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WI Update #13: COVID-19

Governor Evers Issues Emergency Order #7 to Department of Workforce Development regarding Unemployment Insurance

Emergency Order #7 waives the work search requirement and modifies the availability requirements for unemployment insurance (UI) benefits for workers impacted by COVID-19.  Specifically;

  • Emergency Order #7 waives the requirement that UI claimants conduct at least four weekly work search actions during the COVID-19 emergency. This section of the order is retroactively effective to March 12, 2020.
  • Emergency Order #7 also ensures that claimants who are otherwise eligible but out of work due to COVID-19 are considered available for work and therefore eligible for benefits.

The order goes into effect immediately and will remain in effect for the duration of the COVID-19 public health emergency. 

DFI Issues Emergency Guidance on Character and Fitness Requirements for Payday and Licensed Lenders

Last night the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI), at the direction of Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, issued emergency guidance on “character and fitness requirements” for all payday and licensed lenders doing business in Wisconsin.

In light of the financial distress caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, DFI cautioned payday and licensed lenders that increasing interest rates, fees, or any costs of borrowing in response to this crisis may result in license suspension or revocation. The department also encourages the reduction of rates and fees as low as operational expenses and sound lending practices allow.

[Excerpted from the guidance document]

Wisconsin needs you to be a part of the solution for struggling families. Before this Department first granted you a license to operate in this State, we were required by law to assess the character and fitness of your business and its officers and directors.1 This crisis will put your character and fitness to the test.

Businesses with character recognize that this is a time for shared sacrifice, not financial exploitation. We recognize that the statutes that govern your businesses set no maximum limit on the interest you can charge, even when many are facing sudden financial distress. But fundamental human decency does. Therefore, effective immediately, this Department shall deem it an essential failure of your character and fitness if you increase your customary interest rates, fees, or any costs of borrowing in response to this crisis.

We further urge you to reduce your rates and fees as low as operational expenses and sound lending practices allow. How you treat desperate people during this crisis will determine the long-term future of your industry and the status of your license to do business in this State. Engaging in any opportunistic and exploitative conduct will be deemed proof of your company’s underlying lack of character and general fitness—a fact that would’ve caused us to deny your license in the first place, had it been revealed at the time you applied for one. Willfully engage in such behavior, and your license to operate in this State will be suspended or revoked.

DFI Issues Emergency Guidance on Remote Notarization

Also, at the direction of Governor Tony Evers, the Wisconsin Department of Financial Institutions (DFI) issued emergency guidance today pertaining to remote online notarization in Wisconsin.

“Due to the COVID-19 public health emergency, remote online notarization is now authorized in this state, subject to several safeguards to ensure the integrity of the notarial process,” said DFI Secretary Kathy Blumenfeld.

Remote online notarizations must be performed using technology providers that are regulated under standards that meet or exceed the safeguards set by Wisconsin Act 125. DFI has approved four remote online notarization providers thus far: Notarize.com and NotaryCam, which provide remote notary services to the general public, and Pavaso or Nexsys, which provide them for title companies and other real-estate transactions.

DFI has also issued several other guidance letters to Financial Institutions, Lenders and Credit Unions over the last week and have those posted on their homepage in the COVID-19 Information and Resources Section.

Department of Administration (DOA) Division of Facilities Development and Management announce Teleconference Bid Openings

The Department of Administration announced that until further notice, there will be no in-person bid openings for construction projects. Beginning March 19, 2020, DOA is implementing revised bidding procedures for all state construction projects with bid openings occurring in Madison, WI. These revisions are being made in response to Governor Evers’ declaration of a statewide public health emergency. DOA will be announcing bid openings via teleconference on the day bids are due. Details about the teleconference bid process is as follows:

  • Bidders will call a specified call-in number to hear bid results announced on the day bids are due. The number to call will soon be available on the “DOA List of Projects Out to Bid” website, which is: HERE
  • The teleconference line will be open at 1:45p.m.CDT and all bids will be opened after 2:00 p.m. CDT.

More information on the new process can be found here

Industry and Department of Workforce Development working to donate any available N95 masks to local hospitals

Wisconsin’s Transportation Building Industry sent out a message to their membership urging them to donate any available supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE), especially NIOSH 95 (N95) masks to local hospitals.

TO: WTBA Members

As I am sure you know, the COVID-19 outbreak is placing tremendous strain on Wisconsin health care’s supply of Personal Protection Equipment (PPE). This includes quickly dwindling supplies of gowns, gloves, eye shields and, especially, face masks (specifically NIOSH 95 masks, or N95s). This equipment is critical to protecting our frontline health care workforce from infection when testing and treating for COVID-19, keeping our dedicated doctors, nurses, technicians and others there when we all need them most. WTBA has been asked to reach out to our members to help.

Because of surging usage and still inadequate supply, Vice President Mike Pence, at the White House briefing yesterday, asked all construction companies to donate unused/packaged N95 masks to their local hospitals and to limit ordering more:

“We would make one specific request, and that is we would urge construction companies to donate their inventory of N95 masks to your local hospital and forgo additional orders of those industrial masks,” Vice President Mike Pence said during a White House press conference on Tuesday.

He continued, “Because of what the president asked to be included in legislation moving through the Congress today, those industrial masks that they use on construction sites are perfectly acceptable for healthcare workers to be protected from a respiratory disease.”

If you are able, we are asking that you contact your local hospital(s) to donate this vital equipment that will help protect our frontline healthcare workers during this unprecedented time.

Thank you,

Pat Goss, Executive Director
Wisconsin Transportation Builders Association

In addition, Secretary Caleb Frostman has called on Wisconsin’s construction industry, labor organizations, and private industry to donate any available N95 masks to local hospitals.

Keeping WI Small Businesses Open

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, Majority Leader Jim Steineke and many other lawmakers have been aggressively promoting on social media the need to support Wisconsin small businesses that are still open during this health emergency, and the importance of patronizing them and especially restaurants that are serving take out and delivery options. The WI Restaurant Association is continuously updating a list of restaurants that are open on their website organized by County.

WMC “All Business” Webinar with Governor Evers and Cabinet

Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce has made their “All Businesses” Webinar on the state’s response to COVID-19 with Governor Tony Evers, Dep. DHS Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk, Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman and Wisconsin Economic Development Corp Secretary & CEO Missy Hughes available to relisten to on YouTube at this link.

Past updates are now archived on our website:

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