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I hope everyone had a wonderful Mother's Day weekend and that you've been taking advantage of the warmer temps this week.  

The Joint Committee on Finance met this week and took action on a handful of the less controversial agencies. I know it sometimes seems like these updates can come off as finger pointing, but when something happens in the Capitol people deserve to know it and how it happened. It may not sound nice, but it's the reality of the job. Actions have consequences and the action taken either in the Finance Committee, Assembly or Senate will impact the people of this state. My simple goal is to keep you informed and tell it like it is.

This update includes a breakdown of what happened in Finance this week, vaccination info for children 12-15 years old, an update on Lake Wisconsin reservoir shoreline management, the Governor's weekly radio address, resources for Mental Health Awareness month, and information on apprenticeship navigators. 

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

Sincerely,
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JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Highlights from Joint Finance May 13th Executive Session on the 2021-2023 State Budget

May 13th Agencies Exec’d:

  • Board of Commissioners of Public Lands
  • Veterans Affairs
  • Educational Communications Board
  • Historical Society
  • Financial Institutions
  • Lieutenant Governor
  • Employment Relations Commission
  • Revenue -- Departmentwide

Board of Commissioners of Public Lands (BCPL)

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #33 that moved Governor Evers’ proposal to increase funding for the BCPL for a permanent position. The motion also created a sum sufficient PR appropriation for the payment of BCPL aids in lieu of taxes, which are paid like property tax on BCPL land. Also this motion would have created an appropriation for the deposit of gifts and grants to BCPL. GOP members rejected the motion and it failed 4-12.

GOP members offered Motion #30 which would reallocate funds from the supplies and services line for the position salary. The motion would also create a sum sufficient GPR appropriation for the aids in lieu of taxes and create an appropriation for the deposit of gifts and grants to BCPL. Motion passed 12-4.

 

Veterans Affairs (DVA)

The DVA currently administers the veterans outreach and recovery program (VORP) which is a case management program helping veterans with issues ranging from mental health, substance abuse. The Governor recommended to add and fund 7.0 positions and increase suicide prevention activities by $100,000 annually. Democrats offered Motion #36 which moved the governor’s plan.

The GOP committee members offered an omnibus motion, Motion #34, which remove the funding for the 7.0 positions for VORP but approved the governor’s recommendation on funding for suicide prevention. This motion adopted several of the governor’s recommendations including veteran home operations transfers and increased funding for the Veteran Service Organizations Grants. The motion passed 16-0

 

Educational Communications Board

The committee approved a fuel and utilities reestimate, 16-0.

The GOP members offered Motion #29 that deleted 3 positions from ECB. The motion passed 12-4.

 

Historical Society

Democrats offered a motion that would have among other issues, increased funding for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. The motion failed 4-12.

The GOP offered Motion #25 that removed 3.84 positions from the Historical Society and approve all items with no papers except funding for the Wisconsin Black Historical Society. The motion passed 12-4.

 

Financial Institutions (DFI)

DFI has requested IT Modernization in order streamline notary application and renewal process and financial integrity modernization. Democrats offered Motion #35 which approved both projects and fund ongoing costs. Also in the motion was an increase the notary application fee for permanent from $20 to $40 and non-permanent (attorneys) from $50 to $100. That motion failed 4-12.

Republicans offered Motion #27 which would approve the modernization without the ongoing costs and they did not approve an increase in the notary fees. The motion passed 12-4.

 

Lieutenant Governor

No motions were offered and the department was closed.

 

Employment Relations Commission

Democrats moved to provide one time funding to continue payroll for a retiring employee through December 2021 and maintain the commission’s workload. Motion failed 4-12.

GOP members did not approve the funding and closed the department.

 

Revenue -- Departmentwide

The committee approved funding 8 positions in the Department of Revenue (DOR) in the debt collection department. The motion passed 16-0.

The committee also approved funding to continue 2.0 positions that work on administering the state’s unclaimed property program. The motion passed 16-0.

GOP offered Motion #32 which would delete 3.03 positions from DOR.



Follow the Budget Deliberations

This week the Joint Committee on Finance held the last public hearing on Governor Evers' 2021-23 biennial budget. The next step in the process means that over the next few weeks the committee will deliberate, makes changes and vote on the budget. 
 
