JONline Banner.jpg

 

I hope everyone has been enjoying the beautiful fall weather and have been able to visit a local apple orchard or pumpkin patch. Remember, a fall trip or activity isn't too far away when you're in Wisconsin. Travel Wisconsin is your best tool to finding your next adventure! 

This update has a lot of helpful information to keep you up-to-date including:

  • Gov. Evers announces $45 million for safer communities and violence prevention
  • Applications open for tourism Capital Grant Program
  • Help slow the spread of CWD
  • State agencies offer resources to Protect Wisconsinites from online threats
  • A.G Kaul Statement on Election "Investigation"
  • Clean Energy Plan listening sessions announced
  • DNR seek public comment for environmental review of Mt. Horeb drinking water loan program
  • PSC urges customers to take action before moratorium on utility disconnection ends
  • Information on COVID-19 booster shots and the importance of getting vaccinated
  • Apply to be a senate scholar
  • Applications for Workforce Innovation Grant Deadline Oct. 25
  • Veterans Resources and additional information!

I hope you find this information helpful and please don't hesitate to reach out to my office if you have any questions.

Sincerely,
signature 2.jpg

JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Gov. Evers Announces $45 Million Investment in Safer Communities, Violence Prevention Efforts

Gov. Tony Evers, joined by Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul, violence prevention advocates, and community leaders, today announced a $45 million investment in ensuring safer communities through violence prevention and support for crime victims. Under the plan announced today, Gov. Evers is investing $25 million into violence prevention efforts and $20 million to support victim services in Wisconsin. The violence prevention funds will help bolster both statewide research initiatives and community-based solutions, and the funding for victim services will support providers in meeting the recent increase in demand for these services.

 

“We’re working to build the future we want for our kids and our state, and that means working to address the cycle of violence and crime to ensure safe schools, safe streets, and safe communities,” said Gov. Evers. “This is another public health crisis that needs our attention and action, and like any public health issue, it starts with prevention. Violence, and its impact on kids, families, and communities, is not inevitable. We have to focus on the root causes and invest in interventions and community-based solutions, and we have to make sure the trusted folks and organizations who are already doing this work are at the center of this process.”

 

Funded through the state’s American Rescue Plan Act funds, these allocations build upon the governor’s previous investments in  economic recovery, in mental and physical healthcare, in education, and in the well-being of kids and families across our state—all of which help create strong communities and prevent violence. $6.6 million of the $25 million allotted to violence prevention efforts will be allocated to the Medical College of Wisconsin’s (MCW) Violence Prevention Project, housed in their Comprehensive Injury Center. These funds will be used to support research, data collection, education, and community engagement efforts around violence prevention as a public health issue. MCW’s Violence Prevention Project will also receive $10.4 million of these funds to administer a competitive grant process to support violence project efforts statewide.

 

“The American Rescue Plan has provided an unprecedented opportunity for local and state leaders to invest in comprehensive approaches to violence prevention that are rooted in public health and smart on public safety,” said Reggie Moore, Director of Violence Prevention Policy and Engagement for the Comprehensive Injury Center. “I am pleased to see state and city leaders prioritizing investment in addressing this very serious public health crisis.”

 

Additionally, the $25 million investment in violence prevention also includes $8 million that will go directly to the City of Milwaukee’s Office of Violence Prevention to respond to the pandemic-related uptick in violence and trauma with projects that take a public health approach to violence prevention. The Office of Violence Prevention is dedicated to reducing violence in Milwaukee through partnerships with government, non-profit, neighborhood, and faith organizations.

 

“I am grateful for this timely and necessary investment by Governor Evers in violence prevention in Milwaukee,” said Arnitta Holliman, Director of the Office of Violence Prevention. “We have clearly seen the impact that the pandemic has had on gun violence in Milwaukee and throughout the country. These resources will be critical for increasing our capacity to prevent, intervene, and respond to the historic levels of violence we are seeing in our city.”

 

Finally, $20 million will help support victim services in Wisconsin through a grant administered by the Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ). Programs across Wisconsin have reported increased demand for services due to the pandemic, while at the same time, federal funding for these services under the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) has been declining. The funds announced today will help VOCA fund recipients meet the increase in demand while ensuring culturally-specific programming remains available.

