JONline Banner.jpg

 

This week, Governor Evers called for a special session to invest more than $500 million in readily available state resources to do what's best for our kids. Unfortunately and unsurprisingly, Republicans gaveled out of the special session and turned their backs on Wisconsin schools and students. They rejected $200 million in special education aid, an increase in per-pupil aid by $146 per student and $110 million for higher education. 

Because Republicans underfunded schools so severely, our state has a such a thin margin for error. That means if we spend less on schools or more on anything else we would be out of compliance and at risk of losing federal dollars. Governor Evers' package would have put us well over that margin to safely secure those funds.

Given the uncertainty we face with the spread of the Delta variant, it's irresponsible to leave our schools out on a limb like this.

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

  • Gov. Evers Announces Infrastructure Grants
  • The Latest On The Delta Variant and the Importance of Getting Vaccinated
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Insurance Tips Following Storm Damage
  • Save the Date For These Local Events 
  • Accessible Fishing for Wisconsinites
  • Applications Open for Worker Advancement Initiatives 
  • Flashback Friday 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,
signature 2.jpg

JON ERPENBACH
State Senator
27th District

 

Gov. Evers Announces More than $22 Million of Public Infrastructure Grants to Wisconsin Municipalities

Gov. Tony Evers recently announced the award of $22,406,347 of Community Development Block Grant (CDBG) Public Facility awards for critical public infrastructure projects in low to moderate income communities and municipalities throughout the state. Projects include improvements, repairs, or expansions of streets, drainage systems, water and sewer systems, sidewalks, as well as blight prevention and elimination.

 

Communities receiving CDBG Public Facility awards in 2021 include: Abbotsford, Algoma, Ashland, Augusta, Boscobel, Clyman, Cobb, Crandon, Dorchester, Gratiot, Gresham, Mason, Mauston, Mondovi, Muscoda, Norwalk, Owen, Pittsville, Prentice, Rib Lake, South Wayne, Spooner, Suring, Viola, and Winter.

“As Wisconsin continues to bounce back from the coronavirus pandemic, we’re working to connect the dots to ensure every family and every community can continue to rebound and recover,” said Gov. Evers. “From Spooner to Cobb to Algoma, the more than $22 million in grants announced today will help make critical infrastructure improvements and support upgrades to essential services while sustaining family-supporting jobs in communities across our state.” 

 

The Department of Administration’s (DOA) Division of Energy, Housing and Community Resources (DEHCR) administers Wisconsin’s Small Cities Community Development Block Grant program.  

 

“Communities of all sizes have struggled for years to make desperately needed repairs to aging roads, water mains, and sewerage systems,” said DOA Secretary Joel Brennan. “Making these improvements enables Wisconsin communities to provide better public services and stronger public infrastructure to residents who rely on them daily.” 

 

The CDBG Program is authorized by Title I of the Housing and Community Development Act of 1974, and is one of the longest continuously run programs at the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD). These funds can be used to address critical and unmet community needs. The state of Wisconsin distributes these federal funds toward public facility, housing, and economic development projects that benefit low to moderate income persons.  

 


Growing Case Activity and Circulation of Delta Variant Prompt Updated CDC and DHS Guidance

The Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) supports the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC)’s recommendations(link is external) that were issued on July 27, 2021. The new recommendations, which are based on the most up-to-date information about the Delta variant of COVID-19, will be reflected in all DHS guidance. The Delta variant is highly infectious and is spreading more quickly than any other strain of the SARS-CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19.

“Wisconsin’s 7-day average for new confirmed and probable cases has been trending upward,” said DHS Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk. “We are concerned with this trajectory along with the increasing proportion of sequenced SARS-CoV-2 specimens that are the Delta variant.”

First and foremost, the best way to protect yourself, your family, and your community from COVID-19 and the Delta variant is to get vaccinated. From January 1, 2021 through July 22, 2021, over 98 percent of COVID-19 cases in Wisconsin occurred among people who were not fully vaccinated.

Getting vaccinated against COVID-19 prevents severe illness, hospitalization, and death; it also helps reduce the spread of the virus in communities. Unvaccinated people should get vaccinated and continue wearing a mask until they are fully vaccinated. With the Delta variant, this is more urgent than ever. Data demonstrate that COVID-19 vaccines are effective against the Delta variant. Past infection with COVID-19 does not assure protection from the Delta variant, so people who have had past COVID-19 infection are strongly encouraged to get vaccinated. High vaccination coverage will not only reduce the spread of the virus, but also help prevent new, and possibly more concerning, variants from emerging. Vaccination is the best way to protect you, your family, and your community. To find a vaccination location near you visit vaccines.gov(link is external) (https://vacunas.gov/(link is external)) or call 211.