This is a critical phase in the process because Republicans are expected to remove critical policies of the budget - policies that were proven to have overwhelming public support during the public hearings. 
 
Once the budget deliberations start things move fairly quickly, so it's important to see what happens and what cuts Republicans will make to the Governor's budget proposal. You can stay informed by following the Joint Finance Democrats on Twitter and Facebook. Don't forget, you can always watch live and recorded committee hearings on WisconsinEye.

Monroe Clinic Offering "Walk-In Wednesday" Vaccinations Clinics

Monroe Clinic, part of the SSM Health System, announced that they will be holding "walk-in" COVID-19 vaccine clinics from 10am-3pm every Wednesday during the month of May. These "walk-in" hours do not require an appointment and are in addition to the standard vaccine clinic schedule. 

For more information, please see the press release pasted below my signature line, or visit Monroe Clinic's coronavirus info page or vaccine info page


Children 12-15 Years Old Can Now Get Vaccinated!

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) recently announced that children 12-15 years old are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations started Thursday, May 13. Don't forget, the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine requires two doses for full protection and is the first and only vaccine available to this age group.  

After successful clinical trials and a rigorous review of all available data, the U.S. Food and Drug Administration (FDA) authorized Pfizer’s request to expand the emergency use authorization (EUA) to include adolescents ages 12-15. On Wednesday, May 12, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention’s (CDC) Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP) confirmed the vaccine is safe and voted to recommend the vaccine to the age group.

Per DHS, parents and guardians of children ages 12-15 can schedule a vaccination using a variety of options, including with their health care provider, at community-based vaccination clinics, local and tribal health departments, or pharmacies. To locate a provider administering the Pfizer vaccine, visit Vaccines.gov. Parents and guardians can learn more by visiting the COVID-19: Resources for Parents and Guardians page or by calling 1-844-684-1064 toll-free.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. We encourage you to follow @DHSWI on FacebookTwitter, or dhs.wi on Instagram for more information on COVID-19.


Update on Lake Wisconsin Reservoir Shoreline Management

Alliant Energy's Prairie du Sac Dam recently released an update on improvements to their approval process for shoreline use within the dam's project boundary.

Beginning May 1, 2021, all new structures and facilities, along with shoreland vegetation management and erosion control, located within the dam's project boundary must be approved under the new Shoreline Authorization Program (SAP).

The new Shoreline Authorization Program applies to new shoreline structures and facilities located within the dam's project boundary. View the SAP table here to learn if this applies to your structures and facilities. They consider a structure or facility new if it was planned or place after May 1, 2021.

Most existing structures and facilities that have been placed or maintained seasonally within the Project Boundary prior to September 15, 2020 will be grandfathered in and do not require additional approval. They may need to make exceptions to the grandfather date under certain circumstance and for shoreline modifications that occurred during the transition period.

To request approval:

  • Research all required local, state and/or federal permits for your structure or facility.
  • Submit the permits or permit applications with your completed application, available at www.alliantenergy.com/pdssap (there’s no application fee).
  • Within 60 days, Alliant Energy will respond to your request. If the proposed activity is acceptable to Alliant Energy, we will provide a tentative approval letter.
  • Submit the approval letter with your application(s) for all required local, state and/or federal permits.
  • Submit proof you’ve secured the necessary permit(s) to Alliant Energy before activity begins (lakewisconsin@alliantenergy.com).

The new Shoreline Authorization Program will not impact most existing structures and facilities (unless significant changes/repairs are needed). It provides simple, easy-to-understand guidelines for new shoreline uses within the dam’s project boundary. A consistent approval process ensures that safety remains a top priority. It also protects landowners and everyone who enjoys the waters of the Lake Wisconsin reservoir.

You can check out their website for more information,


May Is Mental Health Awareness Month

This last year has been tough for everyone, especially our mental health. This month is an opportunity to raise awareness about mental health within our families, friend groups and communities. This month is about fighting the stigma, providing support, educating the public, and advocating for policies that support people with mental illness and their families.