 

“The investments that Governor Evers is announcing today will provide major support to efforts to stop crime before it happens and to ensure that services are available to crime victims despite the multimillion-dollar shortfall in federal funding under the Victims of Crime Act,” said Attorney General Josh Kaul. “Thank you, Governor Evers, for this substantial investment in public safety.”

 

Of the $20 million, $100,000 will go toward the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA), which is the only statewide membership, training, and technical assistance agency for sexual assault service providers in Wisconsin. This funding was included in the governor’s 2021-23 biennial budget proposal, but language authorizing WCASA to access the funds was removed by the Legislature.


Applications Open for $10 Million Tourism Capital Grant Program

 The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) announced it is accepting applications for the Tourism Capital Grant Program. The grants will provide up to $10 million for local and Tribal governments and tourism-related nonprofits to invest in shovel-ready tourism-related capital projects.

As part of his effort to help Wisconsin’s tourism industry recover from the impacts of the COVID-19 pandemic, Gov. Evers announced in August that he created the $10 million Tourism Capital Grant program for investment projects that promote, maintain, and bolster the state’s critical tourism industry. This latest round of funding is part of the governor’s $150 million total investment into the state’s tourism and entertainment industries through federal American Rescue Plan Act funds.

“This important investment will allow our tourism industry to welcome more visitors to Wisconsin,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “Whether making renovations to entice new visitors or constructing outdoor spaces for year-round use, these pandemic relief investments will help our tourism sector to continue to bounce back strong.”      

“These grants will play an important role in helping us build the tourism infrastructure that will lead us not only through this recovery, but well beyond,” said Department of Tourism Secretary-designee Anne Sayers. “Ongoing commitment to Wisconsin tourism will ensure the industry continues to bounce back stronger and will make Wisconsin a stand-out destination for future visitors ready to discover the unexpected.”

Grants of up to $3.5 million will be awarded through a competitive application process. Eligibility criteria and grant application materials for the Tourism Capital Grant Program, as well as information about an upcoming program webinar and Q&A submissions, are available on the program website.

The grant application launched today will be administered by the DOA and will remain open through November 12, 2021.

Updates will also be provided via the Tourism Capital Grant program listserv.

 


 Help Slow the Spread of CWD

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking deer hunters and the public to help slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) by following baiting and feeding bans and properly disposing of deer carcass waste this hunting season. 

Baiting And Feeding

Placing bait to hunt deer or feed deer for viewing is banned by state law in certain counties due to the presence of CWD. In counties where CWD has not been found, hunters and other wildlife enthusiasts can still choose not to bait and help reduce the risk of CWD transmission. You can easily check county baiting and feeding bans on the DNR website.

Bait is any material that is placed or used to attract wild animals for hunting purposes, including scent materials, salt, minerals and grains. Feed is any material used to feed or attract wild animals for non-hunting purposes, including recreational and supplemental feeding, except as allowed for birds and small mammals. Bait and feed placed on the landscape, even in limited quantities, often attracts unnatural numbers of deer.

Counties fall under a three-year baiting and feeding ban when wild or farm-raised deer have tested positive for CWD. If the CWD-positive deer is found within 10 miles of a county line, the adjoining county will fall under a two-year ban. If additional CWD cases are found during the lifetime of a baiting and feeding ban, the ban will reset for an additional two to three years.

In counties where baiting and feeding is allowed, the following precautions should be taken when feeding birds and small mammals:

  • Feeding devices and structures are at a sufficient height or design to prevent access by deer
  • Make sure feeding structures and devices are no further than 50 yards from a dwelling devoted to human occupancy
  • If deer, bear, or elk are using bird feeding devices or structures, the devices or structures shall be enclosed or elevated higher to prevent access

More information on Wisconsin's deer baiting and wildlife feeding regulations is available here.

Deer Carcass Disposal

With a successful harvest comes deer carcass waste. Proper carcass disposal helps slow the spread of CWD spread by removing potentially infected deer carcasses from the landscape. To properly dispose of deer carcass waste locate a designated dumpster, transfer station or landfill location accepting deer carcass waste near you on the DNR website.

The department does not recommend transporting whole deer carcasses to areas outside the county or adjacent county where the animal was harvested.

Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) 

CWD is a fatal disease that affects the nervous system of deer, elk, moose and caribou. The disease spreads through contact with an infected animal’s saliva, urine, feces and natural decomposition after death. The known CWD infectious agent, or prion, is very resistant to destruction, making it very difficult to contain. Because of this, baiting, feeding and improper carcass disposal increase the risk of transmission.  

