State Assembly to take up second COVID-19 relief bill this week

MADISON, Wis.– Speaker Robin Vos said people can expect to see what he called a bi-partisan COVID-19 relief bill passed by the end of the week. Democrats would be glad to see that happen, but what’s in the bill is the sticking point.

The assembly didn’t take up Assembly Bill 1 on Monday, but Vos wants to introduce and vote on it this week.

“Those of you who were here know the legislature approved a bi-partisan relief package within the first month of the pandemic. This week the assembly should act once again,” Vos said.

Vos said both parties already negotiated parts of the bill, including Gov. Tony Evers. Vos said Evers stopped negotiating in December.

“The proposal we are introducing today has over 44 provisions to help fight the virus and reopen the economy and our schools,” Vos said.

Meanwhile, Evers is asking the legislature to pass his proposals. Evers said one of his bills includes up to $100 million for public health expenses.

Local leaders agree that help needs to come soon.

“If there was ever a time for people to come together on all levels of government and lead by example and do what’s best for our county, our stare and our nation, it’s now,” Dane County Executive Joe Parisi said.

Parisi said Dane County is doing everything it can on a local level. While another round of federal funding will help, it’s not enough. He feels the same way about Republicans’ inaction last session.

“People are suffering both physically through illness, people are suffering economically,” Parisi said. “We need some help. We need the state to come in and we need the legislature, frankly, to do its job.”

Republicans won’t need Democrats in either house to approve their bills, but they don’t have enough votes to override a veto from Evers, which means some negotiation may be necessary.

“Let’s join together to get the bill passed this week and get the help Wisconsinites need,” Vos said.

Assembly Bill 1 includes the following provisions, according to a press release from Vos:

  • Coverage of vaccinations under SeniorCare
  • Continued collection and reporting of public health emergency data
  • Civil liability exemption for schools, local governments and nonprofits relating to COVID-19 claims
  • Full-time open enrollment application extension
  • School board reports on virtual instruction
  • School board requirements for virtual instruction
  • Requirement for an Unemployment Insurance plan to address claims backlog
  • Legislative oversight of federal COVID-19 funds
  • Nursing home or assisted living facility visitation by an essential visitor
  • Prescription order extensions
  • Practice of emergency medical services personnel and providers with credentials from outside the state
  • Practice by health care providers from other states
  • Coverage of COVID-19 testing and vaccination without cost sharing
  • Coverage limits on certain prescription drugs
  • Transfer of moneys from sum sufficient appropriations up to $100 million
  • Authorizing first- and second-year pharmacy students to administer vaccines
  • Authorizing dentists to administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines
  • Optional registration of third-party logistics providers