Potential COVID-19 Legislation
Discussions have been ongoing between Republican and Democratic legislative leaders over a legislative package to react to the COVID-19 health emergency in Wisconsin.
Previously Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers had released his proposed response to the pandemic in the following proposals;
The first package proffered by Gov. Evers included $700 million in new spending including over $200 million to the Department of Administration, $300 million to the Department of Military Affairs, increased employees at the Division of Public Health, grants to local government public health agencies and sum sufficient funding (unlimited) for the Department of Health Services to respond to the public health emergency. Legislative Republicans did not act on the proposal, wanting to wait to see what the state’s share ($1.9 billion) of the CAREs Act would be and how those dollars could be allocated versus using existing state resources.
The second package forwarded by Gov. Evers includes an additional $300 million in funding, and provides funds for health care providers, extends the suspension of certain administrative rules for the duration of the health emergency, ensures workers receive back pay for any lost unemployment benefits due to the one-week waiting period.
In the interim, Republican legislative leaders have been working on their own legislative package with Democratic legislative leaders and the Administration while also testing their ability technologically to meet in an extraordinary session remotely. Yesterday the Evers Administration pre-emptively shared a draft of the Republican proposal with the media and with the Governor noting that a provision in the bill that gives the Joint Finance Committee expanded budget writing authority would cause him to veto the bill. The leaking of the bill and the veto threat drew a strong rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R-Juneau);
“For almost a month we have been at work on a bill that includes essential provisions dealing with everything from Medicaid to the first week of unemployment. Millions of relief dollars are at stake for Wisconsin. Suggesting he’ll veto the full bill publicly, while privately we’re still negotiating, is irresponsible. We’ll keep working with the minority party to put together a bill that can hopefully pass soon with bipartisan support.”
The Republican proposal contains many of the same proposals as the Evers Administration proposals as it relates to changes to capturing expanded Medicaid funding, relaxing of provider licensing requirements, expediting federal waiver requests, removing the 1-week waiting period for UI benefits. In addition to the expanded Joint Finance Committee budgeting authority there are two noteworthy differences; funding associated with the proposals and the duration of the public health emergency.
- Governor Evers’ two proposals contain over $1 billion in General Purpose Revenue (GPR) spending, whereas the Draft Republican proposal contains no new GPR spending.
- Governor Evers’ proposal extends the length of his public health emergency executive order indefinitely for the length of the state’s response of the pandemic. His current order lasts for 60-days; started on March 12th and expires on May 12th. In order for his current emergency order to be extended, a Joint Resolution must be passed by both houses of the State Legislature. Republican leaders have already articulated the Governor needs to provide them with strong data supporting an extension beyond the current 60-day period.
Draft outline of the Republican proposal (link)
Governor’s Office comparison of the Republican proposal and the Governor’s proposals (link)
Updated numbers from DHS on COVID-19 cases
On Thursday, DHS will be hosting a Facebook Live Q&A session at 1:30 pm on the state’s COVID-19 response. Joining Secretary-designee Andrea Palm & Chief Medical Officer Ryan Westergaard will be Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman & Unemployment Insurance Deputy Administrator Amy Banicki. facebook.com/DHSWI/
On Wednesday afternoon, the Department of Health Services released updated case numbers for the state of Wisconsin;
- 178 new positive cases (2,756 total for the pandemic in Wisconsin)
- 45 new hospitalizations (790 total hospitalizations- represents 29% of those who have tested positive)
- 99 deaths (up 7 from Tuesday’s report of 92 deaths)
- 30,115 negative test results (28,512 negative test results were reported on Tuesday)
Updated DHS testing numbers from Wednesday:
Previous Wisconsin COVID-19 Updates
Previous COVID-19 Updates are archived here
Here is a comprehensive list of State of Wisconsin resources related to the public health emergency (LINK)