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This weekend is supposed to be a hot one so make sure to take proper precautions to stay safe and hydrated!

The Joint Committee on Finance met twice this week and took action on the Departments of Natural Resources, Transportation, Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections, and Safety and Professional Services, Building Commission and Building Program.

This update includes:

  • Budget Breakdown for June 8th and 10th 
  • PFAS Fish Consumption Advisory
  • School Funding at Risk
  • Municipalities COVID Relief Applications 
  • Father's Day Gift Ideas
  • Governor Tony Evers' Radio Address
  • Road project reminders and so much more!

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 June 2nd Executive Session on the 2021-2023 State Budget

June 8th Executive Session Action 

  • Military Affairs
  • Administration - Division of Gaming
  • Volkswagen Settlement Distributions
  • Building Commission
  • Building Program
  • Transportation - Transportation Finance
  • Transportation - Local Transportation Aid
  • Transportation - Local Transportation Assistance
  • Transportation - State Highway Program
  • Transportation - Motor Vehicles
  • Transportation - State Patrol
  • Transportation - Departmentwide

Department of Military Affairs (DMA)

Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #82, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for Military Affairs. The motion included full funding for the replacement of the Statewide Interoperable Radio Network (WISCOM) and Next Generation 911. The motion failed along party lines 4-11, with one Republican absent from the meeting.

 

The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #81. The motion declined to fully fund WISCOM, instead reserving $6 million of the $6.5 million needed in the JFC supplemental appropriation in 2022-23 and not guaranteeing the project moves forward. Additionally, the motion did not provide additional funding or positions for the Comprehensive Health and Wellness Program, a program that focuses on the mental, social and physical well-being of National Guard members. The motion passed 11-4.

 

Department of Administration (DOA) – Division of Gaming

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #74, the Governor’s budget request for Division of Gaming that included an annual appropriation for the Tribal Youth Wellness Center. The motion failed 4-11.

 

The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #83. The motion included one-time funding for the Tribal Youth and Wellness Center (half the money in the Democrats’ motion) and did not create the new Director of Native American Affairs position. The motion passed 11-4.

 

Building Commission, Building Program

Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #75, the Governor’s full capital budget request. The motion included several important investments in state infrastructure including a $45 million funding for a Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee so that Lincoln Hills may finally close, and several overdue UW investments. The full capital budget included $2.3 billion in state investments. The motion failed 4-11.

Republicans offered Motion #84. The motion included $800 million less in capital investments and crucially did not invest in critical infrastructure that was in the Democratic motion, including only $4 million for planning the new Juvenile Corrections Facility in Milwaukee, effectively delaying the closure of Lincoln Hills. The motion passed 11-4.

 

Department of Transportation

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #85, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOT. The motion included investments in state highway rehabilitation, an increase in Mass Transit operating assistance across the state, and the enumeration of the I-94 East/West corridor. Additionally, it used $10 million from the VW settlement to fund grants for electric vehicle charging stations. It also included minimal transfer of general purpose funds to the transportation fund. The motion failed 3-12.

Republicans offered Motion #86. The motion included a 50% cut in mass transit aid for Madison and Milwaukee, a $41 million reduction in state mass transit money for the two most populous cities over the biennium, and over $205 million in state transfers to the transportation fund, an unsustainable use of state general funds in the long-term. It did also fully enumerate the I-94 East/West corridor and took no additional action on the VW settlement money. The motion passed 11-4.

June 10th Executive Session Action

  • Corrections -- Departmentwide
  • Corrections -- Adult Institutions
  • Corrections -- Community Corrections   
  • Corrections -- Adult Sentencing
  • Corrections -- Juvenile Corrections
  • Children and Families -- Juvenile Justice
  • Circuit Courts
  • Supreme Court
  • District Attorneys
  • Public Defender
  • Justice
  • Legislature
  • Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection -- Environment
  • Natural Resources -- Stewardship
  • Natural Resources -- Forestry and Parks
  • Natural Resources -- Waste, Remediation, and Air
  • Natural Resources -- Water Quality

Corrections and Juvenile Justice

Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #92. It was quickly ruled out of order for containing policy items that were similar to those removed in Motion 19. The items removed included policies to reform the criminal justice system, including earned release and revocation alternatives. Democrats then introduced Motion #93, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOC and DCF-Juvenile Justice. The motion included over $26 million in annual funding for correctional officer overtime pay and additional funding for the Opening Avenues to Reentry (OAR) program. Motion failed 4-11.

