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May 5, 2020

2019 Wisconsin Act 185: research guide and index

2019 Wisconsin Act 185 made many changes to Wisconsin law to enable the government to meet the emergency related to the current health crisis in the state. The Legislative Fiscal Bureau provided an overview of the changes in the law in this summary of provisions guide.

Among the changes enacted:

  • Authorizing the Joint Committee on Finance to transfer $75 million from existing sum sufficient appropriations to emergency use [Sections 1 & 2].
  • Increasing debt authorization by $725 million [Section 3].

  • Authorizing certain retired state employees in essential health related occupations to resume employment without suspension of retirement payments or annuities for the duration of the emergency [Sections 4-12].
  • Authorizing the Department of Administration to transfer state employees from one agency to another [Section 105 (8)].

  • Delaying payment deadlines for property tax [Section 21-22d].
  • Adopting income tax adjustments enacted by Federal law [Sections 23-29].
  • Relaxing certain time limitations on property tax appeals [Sections 30-31].
  • Permiting the Department of Revenue to waive certain interest and penalty payments [Section 105 (14)].
  • Permiting local governments to suspend interest on late property tax payments until October 1, 2020 [Section 105 (25)].

  • Authorizing an expedited approval process for any vaccine for Covid-19 approved by Federal authorities [Sections 15-17].
  • Granting an extension for most pharmaceutical prescriptions [Section 87-88].
  • Implementing modified Federal medical assistance requirements [Section 105(1)].

  • Creating a presumption of work-related injury under the worker’s compensation law with respect to Covid-19 exposure for first responders [Sections 33-34].
  • Granting insurance coverage to certain employees returning from leave of absence [Section 82].
  • Lifting certain limitations with respect to limited term employees [Section 83].
  • Granting leave to certain public employees during the probationary period [Section 84].
  • Suspending civil service grievance procedures [Section 85].
  • Suspending requirements for renewal of credentials for public health workers [Section 86].
  • Granting civil immunity for health care providers [Section 98].
  • Granting civil immunity for producers of emergency medical supplies [Sections 99-104].
  • Creating provisions for liability insurance for physicians and nurse anesthetists [Section 105(2)].
  • Authorizing the issuance of temporary credentials for public health providers [Section 105 (4)].
  • Authorizing the Department of Safety and Professional Services to waive credential fees for public health providers [Section 105 (5).
  • Authorizing the issuance of temporary credentials for public health providers from other states [Section 105(6)].
  • Modifies credential renewal provisions for certain health care providers during the duration of the emergency [Section 105 (16)].

  • Regulating insurance coverage for Covid-19 treatment [Section 89].
  • Requiring insurance coverage of Covid-19 testing [Section 92].
  • Prohibiting insurance discrimination based on Covid-19 [Section 95].
  • Requiring health insurers to cover Covid-19 testing until March 13, 2021 [Section 96].
  • Requirements for prescription drug coverage with respect to Covid-19 [Section 97].

  • Waiving certain reporting requirements for public schools [Sections 53-59].
  • Numerous policy waivers for school choice and charter schools [Sections 60-74].
  • Providing for virtual instruction for public schools [Section 105 (3)].
  • Suspending pupil assessments for public schools for the 2019-20 school year [Section 105 (21)].
  • Suspending hours of instruction reporting requirements for private schools for the 2019-20 school year [Section 105 (22)].
  • Providing revisions for the school choice program for the 2020-21 school year [Section 105 (23)].
  • Providing revisions for the school open enrollment program for the 2020-21 school year [Section 105 (24)].

