No Legislative Floor Session Scheduled Yet, but Governor and Legislators Drafting COVID-19 Legislation
Over the weekend, Governor Evers released the draft COVID-19 legislative package he has been asking the Legislature to enact since March 21. The package includes the following items:

  • Provides each municipality with a supplemental shared revenue payment in 2020 equal to 1 percent of its estimated county and municipal aid payment in 2020. (Total additional shared revenue spending would be increased by 7.5 million)

  • Mandates that voters vote by mail using an absentee ballot at any election held during the period covered by an executive order declaring a public health emergency. The absentee ballot must be postmarked no later than the day of the election and no witness signature is required for any such ballot.

  • Waives the voter ID requirement in order to vote at any election held during the period covered by the governor's declaration of a public health emergency.

  • Provides funding for DHS to provide aid to local health departments and allows the expenditure of those moneys in fiscal year 2020-21.

  • Authorizes DOA to provide printing services to counties, towns,villages, and cities.

It is highly unlikely that the Legislature will pass the Governor's proposed changes. Senate majority leader Fitzgerald and Assembly Speaker Vos stated publicly late last week that they are not supportive of the changes to the election laws included in the package. GOP leadership questioned the practicality of conducting a mail-in only spring election. Leadership has also indicated no interest in authorizing additional spending given the likelihood that state revenues for the remainder of 2020 will be much less than anticipated.

The Legislature has not announced any immediate plans to meet in extraordinary session and no legislative floor periods are currently scheduled. However, that could change fast. Meanwhile, individual legislators are drafting and introducing bills designed to help municipalities address challenges caused by the COVID-19 pandemic.

Ability to Change Property Tax Installment Due Dates

For example, Sen. Kooyenga (R-Brookfield) and Rep. Hutton (R-Brookfield) are planning to introduce a bill (LRB 5946) the League supports giving municipalities the flexibility to pass an ordinance during the COVID-19 public emergency changing due dates for property tax installment payments. The bill also allows municipalities to waive or reduce interest and penalties accrued on any late payment.

We will keep you informed when this bill is introduced and when and if the Legislature plans to meet on COVID-19 issues.
Massive Federal Stimulus Package, the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act, Signed into Law
Last Friday, Congress passed and President Trump signed into law the CARES Act. Provisions in the Act helpful to municipalities are summarized by the National League of Cities here.
Elections Commission Issues Multiple Guidance Memos on Conducting the Spring Election During the COVID-19 Pandemic
Over the weekend, 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 and includes the following:

  • Checklist. This checklist was developed with the advice of a public health official to outline processes for conducting Election Day voting safely for voters and poll workers. Please review the checklist and incorporate these practices into your Election Day planning.

  • Poll Worker Health Screener. The public health official advising the WEC has suggested that on Election Day poll workers be screened to ensure that they can safely work. Attached you will find the screening questions to ask to poll workers. You may either choose to have each poll worker fill out the screener or post the screener and ask poll workers to read the questions and answer them.

  • Polling Place Signage. As is discussed in the attached checklist, it is advised that you place signs on the entrance and in relevant spots in the polling place to advise voters of procedures and enforce social distancing standards. Again, these signs were developed with the advice of a public health official. We will also be distributing printed signs to each county to be distributed to municipalities along with other supplies.  

  • Hospitalized Electors. At its March 27 meeting, the Commission voted to expand the definition of hospitalized elector to include voters in quarantine. We also worked with a public health official to discuss the recommended process to conduct the hospitalized elector process with quarantined voters. This memo to clerks outlines the recommended process and explains the expanded definition.

  • Curbside/ Drive-Through Procedures. Clerks have asked for guidance on how to conduct curbside voting in accordance with health guidance for those who are not able to enter the polling place. There have also been jurisdictions who have asked for advisement on how to conduct outdoor or “drive-through” voting. This memo to clerks outlines the recommended process and provides public heath procedures.

  • Absentee Witness Requirement. Clerks and voters have also asked for guidance on how absentee voters can have their ballot witnessed in accordance with public health guidance. This memo to clerks outlines the recommended process and provide suggested options for voters who are having difficulty meeting the witness requirement.

Please check out the NEW "In the News" in the League's Daily COVID-19 newsletter. The League's COVID-19 newsletter is sent to the same list as the Legislative Bulletin. It arrives in your inbox between noon and 2:00 p.m. every weekday.

Join us for the League's Virtual Roundtables aka Conference Calls.

Monday, March 30, 2020 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.
Tuesday, March 31, 2020 4:00 - 5:00 p.m.

Join Zoom Meeting
Or simply dial in +1 312 626 6799 
Meeting ID: 144 756 174

Friday, April 3, 2020  8:00 - 9:00 a.m.  
(Call in information is different. Check the League's COVID-19 webpage .)

The Local Perspective - PFAS
PFAS is in the air, food containers, stain repellents, cosmetics and is used in manufacturing as well firefighting foam. It’s also in the water. What is the municipal responsibility and ability to mitigate? Paul Kent , Stafford Rosenbaum LLP, who literally wrote the book on water law in Wisconsin is Jerry Deschane’s guest on the League’s Local Perspective. They talk about all of these issues plus the science. Watch it here. Thanks to FACTv in Fitchburg for hosting!

Since the 2019-2020 legislative session is nearly over and no bills introduced at this time will have a chance of passing both houses, no newly introduced bills will be reported in the remaining issues of the Legislative Bulletin for this session.

No public hearings on municipal bills are scheduled for this week.