With so much happening in our state and country, I wanted to provide you with an update on COVID relief at the state level.
As you may remember, last week, I joined my Assembly Republican colleagues in approving a COVID relief bill that contained 44 provisions to help our hard-working families, healthcare workers, small businesses, students, and communities continue to take on the pandemic, including $100 million in available funding.
Things like providing assistance to hospitals, first responders, and frontline medical workers, giving parents and students more flexibility and accountability when it comes to open enrollment and virtual learning, and protecting schools and businesses from certain liabilities to reduce the possibility of frivolous lawsuits were all included in our bill – issues that we know are important to countless Wisconsinites. One provision in our bill that’s especially near and dear to my heart is the ability to label “essential visitors” for our loved ones in nursing homes and long-term care facilities, who have been isolated from their friends and family for nearly a year.
With all the great things in this bill, I am disappointed that the state Senate added an amendment to the bill that removes some its most important features. Here’s some of what the Senate amendment does:
• Removes protections against shutting down places of worship;
• Removes the requirement that school boards meet every 14 days to review and re-new the decision for virtual learning, thus reducing accountability of school districts to their parents and students;
• Removes protections for those that want to opt out of receiving the vaccine, leaving open the ability for mandatory vaccination through the state or employers;
• Removes protections for our small businesses from local health officers, by allowing them to shut down local economies on a whim with no oversight from elected officials.
Obviously, I cannot support a bill that, as amended by the state Senate, removes some of the key things I have been hearing are crucial from so many of you back home. I will continue to advocate for the priorities of our constituents over the next several days as we move towards a response that provides the much-needed relief Wisconsinites deserve.