JONline Banner.jpg

 

Don't forget, this weekend is free fun weekend where park admission fees, fishing licenses and trail passes will be waived for Wisconsinites! You can read more information below but make sure to take advantage of the nice weather this weekend and find your next adventure.

The Joint Committee on Finance met this week and took action on the Departments of Natural Resources, Workforce Development, Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protections, and Safety and Professional Services. 

This update includes:

  • Budget Breakdown
  • Road construction updates
  • Recap of missed opportunities
  • DWD info on job centers
  • Pride Month recognition
  • Saving Wisconsin turtles 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,
signature 2.jpg

JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Highlights from Joint Finance June 2nd Executive Session on the 2021-2023 State Budget

June 2nd Executive Session Action 

Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP)

The Committee took up DATCP in an omnibus motion, Motion #63 which included medical marijuana provisions from the Governor’s 2019 budget along with the rest of the Governor’s 2021 DATCP budget provisions. The committee chair ruled the motion out of order due Motion 19 which stripped all marijuana items from further consideration. 

 

Democrats on the committee offered Motion #64 which removed the items relating to marijuana. The motion included $10 million in each year for Food Security and Food Waste Reduction to ensure the food that we grow in Wisconsin ends up on the table and not in the landfill. The motion also included $2 million for the Meat Processor Grant and an additional $1.6 million for Dairy Promotion & Processor Grants as well as 6.0 positions for the Meat Inspection Program. The proposal included $2.16 million for improving the exports of Wisconsin Agricultural Products, $400,000 for Something Special from Wisconsin program and a continuing appropriation of $200,000 for the Farmer Mental Health Assistance program. The motion failed 4-12.

 

Republicans offered their own omnibus motion, Motion #68, which would allocate $400,000 for the Meat Processor Grants and modify the Governor's proposal by removing the Dairy Promotion Program, support for Agricultural Business Development Grants and only funding the Dairy Processor Grants at $400,000. The motion included the Governor’s proposal by funding Farmers Mental Health Assistance program at $100,000 on a one time basis. The motion included $1.16 million for the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports and 2.0 positions for the Meat Inspection Program. The motion passed 12-4. 

 

Department of Natural Resources (DNR) & Environmental Improvement Fund (EIF)

Democrats on the committee offered two separate motions, one on DNR and one on Environmental Improvement Fund. 

 

In the DNR motion, Motion #70, the proposal based on the Governor’s budget would provide an increase to equip DNR wardens with a radio upgrade,  body-worn cameras and Narcan. The motion would provide $1 million for Deer Carcass Disposal Grants to help stop the spread of CWD and $540,000 for a program to manage invasive species. Motion #70 would increase the waterfowl stamp by $5 to $12 and provide funding to ATV, UTV and Snowmobile to maintain and improve trails. The motion failed 4-12.

 

The other Democratic motion to EIF, Motion #69, proposed $40 million to address lead remediation in Wisconsin. The motion would create a program that authorizes DNR to award principal forgiveness for up to 50% of the cost of private lead service line replacement projects. Motion failed 4-12.

 

Republicans offered an omnibus motion including DNR and EIF. Motion #71 which would fund DNR wardens with body-worn cameras but put funding for a radio upgrade in the JFC supplemental fund. The GOP motion would not fund either the Deer Carcass Grant or invasive species grant. Motion #71 was nearly identical to the Democrats with regards to increasing waterfowl stamp and funding ATV, UTV and Snowmobile aids. This motion does not include any lead lateral remediation funding. Passed 12-4. 

 

Department of Workforce Development (DWD)

Democrats on the committees offered Motion #67, this proposal would fund several important programs offered by DWD. Among other minor program changes, the motion would create the Worker Connection Pilot Program and provide $9.7 million to fund the program. Motion #67 provides $8 million to provide grants to local workforce boards to fund pandemic recovery efforts, $200,000 for health care job recruitment programs and $1 million for green jobs training grants. The motion provides $500,000 for Youth and adult apprenticeship programs and $15 million for UI general administration needed to avoid increased delays in appeals and adjudications. This motion failed 12-4. 

 

The GOP offered Motion #72, which would modify the governor’s proposal for the youth and adult apprenticeship programs, funding the program by transfering funds from the Early College Credit Program to DWD for the programs. The motion would also expand eligibility for youth summer jobs programs and provide $25,000 to direct DWD to study a “sliding scale” UI system for the unemployment rate. The motion did not provide any GPR funding for training grants as the Democratic motion did. The motion passed 12-4.