While vaccination remains the top defense against the Delta variant, the CDC guidance also focuses on additional strategies that will provide additional protection against the spread of the virus. Because science has shown that wearing a mask over your nose and mouth can help prevent transmission of the respiratory droplets and aerosols that spread COVID-19, wearing a mask is now recommended in the following indoor settings:

  • All teachers, staff, students, and visitors of K-12 schools should wear masks indoors regardless of vaccination status.
  • Everyone, regardless of vaccination status, who lives in areas with substantial and high transmission as noted on this CDC map(link is external) (orange counties represent substantial transmission and red counties represent high transmission) should wear masks in public indoor settings.

DHS encourages local leaders to look at CDC’s classifications of community transmission(link is external) in their counties to make decisions on mask guidance for their communities. DHS data, including the COVID-19 Disease Activity dashboard and COVID-19 cases and deaths maps, provide additional context on COVID-19 activity in Wisconsin’s local regions.

“As COVID-19 cases climb, and the Delta variant continues to spread, we urge Wisconsinites to get vaccinated,” said Deputy Secretary Willems Van Dijk. “We must protect our children as they head back to school this fall, along with all other Wisconsinites who are at an increased risk for being hospitalized from COVID-19. Vaccines and the additional protection from wearing masks are the best combination of tools to achieve this goal.”


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.

 


What To Do After a Storm Hits

Did your property suffer any damage from this week's storms? Check out these helpful tips from the Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance:
  • Notify your insurance agent or insurance company right away to begin the insurance claim process.

  • Make a list of damaged items for your adjuster, including cracks in walls, damage to floors, and missing roof tiles.
    • If structural damage is likely, discuss this with your adjuster. In some cases, the adjuster may recommend hiring a licensed engineer or architect to inspect the property. You should also get the electrical system checked. Most insurance companies pay for such inspections.
  • Take photographs of the damages for the insurance company.

  • Keep swatches of damaged material, such as carpeting, curtains, and furniture.

  • Don’t throw out any damaged property without the claims adjuster’s agreement. If local officials require you to dispose of damaged items for safety, photos and swatches will help.

  • Keep all receipts that document the cost of the repairs or the replacement of damaged items.

  • TO AVOID SCAMS, make sure to take your time. If you feel pressured to sign a contract quickly, take a step back and investigate.​ The Department of Agriculture, Trade and Consumer Protection offers tips to prevent problems, based on past consumer complaints .
    • ​Make sure the contractor is licensed and check with the Better Business Bureau that there are no reports against them. You can also contact DATCP's Wisconsin’s Consumer Protection Hotline at
      (800) 422-7128 or DATCPHotline@wisconsin.gov​ ​to s​ee if any complaints have been made against the business or contractor.​

  • Most homeowners policies do not cover flooding or seepage through the foundation. A separate flood insurance policy sold through the National Flood Insurance Program is necessary for this coverage.

  • Damages from sewer backup or sump pump overflow is not covered by standard homeowners insurance or flood insurance. The purchase of a special endorsement for your homeowner's policy is required for this type of coverage.

 


Save The Date For These Local Upcoming Events! 


Fishing for All: Accessible Fishing Opportunities In Wisconsin

Wisconsin offers numerous shore-fishing opportunities for people with disabilities at areas across the state. 

Since the Americans with Disabilities Act (ADA), every fishing pier the Wisconsin DNR builds is accessible to people with disabilities. The accessible fishing piers are designed to accommodate wheelchairs, are wider to offer enough room for turning around and have lower railings and rod holders so that anglers can cast out and fish.

Many Wisconsin residents with disabilities are eligible for a discount on their annual fishing license. These licenses must be renewed annually and do not exempt the holder from the need to purchase required fishing stamps. The licenses are available at any sales location. At the time of purchase, you must present evidence you are receiving disability benefits.

 


DWD Announces That It Is Now Accepting Applications For The Worker Advancement Initiative 

Department of Workforce Development (DWD) Secretary Amy Pechacek announced that DWD is now accepting grant applications from local workforce development boards (WDBs) for the much-anticipated Worker Advancement Initiative.

