April 3, 2020 - League of Wisconsin Municipalities - COVID-19 Update #17
COVID-19 Coronavirus Update
Share this cool video to help people understand!

Our first #StayAtHome Whiteboard video just went live. Click here and you can share it from the League's Facebook page to your own page.

This is part of the messaging project the League initiated with experts. The messaging is evidence based and designed to increase understanding and change behavior.
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Survey Responses Needed for Direct Funding Push
Deadline is today!

No matter if you are a city or village, big or small> if you haven't filled out the survey yet, please do this first!

The National League of Cities and United States Conference of Mayors have worked together to develop a short, easy-to-complete survey for all municipalities to demonstrate the direct fiscal impact of the pandemic on municipal governments of all sizes . This information will be used to make the case in Congress for direct funding to all municipalities, regardless of population size. The information will also be helpful here at home as we make our case on the state level. Responses are needed by the end of the day Friday, April 3. It is imperative that we have as much participation as possible in order to make the best possible case. Please note: individual responses to the survey will not be released and only one response per city can be included. You can access the survey by clicking here

If you are not the right person to fill it out, please forward to the person who is. It really is short - please take the survey!

Pro-tip - if your municipality is not included in the drop-down list, scroll to the very end of that list and choose "Other."

Reminder - make sure you track your expenses and your lost revenues.
League COVID-19 Virtual Roundtable Conference Calls
This call is for City/Village Officials,
including mgrs./adm. & Staff Only

April 6 - 4:00-5:00 p.m.

Please click the link below to join the webinar:

Or call in 1-312-626-6799 

Webinar ID: 465 709 160

Password: 162208

April 7 - 4:00-5:00 p.m.

April 10 - 9:00-10:00 a.m.

If you aren't able to connect or have a question after participating, please contact Jerry Deschane at email .

We will schedule additional calls as needed. Notice and call-in information will be provided on the League's website and in these Special Edition newsletters, which will also be sent as needed.
POLICY ISSUES

We will be looking at this new emergency order and, if needed, will provide additional guidance in an upcoming newsletter and on our website.

Elections
YESTERDAY’S JUDICIAL DECISION MODIFIES ELECTION PROVISIONS; TODAY’S ORDER
PROVIDES ADDITIONAL CLARIFICATION

Yesterday, United States District Judge William Conley issued a decision regarding the upcoming election In his decision, Judge Conley took the Governor and state legislature to task for not postponing the election in the face of the emergency health crisis, but declined to postpone the election himself on the ground that it was not appropriate for a federal judge to delay a state election. Although the election will take place on April 7 th as scheduled, Judge Conley’s decision does three important things:

1) Extends the deadline for requesting absentee ballots until 5:00 p.m. on Friday, April 3 rd .

2) Extends the deadline for receiving and counting absentee ballots until 4:00 p.m. on April 13 th.

3) Enjoins enforcement of the witness requirement on absentee ballots for those persons who provide a written statement or affirmation that they were unable to safely obtain a witness signature despite reasonable efforts to do so.

An order issued today by Judge Conley in response to clarification sought by the Wisconsin Elections Commission and its staff clarifies two important matters:

1) Election results are NOT to be reported until after April 13 th at 4:00 or as soon thereafter as votes can be tabulated; and

2) The witness signature requirement is enjoined for any absentee voter who, prior to their ballot being tabulated, provides a written affirmation or other statement that they were unable to safely obtain a witness signature despite reasonable efforts to do so. The order advises clerks to implement this using the ordinary practice for correcting defective absentee certificate envelopes.

Read the Judge's ruling here.
League of WI Municipalities Statement on
U.S. District Judge Conley’s Ruling

The League thanks U.S. District Judge James Conley for recognizing the grave danger that voters, poll workers and city and village staff are facing in carrying out the Spring Presidential Preference Primary. Judge Conley’s ruling strikes a reasonable balance between safety and protecting the election. 

By allowing an extension of absentee balloting to April 13, his ruling provides voters with a greater opportunity to vote absentee rather than gather at polling places and gives municipal staff additional time to process ballots. The extension of the deadline for requesting an absentee ballot and the reasonable modification of the witness requirement are important safety measures for Wisconsin’s most vulnerable voters.

Elections are a core function of municipal government and are people intensive. According to the Wisconsin Elections Commission, there are approximately 30,000 election officials/inspectors who usually work at the polls on Election Day. 

We want to thank the 1,850 Wisconsin city, village and town clerks who are responsible for maintaining voter lists, managing polling places and hiring poll workers. We’ve heard from hundreds of them, whom Judge Conley referred to as “Heroes.” We agree. 

Read the Judge's ruling here.