 

The Republicans on the committee moved Motion #96. The motion contained none of the criminal justice reforms that have been shown to work at reducing prison populations across the country, $10 million less GPR funding for overtime pay and no additional spending for OAR programs. The motion passed 11-4.

 

Courts

Republicans offered Motion #94, funding the additional circuit court branches mandated by 2019 Act 184 and additional funding for CCAP.  The motion passed unanimously 15-0.

 

Justice, Public Defenders and District Attorneys

Democrats on the committee offered omnibus Motion #95, encompassing the Governor’s budget request for DOJ, Public Defenders and District Attorneys. The motion included one-time pay progression funding totaling over $10 million for district attorneys over the biennium, and expansion of the Treatment Alternatives and Diversion (TAD) program in DOJ totaling over $19 million in GPR funding. The motion failed 4-11.

Republicans offered Motion #98. It included less than half of the pay progression increase for DA’s, and over $12 million less additional GPR funding for the TAD program. The motion passed 12-3.

 

Legislature

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #97. The motion funded several minor items and required the full legislature to approve any hiring of outside counsel associated with redistricting or the hiring of investigators for any purpose. The motion failed 4-11.

Republicans offered Motion #78. The motion funded all items in the Democratic motion at the same level, and created a biennial appropriation to fund the Legislative Human Resources Office, but did not include the Democratic item relating to hiring of outside counsel or investigators. The motion passed unanimously.

 

DNR and DATCP-Environment

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #100. The motion was ruled out of order for containing policy items removed in Motion 19, including non-fiscal items from the Clear Act related to PFAS contamination and remediation.  Democrats then offered Motion #99, containing all non-policy items from the Governor’s DNR and DATCP-Environment budget requests. Notably, the motion contained a 10-year reauthorization of the Knowles-Nelson Stewardship Program, with annual bonding of $70 million. It also contained several fiscal items related to PFAS remediation. The motion failed 4-11.


Republicans offered Motion #102. It contained a four-year reauthorization of the Stewardship Program, with annual bonding of just $21.25 million, fewer programs and dollars to address PFAS contamination across the state, and $34 million less overall additional funding for conservation of Wisconsin’s lands and environment. The motion passed 10-4.


*NEW PFAS Fish Consumption Advisory

Based on results from fish sampling conducted in 2020, the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) and the Department of Health Services (DHS) are recommending new PFAS-based fish consumption advisories for Yahara Chain waters in Dane and Rock counties.

Elevated levels of PFOS (perfluorooctane sulfonate), a type of PFAS (per- and polyfluoroalkyl substance), were found in several fish species collected from lakes Monona, Kegonsa and Waubesa.

As a result, the DNR and DHS have developed new PFAS fish consumption advisories that includes Yahara Chain waters from Wingra Creek, Starkweather Creek, Lake Monona, Lake Waubesa, Upper and Lower Mud Lakes, Lake Kegonsa and the Yahara River downstream to where it meets the Rock River. 

The risk of health problems increases with the amount of contaminated fish you eat. Following consumption advisories will help protect you from excess PFOS exposure and other contaminants found in fish, including mercury and PCBs. A complete list of consumption advisories can be found in the 2020-2021 Choose Wisely booklet.

The DNR and DHS are recommending the consumption of one meal per month for the following species:

  • Crappie
  • Largemouth bass
  • Northern pike
  • Walleye

The DNR and DHS are also recommending the consumption of one meal per week for the following species:

  • Bluegill
  • Pumpkinseed
  • Yellow perch (Note: Consumption guidelines for yellow perch are changing from one meal per month to one meal per week.)