 

Department of Safety and Professional Services (DSPS)

The JFC Democrats offered Motion #60 which fund several positions that would add to staffing to DSPS to decrease wait times for licenses and improve services. The proposal provides funding to modernize IT for the Electronic Safety and Licensing Application (eSLA). The motion included changes to Private Wastewater Treatment System Grant Program (POWTS) including providing $1.68 million in program revenue to reinstate the program and change the installation deadline to include systems that are at least 33 years old. This motion failed 4-12. 

 

Republicans offered Motion #62 which modified staffing to DSPS the motion would place funding for the eSLA in the JFC supplemental appropriation and did not reinstate the POWTS. The motion adjusted funding levels in the Democratic motion but was similar in programs acted on. The motion passed 12-4.  


Dane County Health Emergency Order Expires

As of June 2, 2021, all public health orders in Dane County have expired, including mask requirements and gathering limits.

Because not everyone is able to get vaccinated, particularly our kids younger than 12, Public Health recommends that unvaccinated people continue to wear masks in indoor public spaces. In addition, healthcare settings and public transportation will continue to require masks. Other businesses or organizations may also choose to continue masking policies.

 

Public Health will continue to conduct contact tracing when a person is diagnosed with COVID-19, and isolation and quarantine requirements will remain in place to prevent the spread of disease. We will also continue to support vaccination efforts, specifically focusing on addressing disparities by improving access and education.

 

Don't forget children 12-15 years old are now eligible to receive the Pfizer COVID-19 vaccine and vaccinations. 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.  

 

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.


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.

 


GOP Missed Opportunities Are Costing Wisconsinites Billions

As the Joint Finance Committee heads into another executive session today, Democrats on the committee are reminding Wisconsin families of the missed opportunities seen so far by the Republican-led committee and Legislature. Political grandstanding, failure to act promptly, and a lack of compliance to federal rules has lost Wisconsin billions already and could result in additional lost revenue going forward. Below is a statement from Democratic members of the Joint Finance Committee:

 

“While Governor Evers and legislative Democrats are working to ensure a strong economic recovery for Wisconsin by securing essential federal funds, Republican financial failures are putting those efforts in jeopardy. In a matter of weeks, Republicans cost our state $1.6 billion by rejecting BadgerCare expansion and are gambling an additional $1.5 billion for our kids by failing to maintain the State’s investment in public schools. Families, schools, and small businesses depend on a responsible budget that invests in our priorities. Instead of rising to the moment, Republicans are falling back on their same old political games in our budget process.”

 

In the past year, Republicans have “missed opportunities” for Wisconsin working families in the following ways:

  • May 2020, Republicans lost out on $25 million in federal funding to help unemployment benefits because they were too slow to act on the first COVID relief bill.
  • Wisconsin almost lost $70 million per month in federal FoodShare money because of a Republican lawsuit to strike down the Governor’s health emergency order, only saved by quick action and negotiations by Governor Evers.
  • Republicans have rejected $1.6 billion in additional federal funding by refusing to expand BadgerCare.
  • Wisconsin has lost a separate $1.6 billion since 2013 by not expanding BadgerCare.
  • Last week, Republicans underfunded the education budget so severely, Wisconsin may lose out on $1.5 billion in federal aid for schools.

“Wisconsinites deserve better. There is still time for legislative Republicans to step up for Wisconsin workers, families, kids, and small businesses. Today, we have the opportunity to invest in safe and clean water, our agricultural communities, updating our unemployment system, and more. The question is, will Republicans move forward, or will they continue to double down on the missed opportunities of the last year?”

 


Celebrate Pride Month

This week, Gov. Tony Evers signed Executive Order #120, ordering that the Rainbow Pride Flag be raised over the Wisconsin State Capitol during the month of June in celebration of Pride Month. The Rainbow Pride flag will fly over the East Wing of the State Capitol building from Tues., June 1, 2021, and ending at sunset on Wed., June 30, 2021. Additionally, Executive Order #120 authorizes state buildings and any jurisdiction of the state of Wisconsin to fly the Rainbow Pride Flag during the month of June. The governor also signed two additional executive orders relating to LGBTQ issues. 

 

“The Rainbow Pride flag is a symbol of our state's commitment to celebrating and supporting LGBTQ Wisconsinites and is emblematic of the history of the community and the hard fought battles to be seen and heard, and to live fully with dignity and respect,” said Gov. Evers. “It's also a sign of our future, the progress we have yet to make, and the more inclusive, more just state we will build, together. I am glad today to extend this tradition statewide in encouraging communities and all of our state buildings to celebrate Pride and the diversity, resilience, and joy of LGBTQ individuals across our state.”

