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The Senate was in session this week and took up fairly non-controversial bills. Among the bills the Senate took up this week was one that would delay the redistricting process so that our rigged maps would stay in place for the next election in 2022. This is part of a series of bills the GOP has brought forward both on the national level and here in Wisconsin to complicate the way elections and voting are administered.

The budget is expected to be taken up in the Assembly and Senate next week before heading to the Governor for consideration.

This update includes:

  • Enhanced COVID-19 Testing Support for Schools
  • Fair Maps Input Portal
  • New Glarus Blues Brews and Food Truck Festival
  • Public Input Sought for WIS 69 Project, Monroe to New Glarus
  • Beyond the Classroom Grants 
  • Organic Cost Share Application Period
  • $140 Million for Wisconsin's Tourism and Entertainment Industries
  • Summer Pet Safety Tips
  • Governor Tony Evers' Radio Address and additional resources!

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

 

Governor Evers, DHS Announce Enhanced COVID-19 Testing Support for Schools

Governor Tony Evers and the Department of Health Services (DHS) announced convenient and free of charge COVID-19 testing support for Wisconsin schools in the 2021-2022 school year. The new program connects schools with testing partners to handle the school’s on-site COVID-19 testing for teachers, staff, students, and their families. The program is intended to make it easier for K-12 public, private, and independent charter schools to offer testing and help people make more informed decisions about how to manage COVID-19 and keep schools operating safely.

“Until COVID-19 vaccines are available to students of all ages, testing remains one of our best tools to help reduce the spread of COVID-19 in our schools,” said Governor Evers. “This testing program supports schools so our educators and staff can focus on what they do best – teaching our kids.”

Through the program, participating K-12 schools and school districts choose the type of COVID-19 testing that works best for their situation:

  • Testing for individuals with symptoms or those who have been in close contact with someone who tested positive for COVID-19
  • Testing for people who attend or participate in school-based events or activities
  • Testing on a routine basis for unvaccinated asymptomatic individuals
  • Testing of large groups in the school when there has been a COVID-19 outbreak

Per DHS, participation in the program is voluntary and the testing services are free of charge. Schools and school districts that choose to participate in this federally funded program are encouraged to follow the CDC’s Operational Strategy for K-12 Schools through Phased Prevention(link is external) and have access to both rapid, point of care antigen tests and highly accurate, laboratory-based tests.

“Throughout this pandemic, we have seen how access to adequate COVID-19 testing can work to limit the spread of this virus,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “This testing program is designed to support the health and well-being of teachers, staff members, and students throughout the state by offering access to COVID-19 testing supplies, diagnostics, and specimen collection services to schools at no charge. By quickly identifying new COVID-19 cases by offering testing in schools, we will also be protecting the health of family members of kids, teachers and staff, as well as the wider community”

Regular COVID-19 testing can help support schools in making decisions about their efforts to protect the health and well-being of those in their buildings, such as universal and correct use of masks, maintaining adequate physical distance, isolation and quarantine, ventilation improvements, and thorough handwashing. DHS also encourages all eligible people – whether they be students, teachers, staff, their family, or members of the community to get vaccinated. COVID-19 vaccines are safe, effective, and one of the best tools to stop the spread of COVID-19 and everyone ages 12 and up is currently eligible to receive one in Wisconsin. To find a vaccine provider near you, go to vaccines.gov(link is external) or call 211 (or 877-947-2211).

Schools can find more information about the new K-12 COVID-19 testing program for the 2021-2022 school year at www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/testing-schools.htm.


Are You Ready for Fair Maps?

The Wisconsin People's Maps Commission has announced a new public portal where Wisconsinites are encouraged to submit input and maps of their communities, redistricting plans of their own, and written comments to guide the work and recommendations of the People's Maps Commission.

You can learn more submit your feedback here.

 


Local Events: Blues, Brews and Food Truck Festival! 

New Glarus is hosting the Blues, Brews and Food Truck Festival featuring, you guessed it, great blues bands and local beer!