Low levels of PFOS were found in the fish sampled from Lake Mendota and Lake Wingra. As such, PFOS consumption advisories will not be issued for those lakes.

However, the PCB (polychlorinated biphenyls)-based advisories for common carp of one meal per month are still in place for lakes Wingra and Monona.

 


3 Week Closure Starts June 9th of US14/Commercial Street in Mazomanie

Per the Wisconsin Department of Transportation, starting Wednesday, June 9th, US 14/Commercial Street near County KP in Mazomanie will be closed to all traffic until late June. Through traffic should follow the signed detour route of WIS 78 to Sauk City, US 12 then WIS 60 to Spring Green. Access will be maintained to local residences and businesses. Crews will install storm sewer pipes under the highway near County KP.

 

The closure and work operations are weather dependent and subject to change.

 

The US 14 reconstruction project is scheduled for completion in late September 2021. Information on this project can be found at projects.511wi.gov/us14/. Follow Southwest Region construction projects on Twitter at @WisDOTsouthwest.

 


$2.3 Billion School Funding At Risk

In case you missed it, Republicans underfunded the education budget so severely, Wisconsin is at risk of losing out on billions of dollars in federal aid for schools.

A new memo from the nonpartisan fiscal bureau has now revealed that $2.3 billion in federal relief  is at risk. This last year was challenging for many school districts across the state has they had to pay for measures to protect the health of students and staff.

This federal funding helps make up for these unanticipated costs and do not replace state funding for our schools. 

Unless Republicans properly fund our schools, all 421 school districts in Wisconsin will lose out on a combined $2.3 billion. No more excuses, no more games... it’s time for Republicans to do the right thing because the budget clock is ticking.

Here is the news coverage on this important issue:

 


Heat Awareness Resources

With temperatures expected to be high over the next few days it's important to take proper precautions if you or loved ones spend time outdoors. Per ReadyWisconsin, the most vulnerable include young children, the elderly, and people with heart disease or high blood pressure.

 

The heat can also be dangerous for pets, so help them stay safe by limiting their time outdoors and making sure they have access to fresh drinking water. The inside of a car can be especially dangerous. On an 80 degree day temperatures in direct sunlight can climb almost 20 degrees in just 10 minutes. Never leave a child or pet inside a parked car. Leaving a window cracked is not enough!

 

What to do during periods of extreme heat:

Never leave children, disabled persons, or pets in a parked car – even briefly. Temperatures in a car can become life threatening within minutes.

Keep your living space cool. Cover windows to keep the sun from shining in. If you don’t have an air conditioner, open windows to let air circulate. When it’s hotter than 95 degrees, use fans to blow hot air out of the window, rather than to blow hot air on to your body. Basements or ground floors are often cooler than upper floors.

Slow down and limit physical activity. Plan outings or exertion for the early morning or after dark, when temperatures are cooler.

Drink plenty of water and eat lightly. Don’t wait for thirst, but instead drink plenty of water throughout the day. Avoid alcohol or caffeine and stay away from hot, heavy meals.

Wear lightweight, loose-fitting, light colored clothing. Add a hat or umbrella to keep your head cool…and don’t forget sunscreen!

Don’t stop taking medication unless your doctor says you should. Take extra care to stay cool, and ask your doctor or pharmacist for any special heat advice.

Taking a cool shower or bath will cool you down. In fact, you will cool down faster than you will in an air-conditioned room! Also, applying cold wet rags to the neck, head and limbs will cool down the body quickly.

Make sure pets and livestock are protected. Be sure they have access to plenty of water and a shady place to rest. Keep pets indoors and never leave them inside a parked vehicle.

You can read more in the DHS Wisconsin Extreme Heat Toolkit.

