Capitol Update
April 16, 2020Like us on Facebook
Contents Include:
1. Wisconsin Bishops Statement on COVID-19
2. Catholic COVID-19 Resources
3. Governor Evers Extends Safer at Home Order
4. Governor Evers Signs COVID-19 Legislation
5. State and Federal COVID-19 Resources
Wisconsin Bishops Statement on COVID-19
On April 9, the Bishops of Wisconsin issued a statement on the current pandemic, thanking all those who work tirelessly to help others and offering consolation, hope, and Easter blessings.
Catholic COVID-19 Resources
The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) has developed a list spiritual resources, including links to online masses and four free online daily Mass readings: Give Us This Day, Magnificat, Living with Christ, and The Word Among Us.
Wisconsin's five dioceses also have COVID-19 information: Archdiocese of Milwaukee , Diocese of Green Bay , Diocese of Madison , Diocese of La Crosse , and Diocese of Superior.
Finally, for additional information, please visit our WCC Facebook page .
Governor Evers Extends Safer at Home Order
Governor Evers today directed Andrea Palm, Secretary-designee of the Department of Health Services, to issue Emergency Order #28, which extends the "Safer at Home" order until May 26. The original order was supposed to expire on Friday, April 24, and the provisions of this new order take effect at 8 am that day.
For places of worship and religious groups, the same guidelines regarding the under 10-person limit will remain in effect. The order also clarifies and alters the following:
  • Schools will remain closed for the rest of the school year.
  • Libraries will be allowed to be open for curbside pickup and delivery of materials.
  • Golf courses may open with the restriction that payment for course access may only be done online or by phone. Pro shops and clubhouses must remain closed.
  • The order advises certain safe business practices for essential businesses that remain open. All businesses must adopt certain safe business practices for cleaning and limit the number of staff to only those necessary to continue operations. Retail establishments must limit the number of people permitted inside the establishment at any one time.
  • Non-essential businesses will now be able to do more things as Minimum Basic Operations, including deliveries, mailings, and curb-side pick-up. Non-essential businesses must notify workers of whether they are necessary for the Minimum Basic Operations.
  • Art and crafts stores may offer curbside pickup for the provision of supplies to make Personal Protective Equipment.
  • Travel to second homes and out of state is not recommended.
  • The order specifies that tribal nations retain sovereignty and decision-making capability over their nations.
Governor Evers Signs COVID-19 Legislation
Yesterday Governor Evers signed the bipartisan 2019 Wisconsin Act 185, which institutes emergency provisions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. The following are WCC items of interest in the Act.
Low-Income Energy Assistance Program Application Period: Allows households to apply for heating assistance under the low-income home energy assistance program any time before December 31, 2020.
Temporary Suspension of Certain Medicaid Provisions: Authorizes the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) to take actions to qualify for enhanced federal Medicaid funding as established by the federal Family First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) in response to the COVID-19 pandemic. The DHS would do the following on a temporary basis:
  • suspend monthly premiums for childless adults covered under the Medicaid program;
  • suspend the requirement that childless adults complete a health risk assessment questionnaire for childless adults, as a condition of Medicaid eligibility;
  • delay the implementation of a community engagement requirement for childless adults; and
  • maintain continuous enrollment of any Medicaid beneficiary who is enrolled as of the date of passage of the FFCRA (March 18, 2020), or who subsequently enrolls in the program during the period of the federal public health emergency, until the end of the final month during which the federal public health emergency is in effect.
Legislative Oversight of Federal DHS Waiver Requests: During the public health emergency, exempts DHS waiver requests and other necessary federal approvals from current law requiring legislative authorization for, and review of, such requests.
SeniorCare Coverage of Vaccinations: Expands the SeniorCare prescription drug assistance program to include coverage of vaccinations that are recommended for administration to adults by the Federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention's advisory committee on immunization practices and approved for administration to adults by the DHS.
No Cost Sharing for COVID-19 Testing: Requires any self-insured health plan or health insurance policy that generally covers testing for infectious diseases to provide coverage of testing for COVID-19 without imposing any copayment or coinsurance on the covered individual for testing done prior to March 13, 2021.
Coverage Discrimination Based on COVID-19: Prohibits any insurer, pharmacy benefit manager, or self-insured health plan from using a current, past, or suspected diagnosis of COVID-19 as the basis for denying coverage or establishing rates.