Bring a chair or a blanket and enjoy some of the local brews and an array of flavors from local food trucks while you relax to blues music.

Free admission, food and beer available for purchase.

  • Saturday, June 26, 2021
  • 11:00am-8:00pm
  • New Glarus Village Park
  • 4th Avenue, New Glarus, WI 53574

Click here for more info


Beyond the Classroom

In case you missed it, this April, Governor Evers announced a $50 million investment to support Wisconsin school-aged children's learning opportunities and mental health programs. Another key piece of the Badger Bounceback, the "Beyond the Classroom" grant program will provide funding of up to $3,000,000 to eligible non-profit organizations. 

Interested applicants can attend a webinar to learn more about the grant program and ask questions on June 25th. Applications for the grant program are due July 8th and grants will be issued this summer.

All interested organizations should up HERE to receive notification regarding the Beyond the Classroom Grant program.

Questions about the program should be emailed to beyondtheclarroom@wisconsin.gov. Schools districts that are interested and find more information and how to apply HERE.


Public Input Sought for WIS 69 Project, Monroe to New Glarus, in Green County

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation (WisDOT) is seeking input on proposed improvements to WIS 69 from Bushnell Creek near Monroe to Cow Path Lane in New Glarus in Green County. The improvement project is currently scheduled for 2026, but advanceable to 2023 if funding becomes available.

The pavement on this section of WIS 69 is deteriorating with extensive cracking. The proposed improvements include the following:

  • Remove 2-inches of the existing asphalt surface and pave 2-inches of new asphaltic material;
  • Install centerline and shoulder rumble strips;
  • Add new pavement markings; and
  • Replace deteriorating culverts.

WIS 69 will be closed to through traffic during culvert replacement with a detour route posted, but will remain open to through traffic during the remaining construction with the use of flagging operations.

A narrated presentation detailing the project is available to view on the project website at: wisconsindot.gov/Pages/projects/by-region/sw/wis69-greencounty/default.aspx.

All persons interested in the project are encouraged to view the website and provide input by contacting project staff via email, postal mail, or phone. Public feedback will assist staff in developing a project that will serve the needs of the traveling public, as well as the needs of the community. Your input is also welcome and appreciated throughout the design process.

Comments received prior to July 5, 2021 will be included in the environmental document. Questions and comments can also be directed to WisDOT Project Manager Jim Simpson at jim.simpson@dot.wi.gov, (608) 246-5628, or mailed to the WisDOT Southwest Region, 2101 Wright St, Madison, WI 53704.

 


Gov. Evers Announces More Than $140 Million for Wisconsin's Tourism and Entertainment Industries

Governor Tony Evers announced more than $140 million in grants to businesses and organizations that play an integral role in Wisconsin's tourism and entertainment industries. The new grant programs will be targeted investments in industries hit hard by the COVID-19 pandemic, including live event venues, movie theaters, summer camps, minor league sports, and the lodging industry.  Additional investments will be made in reopening Wisconsin historical sites and marketing support for Wisconsin's tourism industry. 

The investments announced by Gov. Evers today include: 

  • $75 million for lodging grants; 
  • $11.25 million for movie theaters; 
  • $12 million for live event small businesses; 
  • $2.8 million for minor league sports teams; 
  • $10 million for live venues; 
  • $15 million for destination marketing organizations; 
  • $8 million for summer camps; 
  • $1 million for the Wisconsin Historical Society to assist in reopening historical sites; and 
  • $7.5 million to increase marketing support for Wisconsin's tourism industry. 

These investments are being funded by the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA) and will be administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration and the Department of Revenue. 


Organic Cost Share Application Period Open

Organic food producers and processors have until October 31, 2021 to apply for reimbursement of costs related to organic certification through the USDA National Organic Program. In Wisconsin, this federal funding is administered through the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP).

 

Per DATCP, farms and businesses that produce, process, or package certified organic agricultural products are eligible to be reimbursed for 50 percent of certification-related costs (up to $500 per category of certification) for expenses paid from October 1, 2020 - September 30, 2021. Farms and businesses must be located in Wisconsin and currently certified as organic or actively seeking certification through an accredited organization during that time.