 

The raising of the Rainbow Pride flag marks the third time the flag will fly over the Wisconsin State Capitol. Gov. Evers ordered the flag to fly over the State Capitol building for the first time in Wisconsin state history in June of 2019. As was the case in the past, the Rainbow Pride flag will not disrupt other flags that regularly fly over the State Capitol building. The U.S. flag and Wisconsin state flag will continue flying on the East wing flagpole above the Rainbow Pride flag. The POW-MIA flag will continue flying on the North wing flagpole as it does every day.

 

In addition to signing Executive Order #120, the governor also signed two additional executive orders relating to LGBTQ issues. Gov. Evers signed Executive Order #121 and directed Evers Administration cabinet agencies to use gender-neutral language whenever practicable in external documents, including but not limited to: using gender-neutral terms and pronouns, drafting to eliminate the need for pronouns, omitting superfluous gendered words, and making any reference to gendered family relations. 

 

Gov. Evers also signed Executive Order #122, which requires the Department of Health Services, Department of Corrections, and the Department of Children and Families to take appropriate steps to expressly disallow payment of state and federal funds allocated by their respective agencies for conversion therapy for minors. Numerous medical associations and professional organizations oppose the practice of conversion therapy and according to research conducted by the Family Acceptance Project, adolescence conversion efforts contribute to higher risks of depression and suicide for LGBTQ youth. 

 

“In addition to celebrating the resiliency and joy of the LGBTQ community, Pride also offers an opportunity for us to reflect on how the state and our communities can be better allies,” said Gov. Evers. “These executive orders today recognize the work we have to do as a state to protect, support, and celebrate all LGBTQ Wisconsinites, especially our kids, and ensure our state is a safe, inclusive, and just place where every person has the resources and support to thrive.”



DWD Job Centers Are Welcoming Back Walk-In Services

Per the Department of Workforce Development (DWD), the expansion of their current available services will include walk-in customers at Job Centers throughout Wisconsin on June 1, 2021.

During the public health emergency, Job Center operations shifted to a largely virtual environment with in-person services by appointment only. This next phase of operations will shift focus to provide a mix of walk-in and virtual services, allowing people the freedom and choice to access resources from DWD and the Workforce Development Boards (WDBs).

Expanded and continued services will include:

  • Supporting customers in-person with online job search, Job Center of Wisconsin registration, resume writing, and other career development activities
  • Conducting re-employment sessions remotely via phone
  • Co-locating at strategic partner locations (e.g., libraries and community-based organizations)
  • Continuing virtual workshops with topics such as resume writing, interviewing skills, LinkedIn, job searching for mature workers, and more
  • Offering virtual job fairs to connect job seekers with immediately available career opportunities
  • Providing in-person and virtual career counseling by appointment
  • Meeting with Trade Adjustment Assistance clients in-person and virtually
  • Expanding work with open job centers in correctional facilities (virtual and in-person)
  • Scheduling mobile career lab promotion of health careers in select locations
  • Referrals to workforce partner employment and training resources/programs

To find your local job center and resources available near you, including workforce partner services, please visit JobCenterofWisconsin.com/directory.


Wisconsin Free Fun Weekend

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is hosting the 9th annual Free Fun Weekend June 5-6. Park admission fees, fishing licenses and trail passes will be waived for Wisconsinites to find their adventure outdoors.

 

Wisconsin is home to 49 state parks, 15 state forests, 44 state trails, 84,000 miles of rivers and streams, roughly 15,000 lakes and so much more. Before heading to a state park, trail or waterbody near you, here are some helpful things to know:

 

STATE PARKS

  • Admission stickers will not be required.
  • All state parks will be open from 6 a.m. to 11 p.m.
  • Drive-up windows, playgrounds, bathrooms and observation towers are open.
  • Stand-alone concession facilities are open to the public at 50% capacity.
  • Office buildings, visitor centers, enclosed shelters and nature centers remain closed until further notice.
  • Adaptive rental equipment at state park properties is unavailable until further notice.

 TRAILS

  • Trail passes will not be required for both residents and non-residents.
  • All linear/rail trails will be open to the public, including ATV trails and horseback riding trails.

 FISHING

 BOAT LAUNCHES

  • All DNR boat launches are open.
  • Boats must be registered, which can be done either online or via mail.
  • Minimize the spread of aquatic invasive species by removing plants and animals from boats before and after launching, draining all water from compartments, and never move live fish from any waterbody.

 SAFETY

  • Wear a lifejacket at all times when fishing from a boat, kayak, canoe, or paddleboard.
  • Use boat lights after sunset.
  • Never consume alcohol or drugs before or during an ATV ride or while operating a boat.
  • Wear a helmet and protective clothing such as eye protection, gloves, long pants and a long-sleeved shirt while riding an ATV.
  • All children under the age of 18 must have a minimum Department of Transportation standard motorcycle or ATV helmet - bicycle helmets are not legal.
  • Keep your speed in mind as weather and terrain conditions vary or change.

