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What an exciting week for Wisconsin, GO BUCKS GO! 

This is certainly an historical moment that brought people together and I hope everyone was able to celebrate this week. To honor this moment, Governor Evers even proclaimed June 22 as "Bucks in Six" Day across the state.

This update has lots of helpful information to keep you informed including:

  • Slow the Spread, Get Vaccinated
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Save the Date For These Local Events 
  • Blue Algae Risks and Safety Tips
  • Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program Includes Internet Bills
  • The Latest Consumer Alert
  • 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

 

YEAR OF THE DEER!

Join me in congratulating the Milwaukee Bucks on their Championship victory over the Phoenix Suns! This has been years in the making and an incredible series to watch. I am so happy for the city of Milwaukee and what this victory means for their community and for our state. Bucks in Six!!


Get Vaccinated!

Fully vaccinated, you help #StopTheSpread and help prevent mutations, or variants. When more of us are vaccinated against COVID-19, the less chance the virus has to continue mutating.


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.

 


Governor Evers, DHS Urge COVID-19 Vaccination Ahead of 2021-2022 School Year

Governor Tony Evers and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) encourage anyone attending school in the upcoming 2021-2022 school year to get their COVID-19 vaccine as soon as possible. This includes children ages 12 and up as well as anyone planning to attend in-person classes at a college or university.

“Getting vaccinated now means we can help make sure our students are back in the classroom and won’t have to miss out on in-person classes or extra-curricular activities,” said Governor Tony Evers. “The COVID-19 vaccines are the best protection we have against the virus and make it possible for our kids to get back to learning safely and without disruption.”

According to CDC and DHS guidance, adults and adolescents who are fully vaccinated do not need to quarantine(link is external) after close contact with a confirmed case of COVID-19. That means that parents and guardians do not need to worry about their fully vaccinated children having to miss out on in-person school, after school activities such as sports, and other extracurricular activities after being exposed to COVID-19. In addition, many places across the state, and some schools, will not be requiring people who are fully vaccinated to wear masks indoors.

Confirmed and probable cases of COVID-19 have been increasing over the past several weeks after a period of regular decline. The 7-day average of new confirmed cases stands at 242, which represents a 303% increase since the 7-day average reached a recent low of 60 cases per day just two and a half weeks ago. This comes amidst reports from states across the nation experiencing surges in newly reported cases, most commonly attributed to the more-transmissible Delta variant. All three COVID-19 vaccines currently authorized for use in the United States show promising results at preventing severe illness from COVID-19.

For children ages 12 and up, the Pfizer COVID-19 is the only vaccine currently available for this age group. The Pfizer vaccine requires two doses, spaced 21 days apart. Adults ages 18 and up are eligible for the Moderna COVID-19 vaccine, which also requires two doses, spaced 28 days apart. The Johnson & Johnson vaccine is also authorized for those ages 18 and up, but only requires one dose. For all three currently authorized COVID-19 vaccines, an additional two weeks is needed after receiving the second dose of Pfizer or Moderna or the one dose of Johnson & Johnson to build full protection against the virus. That means that parents and guardians of adolescents should strongly consider getting their children vaccinated as soon as possible to ensure they are fully vaccinated for the start of the school year.

“It is important that we continue to vaccinate everyone who is eligible for the COVID-19 vaccines, especially as students, faculty and teachers, and other staff make plans to return to school in the fall,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “With the recent increase in new cases, and the very real threat of the Delta variant, vaccination remains our best tool for preventing further disruption in our schools and universities throughout the state.”

To find a COVID-19 vaccine location in your community visit Vaccines.gov(link is external), or call 211 or 877-947-2211. Select daycares are offering free childcare during your COVID-19 vaccine appointment, and select CVS and Walgreen pharmacies are offering extended hours on Fridays. Learn about these resources at the DHS Find a Vaccine Appointment webpage.

The COVID-19 vaccines can also be administered at the same time as other routine immunizations. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is a great opportunity to make sure you and your student are up-to-date on other recommended vaccinations. Additional resources for parents and guardians of adolescents currently eligible to receive the vaccine can be found on the DHS COVID-19 Resources for Parents and Guardians page.

For up-to-date information about Wisconsin’s COVID-19 response, visit the DHS COVID-19 webpage. You can also follow @DHSWI on Facebook(link is external)Twitter(link is external), or dhs.wi on Instagram(link is external) for more information on COVID-19.


Save The Date For These Local Upcoming Events! 


Beachgoers - Be Aware of Blue-Green Algae Risks

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is reminding beachgoers and their pets to watch for blue-green algae and know the risks. Blue-green algae can cause illness if swallowed or inhaled in water droplets, or irritation if rubbed on the skin under clothing.