Comment on the League's statement on the League's Facebook page here .
Wisconsin's Election in the News

‘I’m Scared’: Wisconsin Election Puts Poll Workers at Risk of Virus
The state plans to hold its elections on Tuesday, thrusting thousands of clerks and poll workers, many of them older or with health conditions, onto the pandemic’s front lines.
Running an election, suddenly, has become a choice between personal safety and maintaining democratic institutions. Read the article in the New York Times... and comment/share and react to the article on the League's Facebook page...

Wisconsin election returns until April 13
“As much as the court would prefer that the Wisconsin Legislature and Governor consider the public health ahead of any political considerations, that does not appear in the cards. Nor is it appropriate for a federal district court to act as the state’s chief health official by taking that step for them,” Conley wrote.

The deadline for voters to get absentee ballots to local clerks had been 8 p.m. on Tuesday, but Conley’s order shifted that to 4 p.m. on April 13. Conley also extended the deadline for voters to request ballots by a day to 5 p.m. Friday.

The judge also lifted a witness requirement for absentee ballot applications, writing that voters can provide a written affirmation that they could not safely obtain a witness signature due to coronavirus fears. On Friday he clarified that voters must provide szuch statements before their ballot is counted.

Republicans supported holding off on election returns until April 13, but they’re appealing the extended absentee period to the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals. The Republican National Committee and the party had urged Conley to allow the election to proceed as planned. Read the AP story...

Clerk resigns in protest of election not being postponed, citing safety concerns
As a federal judge did on Wednesday, Faust said he blames both Governor Tony Evers' administration and Republican legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos (R - Rochester) and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald (R - Juneau) for not moving to delay Tuesday's election.

"You see the political fighting up in Madison and you feel like a pawn in their game," Faust said. "I said 'somebody's gotta say something' so I wrote the other clerks." Read the WKOW story...
Where to turn if your Clerk becomes ill or otherwise incapacitated?  One option is to email the Wisconsin Municipal Clerks Association and ask if there are any retired clerks in your region willing to temporarily fill in. Email Faith A. Elford WCPC/CMC, WMCA Executive Director, execdirector@wisclerks.org , and explain what you need and for how long. She will send an email to all WMCA members in that particular district of the state and to retired “Clerks-at-Heart” and to any “Clerks-in-Transition” (former clerks currently not working).  
Reminder - Elections Commission Issues Multiple Guidance Memos on Conducting the Spring Election During the COVID-19 Pandemic

Wisconsin Election Commission staff issued several memos to municipal clerks on how to best conduct the spring election in the midst of a pandemic. The   public health guidance packet  for elections is posted on  WEC's website.
Election Worker Training Resources
The Local Government Center (LGC) at UW-Extension has created a ninety-minute election training that clerks can use to train new election workers. This training is free to any clerk that wishes to use it. Melissa Kono, County Extension Educator in Clark and Trempealeau Counties, created the training presentation and materials. Victoria Solomon, Green County Extension Educator, assisted with the training presentation and developed the Recruiting materials.

The resources are available  on the LGC website  so that a clerk can download it to use as required. These materials follow the Wisconsin Election Commission training guidelines. An individual can watch on their home computer or a computer at the local government office. The training is a recorded ZOOM webinar, accompanied by a PowerPoint presentation.

Election Worker Recruitment:
The Local Government Center has also developed resources that include a  sample recruitment pitch  (PDF) for clerks to use to recruit new election workers. 
Steps municipalities are taking to keep voters, poll workers and staff safe during the Spring Election.
Thanks to everyone who provided their great ideas. The responses from the survey of municipal clerks conducted by the League of Wisconsin Municipalities the week of March 23-27 is here .
Creative steps municipalities are taking to recruit enough poll workers for the Spring Election
The list is a compilation of responses the League of Wisconsin Municipalities received from a survey of municipal clerks the week of March 23-27. It can be found here .

The League's Coronavirus Elections page is here .
Gov. Evers #SaferAtHome Shelter in Place Emergency Order


Emergency Order #12 Impact on Municipalities  (PDF) by Steve Zach, Boardman & Clark LLP 

Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation (WEDC)
Frequently Asked Questions
Frequently Asked Questions
From the League's past COVID-19 Newsletters

April 1, 2020

How should a utility respond to a customer that informs the utility they’ve decided to defer the payment of their bills? How should a utility handle non-payment by a large customer (industrial)?
See the League's Utilities page here .


March 30, 2020

Who is an “emergency responder” under the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)? by the Federal Dept. of Labor
See the League's website here under Federal.

Are employees of a local health department or agency considered “health care providers” that may be excluded from paid leave under the FFCRA? by the Federal Dept. of Labor
See the League's website here under Federal.


March 27, 2020




March 26, 2020

Emergency Order #12 Impact on Municipalities  (PDF) by Steve Zach, Boardman & Clark LLP 

Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA)
Sample Employee Policy and Guidance
See the League's website here under Federal.