Free Fun Weekend is a wonderful way to enjoy the outdoors. Participants are encouraged to join the Wisconsin State Parks' OutWiGo initiative. Make sure to tag your Free Fun Weekend photos with #OutWiGo.


PSC Opens Applications for First Round of ARPA Broadband Access Grants
The Public Service Commission of Wisconsin (PSC) released application instructions for the first round of Federal American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) Broadband Access Grants. The PSC will be awarding up to $100 million for projects that will expand high-speed broadband internet to unserved and underserved locations in the state. Applications for the ARPA Broadband Access Grants are due on July 27, 2021. The PSC expects to make award decisions in early fall.
Per the PSC, Internet service providers, telecommunications utilities, cooperatives, local governments, and for-profit and non-profit organizations are eligible to apply for grants. Approved projects must be completed by December 31, 2024, and there is no minimum or maximum amount of funding an applicant may request. Funds will be disbursed through a reimbursement process similar to the current process for the state Broadband Expansion Grant Program.
In accordance with the U.S. Treasury guidance for the ARPA funds (86 Fed. Reg. 26786), eligible broadband projects are expected to: 
  • Serve unserved or underserved households and businesses, as defined by the U.S. Treasury.
  • Be designed to deliver upon project completion internet service that reliably meets or exceeds symmetrical (upload and download) speeds of 100 Mbps (or at least 100 Mbps download and at least 20 Mbps upload, if it is not practicable to deliver the higher upload speeds due to geography, topography, or excessive costs), and be scalable to 100 Mbps upload in the future.

Under U.S. Treasury guidance, the Broadband Access Grant program will:

  • Prioritize projects that deliver physical broadband connections that achieve the last mile connection.
  • Prioritize applications that integrate affordability options.
  • Prioritize investments in fiber optic infrastructure where feasible.
  • Avoid investments in locations that have existing agreements to build reliable service of at least 100 Mbps download and 20 Mbps upload by December 31, 2024.
  • Prioritize projects providing internet access or digital literacy support to households facing negative economic impacts due to COVID-19.
  • Prioritize support for broadband networks owned, operated by, or affiliated with local governments, non-profits, and co-operatives.

In addition to federal criteria, the PSC will evaluate broadband projects based on applicant capacity, capability, performance, planning, project budget, proposed matching funds, and the proposed service area's existing broadband service need.

The PSC will host an ARPA Broadband Access Grant program webinar on Tuesday, June 8, 2021, at 2:30 p.m.  Registration is available here. For those who cannot attend, a recording of the webinar will be made available on the State Broadband Office webpage. Subsequent webinars will be posted on the State Broadband Office webpage. For additional information on Wisconsin’s ARPA Broadband Access Grants, please visit the State Broadband Office webpage here.

 


Governor's Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers delivered the Democratic Radio Address celebrating National Dairy Month in Wisconsin and highlighting his Badger Bounceback Agenda investments in Wisconsin’s agricultural economy and farm families..

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

"Hi Wisconsin, Governor Tony Evers here.

This month we’re celebrating June Dairy Month in Wisconsin and if there’s one thing we all know for sure, it’s that they don’t call Wisconsin “America's Dairyland” for nothing.

As one of the nation’s top producers of dairy and supplier of more than a quarter of the country’s cheese, no one does dairy quite like us. With more than 1.2 million dairy cows across our state and more than 95% of our dairy farms being familyowned, it’s impossible to go anywhere in Wisconsin and not be reminded how critically important the dairy industry is to our state, our economy, and who we are as Wisconsinites.

Our state has relied on the resilience and dedication of our farmers for generations, and that’s why my budget has prioritized helping our farmers and farming industries bounce back.

My Badger Bounceback agenda invests more than $43 million in our agricultural economy and farm families. These investments are critically important so that we can work to expand market opportunities, develop new and innovative farming practices, strengthen our agricultural workforce, connect local producers to foodbanks and pantries, and support farmer mental health and wellbeing.

These historic investments will create and fund the Wisconsin Initiative for Agricultural Exports, boosting export opportunities for our agricultural products. It will also increase support for the Dairy Processor Grant Program and fund the Farm-to-School Grant Program, which can help get fresh, nutritious, and locally-produced foods onto kids’ plates in school cafeterias across Wisconsin.

Our agricultural industry is Wisconsin's past and present, and it will be our future, so this Dairy Month, join me in supporting Wisconsin’s dairy farmers and producers.

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.