerry Connelly-  Member on the Podiatrists Affiliated Credentialing Board; Dr. Robert Sage-  Podiatrist on the Podiatry Affiliated Credentialing Board; Senate Bill 738-  licensing and regulation of pharmacies and remote dispensing sites under the pharmacy practice law, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting rule-making authority; Assembly Bill 788-  licensing and regulation of pharmacies and remote dispensing sites under the pharmacy practice law, extending the time limit for emergency rule procedures, providing an exemption from rule-making procedures, and granting rule-making authority; Senate Bill 763- allowing discounts for prompt payment of health care fees; Assembly Bill 841- allowing discounts for prompt payment of health care fees.

The committee held a public hearing on the following: Dr. Randal Kittleon- Podiatrist on the Podiatry Affiliated Credentialing Board; Diana Whalen- Dental Hygienist Representative on the Dentistry Examining Board; Jack Hutter- Podiatrist on the Podiatry Affiliated Credentialing Board; Daisy Quintal- Cosmetologist on the Cosmetology Examining Board; Kayla Cwojdzinski- Cosmetologist on the Cosmetology Examining Board; Assembly Bill 895-  construction of or improvements to indoor, athletic or aquatic athletic facilities, granting bonding authority, and making an appropriation; Senate Bill 364- raising the legal age for sale, purchase, and possession of cigarettes and nicotine and tobacco products, providing a legal age for sale, purchase, and possession of vapor products, and providing a penalty.

Committee on Education 

The committee held a public hearing on the following: Senate Bill 506- grants to the Wisconsin Safe and Healthy Schools Center and making an appropriation; Senate Bill 744-  incorporating the Holocaust and other genocides into the state model social studies standards and requiring instruction on the Holocaust and other genocides; Senate Bill 789- expanding the part-time open enrollment program
 
Committee on Economic Development, Commerce and Trade
The committee held a public hearing and an executive session on the following: Senate Bill 157-  the creation of a local exposition district by the City of Superior; Assembly Bill 869-  creating a private event venue permit issued by the Department of Revenue; the issuance by the Department of Revenue of retail alcohol beverage permits for motor vehicle racetrack grounds and for the state fair park; authorizing caterers to make retail sales of alcohol beverages on racetrack grounds; closing hours for certain alcohol beverage retailers and wineries and hours for retail sales by brewers; and providing a penalty

The committee held  an executive session on the following: Senate Bill 157- the creation of a local exposition district by the City of Superior; Assembly Bill 869- creating a private event venue permit issued by the Department of Revenue; the issuance by the Department of Revenue of retail alcohol beverage permits for motor vehicle racetrack grounds and for the state fair park; authorizing caterers to make retail sales of alcohol beverages on racetrack grounds; closing hours for certain alcohol beverage retailers and wineries and hours for retail sales by brewers; and providing a penalty

Committee on Agriculture, Revenue and Financial Institutions
The committee held an executive session on the following: Senate Bill 646- expanding applicability of the room tax, making substantive and technical changes to the local room tax, and providing a penalty; Assembly Bill 683- expanding applicability of the room tax, making substantive and technical changes to the local room tax, and providing a penalty

The committee will also hold a public hearing on the following: Arden Sherpe- Member on the Veterinary Examining Board; Assembly Bill 469- nonrefundable volunteer fire fighters and emergency responders tax credit; Senate Bill 756- the revised uniform unclaimed property act; Assembly Bill 752- the revised uniform unclaimed property act; Senate Bill 451- the distribution and labeling of fertilizers and soil or plant additives produced from manure; Assembly Bill 511- the distribution and labeling of fertilizers and soil or plant additives produced from manure; Assembly Bill 48- promissory notes of certain public bodies.

Committee on Judiciary and Public Safety
The committee will hold a public hearing on the following: Assembly Bill 198- battery or threat to a probation, extended supervision, and parole agent; a community supervision agent; or an aftercare agent or a family member of the agent and providing a penalty; Senate Bill 185-  battery or threat to a probation, extended supervision, and parole agent; a community supervision agent; or an aftercare agent or a family member of the agent and providing a penalty; Assembly Bill 690- smuggling items into or out of prisons by inmates and providing a penalty; Assembly Bill 647- smuggling items into or out of prisons by inmates and providing a penalty; Assembly Bill 744- throwing or expelling a bodily substance at a public safety worker or prosecutor; Senate Bill 687-  throwing or expelling a bodily substance at a public safety worker or prosecutor; Assembly Bill 758-  battery by a person detained while awaiting trial as a sexually violent person and providing a penalty; Senate Bill 697- battery by a person detained while awaiting trial as a sexually violent person and providing a penalty; Assembly Bill 811- reimbursement to the village of Redgranite for local law enforcement investigation services to a correctional institution and making an appropriation; Senate Bill 781-  reimbursement to the village of Redgranite for local law enforcement investigation services to a correctional institution and making an appropriation.

Committee on Natural Resources
The committee will hold a public hearing on the following: Janeau Allman-  Lake Michigan Representative on the Wisconsin Waterways Commission; David Maxwell- Tourism Representative on the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board; Bruce Neeb- Mississippi River Representative on the Wisconsin Waterways Commission; Julie Van Aman Hoel- Education Representative on the Kickapoo Reserve Management Board; John Vette- Winnebago County Representative on the Fox River Navigational System Authority; Marcy West- a Southern Area Representative on the Natural Resources Board; Kim Marcotta- Public Member on the Great Lakes Protection Fund.

Committee on Local Government, Small Business, Tourism, and Workforce Development 
The committee will hold an executive session on Assembly Bill 787- loan to the Greater Green Bay Convention and Visitor Bureau for the construction of a visitor information and education center and authorizing general fund supported borrowing to fund the loan.

This Week in the Assembly

Assembly Session 

The Assembly did not hold a floor session this week.  The entire floor session calendar can be found here.


Assembly Committees

The Assembly did not hold committee meetings this week. The entire committee meeting calendar can be found here

Next Week in the Legislature

Senate Committees

Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform
The committee will hold a public hearing on the following: Michael Gillick-  Commissioner on the Labor and Industry Review Commission; Assembly Bill 840- counting of tips for tipped employees and granting rule-making authority. 

Committee on Sporting Heritage, Mining and Forestry
The committee will hold a public hearing and an executive session on the following: Erica Keehn- Southern Area Representative on the Snowmobile Recreational Council


Assembly Committees

There are no committee hearings scheduled at this time in the assembly. 

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 To view updated committee notices, visit the legislative website and click on Committee Schedule: Wisconsin State Legislature.

 The State Capitol Update is provided by the Senate and Assembly Democratic Caucuses. For additional information, please send an email to WisconsinDemocrats@legis.wi.gov or call toll free: 1.800.385.3385.