While there has not been a documented case of CWD in humans, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the Centers for Disease Control and World Health Organization recommend against consuming meat from CWD-infected deer. Infected deer can look healthy; however, the Department of Health Services (DHS) encourages testing for the disease regardless of your harvested deer’s physical condition. The DHS also recommends the public only consume venison from deer that is CWD negative.

To find a CWD sampling location near you where you can submit samples from Wisconsin harvested deer free of charge, visit the DNR’s “Sampling For Chronic Wasting Disease” webpage. Test results are usually available from the DNR within two weeks.

More information about CWD and how to prevent its spread is available on the DNR website here.


State Agencies Offer Resources to Protect Wisconsinites from Online Threats

During National Cybersecurity Awareness Month, the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) and the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) team up for a podcast to help Wisconsinites protect themselves online. The latest episode of “Transportation Connects Us”​ explores internet threats and the resources available to residents and businesses for dealing with them.

Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) oversees driver licenses, ID cards, vehicle titles and license plates, among other important pieces of personal information. Director of the DMV Bureau of Driver Services, Reggie Paradowski, explains how the agency safeguards customer information. This includes a DMV online notification service called eNotify, which sends electronic notifications to customers.
​​ 
“The added safety component is that customers that sign up for eNotify, receive an alert by email or text when DMV products are ordered or changed. Any kind of change to a record, you're going to get a text or email that could alert you to a fraud activity,” Paradowski said.
Paradowski shares more tips for DMV customers, like:
  • Wisconsin DMV will never ask for customer credit card numbers or social security numbers by  email, phone, or text.
  • Be sure to use the official Wisconsin DMV website - wisconsindmv.gov and be aware that websites that end in .com, .net, or .org likely charge extra fees.
“We're seeing an uptick in the number of fraud complaints and an uptick in the people actually being defrauded of money and it's quite a lot,” Lara Sutherlin, Wisconsin DATCP Division of Trade and Consumer Protection Administrator, said in the podcast.
Sutherlin explains how some of the most common scams work and offers tips to help you avoid getting tangled in one of them, like:
  • Be mindful of the types of personal information you post on social media.
  • Don’t click on links in suspicious emails and texts.
  • Ensure all your internet connected devices are up to date with the most recent software to prevent the risk of infection from malware.

 


A.G. Kaul Statement on Election "Investigation" by Former Supreme Court Justice Gableman

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul released a letter from Wisconsin Department of Justice (DOJ) in response to former Supreme Court Justice Michael Gableman regarding the Wisconsin Elections Commission subpoenas. AG Kaul also issued the following statement regarding the election “investigation.”

“This is not a serious investigation. Even if an investigation like this were justified—and it’s clearly not—this one suffers from glaring flaws that destroy any credibility that its results could have.

“This investigation is irrevocably tainted by bias. It was announced at a partisan political event, and it was significantly expanded after Speaker Vos’s airplane meeting with former President Trump.

“Justice Gableman has also made statements indicating that he had pre-judged the outcome. His false claim shortly after the 2020 election alone—that the election was stolen—should have led him to decline to participate in this investigation.

“In addition, this investigation isn’t being professionally or competently conducted. It’s clear that the investigators here are learning basics of election administration as they go.

“No serious investigator would conduct an investigation under these circumstances. And no one should treat the results of this investigation as credible.

“Here’s the bottom line: This fake investigation is an abuse of the legislature’s authority. And Wisconsin taxpayers shouldn’t be on the hook for this beginner’s guide to election administration and investigations. This is corrosive to our democracy.

“My request to Speaker Vos is simple: shut this fake investigation down.”


Clean Energy Plan Listening Sessions Announced

The office of Sustainability and Clean Energy announced upcoming listening sessions to gather public input in developing the Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan.

Established by Governor Tony Evers, the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy is partnering with state agencies and utilities to develop a plan that will ensure 100 percent carbon-free electricity consumption in Wisconsin by 2050.

The first-ever Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan will also help the state mitigate climate change impacts through the use of clean energy resources and technology, while promoting workforce training, sustainability standards, and environmental justice.

“As the Wisconsin economy recovers, and our energy needs to continue to grow, a Clean Energy Plan provides a focus on sustainability and preserving our environment for generations to come,” says Maria Redmond, Director for the Office of Sustainability and Clean Energy. “A Clean Energy Plan will help Wisconsin transition to a strong clean energy economy that prioritizes environmental justice, ensuring that everyone can benefit from these promising technology innovations.”

The Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan listening sessions bring Wisconsinites into the conversation around a shared future for clean energy, efficiency, and environmental justice. It is an opportunity for the administration to continue to listen and learn from Wisconsinites and businesses on how the clean energy transition is impacting communities, individuals and industry, priorities for the clean energy transition, and successful strategies to support sustainability.

Topics covered in these sessions include:

  • Economic & Environmental Justice
  • Infrastructure & Industry
  • Transit & Transportation, and
  • Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency 

The Wisconsin Clean Energy Plan listening session schedule is available below.

Session 1: Economic & Environmental Justice

Date: October 19, 2021 @ 6:00-8:00pm

The Clean Energy Plan seeks to help create good-paying, family-supporting jobs while supporting Wisconsin businesses. Working to mitigate climate damage means impacted communities must also have a say in the promise of new job opportunities, financial and health impacts of clean energy technologies.  

Join this session to hear about and share strategies to promote engagement and environmental justice, build partnerships, improve and support training, and plan for a just and equitable clean energy transition.   

Session 2: Infrastructure & Industry

Date: October 21, 2021 @ 11:00am-1:00pm

Infrastructure and industry are critical parts of Wisconsin’s efforts to reduce and remove carbon emissions and grow the clean energy economy.  Carbon emission reduction strategies vary among residential, commercial and industrial building, however making buildings more efficient and powered with clean energy is a promising path forward.

This session is an opportunity to share decarbonization strategies and pathways, such as air source heat pumps and renewable thermal technologies, while ensuring cost-effective and equitable operation. 

Session 3: Transit & Transportation

Date: October 26, 2021 @ 11:00am-1:00pm

Modernizing our transportation system can quickly help us reduce carbon emissions, improve vehicle efficiency, reduce miles traveled, and create a sustainable clean energy future in Wisconsin.  

This listening session will be an opportunity to comment on potential transportation decarbonization strategies, pathways, and programs that help us achieve clean and efficient transportation, balancing costs and prioritizing equity for all Wisconsinites.  

Session 4: Clean Energy and Energy Efficiency

Date: October 26, 2021 @ 6:00-8:00pm

As Wisconsin transitions to clean energy power sources, prioritizing affordability and equity in energy use consumption is key.

This listening session will share potential programs, policies, and support for clean energy generation, transmission, end-use renewable energy consumption, and innovation ranging from batteries and storage, to community solar, carbon capture, and other technologies. This listening session also focuses on how we can efficiently use energy in our homes, at work, and elsewhere to drive down our carbon footprint and strain on the electric grid, ensuring equity and affordability.

***

Although registration is not required it is highly encouraged.  Those interested in participating can RSVP for one or all sessions.  

Join any session via Zoom Link:  https://rb.gy/jy0e35 or call (877) 873-8018 (US Toll Free), Conference Code: 248199

The Clean Energy Plan listening sessions will be also streamed via the Wisconsin Department of Administration YouTube channel.


DNR Seeking Public Comment for Environmental Review of Village of Mount Horeb Drinking Water Loan Program

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) today announced the Village of Mount Horeb is an applicant for funding through the Safe Drinking Water Loan Program (SDWLP) to address deficiencies in its public drinking water system.

The project’s primary focus is on replacing lead service lines in the Village of Mount Horeb.

Activities related to this project are minor actions under Chapter NR 150, Wis. Admin. Code, for which no environmental analysis is required; however, following the SDWLP federal requirement 40 C.F.R. §35.3580, an environmental review must be conducted before funding this project.

The SDWLP has determined that the project will not result in significant adverse environmental effects, and no further environmental review or analysis is needed before proceeding with funding the project.

The public is encouraged to submit comments regarding this decision and the potential environmental impacts of this project. Submit comments by Oct. 22, 2021, to:

Department of Natural Resources
C/O Kevin Olson, Community Financial Assistance, CF/2
101 S Webster St.
P.O. Box 7921
Madison, WI 53707
Phone: 608-234-2238 or Email: Kevin.Olson@wisconsin.gov

Based on the comments received, the SDWLP may prepare an environmental analysis before proceeding with the funding process. The analysis would summarize the DNR’s consideration of the project's impacts and reasonable alternatives.

