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It's been a challenging week with extreme heat and severe storms and flooding throughout the state. If your property suffered any damage this week, make sure to check out these tips from the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance to avoid scams.

This update has lots of helpful information to keep you up-to-date including:

  • Governor Evers Vetoes GOP Efforts to Curtail Voting
  • Find a Vaccination Site Near You
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • DHS Resources for Schools and Students
  • Save the Date For These Local Events 
  • Help Slow the Spread of CWD
  • Information on deer hunting safety courses 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

 

Gov. Evers Vetoes Republican Efforts to Curtail Voting

Gov. Tony Evers vetoed legislation passed by Republicans in the Legislature that would affect election administration in the state of Wisconsin. These bills come as Republican-controlled states and legislatures across the country are taking up similar or related measures to add more hurdles to voting, discredit the work of election officials, and try and cast doubt on the results of the 2020 presidential election. In a public ceremony today, the governor vetoed Senate Bills 203, 204, 205, 210, 212, and 292, in addition to Assembly Bill 173 which was sent to the governor earlier this summer. A live stream of the event is available here

“Since November 2020, we’ve watched Republican governors and legislators around the country work quickly to add more hurdles to voting, to discredit the good work of our election officials, and to try and cast doubt on an election just because they didn’t win,” said Gov. Evers. “They’re trying to stack the deck so they get the results they want next time, and they’re trying to make it harder for every eligible person to cast their ballot. 


“Democracy isn’t something that just happens for us, we choose to make it every day. When I ran for this office, I promised that I’d work to protect the right of every eligible person to vote. That’s why we will keep working to protect the right of every eligible voter to cast their ballot and to make sure it is easy and accessible for them to do so, and that’s why I vetoed these bills today.”

The bills vetoed today include several provisions that would make it more difficult for voters to cast their ballots and for local officials to administer elections, including:

  • Limiting how a municipality can conduct an event in the community designed to help citizens return absentee ballots;
  • Restricting who can return a ballot on behalf of a voter; 
  • Restricting the use of indefinitely confined status when applying for an absentee ballot; 
  • Eliminating certain exemptions for voter identification requirements when voting absentee; 
  • Making it a felony to incorrectly attest that a person is indefinitely confined; 
  • Modifies how voting at qualified nursing homes and residential facilities is conducted, including shortening the window in which special voting deputies and assistants can help residents exercise their right to vote;
  • Requires family members of a resident voter to be notified of when the voting will take place with or without the voter’s input; 
  • Creates a new designation of “absentee voting assistant” so that employees of the homes or facilities can provide voting assistance, but makes it a felony for an employee to coerce a resident to take or not take an action in regard to voting; 
  • Decreases the distance of election observers from tables to no more than three feet only for recount activities; 
  • Prohibiting clerks from helping correct minor errors on returned absentee ballots, such as adding the zip code;  
  • Requires clerks to notify a voter of a defect with their ballot online and does not require they use other means to notify a voter, which could result in a voter being unaware their ballot had a defect; and 
  • Requires municipalities that live stream or broadcast election night proceedings to retain a copy of the entire broadcast for 22 months.

Get Vaccinated! 

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.

Find a vaccination site near you:

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.


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.

 


DHS Releases New and Updated Resources for Schools to Keep Students Safe

 To help keep students and teachers safe during the 2021-2022 school year, the Department of Health Services (DHS) today launched a K-12 School Testing Program communications toolkit. This toolkit will support school districts and school administrators’ efforts to connect with school staff, families, and communities about the COVID-19 testing opportunities available to them through the schools participating in this program. DHS has also released an updated version of the Guidelines for the Prevention, Investigation, and Control of COVID-19 Outbreaks in K-12 Schools in Wisconsin, a resource for school administrators and local and tribal health departments to use as they work together to make decisions about layered prevention strategies and to prevent and control COVID-19 outbreaks.