Blue-green algae, or cyanobacteria, are photosynthetic bacteria often called "pond scum." Blue-green algae are most often green but can also be blue, tan, reddish-purple or brown. Blue-green algae generally grow in lakes, ponds and slow-moving streams when the water is warm and enriched with nutrients like phosphorus or nitrogen.

When environmental conditions are just right, blue-green algae can increase in number. Most species are buoyant and will float to the surface, where they form scum layers or floating mats known as a "blue-green algae bloom." In Wisconsin, blue-green algae blooms generally occur between mid-June and late September, although in rare instances, blooms have been observed in winter, even under the ice.
 

STAY SAFE ON AND OFFSHORE

Since most lakes in Wisconsin are not tested for blue-green algae, it is important to know what it looks like and always assess conditions before swimming.

Stay safe by following best practices, including:

  • Do not swim in water that looks like "pea soup," green or blue paint, or that has a scum layer or puffy blobs floating on the surface.
  • Do not boat, water ski, etc., over such water (people can be exposed through inhalation).
  • Do not let children play with scum layers, even from shore.
  • Do not let pets or livestock swim in, or drink, waters experiencing blue-green algae blooms.
  • Always take a shower after encountering any surface water (whether or not a blue-green algae bloom appears to be present; surface waters may contain other species of potentially harmful bacteria and viruses).
  • Try to avoid swallowing lake water, no matter how clean it looks, since it may have bacteria, viruses, or parasites in it that could make you sick.

KEEP PETS SAFE

Blue-green algae can have harmful effects on humans and pets. However, because dogs love to spend time in the water, they are not deterred by surface scum and often swallow a lot of water while swimming. If they consume large quantities of blue-green algae when they drink the water, and if those blue-green algae happen to be producing toxin(s), the animals can become very ill, and even die.

Symptoms of blue-green algal toxin poisoning may range from lethargy and loss of appetite to seizures, vomiting and convulsions. Dogs are particularly susceptible to blue-green algal poisoning because scums can attach to their coats and be swallowed during self-cleaning. To keep dogs safe, choose the clearest water possible for dogs to swim in and keep dogs out of areas with accumulations of blue-green algae or any dense particulate matter.

Follow these tips to keep pets safe: 

  • Do not let pets swim in, or drink, waters experiencing blue-green algae blooms or noticeably green water.
  • Keep dogs out of shallow, stagnant waters where blue-green algae may be growing on the bottom and dislodged by disturbance. If people shouldn't swim there, dogs shouldn't either.
  • Always offer fresh, clean water for pets to drink instead of lake water.
  • Always wash dogs off with clean water immediately after they swim, so they don't lick any algae from their fur.
  • Supervise pets when they are outside so they don't eat algal scum accumulated on the shore, floating mats of algae or drink lake water.
  • If a pet eats grass, avoid using lake water for lawn irrigation if blooms are present.
  • If there's any doubt about what is in the water, keeping pets out is the safest course of action.

Symptoms of water intoxication (from swallowing too much water) and heatstroke in dogs include vomiting, diarrhea, lethargy, and loss of coordination. Give dogs plenty of breaks from swimming and retrieving in lakes, avoid having dogs bite at splashed water as a game and use flat objects for retrieval instead of balls. Always provide shade and fresh, clean water to drink.

The public is encouraged to report significant blue-green algae blooms to the DNR at DNRHABS@wisconsin.gov. Please include the location of the bloom, the name of the water body, nearest town, county, the size and duration of the bloom and overall and close-up photographs for verification. The DNR is unable to test all reported blooms.

For more information on blue-green algae, including symptoms of exposure and environmental concerns, visit the DNR Blue-Green Algae webpage. More information is also available via the Wisconsin Department of Health Services.


Gov. Evers Announces Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program Payment of Internet Bills 

Gov. Tony Evers announced that the Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program (WERA), which provides rental and utility assistance to households affected by the pandemic, will begin to include coverage of internet costs for qualifying households. To date, the state program has provided more than $38 million to nearly 11,000 households and is working to distribute available funds to eligible households and individuals.

“The past year and a half has underscored the fact that access to affordable high-speed internet is a necessity to how we live, learn, and work,” said Gov. Evers. “This additional resource coupled with our recent announcement of Broadband Access funding across the state should go a long way toward helping folks remain connected, make ends meet, and bounce back from the COVID-19 pandemic.”

Eligible applicants include Wisconsin residents who meet the following criteria:   

  • One or more individuals within the household has qualified for unemployment benefits or experienced a reduction in household income, incurred significant costs, or experienced other financial hardship due, directly or indirectly, to the COVID-19 pandemic;
  • One or more individuals within the household can demonstrate a risk of experiencing homelessness or housing instability; and
  • A household income at or below 80 percent of county median income.

