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I hope you're enjoying the last few weeks of summer. In case you missed it, this week Republicans passed a proposal that would allow Speaker Vos and Senate Majority Leader LeMahieu to hire attorneys - on the taxpayers dime - to intervene in a redistricting lawsuit.  

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

  • Governor Evers Announces Investments for Farmers
  • Find a Vaccination Site Near You
  • Provide Your Input On Fair Maps
  • Dane County New Health Order
  • How to Recover Lost Vaccination Card Record
  • Veterans Resources
  • WEDC Investments in Arena 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 Announces Additional $50 Million to Support Wisconsin Farmers, Agriculture Industry

Gov. Tony Evers announced an additional $50 million in direct payments to support Wisconsin’s agricultural producers through a new round of the Wisconsin Farm Support Program, an additional installment of the governor’s successful Wisconsin Farm Support Program announced in 2020. Last year, Gov. Evers distributed $50 million in direct aid to farmers through the Wisconsin Farm Support Program. In total, the governor has earmarked more than $100 million from funding the state received from the federal government to support Wisconsin’s farmers and agricultural industries.

 

“There’s no question Wisconsin farmers are some of the strongest, most resilient folks in the state, but the last year brought on unique and unprecedented challenges—challenges many of them are still grappling with,” said Gov. Evers. “They’ve always had our back, and now, we need to have theirs. I’m glad to be providing another round of direct aid to farmers to support their recovery and strengthen one of our state’s most important industries.”

 

Farmers have faced low commodity prices in recent years, and the coronavirus pandemic created new challenges for the entire sector with unexpected shocks to agricultural markets. Still Wisconsin’s agriculture industry annually contributes nearly $105 billion to the state’s economy and provides more than 435,000 jobs, while helping to feed the world.

“Gov. Evers has prioritized our producers during a challenging time,” said Department of Agriculture, Trade, and Consumer Protection (DATCP) Secretary-designee Randy Romanski. “These timely payments will make a real difference for our farmers, and they are unrestricted, so recipients across Wisconsin can use the money where it is needed most or make up for losses.”

 

In the initial installment of the Farm Support Program announced in May 2020, Gov. Evers announced $50 million in direct aid payments to farmers. Under the Farm Support Program initiative in 2020, each recipient received up to a $3,500 payment. The 2020 Farm Support Program funding was provided under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. This additional investment in the Farm Support Program also builds on the governor’s previous pandemic-related investments in Wisconsin’s agriculture industry, including $25 million for food security initiatives and funding to boost Wisconsin food products as well as $3.3 million in assistance for the ethanol industry.

 

Department of Revenue (DOR) Secretary Peter Barca added, “Our team understands the importance of getting help where it is needed in our agricultural communities. We will work with DATCP to ensure a streamlined process to accomplish those goals, and we are eager to serve the Wisconsin farmers who continue to serve all of us.”

 

DATCP will partner with the DOR to administer the program. Applications will open later this year, after the fall harvest, to ensure sufficient time for farmers to learn about the program and apply. The program will be modeled after the successful Wisconsin Farm Support Program, implemented by the Evers Administration in 2020. The 2021 program is funded by the federal American Rescue Plan Act of 2021.


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. 

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.

 


New Public Health Order Issued for Dane County Requiring Face Covering Indoors

Public Health Madison & Dane County issued a Face Covering Emergency Order which requires that everyone age 2 and older wear a face covering or mask when in in any enclosed building where other people, except for members of the person’s own household or living unit, could be present. This requirement applies to all of Dane County and went into effect Thursday, August 19, 2021 at 12:01am.

“We still believe vaccines are our best tool to protect our community,” said Janel Heinrich, Director of Public Health Madison & Dane County. “But as cases continue to increase, requiring face coverings is an easy added layer of protection to further help keep people safe, including our youngest children not yet eligible to be vaccinated.”

On July 27, Public Health issued a mask advisory, strongly encouraging everyone, regardless of vaccination status, wear a mask indoors in response to updated CDC guidance  regarding use of masks. On July 19, our 7-day average number of cases was 19, and on August 12, the 7-day average increased by 382% to 91.6.

“Public Health has updated policies and recommendations throughout the pandemic based on current local conditions and the latest scientific data,” said City of Madison Mayor, Satya Rhodes-Conway. “As virus spread is fueled by the prevalence of the delta variant, it is clear that we need to use all of our tools to keep our community safe; and that means getting vaccinated and wearing masks.”

The delta variant is a naturally occurring mutation of the SARS CoV-2 virus, the virus that causes COVID-19. Data show that the delta variant is more contagious and spreads more easily than the original COVID-19 virus, including among people that are vaccinated. Public Health also strongly recommends wearing a face covering at private gatherings or crowded outdoor settings.