Governor's Emergency Powers
The scope of Governor’s emergency powers does not include suspending statutes. Read more about the Governor’s emergency powers in this recent Legislative Council Information Memorandum on: AUTHORITY OF PUBLIC HEALTH OFFICIALS DURING A PUBLIC HEALTH EMERGENCY


March 25, 2020

Impact on property assessment and taxation by DOR
See the League's website here.


March 20, 2020

Summary of the recently enacted Federal Families First Coronavirus Response Act

HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response  SUMMARY  

HR 6201 Families First Coronavirus Response  Paid Sick Leave  


March 19, 2020

Wisconsin Elections Commission’s Latest Actions Regarding Spring Election Preparedness
Answer: See the League's website here .

Effect of DHS’ Order #5 on Municipalities
(Prohibitions on gatherings of 10 or more people)
Answer: See the League's website here.

Can Restaurants Providing Meals for Carry-out and Delivery Sell Alcohol?
Answer: See the League's website here .



Municipal Emergency Powers During COVID-19
Answer: See the League's website here .



Complying with the open meetings law during the COVID-19 health emergency.  
Answer: See the League's website here . Includes Wis. Dept. of Justice guidance we received March 16, 2020.

Spending to address COVID-19 and the Expenditure Restraint Program .
Answer: See the League's website here. Includes guidance we received from the Wis. Dept. of Revenue on March 13, 2020.
Federal
Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) Update

On April 1 the Department of Labor (DOL) issued a 124 page document with regulations to implement the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA). The regulations are temporary until the applicable process is completed. DOL continues to take input from employers and individuals as well through April 10 th (see information below). 

We are reviewing the regulations and how they impact previous opinions we have given and the FFCRA Sample Policy that is available on our website. Based on our reading of the regulations to date, we expect that revisions will be necessary and updates will be provided once our review is complete.

In the meantime, DOL is posting a recorded webinar on the FFCRA on its site tomorrow Friday April 3rd and is offering assistance with questions. Please see the information from DOL below 

DOL Webinar and Assistance
WHD will post a recorded webinar on Friday, April 3, 2020 to provide interested parties a more in-depth description and help them learn more about the FFCRA.
 
To view the webinar visit https://www.dol.gov/agencies/whd/pandemic
 
WHD invites webinar viewers to call the agency’s toll-free help line at 866-4US-WAGE to speak with a trained WHD professional about any questions they may have.

DOL Solicitation of Feedback
The U.S. Department of Labor is hosting a national online dialogue, now extended until close of business on April 10, 2020, to provide employers and employees with an innovative opportunity to offer their perspective as the Department develops compliance assistance materials and outreach strategies related to the implementation of the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA).
 
The ideas and comments gathered from this dialogue will inform compliance assistance guidance, resources, and tools, as well as outreach approaches, that assist employers and employees in understanding their responsibilities and rights under the FFCRA.
 
Starting April 1, USDOL will launch a campaign to solicit feedback on the FFCRA compliance assistance tools as part of the national online dialogue. USDOL has questions and answers, posters, and fact sheets available to help employers understand their obligations and employees understand their rights under the FFCRA. What about these tools is working? What isn’t working? How can we improve them to ensure they are understandable and accessible?
 
Anybody who is interested can participate online at https://ffcra.ideascale.com through April 10, 2020
Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act

The  CARES Act was signed into law March 27 . Provisions in the Act helpful to municipalities are summarized by the National League of Cities  here .

Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau CARES Act Memorandum

The Wisconsin Legislative Fiscal Bureau has prepared a memorandum explaining the major provisions of the CARES Act relating to state and local governments, and the potential amount of funding Wisconsin may receive. Please note, this information is preliminary. Available information relating to the CARES Act is incomplete at this time and subject to rapid change as additional guidance and information is provided. As a reminder, municipalities should track all costs incurred that relate to the COVID-19 situation. 
Transit Funding - State will receive a total of $205,585,868

The following will be announced today: $25 billion is provided to public transit operators to protect public health and safety while ensuring transportation access to jobs, medical treatment, food, and other essential services remain available during the COVID-19 response. As the revenues that sustain this essential service are severely impacted due to a reduction in fare box revenue and dedicated sales taxes, this increased Federal investment will help to sustain over 430,000 transit jobs and preserve access to our public service and critical workforce that are the backbone of our COVID19 prevention, response, and recovery efforts. 
COVID-19 Emergency Declaration – Applying for Public Assistance
On March 13, 2020, President Trump declared the ongoing Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19) pandemic of sufficient severity and magnitude to warrant an emergency declaration for all states, tribes, territories, and the District of Columbia.
  • State and local governments are eligible to apply for Public Assistance. 
  • Eligible emergency protective measures taken to respond to the COVID-19 emergency at the direction or guidance of public health officials’ may be reimbursed under Category B of the agency’s Public Assistance program. FACT SHEET on ELIGIBLE EXPENSES
  • FEMA assistance will be provided at the 75 percent Federal cost share
  • Local governments and other eligible public assistance applicants will apply through their respective state. In Wisconsin contact Eric Learn, the State Public Assistance Officer at WEM, 608-242-3200, for more information.
  • The application deadline for the COVID- 19 disaster public assistance has been indefinitely extended by FEMA. FEMA waived the ordinary 30 day application deadline that would have otherwise closed on April 12. 
FFCRA Employee Rights Poster > If you haven't already, please do this!

