Hamilton Political Tidbits – February 12, 2021

Political Tidbits - February 12, 2021
February 12, 2021
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
After an exciting start to the 2021 session, the governor vetoed the first bill to reach his desk and overrode the Legislature's joint resolution to end his statewide mask mandate. As the state continues to distribute COVID-19 vaccines, the Legislature has revived a number of bills that stalled out last session, including a variety of health-related legislation. To date, more than 100 bills have been introduced in the Senate, and more than 50 in the Assembly.

Meanwhile, Gov. Evers will give a virtual budget address next Tuesday and unveil his executive budget proposal for the 2021-23 biennium. In this edition, we cover all of the proposals the governor has previewed so far.

Read on for the latest political updates from Wisconsin.

In this edition of Hamilton Political Tidbits:

If you have any additional questions, please contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting team.
Drug Costs, Child and Long-Term Care, and Marijuana Legalization Will be Focuses of Gov. Evers’ Budget Proposal Next Week
Governor Tony Evers will unveil his proposed 2021-23 state budget following his budget address on Tuesday, February 16. In various statements and press releases since the beginning of the year, the governor has previewed some of the policies and funding priorities that he will propose.

Governor Vetoes AB 1 and Orders a New Health Emergency and Mask Mandate
After a contentious first month of the new legislative session, Governor Tony Evers vetoed Assembly Bill 1 (AB 1), the first bill to reach his desk this year. AB 1, a comprehensive proposal to address COVID-19 in Wisconsin, included broad protections from COVID-19 liability claims for businesses, non-profits, and other entities, Unemployment Insurance reforms sought by the governor, as well as provisions to help health care systems respond to the pandemic. The Senate approved the bill on Friday, February 5 after the Assembly amended and approved it a day earlier. The bill was quickly presented to the governor, who immediately vetoed it.

Wisconsin Has Administered 800,000 Vaccine Doses; State Announces First Community Vaccine Clinic
As of Tuesday, February 9, Wisconsin had been allocated about 1,150,000 COVID-19 vaccine doses from the federal government. Vaccinating providers in the state had ordered about 900,000 doses, while the remaining doses were set aside specifically for the residents and staff of skilled nursing and assisted living facilities. Nearly 800,000 vaccine doses have been administered, while about 175,000 Wisconsin residents had completed the two-dose series. About one-third of Wisconsinites age 65 and older have been vaccinated.

Wisconsin Was Awarded Billions of Dollars in Federal Funds for Education and Transportation Under the CRRSA
Last month, we discussed a few aspects of the $900 billion COVID-19 response legislation passed by Congress in December of last year. The economic stimulus and COVID relief package, called the Coronavirus Response and Relief Supplemental Appropriations Act (CRRSA), was passed along with the 2021 federal budget to form a 5,600-page spending bill totaling roughly $2.3 trillion. The CRRSA provided a new round of $600 direct payments to most adults and extended a variety of financial support programs from the first federal package (CARES Act) passed in March 2020.

Assembly, Senate Health Committees Approve PBM Bill; Senate Committee Approves Five Others
On Thursday, February 11, the Senate and Assembly health committees passed AB 7/SB 3, companion versions of a bill authorizing the Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) to license and regulate pharmacy benefit managers (PBMs). The Assembly committee passed the bill unanimously, while Senator Dale Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) was the only one to vote no on the Senate side.

News Clips
Utilities and Energy
Employer Issues
Economic Development
The Hamilton Consulting Group Political Tidbits is a free newsletter on Wisconsin political and policy developments. Please forward it to others who may wish to receive this service.

If you require additional information about a topic addressed in Tidbits for your organization's board meeting or trade publication, please do not hesitate to contact a Hamilton Consulting Group lobbyist.

To ensure that Political Tidbits never gets caught in your spam filter, please add publications@hamilton-consulting.com to your address book/contacts list. If you are receiving these emails via a workplace email account, please advise your IT service desk to do this for you.