“Internet connectivity is a vital service that allows renters to engage in distance learning, telework, telemedicine, and obtain essential government services,” said Public Service Commission Chairperson Rebecca Valcq. “These funds will ensure Wisconsinites are able to receive essential services.”

“We are approaching the end of the federal moratorium on rental evictions on July 31, and it is more critical than ever that households in need are aware of this assistance,” added Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) Secretary Joel Brennan. “We are determined to get assistance out to eligible households as quickly as possible through our network of partners across the state.”

The state received over $322 million in the first round of Emergency Rental Assistance Funds. The effort is funded by the Federal Emergency Rental Assistance Program through the U.S. Department of Treasury and administered in the state by the DOA.

The DOA has partnered with Wisconsin Community Action agencies and Energy Services, Inc. to accept applications and distribute rental, internet and utility assistance. Residents of Brown, Dane, Milwaukee, and Waukesha counties and the cities of Madison and Milwaukee can apply directly to their local government’s rental assistance provider.


Be Aware of Air Quality Concerns

Have you noticed a haze in the sky? If you have, you may be surprised to learn that it's due to smoke from sustained wildfire activity in Canada.

The DNR is closely monitoring air quality across the state with Moderate to Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups (USG) levels possible over the next few days.
You can always get the latest air quality for your area at http://airquality.wi.gov/home/map. You can also sign up to receive air quality advisories for select counties via text or email.
Right now, the map indicates Moderate level air quality across parts of Wisconsin. Those sensitive to air pollution include people with heart or lung disease, asthma, older adults and children. When air quality is considered "moderate" or "unhealthy for sensitive groups, the DNR recommends individuals within these groups limit strenuous activity until air quality conditions improve.


Be On Alert for Fraudulent Collection Mailings

Wisconsin taxpayers should be alert to suspicious mailings regarding tax collection. The Wisconsin Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection (DATCP) and the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) have received reports from multiple counties of individuals receiving fraudulent letters related to tax collection cases.

 

The public can identify these letters by looking for:

  • A return address listing the “Benefits Suspension Unit,” a Wisconsin county, and “Public Judgement Records.”
  • A fake government seal with an image of the U.S. in a circle, rather than a state, county, or municipality seal.
  • A paid postage mark indicating the letter originates from Los Angeles, CA.
  • There is no information on remitting payment, only a number to call to “avoid enforcement.”

The language of these letters sounds official and creates a sense of urgency by threatening to seize property; “The State of Wisconsin can now take enforcement action such as seizing assets and garnishing wages and bank accounts to satisfy the outstanding debt owed.”

 

These scammers may be targeting victims by searching court filings for individuals who have court cases filed against them to collect taxes.

If you have questions about the status of your tax payment or question the authenticity of a letter, phone call, or email you receive that claims to be from a government agency, contact that agency directly to inquire. Always contact the agency using a phone number or email address that you know to be accurate – never use the contact information provided by the questionable communication.

 

If you have been the victim of a scam, report it by filing a complaint online HERE or send an email to datcphotline@wisconsin.gov, or call DATCP’s Consumer Protection Hotline at 1-800-422-7128.

 


Governor's Weekly Radio Address

Gov. Tony Evers delivered the Democratic Radio Address congratulating the Milwaukee Bucks on their incredible National Basketball Association (NBA) Finals game six win Tuesday evening, securing the NBA Championship. The Bucks came back to win the series after trailing 2-0 in the series, and it is the Bucks’ first NBA Championship title in 50 years since they last won in 1971.

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

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

And holy mackerel, folks, after five long decades, history has been made and the “Bucks in Six” prophecy fulfilled because of our Milwaukee Bucks—our NBA Champions.

This is the Bucks’ first NBA finals win in 50 years—a historic and well-deserved win for this team and Milwaukee.

But this victory means more for our state than just a win for the record books.

It’s been a difficult year for all of us, and we’ve faced unprecedented challenges, but we’ve all watched the Bucks and these players—their charm, humor, eccentricity, resilience, and grit—who have been a source of hope, unity, and happiness when we’ve needed it the most.

Tuesday’s victory encapsulates the spirit of this team and the strength, resilience, unity, and pride of these players, the Bucks, the city of Milwaukee, and our state.

Today, Wisconsinites and Bucks fans everywhere celebrate the Bucks’ remarkable season and historic win in the 2021 NBA Finals.

And on behalf of the entire state of Wisconsin, I would just like to say... Bucks in six!"

 


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.