 


PSC Urges Customers to Seek Assistance before Moratorium on Utility Disconnections Ends

The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) encourages electric, natural gas, and water utility customers with outstanding bills to make payment arrangements with their provider or apply for financial assistance before the annual winter heating moratorium on disconnections begins. From November 1st to April 15th, utilities are prohibited from disconnecting customers’ utility service for nonpayment when that service is used for home heating.

Although Wisconsin State law prohibits utilities from disconnecting essential services to residential customers during the moratorium period, customers currently disconnected must make arrangements to restore service. Utilities are not required to reconnect service until payment arrangements have been made. To make a payment or arrange a payment plan, customers should first contact their utility provider.  

Listed below is the contact information for the largest utilities in Wisconsin:

  • Alliant Energy: 1-800-255-4268
  • Madison Gas & Electric: 1-800-245-1125
  • Superior Water, Light & Power: 1-800-227-7957
  • We Energies: 1-800-842-4565
  • Wisconsin Public Service Corporation: 1-800-450-7260
  • Xcel Energy: 1-800-895-4999

In addition, financial energy assistance is available through the Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program (WHEAP) to income-eligible households. WHEAP is part of the state's comprehensive Home Energy Plus program, which provides assistance with emergency energy needs, emergency furnace repairs, conservation service and weatherization for low-income households. Assistance with utility bills is also currently available through the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA) program. For more information about applying for energy, utility or emergency rental assistance, call the Statewide Customer Care Center at 1-800-506-5596.

If customers cannot reach an agreement with their utility, they may contact the PSC by calling 608-266-2001 or 1-800-225-7729, or by submitting a PSC complaint online


Wisconsin to Offer COVID-19 Pfizer Vaccine Booster Doses

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) supports the recommendation that certain populations who have increased risk of exposure to or transmission of COVID-19 receive a booster shot of Pfizer-BioNTech’s (Pfizer) COVID-19 vaccine at least six months after having received their second dose of the Pfizer vaccine.

DHS recommends that the following populations SHOULD receive a booster dose of Pfizer at least 6 months after receiving their second dose of Pfizer in order to further strengthen their immunity:

  • People 65 years and older
  • All residents in long-term care
  • People ages 50–64 years with certain underlying medical conditions(link is external):
    • Cancer
    • Chronic kidney disease
    • Chronic lung diseases, including COPD (chronic obstructive pulmonary disease), asthma (moderate-to-severe), interstitial lung disease, cystic fibrosis, and pulmonary hypertension
    • Dementia or other neurological conditions
    • Diabetes (type 1 or type 2)
    • Down syndrome
    • Heart conditions (such as heart failure, coronary artery disease, cardiomyopathies or hypertension)
    • HIV infection
    • Immunocompromised state (weakened immune system)
    • Liver disease
    • Overweight and obesity
    • Pregnancy
    • Sickle cell disease or thalassemia
    • Smoking, current or former
    • Solid organ or blood stem cell transplant
    • Stroke or cerebrovascular disease, which affects blood flow to the brain
    • Substance use disorders

DHS recommends that the following populations MAY receive a booster dose of Pfizer at least six months after receiving their second dose of Pfizer vaccine, after considering their individual risks and benefits:

  • People ages 18–49 years with certain underlying medical conditions(link is external) (see above)
  • People ages 18–64 years who are at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission because of their job or institutional settings. Occupations at increased risk for COVID-19 exposure and transmission include front line essential workers and health care workers:
    • First responders (health care workers, firefighters, police, staff at congregate care facilities)
    • Education staff (teachers, support staff, childcare workers)
    • Food and agriculture workers
    • Manufacturing workers
    • Corrections workers
    • U.S. Postal Service workers
    • Public transit workers
    • Grocery store workers
    • This list could be updated in the future

At this time, the Pfizer booster authorization only applies to people whose primary series was Pfizer vaccine. People in the recommended groups who got the Moderna or Johnson & Johnson vaccine will likely need a booster shot in the near future. More data on the effectiveness and safety of Moderna and Johnson & Johnson booster shots are expected soon.