 


Wisconsin Municipalities With Populations Under 50,000 can receive Coronavirus Relief Funding Through ARPA By Filing Before June 18th

Per the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR), on behalf of U.S Department of Treasury, is allocating Local Government Recovery Funds (LFRF) to non-entitlement units through the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA).

Non-entitlement units (NEUs) are typically Wisconsin towns, villages and cities with a population under 50,000. NEUs are eligible to receive the funding but must apply electronically. The filing deadline is June 18, 2021.

DOR will make payments in two allocations; 50 percent of the allocation will be distributed by the end of June, while the remaining portion will be sent in 2022. Local governments are authorized to use their relief funds in the following ways:

  • To support public health expenditures
  • Address negative economic impacts caused by the public health emergency
  • Replace lost public sector revenue
  • Provide premium pay for essential workers
  • Invest in water, sewer and broadband infrastructure

Find out more and apply


Something Special from Wisconsin Releases New Line of "Boxes of Fun" for Father's Day

The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) announces a new “Boxes of Fun” series through the Something Special from Wisconsin™ (SSfW) program. These curated boxes make it easy for Wisconsin consumers to give fun, unique Father’s Day gifts while supporting local Wisconsin businesses. Boxes can be purchased online through SSfW member Christine’s Kitchens at https://christines-kitchens.com. Orders must be placed by midnight on Monday, June 14, 2021 to be delivered in time for Father’s Day (June 20).

Father’s Day boxes are available in six varieties: Snack Box, Pamper Him, Father’s Day All Day, Spice It Up!, He Loves Sweets, and Morning Madness. Box prices range from $39 to $89 and include products from a variety of SSfW member businesses such as Slide Gourmet Potato Chips, Ugly Apple Café, Addicting Pretzels, Palo Popcorn, Honestly Cranberry, and many more.

“It is more important than ever to support Wisconsin businesses, and Something Special from Wisconsin™ is just one way to do that. When people spend their hard-earned dollars on Boxes of Fun, they’re helping local businesses across our state,” said SSfW Program Director Lois Federman.

To date, more than 600 Boxes of Fun have been shipped to consumers in more than 30 states. Boxes have traveled to destinations as far away as California, Florida, and New York, providing an opportunity for dozens of Wisconsin companies to grow their sales and reach new customers.

To see a full list of the Father’s Day Boxes of Fun and order your box, visit the Christine’s Kitchens website at https://christines-kitchens.com. To receive your packages by Father’s Day (June 20), orders must be placed by midnight on Monday, June 14, 2021. The price of the boxes does not include shipping costs. Boxes can be shipped to Wisconsin, Minnesota, and Illinois for $10. Anywhere else in the continental United States is $25.

To learn more about the Something Special from Wisconsin™ program, visit https://somethingspecialwi.com.


DWD Seeks Input On Draft Request for Proposals
The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) is releasing a Request for Information (RFI) as part of the process to modernize Wisconsin's Unemployment Insurance (UI) system. The RFI is in the form of a draft Request for Proposals (RFP), along with a set of questions to guide respondents.

The RFI is available here

On March 18, 2021, DWD announced that it was moving forward with its modernization effort. This RFI is the first public step of this effort and was drafted as part of a partnership with 18F, part of the Technology Transformation Services (TTS) within the federal government's General Services Administration.

"DWD is excited to take this next step towards a modern UI system that Wisconsinites can count on during their time of need," DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. "Through the RFI process, we will learn valuable information about the types of services and systems available to help bring Wisconsin's UI program out of the 1970s."

DWD is interested in hearing from a wide range of people and organizations as part of this RFI, which is open through June 9, 2021. The feedback received will be used to validate or revise the RFP ahead of its formal issuance, slated for later in June.

As part of the draft RFP included in the RFI, DWD envisions developing a modern UI computer system composed through a series of smaller component upgrades that can be released for use as they are completed, utilizing an encasement strategy, which allows the outdated UI computer system to transition to a new system in a low risk, controlled fashion that keeps services available to claimants, employers, and staff.