  • Allowing town governments to postpone annual meetings from the statutory or otherwise scheduled dates [Sections 18-19].
  • Limiting the return of certain food or consumer products during the emergency [Section 32].
  • Creating exceptions to current law regarding the provision of employee records during the emergency [Section 35].
  • Revising work-share and unemployment benefit revisions during the emergency [Sections 36-52].
  • Requiring the Department of Health Services to create a public health emergency dashboard [Section 77].
  • Waiving certain legal requirements for personal appearance during the emergency [Section 80].
  • Granting agencies broad authority to suspend the tolling of legal deadlines and suspending interest on government fines and penalties [Section 81].
  • Authorizing the Board of Commissioners of Public Lands to make loans to municipal utilities [Section 105 (9)].
  • Suspending legislative oversight for certain Federal waiver requests with regard to Covid-19 [Section 105 (10)].
  • Requiring Legislative Audit Bureau audit of programs and expenditures related to Act 185 from July 1, 2020 to June 30, 2021 [Section 105 (11)].
  • Exempting certain communications from campaign finance law during the duration of the emergency [Section 105 (13)].
  • Creating special provisions with respect to corpses of persons who died of Covid-19 [Section 105 (15)].
  • Appropriating child care and development block grant funds provided by the Federal emergency legislation [Section 105 (17)].
  • Providing that certain local fair organizers remain eligible for aid even if their fair is suspended during 2020 [Section 105 (19)].
  • Requiring the Department of Health to develop a pay for performance metric for medical assistance [Section 105 (20)].
  • Requiring the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation to provide a report on providing support to major industries during the emergency [Section 105 (26m)].
  • Requiring the Department of Workforce Development to seek advance payments from the 
  • Federal unemployment reserve fund through 2021 [Section 105 (27m)].

May 4, 2020

WSLL @ Your Service May 2020

The May issue of WSLL @ Your Service is now available! Your comments are always welcome. Please direct them to the editor, Carol Hassler.

In this issue:

COVID-19 and Our Libraries 

The library has served the State of Wisconsin for the past 184 years, and we continue to do so in the midst of this health crisis. While our library space remains closed, our librarians and resources are available to assist with your legal research needs.
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Celebrating Lavinia Goodell (Part One) 

This year's Law Day theme is Your Vote, Your Voice, Our Democracy: the 19th Amendment at 100. Law Day is May 1st and to help us mark the day, we're delighted to talk to Wisconsin Supreme Court Commissioner Nancy Kopp and Attorney Colleen Ball about their biographical website devoted to Lavinia Goodell.
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New Books & Resources 

We are continually updating our catalog with timely resources. Instead of focusing on print books this month, we're highlighting information that is available to you online from home.
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Tech Tip 

Bestlaw is a tool which is easily added to Google Chrome and adds some basic but useful features to Westlaw and Lexis.
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Library News  

Sign up for our first free webinar, welcome new graduates, and other library news.
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May Snapshot

While we are still closed to the public, staff have been in the library (with social distancing precautions taken) to help get our users the information they need. We have been scanning and sending requests every week.
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How does the state deal with a budget shortfall?

Article VIII, Section 5 of the Wisconsin Constitution requires that the Legislature levy a sufficient tax to provide for all state expenditures appropriated. The Legislature currently fulfills that requirement by enacting a budget every two years that includes revenues and expenditures that are in balance.

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The Department of Revenue and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau periodically evaluate the viability of the enacted budget by monitoring state revenue intake and economic projections. In the event that projections show that revenues will fail to be sufficient to fund appropriations, several actions may be taken.

The Department of Administration may allow or direct state agencies to adjust their spending under the authority granted under Wisconsin Statute section 16.50. If the projected revenues show that the State’s appropriations will exceed revenues by more than .5%, the governor must propose legislation to address the situation, calling the Legislature into special session if necessary. The Legislature may then enact budget adjustment legislation.

The Joint Committee on Finance is also authorized to adjust most state appropriations under Wisconsin Statutes section 13.101. Each agency must be given the opportunity to offer a response to the proposed adjustment.

In practice, state agencies have dealt with revenue shortfalls in recent decades through hiring freezes, travel restrictions, procurement restrictions, and unpaid leave and furloughs for state employees.

For more information read State General Fund Balanced Budget Requirements, Legislative Fiscal Bureau Informational Paper #74.

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