Hamilton Political Tidbits – May 21, 2021

Political Tidbits - May 21, 2021
May 21, 2021
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
May has been a busy month for Wisconsin politics, with the Legislature taking major steps to revise Governor Evers' budget proposal by removing hundreds of policy items, including Medicaid expansion, with the governor responding by ordering a special session. Meanwhile, work search requirements have been reinstated for unemployment benefit applicants, and DNR is seeking public comment on the regulatory cost of a proposed PFAS rule.

In this edition of Hamilton Political Tidbits:

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Finance Committee Overhauls State Budget, Removing Hundreds of Policies and Resetting Spending Levels
The Legislature has taken steps to overhaul Wisconsin’s 2021-23 state budget by removing hundreds of policy proposals and resetting spending levels to the 2019-21 baseline. On May 6, the Republican-led Joint Committee on Finance met to vote on major aspects of the 2021-23 state budget put forward by Governor Tony Evers. Gov. Evers’ executive budget proposal included a two-year operating budget of more than $90 billion and a long list of changes to various state laws and programs.

Legislature Reinstates Work Search Requirement for Those Receiving Unemployment Benefits
A legislative committee has voted to end a temporary rule that suspended the work search requirement for people receiving unemployment insurance benefits. By a 6-4, party line vote on May 19, the Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules ended the emergency rule promulgated by the Department of Workforce Development. Without committee action, the rule was set to expire July 10; now, the work search requirement will resume on Sunday, May 23.

PFAS Update: Legislators Reintroducing CLEAR Act; DNR Releases Economic Impact Analysis for Cycle 10 Groundwater Rule
A group of Democratic state legislators backed by Wisconsin’s governor are reintroducing legislation called the Chemical Level Enforcement and Remediation or “CLEAR” Act. The bill includes a variety of provisions to regulate per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, a family of thousands of manufactured chemicals commonly known as PFAS. In addition to legislative efforts regarding PFAS, the Department of Natural Resources recently released a draft economic impact analysis for a proposed rule affecting all regulated facilities that may impact groundwater.

Governor Calls for Special Session on Medicaid Expansion; Legislative Leaders Plan to Gavel Out Immediately
On May 19, Governor Tony Evers directed the Legislature to convene a special session on his proposal to expand Wisconsin’s Medicaid program, also known as BadgerCare. The bill put forward by the governor would accept federal money to expand Medicaid coverage to about 90,000 additional people. Over the next fiscal biennium, this would bring about $1.4 billion in federal money to Wisconsin and could save the state about $634 million in general-purpose revenue, based on budget estimates from the governor’s office.

Wisconsin Extends Worker’s Compensation Benefits to Public Safety Officers Diagnosed with PTSD
On April 27, Governor Tony Evers signed 2021 Wisconsin Act 29 making various changes to Wisconsin’s worker’s compensation law, including creating a new type of claim for public safety officers diagnosed with job-related post-traumatic stress disorder. The bill originated in the Wisconsin Legislature as Senate Bill 11 and has also been referred to as the “Public Safety PTSD Coverage Act.”

Vaccine Update: About 40 Percent Fully Vaccinated; State Resumes Administration of Johnson & Johnson Vaccine
As of May 19, Wisconsin had administered almost five million doses of COVID-19 vaccines, with more than 2.3 million Wisconsin residents or 39.8 percent of the state’s population fully vaccinated. About 82.5 percent of Wisconsinites aged 65 and older have received at least one dose.

ICYMI: State Supreme Court Chooses New Chief Justice
On April 14, a majority of the seven members of the Wisconsin Supreme Court voted to select Justice Annette Ziegler as the state’s next chief justice. She assumed the office on May 1. Justice Ziegler was first elected to the court in 2007 and ran unopposed in 2017. She is the court’s third longest-serving member. A press release from the court announcing the results of the vote did not indicate how each justice voted.

News Clips
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 20, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 20, 2021
Channel 3000, May 19, 2021
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 19, 2021
Associated Press, May 19, 2021
Associated Press, May 18, 2021
Politico, May 18, 2021
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 17, 2021
Associated Press, May 11, 2021
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 11, 2021
Stevens Point Journal, May 11, 2021
Fox 6, May 11, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 11, 2021
Roll Call, May 10, 2021
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 6, 2021
Kenosha News, May 3, 2021
The Hill, May 2, 2021
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, April 30, 2021
Associated Press, April 30, 2021
WISN 12, May 20, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 20, 2021
The Hill, May 18, 2021
La Crosse Tribune, May 19, 2021
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 18, 2021
WBAY, May 17, 2021
Spectrum News 1, May 17, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 17, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 15, 2021
Milwaukee Business News, May 13, 2021
Associated Press, May 14, 2021
The Journal Times, May 10, 2021
Channel 3000, May 10, 2021
Kaiser Health News, May 7, 2021
Axios, May 6, 2021
WKOW, May 6, 2021
WISN 12, May 5, 2021
TMJ 4, April 29, 2021
Utilities and Energy
Employer Issues
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 19, 2021
Associated Press, May 19, 2021
Channel 3000, May 18, 2021
Wisconsin State Journal, May 16, 2021
Wisconsin Public Radio, May 15, 2021
Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, May 12, 2021
TMJ 4, May 12, 2021
WMTV, May 11, 2021
CROWE, May 10, 2021
TMJ 4, May 7, 2021
Associated Press, May 7, 2021
WISN 12, May 6, 2021
Manitowoc Herald Times Reporter, May 6, 2021
CBS 58, April 29, 2021
Economic Development
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