“It is important to remember that the most effective tool in our toolbox is vaccination. Masking up inside and getting tested if you have COVID-19 symptoms are additional, important steps we can take to help protect ourselves, our families, our kids, and our teachers and school staff,” said DHS Secretary-designee Karen Timberlake. “That is why I am so grateful to see districts and schools collaborating with their public health officials, consulting this guidance, and enrolling in our testing program. I know this work will help protect the health of our students, and help ensure the quality of their education and the safety of our teachers and staff.”

As of mid-July, over 300 public school districts and private/independent charter schools had enrolled in the testing program, representing over 50 percent of public school districts and 10 percent of private/independent charter schools in Wisconsin. As of current enrollment, the testing program has the potential to cover almost 60 percent of Wisconsin students. A one-time consent form signed by a parent or guardian will allow students to participate in the testing program. Enrollment remains open(link is external), and interested districts and schools are encouraged to learn more about the COVID-19 K-12 School Testing Program.

“As a former Wisconsin school district leader who led a school district through COVID-19 last year, I know many students and families desire in-person learning and a safe return to the classroom this fall. We want schools open for in-person instruction. And we want to keep kids, educators, and families safe,” said Wisconsin State Superintendent Dr. Jill Underly. “The joint guidance we are strongly recommending districts follow provides a roadmap for a safe return to in-person school.”

The Delta variant is highly infectious and is widespread in all parts of Wisconsin, as it is across the country. As the Delta variant spread increases, so does the risk that new, potentially more dangerous variants will develop. That is why state health officials are urging all eligible Wisconsinites to get the COVID-19 vaccine, wear a mask indoors or when gathering outside, and follow other best health practices. The vaccine is extremely effective against serious disease, hospitalizations, and death. While getting vaccinated remains the very best way to stop the spread of this deadly virus, we also need to have multiple layers of protection including universal masking in schools, particularly to protect those who are too young to get the vaccine as well as those with compromised immune systems.

“If your child is 12 years old or older, please get them vaccinated. And make sure you get your COVID-19 vaccine, too,” said Secretary-designee Timberlake. “Each additional person who gets vaccinated helps protect their family, their community, and our entire state. Getting the COVID-19 vaccine is an individual action that has community-wide impact.”

Schools will keep their students and staff safe by following this updated guidance and implementing testing. The updated school outbreak guidance emphasizes the importance of safe, in-person instruction by providing layered prevention strategies, including promoting COVID-19 vaccination among staff and eligible students, universal mask-wearing regardless of vaccination status, screening testing, and others. The new communications toolkit includes a suggested timeline, key messages, and sample internal and external messages, all of which are easy to customize to the unique needs of each district and school.

Many schools are hosting COVID-19 vaccination clinics for their staff, eligible students, family members, and in some cases, the general public. Visit the DHS COVID-19: K-12 Schools webpage or vaccines.gov(link is external) to learn more about available vaccine providers and sites.

Parents and guardians can also learn more about the importance of testing by watching testimonials from Wisconsin parents and school administrators in the COVID-19 Testing in Schools video, and can visit the COVID-19 Healthy Kids webpage for other resources about protecting children from COVID-19.


Save The Date For These Local Upcoming Events! 


Help Slow the Spread of CWD: Adopt a Kiosk or Carcass Disposal Dumpster this Deer Season

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is asking the public to help monitor and slow the spread of chronic wasting disease (CWD) this deer season.

Chronic wasting disease is a fatal, infectious nervous system disease found in the deer family. The DNR began monitoring the state's wild white-tailed deer population for CWD in 1999. The first positives were found in 2002.

For the past four years, individuals and organizations around the state have partnered with the DNR to place self-service kiosks and deer carcass disposal dumpsters out for hunters. This year, the Adopt-a-Kiosk and Adopt-a-Dumpster programs are looking for more volunteers to bring convenient CWD testing and proper deer carcass disposal options for hunters across Wisconsin.

“We know many Wisconsinites are looking to provide CWD services in their local areas. The original idea for Adopt-a-Dumpster came from hunters themselves. We then launched Adopt-a-Kiosk to provide even more opportunities to get involved,” said Amanda Kamps, DNR Wildlife Health Conservation Specialist. “Both programs give more hunters convenient opportunities to participate in CWD management around the state.”

