Hamilton Political Tidbits – January 15, 2021

Political Tidbits - January 15, 2021
January 15, 2021
Wisconsin political news for clients and colleagues.
Happy new year! Welcome to 2021's first edition of Hamilton Political Tidbits. With a new odd-numbered year comes a new legislative session, and this one started quickly with the Assembly and Senate crafting competing versions of a comprehensive COVID-19 response bill. Read on to learn about the most important political news stories happening in Wisconsin.

In this edition of Hamilton Political Tidbits:

If you have any additional questions, please contact a member of the Hamilton Consulting team.
Assembly and Senate Pass Differing COVID-19 Plans; Gov. Evers Endorses Senate Version
The 2021-22 legislative session is officially underway here in Wisconsin. Right out of the gate, both the Legislature and Governor Evers have focused on passing another COVID-19 response package. Back in April, the Legislature passed and the governor signed Wisconsin Act 185. Many of the provisions included in Act 185 have since expired.

In Third State of the State Address, Gov. Evers Calls for Unemployment System Overhaul and Declares 2021 “Year of Broadband”
On Tuesday night, Governor Tony Evers delivered his third annual State of the State address virtually via YouTube and Facebook. After reflecting on the challenges of 2020 and reviewing the status of the COVID-19 pandemic, the governor set out several of his policy priorities for 2021. Referencing the massive influx of unemployment claims that the state has received since last March, the governor claimed that an “antiquated system” and burdensome rules were the main causes of the resulting backlog of claims and long delays in processing time.

SDMAC Vaccine Subcommittee Considers Next Vaccination Phase Framework
This week, the State Disaster Medical Advisory Committee (SDMAC) vaccine subcommittee met twice to discuss the groups covered in the next phase of the COVID-19 vaccination (Phase 1B). Similar to the federal Advisory Committee on Immunization Practices (ACIP), Wisconsin’s SDMAC provides recommendations to the Department of Health Services (DHS) for vaccine prioritization and distribution.

Round 2 Federal COVID-19 Relief Legislation: What It Means for Wisconsin
In December 2020, Congress passed a 5,600-page spending bill totaling roughly $2.3 trillion. In addition to funding the federal government for nine months to the tune of $1.4 trillion, the bill featured a $900 billion economic stimulus and COVID-19 relief package. The House approved the package by a 359-53 margin, while the Senate passed it 92-6. Wisconsin’s congressional delegation was split along party lines, with Democratic members supporting the bill and Republican members voting against.

PFAS Update: JCRAR Suspends DNR’s Foam Rule; Tyco Settles Lawsuit with Peshtigo Residents
Since the last edition of Tidbits, there have been several updates on the PFAS front. On December 18, the Department of Natural Resource’s (DNR) emergency rule on firefighting foam was partially suspended by the Legislature’s Joint Committee for the Review of Administrative Rules (JCRAR).

State’s Medicaid Program Projected to End Fiscal Year with Surplus
Despite an unexpected pandemic, Wisconsin is projected to end the current fiscal year on June 30 with a $614.8 million general fund surplus. On January 4, 2021, the state Department of Health Services (DHS) sent the legislature’s Joint Finance Committee the latest update on the overall condition of the state’s Medicaid program.

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