 

The National Alliance on Mental Illness (NAMI) Wisconsin organization is hosting zoom webinars the next two Wednesdays in May on a different mental health topic.

  • May 19 at 1:00pm - Sleep, Stress and Anxiety with Jodelle Fitzwater, Certified Nutrition Therapy Practitioner and Food Psychology Coach, ACSM Certified Personal Trainer and owner of Get Fit with Jodelle REGISTER HERE
  • May 26 at 12:00pm - In Our Own Voice with patients from Mendota Mental Health Institute. NAMI In Our Own Voice presentations change attitudes, assumptions and ideas about people with mental health conditions. Hear their stories, ask questions, and gain a deeper understanding. REGISTER HERE

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services also helpful resources available, you can check out here.


Wisconsin Wildfire Report: Stay Alert and Check Burning Restrictions

While rain has lessened fire danger in southern Wisconsin, northern Wisconsin - especially the northwest - is expected to remain under elevated fire danger for the near future.

Fire danger changes rapidly and the DNR will suspend burning permits periodically based on conditions. If you are considering any outdoor burning (other than a small campfire), keep these safety tips in mind:

  • Obtain the necessary DNR burning permit or check with local fire officials.
  • Check burning restrictions each day before lighting a fire. Restrictions are updated each day at 11am. 
  • Clear an area around the debris pile or barrel and make sure a hose is attached to a working spigot.
  • Remain present for the entire duration of your burn.
  • Make sure fires are out before leaving, wet down the area and check routinely for hot coals.
  • Be aware that you can be held responsible for the cost of fire suppression and any damages resulting from an escaped fire. 

 


COVID-19 Resources for Families & Individuals
  • DVA: if constituent has a veterans status – DVA has a network of nonprofits that can provide assistance for various issues.
  • DCF: W2 Program & Emergency Assistance grants for constituents with minors in their household, plus another list with resources for families and individuals.
  • DATCP: COVID-19 resources list, including federal financial resources that might be available for an individual or a family, COVID-19 consumer protection resources, a Landlord and Tenant COVID FAQ
  • DHS: FoodShare and other benefits such as healthcare coverage and supplemental nutrition programs.
  • DOA: Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance (WERA), Wisconsin Home Energy Assistance Program and Low-Income Assistance (WHEAP and LIHEAP). (another good link for WHEAP: http://www.homeenergyplus.wi.gov/)
  • DWD: Unemployment Insurance, Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), FAQ
  • WHEDA: A COVID-19 FAQ for homeowners, renters, and housing providers
  • PSC: Internet Resources for Wisconsin Residents and help with utility disconnections now that the moratorium on utility shutoffs has been lifted. A comprehensive list of financial assistance through the PSC for Wisconsin citizens can also be found here.
  • DOR: Updates on the recently announced Wisconsin Tomorrow Small Business Recovery Grants can be found here but won’t be available until the federal government finalized rules for the American Rescue Plan Act monies.

Governor's Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers today delivered the Democratic Radio Address on the Joint Committee on Finance's vote last week to gut the governor’s Badger Bounceback agenda, the 2021-23 biennial budget, including provisions supported by an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites, such as expanding BadgerCare, legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring a nonpartisan approach to redistricting.

You can listen to the audio file here and the written transcript is below: 

"Hey there, Wisconsinites. Governor Tony Evers here.

In February, I introduced my Badger Bounceback agenda, which is our biennial budget that was all about making sure our state and our economy could bounce back from this pandemic.

Our Badger Bounceback agenda made key investments in our schools, protecting our environment, expanding access to quality, affordable healthcare, and reforming our criminal justice system—among many other critical priorities—so that folks across Wisconsin have the resources they need to recover and succeed.

Unfortunately, last week, Republicans on the budget committee voted to gut nearly 400 provisions from our Badger Bounceback agenda.

And that included policies supported by an overwhelming majority of Wisconsinites like expanding BadgerCare, legalizing marijuana, raising the minimum wage, and ensuring a nonpartisan approach to redistricting.

Well, here’s my bottom line folks, our state’s economic recovery cannot wait, and we can’t afford for Republicans to play politics.