The Worker Advancement Initiative will serve people whose previous employment has not come back post-pandemic, as well as those who were not attached to or were not successful in the labor market prior to the pandemic, by offering subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers. The program builds on the success of current transitional jobs programs in the state by launching a new, statewide effort to provide subsidized work opportunities to approximately 2,000 individuals. DWD will administer the program through local WDBs in partnership with community-based organizations.

Clients served will benefit from a continuum of services, including:

  • Paid work experience opportunities to develop and/or enhance job skills (wage subsidies);
  • Hard and soft skill training so participants can acquire occupational skills connected to 'in-demand' jobs along with critical work-based skills needed to succeed;
  • On-the-job training opportunities that will lead to economic self-sufficiency (wage subsidies); and
  • Supportive services to address related barriers to employment, which may include assistance for childcare, housing, transportation and worker stipends.

"We continue to hear from unemployed workers, regional employers and community leaders, and it is very clear that there is not a one-size-fits-all solution to overcoming workforce challenges that are specific to an area,” Gov. Tony Evers said. “Listening to the people who are acutely aware of what's going on in their neighborhood and providing them the support they need to overcome the challenges that are specific to them is all part of connecting the dots to build a stronger, more vibrant Wisconsin.”

The Worker Advancement Initiative is one of three programs introduced by Gov. Evers with his groundbreaking $130 million investment in workforce solutions. All funds will be invested into Wisconsin’s workforce to connect unemployed or underemployed workers with new opportunities while also incentivizing innovative solutions to regional workforce challenges that have been exacerbated by the pandemic.

The three programs include:

  • $100 million Workforce Innovation grant program to encourage regions and communities to develop leading-edge, long-term solutions to the workforce challenges the state faces in the wake of COVID-19;
  • $20 million toward the Worker Advancement Initiative, which will offer subsidized employment and skills training opportunities with local employers to unemployed individuals; and
  • $10 million for a Worker Connection Program, which will provide workforce career coaches who will connect with individuals attempting to reengage in the workforce post-pandemic.

The Worker Advancement Initiative is the first program to be rolled out. Gov. Evers has committed$20 million in American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA) funds from the U.S. Department of Treasury through the Wisconsin Department of Administration toward the Initiative. This funding will allow DWD to award grants to the WDBs to provide subsidized employment and skills training opportunities to participants, including a focus on those who will be co-enrolled in Workforce Innovation and Opportunity Act (WIOA) programs. The purpose is to leverage existing resources available through the greater workforce system to connect participant job seekers more effectively to employers and allow them to obtain enhanced case management and training services.

"This $20 million investment can effectuate real, positive change at a very local level," DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek said. "The local workforce boards keep a pulse on what's happening in their community and we are excited to listen and learn about the innovative solutions they will bring to encourage and enable more folks to participate in the workforce."

Only Wisconsin WDBs are eligible for funding and this project will be supported, in whole, by a federal award awarded to the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development via the Wisconsin Department of Administration by the U.S. Department of the Treasury.

DUE DATE: Applications for funding are due to DWD no later than 5:00 p.m. Central Time on Friday, August 13, 2021.

Learn more about the Workforce Solutions Initiative


Flashback Friday

The Wisconsin Department of Transportation recently shared this cool throwback photo of the Merrimac rail bridge over the Wisconsin river from 1895! Today the bridge carries 280,000+ tons of freight to and from Sauk County every year. 

 


Wisconsin Rental Assistance Program

Reminder, the federal eviction moratorium ends July 31st. Gov. Evers’ administration is working closely with community partners across the state to make sure Wisconsinites know that help is available to them. Below is some information about the program that you might find helpful.  

 

The Wisconsin Emergency Rental Assistance Program (WERA) uses federal funding to provide eligible households up to 15 months of assistance with existing or overdue rent and utility bills. Over 12,000 eligible households have already received assistance this year. The Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA) is partnering with members of the Wisconsin Community Action Program Association, as well as Energy Services, Inc., to get $280 million in available funding out the door to qualifying households. 

 

The Wisconsin Eviction Data Project has shown a decline in eviction judgments in the first half of 2021 but filings are on the rise. In anticipation of the end of the eviction moratorium, we expect the need for assistance will become even more acute. There is no need for families to wait for July 31, help is available now.  

Find information on how residents apply below:  


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.