Under the “Families First Coronavirus Response Act” (FFCRA) all covered employers must provide the temporary benefits required by the Act and "post" the Department of Labor’s FFCRA Employee Rights Poster by April 1, 2020

From the FAQ:
An employer may satisfy this requirement by emailing or direct mailing this notice to employees, or posting this notice on an employee information internal or external website.

For the full FAQ and more, see the League's Employee page here...
If you don't find what you need or if you have resources to contribute,
please email Jerry Deschane.
Communications
April 3, 2020 Briefing on COVID-19
Briefings on COVID-19

The Administration, including the Governor, Sec. Designee Palm and Dr. Ryan Westergaard generally provide briefings each weekday at 1:30 p.m. They are streamed on YouTube.

The briefing is a good place to get information on the state's effort, the spread of the virus and what is being done as well as what you need to do to make a difference to slow the spread of COVID-19.

You can subscribe to the DHSWI YouTube Channel here.
REQUEST - Please send us your photos typifying your experience during this challenging time for publication in the League's May magazine

Photos will be placed in chronological order. Our goal is to provide a look back at what was happening with you and with your municipalities during these few weeks. It doesn't matter what kind of work you do in service to your community, please share a photo or two!

Photos can be from your work with the City or Village or from your personal experience.

Send your photos straight from your Smartphone in the highest resolution possible to Sandy at league@lwm-info.org

Subject line should be easy for Sandy to flag: Photo for League magazine

In the body of your email, please include:

  • Municipality Name
  • Submitted by or Photo Taken by (so we can give you credit)
  • Date photo was take 
  • Short Caption - just a sentence or two explaining the photo.

We will include as many photos as we can. We will be accepting photos until April 10. You can submit more than once.
We go to work for you. Please stay home for us!

We know that you have been working hard to keep your community safe and services available. Thank you!

You can download this hot off the press "We go to work for you" graphic as a PDF here .

This work is the result of the League's partnership on messaging with UW Madison that we initiated March 16. Stay tuned for more.
Please consider sharing Facebook posts from the Wisconsin Dept. of Health Services Facebook page to your own Facebook page. Scroll down their page to see what they've posted.

Copy and paste this explanation of #SaferAtHome into your posts:

To slow the spread, limit close interaction to the same 5 people TOTAL, NOT different small groups."  #SaferAtHome
Webinars and Training
How to communicate with clarity during COVID-19
Apr 6, 2020 02:00 PM - Free
Join Laura Gallagher, President of The Creative Company and Producer, Publicist and Former Reporter Madison Lee for The Creative Company’s Crisis Communications webinar. In this webinar, you’ll learn how to create a plan that will communicate trust and confidence in your organization through COVID-19 and any crisis situation. Details and registration
General Resources
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH SERVICES
COVID-19 is a virus that has not previously infected humans and information about its rate of spread and its effects is still largely unknown, which makes it incredibly important to be highly cautious in dealing with the current situation. 

LATEST UPDATES
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services will continue to provide the most up-to-date information regarding COVID-19. You are encouraged to monitor the site for updated guidance as the situation continues to evolve.


Want to share relevant and credible information to your Social Media?

The Centers for Disease Control (CDC) on Facebook & on Twitter (Scroll down to see more recent posts.)

The Wisconsin Dept of Health Services (DHS) on Facebook & on Twitter.

And the League's social media:
PLEASE NOTE
Upcoming League Conferences and Workshops
Our priority is your safety and well-being. Decisions on whether to hold, cancel or postpone League events will be made with that priority as our number-one concern. 
 
Municipal Building Inspectors - April 15-17 - postponed.
League's Local Gov 101 Workshops - three programs were scheduled for May. We are working to provide these as webinars. Please stay tuned.
 
Decisions about the June programs, which include the Clerks, Treasurers & Finance Officers Institute, the Municipal Attorneys Institute and an additional Local Gov 101 Workshop will also be made with health and safety in mind. We will provide notice in our newsletters and on our website regarding those and future workshops. Details on cancellation policies and more...