Adopt-a-Dumpster partners can either donate the full cost of a dumpster or participate in the DNR’s cost-sharing program. The cost-sharing program ensures that after receiving DNR reimbursements, partners will not pay more than $500 for their share. In most counties, cost-sharing is available for up to three locations.

Find out more on our website about how you or your organization can get involved with Adopt-a-Kiosk or Adopt-a-Dumpster this year.


DWD Reminds Wisconsin Residents That Federal Extended Unemployment Benefits End Sept. 4

The Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development is encouraging state residents to prepare for the end of federal Unemployment Insurance programs.

Under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA), the extension of federal unemployment programs ends Sept. 4, 2021. Individuals with claims pending for weeks prior to Sept. 5, 2021 will be paid for each week they are found eligible. This includes Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC).

The FPUC program provides $300 per week in supplemental payments to those receiving state and other unemployment benefits.

"While these federal programs have provided an important backstop for those experiencing the loss of jobs and income, the end of this stimulus is rapidly approaching," said DWD Secretary-designee Amy Pechacek. "As we work to ensure Wisconsin's continued economic recovery, now is a good time for unemployed individuals to continue or expand their job search. During June, Wisconsin added 8,400 private-sector and 10,700 total non-farm jobs as the statewide unemployment rate fell to 3.9%. At recent statewide listening sessions, many employers emphasized that they are looking beyond traditional talent pools to fill openings and competing for available workers with increased pay and benefits."

Job seekers and those interested in improving job skills can find help at https://jobcenterofwisconsin.com/. To help guide claimants through the conclusion of the federal supplemental programs, DWD is providing notifications through its website, the Claimant Portal and the Claimant Assistance Line.

For those who have experienced a recent job or income loss and have not yet applied for benefits, the regular state unemployment insurance deadlines apply to Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC). As a result, the initial application must be received in the week benefits are to begin or within 7 days of the end of that week. So generally, the last week to apply for PEUC would be the week ending Sept. 11, 2021.

Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) applications will be accepted through Oct. 4, 2021. DWD is currently awaiting guidance from the U.S. Department of Labor regarding a requested extension of the deadline to 30 days after a determination is issued for those with pending unemployment insurance applications.

Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC) and Mixed Earners Unemployment Compensation (MEUC) supplement UI, PEUC or PUA, so the paying program's deadline would apply.


Get Ready for a Safe Hunting Season: Take a Hunter Safety Course 

The Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources (DNR) is encouraging people from all walks of life to give hunting a try this year and sign up for a hunter safety course. It’s never too early to think about completing your hunter education course or retaking it as a refresher.

More than 20,000 people take hunter education courses in Wisconsin each year. Anyone born on or after Jan. 1, 1973, is required to have a hunter education certification to purchase a hunting license, unless hunting under the Mentored Hunting Law. 

It’s easy and exciting to become involved in this outdoor activity. There are three ways to get a hunter education certification:

HANDS-ON TRAINING

  • Internet Field Day:
    • This training allows you to complete some of your training online and then attend one day of training with a certified instructor. This class is a good fit for a person that has handled firearms or is going to be hunting with someone that has more experience to help them build upon their hunting skills. During this class there are 4-6 hours of gun handling opportunities. All age groups are welcome.
  • Traditional Class:
    • This training offers a more hands-on approach to working with a certified instructor over a few days. Most students and families enjoy this option because they can do it right in their community. This option provides students with opportunities to handle hunting equipment, learn about safe hunting practices, shooting and many other topics.  In-person feedback from instructors at this venue also enhances student learning. All age groups are welcome.

ALL ONLINE

  • Hunter Education Online Program:
    • This training allows any person of any age to complete hunter education all online. The student spends multiple hours online studying and completing modules and passing a final exam to become certified. This option is a great fit for students that have a connection/mentorship within the shooting sports to help establish and strengthen their skills and lessons learned virtually. Until Sept. 1, 2021, people of any age can complete the course.

Before enrolling in any course, interested students must first obtain a Wisconsin Customer ID number.

All course options, links to enroll and cost information are outlined on the DNR’s website.

 


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

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Please visit my website for press releases and other Capitol updates.