“With our kids heading back to school and hospitals in other parts of the country overwhelmed with COVID-19 cases, moving from a mask recommendation to a requirement is a common sense step to prevent disease spread and protect the kids in our community who can’t get vaccinated yet,” said Dane County Executive Joe Parisi. 

Public Health asks that businesses post signs reminding customers and staff of the face covering requirement. The order will be in effect until September 16, 2021 at 12:01 a.m. View Face Covering Emergency Order PDF  for additional information.

As more contagious variants continue circulating in Dane County, getting your vaccine is more important now than ever. The vaccines provide good protection against severe outcomes and the sooner people get vaccinated against COVID-19, the less opportunity we give the virus to continue mutating.

“Vaccination continues to be our best path out of the pandemic,” said Jerry Halverson, MD, Chair of the Board of Health. “As variants create new challenges for our county moving forward, now is the time we must bring it home and get vaccinated.”

For more information about the COVID-19 in Dane County and the latest public health order, visit publichealthmdc.com/coronavirus. You can also follow @publichealthmdc on Facebook Twitter , and Instagram .


Lose Your Vaccination Card?

Have you lost or misplaced your vaccination card? If you were vaccinated in Wisconsin there are ways to access your record.

I was vaccinated in Wisconsin:

You can access and print your entire vaccination record using the Wisconsin Immunization Registry (WIR) . Your WIR record can be used in place of your vaccination card.

I was vaccinated in another state:

If you received your vaccination in another state, go to that state department of health website to determine how to get a copy of your record.


Veteran Resources 

Veterans across our state and nation are reacting to the news of the U.S. withdrawal from Afghanistan. Veterans may feel distressed from experiences during their service. Resources are available to veterans through the U.S. and Wisconsin Departments of Veterans Affairs.

Contacts from the Wisconsin DVA:

  • Veterans Crisis Line - The Veterans Crisis Line is a toll-free, confidential resource that connects veterans and their families to mental health resources. Connect with the Crisis Line.​​
  • County Veterans Service Officers - Your local Tribal and County Veterans Service Officers can help determine the benefits and services for which you are eligible. Find your TVSO/CVSO​. ​

Resources available right now (information provided from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs):

Common Reactions

In reaction to current events in Afghanistan, Veterans may:

  • Feel frustrated, sad, helpless, grief or distressed
  • Feel angry or betrayed
  • Experience an increase in mental health symptoms like symptoms of PTSD or depression
  • Sleep poorly, drink more or use more drugs
  • Try to avoid all reminders or media or shy away from social situations
  • Have more military and homecoming memories

Veterans may question the meaning of their service or whether it was worth the sacrifices they made. They may feel more moral distress about experiences they had during their service.
Veterans may feel like they need to expect and/or prepare for the worst. For example, they may:

  • Become overly protective, vigilant, and guarded
  • Become preoccupied by danger
  • Feel a need to avoid being shocked by, or unprepared for, what may happen in the future

Feeling distress is a normal reaction to negative events, especially ones that feel personal. It can be helpful to let yourself feel those feelings rather than try to avoid them. Often, these feelings will naturally run their course. If they continue without easing up or if you feel overwhelmed by them, the suggestions below can be helpful.


Strategies for Managing Ongoing Distress


At this moment, it may seem like all is lost, like your service or your sacrifices were for nothing. Consider the ways that your service made a difference, the impact it had on others’ lives or on your own life. Remember that now is just one moment in time and that things will continue to change.


It can be helpful to focus on the present and to engage in the activities that are most meaningful and valuable to you. Is there something you can do today that is important to you? This can be as an individual, a family member, a parent, or a community member. Something that is meaningful to you in regard to your work or your spirituality? Such activities won’t change the past or the things you can’t control, but they can help life feel meaningful and reduce distress, despite the things you cannot change.
It can also help to consider your thinking. Ask yourself if your thoughts are helpful to you right now. Are there ways you can change your thinking to be more accurate and less distressing? For example, are you using extreme thinking where you see the situation as all bad or all good? If so, try and think in less extreme terms. For example, rather than thinking “my service in Afghanistan was useless” consider instead “I helped keep Afghanistan safe.”
Finally, consider more general coping strategies that you may want to try including:

  • Engage in Positive Activities. Try to engage in positive, healthy, or meaningful activities, even if they are small, simple actions. Doing things that are rewarding, meaningful, or enjoyable, even if you don’t feel like it, can make you feel better.
  • Stay Connected. Spend time with people who give you a sense of security, calm, or happiness, or those who best understand what you are going through.
  • Practice Good Self Care. Look for positive coping strategies that help you manage your emotions. Listening to music, exercising, practicing breathing routines, spending time in nature or with animals, journaling, or reading inspirational text are some simple ways to help manage overwhelming or distressing emotions.
  • Stick to Your Routines. It can be helpful to stick to a schedule for when you sleep, eat, work, and do other day-to-day activities.
  • Limit Media Exposure. Limit how much news you take in if media coverage is increasing your distress.
  • Use a mobile app. Consider one of VA’s self-help apps (see https://www.ptsd.va.gov/appvid/mobile/) such as PTSD Coach which has tools that can help you deal with common reactions like, stress, sadness, and anxiety. You can also track your symptoms over time.
  • PTSD Coach Online. A series of online video coaches will guide you through 17 tools to help you manage stress. PTSD Coach Online is used on a computer, rather than a mobile device, and therefore can offer tools that involve writing.

If you develop your own ways of adapting to ongoing events and situations, you may gain a stronger sense of being able to deal with challenges, a greater sense of meaning or purpose, and an ability to mentor and support others in similar situations.


AG Kaul Announces Lawsuit to Remove Frederick Prehn from Wisconsin Natural Resources Board

Attorney General Josh Kaul announced that the Wisconsin Department of Justice filed a complaint in Dane County Circuit Court to prevent Frederick Prehn from continuing to unlawfully serve on the Wisconsin Natural Resources Board.

“Dr. Prehn’s term is over. His attempt to remain on the Natural Resources Board indefinitely, in defiance of the will of the voters, is fundamentally undemocratic,” said Attorney General Kaul. “We’re asking for a clear ruling that Dr. Prehn is no longer a member of the Natural Resources Board.”

Prehn’s 6-year term expired on May 1, 2021, and Governor Evers has appointed his replacement. Nevertheless, Prehn continues to claim Board membership and to exercise its duties, including voting on matters affecting the Department of Natural Resources. The lawsuit seeks an expedited hearing from the circuit court so that the Board’s proper membership is in place as soon as possible. 

Republicans are planning to intervene on this lawsuit on the taxpayers dime as well.


Village of Arena Receives $250,000 State Grant to Support Redevelopment of Elementary School

The Village of Arena is receiving a $250,000 state grant to help redevelop the former Arena Community Elementary School.

The Community Development Investment Grant from the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC) will support redevelopment of the building into 11 residential apartments, a home for the Arena Historical Society, the Arena Food Pantry, and a gymnastics business.

“One of the top priorities of WEDC is to support communities as they invest in revitalizing their downtowns, and this project is a prime example of how we are accomplishing that in every region of the state,” said Missy Hughes, secretary and CEO of WEDC. “This project will not only bring new housing to Arena but will add to the quality of life and sense of community.”

The Arena Community Elementary School closed in June 2018 due to declining numbers of students and a lack of funds. ACES Property Management, LLC acquired the property from the school district in May 2019.

Currently, the gymnasium space is being leased to Hardcore Tumbling and Gymnastics, which will continue as part of the project. ACES is donating a portion of the building to the Arena Food Pantry, as well as a portion to the Arena Historical Society for storage, meetings, and community exhibits. The remainder of the building will be renovated into eleven handicapped-accessible studio and one-bedroom apartments.

Construction started in June with resident move-in expected by December 2022. The expenses covered by CDI Grant funds include construction, electricity, and plumbing costs.

After completion, affordable housing options will be available to the community while maintaining the outside appearance of an important Arena landmark. This project will yield multiple benefits to the community including increased tax base, housing for local workers, commercial rental space, as well as space for the historical society to archive its collections and documents.

“I am proud to see the Village of Arena and WEDC working to invest in our community and increase economically valuable assets,” said state Rep. Dave Considine. “This $250,000 grant will increase accessible housing and become the home for the Arena Historical Society. It will also allow for the continued use of the gymnasium for gymnastics. I enthusiastically support this grant because it does more than redevelop the old school – it also improves the space available for housing and recreation in Arena.”

Additional support to make the project successful comes from Jewell Associates Engineers, Inc., including Architect Paul Kardatzke, David Jones from the Peoples Community Bank, and the Village of Arena.

WEDC’s Community Development Investment Grant Program supports community development and redevelopment efforts, primarily in downtown areas. The matching grants are awarded based on the ability of applicants to demonstrate the economic impact of the proposed project, including public and private partnership development, financial need, and use of sustainable downtown development practices.

From the program’s inception in 2013 to Sept. 30, 2020, WEDC has awarded nearly $26.7 million in CDI Grants to 87 communities for projects expected to generate more than $446 million in capital investments statewide.


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.