 

Applications materials and instructions can be found online at the Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)’s Organic Cost Share Program webpage: https://datcp.wi.gov/Pages/Growing_WI/OrganicFarmingAndFood.aspx

 

Applications must be mailed to DATCP-DAD, Organic Cost Share Program, P.O. Box 8911, Madison, WI 53708 or emailed to datcporganiccostshare@wi.gov.

 

Questions about the Wisconsin Organic Cost Share Program and application process should contact Andrew Bernhardt, DATCP Organic Agriculture Programs Specialist, at datcporganiccostshare@wi.gov or 608-572-0512.

 

The funding for this popular program originated in the 2002 Federal Farm Bill and was renewed in the 2014 Federal Farm Bill. Funding comes from the federal government through the USDA National Organic Program. DATCP administers the funding for Wisconsin.

 


Keep Your Pets Safe This Summer

Don't forget, hot summer temps can be dangerous not only to you but your pets too. Keep these helpful tips from the Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection in mind to keep your best friend happy and healthy this summer. 

 

Heat stroke is a serious threat to animals, and even with prompt treatment it can be fatal. Pets that have already suffered heat stroke once are more susceptible, as are animals that are young or old, have health problems, are overweight, or are snub-nosed.

Signs of heat stroke include panting, staring or stupor, breathing difficulty, an anxious expression, refusal to obey, warm dry skin, fever, rapid heartbeat, vomiting, diarrhea, seizures, and collapse. If you observe any of these signs, call your veterinarian immediately. Get the animal out of direct heat and get it wet in a wading pool, with a hose, or by covering it with towels soaked in cool water. Towels are most effective on less hairy parts of the body, like a dog's belly and legs. Here's how to prevent heat stroke:

  • Avoid leaving an animal in a parked vehicle, even for a few minutes. The temperature in a parked car can reach 120 degrees within minutes, so just a 10-minute stop may be dangerous. Opening the windows a few inches doesn't provide adequate cooling. If you're running errands, leave your dog home in a cool basement, or in a shaded yard with a wading pool. If you're traveling, make pit stops at places where your pet can get out of the vehicle.
  • Provide fresh, cool drinking water at all times. That includes inside your vehicle when you're traveling.
  • Make sure outdoor kennels are shaded and well-ventilated. Use water bowls that will not tip.
  • Avoid exercising pets on hot days or warm, humid nights.
  • Groom your pet. Clip long coats to about an inch (shorter clips or shaving can leave dogs vulnerable to sunburn). Cats shed profusely in hot weather, so brush them daily to prevent hairballs. Proper grooming also can prevent summer skin problems.

 


Governor's Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers delivered the Democratic Radio Address highlighting new relief funding for Wisconsin’s travel and tourism, entertainment, and lodging industries. The funding, which was secured under the American Rescue Plan Act, will support local businesses across the state as Wisconsin
continues to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic.


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

"Hey, folks! It’s Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers.

We all know just how important the travel, tourism, and lodging industry is here in Wisconsin.

From restaurants and music venues to hotels and theaters, the travel and tourism industry — and the local businesses that make up this key industry — are the backbone of our state.

But these folks have faced significant challenges the past year due to the COVID-19 pandemic.

That’s why we put our CARES funds to good use and invested more than $50 million in our tourism, lodging, and entertainment industries.

But as we keep bouncing back from this pandemic, we know our work is far from done.

And as folks in Wisconsin and around the country begin vacationing and traveling again, it’s especially important we support these vital industries.

That’s why I’m proud to announce more than $140 million in new funding to support local businesses in the travel, tourism, and lodging industry.

This funding will be key in ensuring the travel, tourism, and lodging industry — and our local businesses — can get back on their feet and back in business as quickly as possible.

And it will help our state keep bouncing back better than ever. We can’t slow down now, folks... Let’s get it done!"



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:


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.