A booster dose serves a different purpose than the additional dose recommended in early August for certain immunocompromised people. The additional doses are for people with certain medical conditions or who are receiving certain treatments leaving them moderately or severely immunocompromised and who may not have built a strong enough immune response after their initial vaccine. In contrast, a "booster dose" refers to another dose of a vaccine that is given to someone who built enough protection after their initial vaccination, but then that protection decreased over time – also referred to as waning immunity. Evidence suggests that immunity is waning over time for some people who were initially well-protected by the vaccine. For those people, a booster dose will strengthen and extend their protection against infection, serious illness, hospitalization, and death from COVID-19.

With the high-level of disease transmission in Wisconsin, DHS continues to urge everyone who is not vaccinated to get the COVID-19 vaccine, and for all people to add additional layers of protection including masking up indoors, staying home when feeling sick, and avoiding large indoor gatherings.

For additional information about booster doses, additional doses, and help accessing your COVID-19 vaccine record to determine when you may be recommended for a booster, visit the DHS Additional Doses and Booster Doses webpage.

To find a COVID-19 vaccine provider in your community, visit vaccines.gov(link is external), or call 211 or 877-947-2211. For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. You can also follow @DHSWI on Facebook(link is external)Twitter(link is external), or dhs.wi on Instagram(link is external) for more information on COVID-19.


Students Encouraged To Apply for Wisconsin Senate Scholar Program

The Wisconsin State Senate Scholar Program is currently accepting applications from high school students aged 16 to 18. The Senate Scholar Program is a week-long educational program offered by the Wisconsin State Senate that provides high school students with a hands-on, up-close view of the Legislature’s role in our democracy. Senate Scholars will gain experience and insights of the legislative process through roundtable discussions with legislative support agency directors and staff, media, and senators. In recent years, several students from western Wisconsin have participated in this program and Senator Jon Erpenbach (D-West Point) is encouraging local students, schools, and teachers to learn more about this valuable and educational program.

The students of today will become the leaders of tomorrow and I can think of no greater opportunity to learn about the legislative process. It’s important for young adults to not only be knowledgeable of the legislative process but how they can get involved in the process as well. This program is a valuable hands-on learning experience to see how our state government functions. I would encourage anyone who is interested in this program to call or go online to learn more.

Information about this program can be found online at www.senatescholar.com or by calling (608)261-0533. All applications for the 2021 Senate Scholar program are due by November 1, 2021. Students can apply at any time and have their application considered for future programs if they aren’t immediately accepted. While this is a highly competitive program, each Senate district is allotted a minimum number of participants.


Do Your Part and Get Vaccinated! 

First and foremost, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. 

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging. Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community. To find a vaccination location near you visit vaccines.gov(link is external) (https://vacunas.gov/(link is external)) or call 211.

Find a vaccination site near you:

While vaccination remains the top defense against the Delta variant, the CDC guidance also focuses on additional strategies that will provide additional protection against the spread of the virus. Because science has shown that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help prevent transmission of the respiratory droplets and aerosols that spread COVID-19, wearing a mask is now recommended in the following indoor settings:

  • All teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who lives in areas with substantial and high transmission as noted on this CDC map(link is external) (orange counties represent substantial transmission and red counties represent high transmission) should wear masks in public indoor settings.


Applications Open for $100 Million in Workforce Innovation Grants

Applications are now open for grants of up to $10 million to local and regional projects that will help meet the state’s next-generation workforce needs, Governor Tony Evers announced today.

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program will enable communities to develop groundbreaking, long-term solutions so businesses can find workers, workers can connect to jobs, and Wisconsin can thrive, Governor Evers said.

“I’m proud of the investments we’ve made to ensure our economy can recover from the hardships of the last year, but we can’t just go back to the economy we had going into the pandemic—we need to make investments that will address our longstanding workforce challenges and prepare our communities for long-term success,” said Gov. Evers. “These funds will do just that by allowing local leaders to address the unique needs of their communities, whether it’s lack of access to affordable childcare and transportation or providing the necessary training to help folks switch careers.”

The Workforce Innovation Grant Program offers grants from $250,000 up to $10 million to regional economic development partners to design and implement innovative plans to tackle their communities’ most pressing workforce challenges.

The grants, which will be funded with federal American Recovery Plan Act (ARPA) money, will be available to nonprofit or governmental entities to help implement collaborative, innovative plans to tackle a specific region’s most pressing workforce challenge.

Grant funds can be used to meet local workforce needs, such as childcare, transportation issues, upskilling and re-skilling workers, or career counseling and coaching services, and may be used to support initiatives like training, planning, marketing, or developing pilot programs that can be applied in other communities. Grant funds cannot be used to replace existing public resources.