Republicans have tried to stop us from confronting this pandemic every step of the way, and now they are attempting to stop us from being able to help our economy rebound from the pandemic.

Well, that’s where you come in. Please contact your legislators today and tell them to stop playing politics with our economic recovery. Ask them to support our Badger Bounceback agenda so we can bounce back and better.

Thanks, and let’s get to work."

 


DWD Announces Apprenticeship Navigators 

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) has announced the creation of five new Apprenticeship Navigator positions to help Wisconsinites find open apprenticeship opportunities. 

Per DWD, apprenticeship is an industry-driven training model that combines on-the-job learning with job-related classroom instruction. As an "earn and learn" model, apprentices are employed and earn wages from their first day on the job. Upon completion of their programs, apprentices earn an average of $80,000. Apprenticeship opportunities are available in the traditional construction, manufacturing, utility, and service sectors, as well as emerging areas like health care, information technology, finance, transportation, biotech, and agriculture.

DWD was awarded a U.S. Department of Labor Apprenticeship Expansion grant in 2019. Using the grant funds, DWD created Apprenticeship Navigators to educate and assist people in every region of the state who are interested in becoming apprentices. It took a little more than a year to create and fill all five positions, with the last two navigators coming on board just a few weeks ago. The team will personally guide those interested in getting into a program through the Wisconsin Apprenticeship System and refer them to opportunities that meet their specific needs and professional goals.

Navigators will largely focus on underrepresented populations who have had historically low apprenticeship participation numbers. They will serve as mentors, providing details of each apprenticeship program and guiding their mentees to an apprenticeship path that fits their interests.

Navigators will:

  • Guide people through the various programs to determine which apprenticeship is right for them,
  • Help people develop their apprenticeship portfolio,
  • Educate people on the qualification requirements for apprenticeship programs they are interested in,
  • Connect and network with community members to help market, educate, and promote apprenticeship programs, and
  • Help build a talent pool of apprentices for employers to select from.

Navigators will also assist organizations with the application process to build a certified pre-apprenticeship program.

Four out of the five navigators will work with the general public, while the fifth navigator will be dedicated to working with people who are incarcerated within the Department of Corrections (DOC). The DOC navigator will connect incarcerated men and women to certified pre-apprenticeship opportunities prior to their release. Upon re-entering society, the navigator will support them in finding apprenticeship opportunities in their area.

Navigators will be a valuable resource for many people, including those who are looking to change professional industries, veterans, dislocated workers, individuals with disabilities, and individuals who are incarcerated or formerly incarcerated.

People interested in apprenticeship can now contact their area Apprenticeship Navigator:

Navigator Jessica Gitter (jessica.gitter@dwd.wisconsin.gov; 262-894-5624) will cover the following counties: Milwaukee, Racine, Kenosha, Walworth, Buffalo, Trempealeau, Jackson, La Crosse, Monroe, Juneau, Vernon, and Crawford.

Navigator Jessica Williams (jessicae.williams@dwd.wisconsin.gov; 920-404-6877) will cover the following counties: Florence, Marinette, Oconto, Menominee, Shawano, Waupaca, Outagamie, Calumet, Brown, Kewaunee, Manitowoc, Door, Marinette, Vilas, Oneida, Forest, Langlade, Lincoln, Marathon, Portage, Wood, Adams, Douglas, Bayfield, Ashland, Iron, Burnett, Washburn, Sawyer, Rusk, Price, and Taylor.

Navigator Dawn Pratt (dawn.pratt@dwd.wisconsin.gov; 414-216-4926) will cover the following counties: Polk, Barron, St. Croix, Dunn, Chippewa, Clark, Eau Claire, Pierce, Pepin, Washington, Ozaukee, Waukesha, Sheboygan, Fond Du Lac, Winnebago, Green Lake, and Waushara.

Navigator Jeff Kennedy (Jkennedy@wdbscw.org; 608-249-9001 x 230) will cover the following counties: Marquette, Columbia, Dodge, Dane, Sauk, Jefferson, Richland, Iowa, Grant, Lafayette, Green, and Rock.

Navigator Milton Rogers (miltonj.rogers@wisconsin.gov; 608-266-3332) will cover Department of Corrections statewide.


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.