Gov. Evers' Special Session Senate Bill 1 (SS SB 1), now 2021 Act 4, went into effect on Feb. 26. Although the bill did not provide any funding for the modernization project that Gov. Evers requested, the governor called the bill a “first step.” Act 4 required DWD to undertake the modernization project by June 30. Act 4 also provided the Governor additional authority to waive procurement requirements when necessary to help expedite the process.

 


Governor's Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers today delivered the Democratic Radio Address celebrating Wisconsin's continued economy recovery and bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic as the Legislative Fiscal Bureau announced revenue projections for the state that are more than $4.4 billion higher than previously estimated. This news comes as Wisconsin continues to be a national leader in getting available shots in arms and the state's unemployment rate has returned to pre-pandemic levels and remains well below the national rate. More on this announcement is available here.

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

"Hello, Wisconsin! Governor Tony Evers here, and I’m excited to share some great news with you today.

Our work trusting science, listening to public health experts, and working to fight this pandemic has paid off—we’re among the best in the country for getting vaccine shots in arms and one of the lowest unemployment rates that has nearly returned to pre-pandemic levels, and our new economic revenue projections released this week are $4.4 billion more than had been estimated earlier this year.

Folks, we are bouncing back and better from this pandemic, which is great news for our state’s continued economic success. So great in fact, that I am proud to say we are going to lift the requirements for agency lapses.

During the pandemic, our agencies made tough decisions to cut where they could to put our state in the best fiscal position to recover from this pandemic.

With this news this week, we’re returning that funding to the places it can be put to work to serve the people of our state. Including returning more than $50 million to our UW System and technical colleges and nearly $25 million for services at the Department of Children and Families.

I'm proud of the work we’ve done to respond to COVID-19 and put our economy in the best position to recover, but there’s more work to do.

With $4.4 billion more in Wisconsin’s pocket, there’s no excuse for choosing not to fully invest in our kids and our schools, expand broadband, support our small businesses, and ensure our state bounces back and better than we were before this pandemic.

No excuses, no politics. Let’s get this done. Thank you."



Help Wisconsin Turtles! 

With turtle nesting season soon underway, state conservation biologists and highway officials are joining forces to encourage Wisconsinites to hatch a brighter future for slow-moving, slow-growing turtles by taking a few simple steps. 

 

Most of Wisconsin's 11 turtle species breed in late May through June and often cross roads to lay their eggs in nests on higher ground. Turtles getting run over by cars is a leading cause of the decline in turtle numbers in Wisconsin. The predation of turtle nests by raccoons, skunks and coyotes is another major problem.

 

Because some species – such as wood turtles and Blanding’s turtles – take 12 to 20 years to reach reproductive maturity, the death of even one female turtle a year can take a big toll.

 

To protect turtle populations, the Wisconsin DNR and the Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) are asking people to protect turtles on the move. Follow these protective actions from now through the end of June, when the nesting season ends:


Resurfacing Work Starts June 1 on WIS 69, North of New Glarus to Belleville 

Per the Department of Transportation, resurfacing work begins Tuesday (June 1) on nearly 4 miles of WIS 69, from north of New Glarus to Belleville, in southern Dane County. WIS 69 (south of WIS 92 to Peerless Road) will be closed and detoured from Tuesday, June 1 through Friday, July 2, for culvert pipe replacements. A signed detour will follow WIS 39, WIS 78 and US 18/151. Access will be maintained to local residences within the work zone.

 

During the majority of construction, WIS 69 will remain open to traffic with lane closures and flagging operations. Motorists are advised to slow down and be alert for crews and equipment near the travel lanes.

 

The prime contractor for the $2.1 million project is Payne and Dolan, Inc. | Walbec Group based out of Waukesha, Wisconsin. The project is scheduled to be completed in late August 2021 (weather-permitting).

 

Information on the WIS 69 resurfacing project can be found at projects.511wi.gov/wis69/. Follow Southwest Region construction projects on Twitter at @WisDOTsouthwest.


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.