The grants will be administered through an interagency effort between the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) and the Department of Workforce Development (DWD).

“We’ve heard from businesses around the state that there’s no one-size-fits all solution to building Wisconsin’s workforce,” said Missy Hughes, WEDC secretary and CEO. “The Workforce Innovation Grants will enable communities to develop groundbreaking, long-term solutions that are right for them so businesses can find workers, workers can connect to jobs, and Wisconsin can thrive.”

“Wisconsin’s economy differs by region, offering unique opportunities for regional solutions to workforce challenges including transportation, child care and gaps in the skills needed by local employers,” said DWD secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. “The Workforce Innovation Grant Program will reward creativity, promote sustainable regional collaboration and foster local participation to address these and other workforce challenges resulting from an extended period of labor disruption.”

Grant applications, frequently asked questions, and program guidelines will be available on the WEDC website at wedc.org/workforce-innovation-grant.

Funds are expected to be distributed in two rounds. Applications for Round 1 are due no later than 5:00 PM CST on Oct. 25, 2021, with awards announced in mid-November 2021. Program dates and application details for Round 2 will be announced in 2022.


Veteran Resources 

Veterans across our state and nation are reacting to the news of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Veterans may feel distressed from experiences during their service. Resources are available to veterans through the U.S. and Wisconsin Departments of Veterans Affairs.

Contacts from the Wisconsin DVA:

  • Veterans Crisis Line - The Veterans Crisis Line is a toll-free, confidential resource that connects veterans and their families to mental health resources. Connect with the Crisis Line.​​
  • County Veterans Service Officers - Your local Tribal and County Veterans Service Officers can help determine the benefits and services for which you are eligible. Find your TVSO/CVSO​. ​

Resources available right now (information provided from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs):

Common Reactions

In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:

  • Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
  • Feel angry or betrayed
  • Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
  • Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
  • Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
  • Have more military and homecoming memories

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:

  • Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
  • Become preoccupied by danger
  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.


Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress


At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.


It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

  • Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
  • Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
  • Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
  • Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
  • Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
  • Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
  • PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.

If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.


Get Covered Through the ACA!

Thanks to new COVID relief, health insurance premiums have decreased on Healthcare.gov and you can sign up to get covered right now! Four out of five enrollees will now be able to find a plan for $10 or less per month.

If you’ve shopped on Healthcare.gov before, look again! New, lower prices are available for more people than ever before.

If you are are currently uninsured, already signed up for a plan through Healthcare.gov, or eligible for COBRA coverage from a former employer, you may benefit from these changes. People looking to get enrolled or change their current plan are encouraged to visit Wiscovered.com or call 2-1-1 to get free, expert help.

This new enrollment opportunity won’t last forever- sign up today!


Rental Assistance

Reminder, if you or anyone you know that has experienced income loss as a result of the pandemic their is support available! 
 
The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program, provides direct financial assistance for rent, utility, home energy costs, and wraparound services for individuals who qualify.
 
For information on the program, how to apply, frequently asked questions as well as local resources and contacts please click here.


- Resources - 

During this difficult time it is worth reminding Wisconsinites that 211 exists to help when you don’t know where to turn. 211 is a resource managed by the United Way of Wisconsin. Call 2-1-1 or visit their website.

Office of Crime Victim Services

End Abuse Wisconsin 

National Domestic Violence Hotline: Call 1-800-799-7233, text LOVEIS to 22522, or go to thehotline.org for free and confidential support.

Disaster Distress Hotline 

Coping Resources for Kids and Parents Amidst COVID-19 

National Suicide Prevention Lifeline

Veterans Crisis Line 

Vets for Warriors 

Military One Source 

Resilient Wisconsin

Department of Corrections Helpline: The call center can be reached by members of the public Monday through Friday from 7:45am–4:30pm at (608) 240-5700.

Wisconsin Farm Center 

24/7 Farmer Wellness Hotline

LGBTQ Crisis Line 

HopeLine Text Service 

Wisconsin Elder Abuse Hotline 

Wisconsin Addiction Recovery Helpline 


 

Looking for additional resources? If you have any questions, please feel free to reach out to my office at Sen.Erpenbach@Legis.WI.Gov, or call (608) 266-6670. 

 

 
 
Contacting My Office

Feel free to contact me with any inquiries.

Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.