Evers Floats Compromise Proposal for COVID Aid

By Will Kenneally

December 21, 2020

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Tony Evers

Gov. Tony Evers speaks to students at Winnequah School in Monona, Wis., during an event to kick off the Student Tools for Emergency Planning (STEP) program for this school year. (Courtesy: Sgt. Alex Baum / Wisconsin Department of Military Affairs)

Gov. Tony Evers put forward two coronavirus aid bills Monday, which he is asking the Legislature to consider “without delay.”

The first bill is a compromise proposal of issues upon which the governor said he and Republican leaders have already agreed. A second bill contains policies the governor says are necessary, and which he hopes Republicans will continue to consider.

“Wisconsinites are demanding and deserve the legislature to reconvene and pass legislation that addresses the continuing needs of our response to COVID-19,” Evers wrote in a letter to Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu.

“I hope at the very least this first compromise bill will be sent to my desk quickly and without delay, even if it means meeting during the next two weeks.”

The compromise proposal includes provisions to make it easier for retired and out-of-state health care workers to reenter the current workforce, to expand unemployment insurance call center hours, and to provide health insurance coverage of COVID-19 vaccines and testing.

Evers’ additional proposal would waive the one-week waiting period to receive UI benefits, include a COVID-19 diagnosis as part of worker’s compensation for essential workers, and provide for insurance coverage of telemedicine.

“While it is clear from our meetings that your caucuses are unwilling to include them in this initial package, the fact remains these items are necessary,” Evers said of his additional proposal.

This is the second piece of coronavirus legislation proposed after the Legislature passed an initial COVID-19 response bill in April.

Early this month, Vos floated a legislative package from Assembly Republicans, but the bill did not get traction from the governor’s office, nor from the state Senate. LeMahieu has said the Senate will likely not convene to pass legislation before the new year.

“Moving forward on these provisions [in the compromise bill] results in a piece of legislation that responds to some of the needs of Wisconsinites,” Evers said. “Therefore, I believe we must forward with a bill based on the items we can agree on, and it is imperative that the Legislature do so expeditiously.”

The governor’s office has said negotiations between the state’s top Democrat and Republican leaders have been ongoing, though Evers letter Monday indicated they may not meet again before Christmas.

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