Over the weekend, Gov. Evers released a proposed joint resolution to extend the public health emergency indefinitely as well as draft state legislation tackling a number of issues related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s office also put out a chart that goes through each portion of the bill. In addition, the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau composed a summary memo.
Of particular note to school leaders, the bill would:
- grant DPI authority to waive state requirements (including school and district report cards for the 2019-20 school year);
- prevent school districts from laying off staff during a public health emergency; and
- allow a WRS annuitant who is hired during a public health emergency by a school district (or other public employer) to elect to not suspend his or her annuity for the duration of the declared public health emergency if the position for which the annuitant is hired is a critical position.
— Gov. Tony Evers is asking for more than $800 million to address the COVID-19 pandemic in a sweeping bill that would also halt enforcement of voter ID, ban evictions, and prevent the layoffs of school employees during a public health emergency.
The proposal, which the Evers administration released late Saturday, also would give the Department of Health Services unlimited spending and position authority during a public health emergency.
GOP legislative leaders indicated in a letter earlier today the “current general fund balance can’t support” the proposal.
They also urged the Evers administration to move quickly to use the state’s share of an estimated $2.3 billion coming to Wisconsin as part of the federal relief package to buy needed personal protection equipment.
The proposal also calls for a host of provisions to address the impact on state residents amid a ban on nonessential travel and an order that has forced many businesses to close.
Along with suspending the voter ID requirement during a public health emergency, the bill calls for allowing voting by mail and a longer window to register online. The bill also calls for pushing back the deadline for receipt of an absentee ballot. It would have to be postmarked by Election Day rather than received by 8 p.m. on Election Day as currently required.
The bill also would allow the Department of Administration to print absentee ballots for local governments.
The biggest pieces of the package include: up to $300 million for the Department of Military Affairs; up to $200 million for the Department of Administration; $100 million to expand programs for the working poor; and $100 million in grants to health care providers.
The package also would provide local governments with a 1 percent increase in aids for 2020, a boost of about $7.5 million.
The LFB has also put together a memo to legislative leaders of the federal Coronavirus Relief Fund.