School and School District Accountability Reports: Prohibits the Wisconsin Department of Public Instruction (DPI) from publishing school and school district accountability reports in the 2020-21 school year.
Pupil Assessments: Specifies that the law requiring the annual administration of assessments to pupils attending school in a public school district, independent charter school, private choice school, or special needs scholarship program school does not apply in 2019-20.
Virtual Instruction: Compels certain reporting by public school districts on the use of virtual instruction and requires the DPI to post on its website guidance to schools on best practices related to transitioning from virtual instruction to in-person instruction by June 30, 2020.
Private School Waiver for Hours of Pupil Instruction: Specifies that in the 2019-20 school year, the governing body of any private school can request that the DPI waive any requirement related to providing hours of instruction, including the requirements for minimum hours of instruction for private schools participating in the Milwaukee, Racine, or statewide choice programs or in the special needs scholarship program.
Waivers for Private School Choice Programs, Special Needs Scholarship Programs, and Independent Charters School: Specifies that during the current public health emergency the DPI may do any of the following:
  • Waive any requirement related to the special needs scholarship program, private school choice programs, or independent charter school programs for the 2019-2020 school year.
  • Establish an alternate deadline for any requirement related to these programs if the original deadline begins after the first day of the public health emergency (March 12, 2020) and ends October 31, 2020, or affects a date during this same period.
If a private school participating in these programs is closed for at least ten days, the DPI cannot withhold payments from the school for failing to comply with statutory requirements.
Private School Choice Programs - Cash and Investment Balance: D uring a public health emergency, private schools participating in the Milwaukee, Racine, or statewide choice programs are not required to maintain a cash and investment balance equal to its reserves.
Statewide Private School Choice Application Deadline: Specifies that a private school participating in the statewide choice program in the 2020-21 school year may accept applications from eligible pupils until May 14, 2020. Participating private schools must submit to the DPI the number of pupils who have applied to attend the school and the names of those applicants whose siblings have also applied to attend the school by May 29, 2020.
Tax Code Update: Affirms u pdated Wisconsin tax references that align with changes made to the U.S. Internal Revenue Code (IRC) under the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act of 2020, including:
  • special rules for the use of retirement funds
  • the partial deduction for charitable contributions
  • the suspension of the limitation on certain charitable contributions
  • the provision of telehealth services under high deductible health plans
  • additional qualified expenses for health savings accounts
  • the payroll protection loan forgiveness exclusion, and
  • the exclusion for certain employer payments of student loans
Interest and Penalties Due on Taxes Owed during Pandemic: Permits the Secretary of the Wisconsin Department of Revenue (DOR) to waive interest and penalties for persons that owe, but fail to remit, general fund taxes or taxes/fees that are deposited in the transportation fund by the filing date, if the Secretary determines the failure to timely remit those taxes is due to the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic.
Income and Franchise Tax Filing Extension: Affirms that the deadline for filing federal income tax returns is extended from April 15, 2020, to July 15, 2020, which applies to state income tax filings as well. Please note this provision does not impact certain state tax contribution deadlines. For clarification on tax deadlines see the DOR's Wisconsin Tax Return Due Dates and Payments publication.
Interest and Penalties on 2020 Property Taxes: For any property taxes payable in 2020 that are due after April 1, 2020, local governments may waive any interest charges and penalties for a late installment payment, provided that the full amount of the payment is received on or before October 1, 2020.
Temporary Suspension of the Unemployment Insurance Waiting Week: Provides that the waiting week requirement for access to state Unemployment Insurance (UI) benefits will not apply with respect to benefit years that begin after March 12, 2020, and before February 7, 2021. If a claim or plan is related to the public health emergency, regular benefits for that claim for weeks occurring after March 12, 2020, and before December 31, 2020, will not be charged to an employer's UI account as normally provided.
State and Federal COVID-19 Resources
The State of Wisconsin has created a central website for COVID resources, which also links to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services COVID page for statistics and health information, and to Safer at Home FAQs.

Those willing and able to donate large quantities of Personal Protective Equipment (PPE) are asked to fill out a form here. The state is willing to reimburse for large quantities of PPE at fair market value. If anyone is willing to donate less than 50 of any PPE items, please consider donating directly to local health care organizations.
The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) COVID website includes federal directives and resources on health, workforce, and schools.
Capitol Update is a periodic e-mail on legislative issues from the Wisconsin Catholic Conference.
Wisconsin Catholic Conference
131 W. Wilson St., Suite 1105
Madison, WI 53703