In the aftermath of the 2020 election one thing is clear: Georgia is a swing state. Ever since Stacey Abrams came within 55,000 votes of pulling off the first statewide Democratic victory in Georgia since Zell Miller’s Senate election in 2000, Democrats in Georgia have been calling for further national party investment in the Peach State. The argument, appears vindicated on Friday morning with Vice President Joe Biden holding a narrow lead in the state by just over 1,500 votes, after several Atlanta counties finished absentee ballots. What’s more, the control of the United States Senate lies in the hands of Georgia voters as two US Senate seats appear headed toward January runoffs.
After three days of dominating the headspace of pundits and political junkies alike, Georgia is poised to remain the center of the political universe for the next two months.
United States Presidential
Source: New York Times
Joe Biden holds a lead of 1,579 votes as of 10:10am on Friday November 6th. Former Vice President Biden overtook President Trump thanks to an unprecedented large number of absentee mail ballots in Democratic strongholds such as Fulton, DeKalb, Clayton, Gwinnett, and Chatham Counties. Throughout Wednesday and Thursday, the number of outstanding votes varied causing a wide range of predictions of who would win the state. But as the counts trickled in Vice President Biden consistently inched closer winning 80-90 percent of absentee mail ballots in Democratic counties and even squeaking out absentee ballot victories in many deep red counties.
The counting of ballots was slow but steady. On Wednesday morning, with 93 percent of the vote accounted for President Trump led by about 117,000 votes. By Wednesday night the lead had shrunk to just 28,827 votes with 95 percent of the vote counted. From Wednesday night to Thursday morning the lead shrunk further as Fulton County absentee votes continued to be counted. By 11am on Thursday President Trump’s lead was just 18,146 votes shrinking to 14,000 by 2pm. By midafternoon Thursday Vice President Biden needed about 63 percent of outstanding votes to overtake the President.
As Thursday wore on Fulton County finalized its vote at which point the President’s lead shrunk to just 1,902 with the majority of outstanding votes in Clayton and Gwinnett’s Counties, two heavily Democratic counties south of Atlanta. Clayton County counted through the night and as a result by 3:40am on Friday morning President Trump’s lead was just 463 votes. Finally, at around 5:30am on Friday morning, Clayton County’s latest results pushed Joe Biden into the lead with a 917 vote advantage.
The race will remain in flux until provisional, military and cured ballots are tabulated and even then it will likely go to a re-count. If the results hold, Joe Biden is on track to be the first Democratic Presidential candidate to carry the Peach State since Bill Clinton in 1992.
United States Senate
Both United States Senate races will be decided on January 5, and more likely than not, decide which party controls the United States Senate. Incumbent Senator David Perdue, as of this writing, holds a two percentage point lead over Democrat Jon Ossoff. However, Senator Perdue is below the fifty percent threshold at 49.8 percent. State law requires any race where neither candidate receives over 50% go to a run-off. Like President Trump, Senator Perdue was holding a 50 percent plus one lead for much of the race before losing ground as metro absentee ballots were counted. Nevertheless, he goes into the runoff with a slight lead in the votes.
Source: New York Times
The second Senate race in Georgia, a special election to replace longtime Georgia Senator Johnny Isakson will also head to a runoff, as expected. Reverend Raphael Warnock, the Democratic front runner received 32.9 percent of the vote and will face Incumbent Republican Kelly Loeffler who received 26 percent of the vote. Loeffler, who was appointed by Governor Kemp upon Senator Isakson’s retirement, bested fellow Republican Doug Collins after a bruising campaign for loyal Republican voters, while Reverend Warnock was able to consolidate much of the Georgia and National Democratic establishment behind him.
The fact that the outcome of the two US Senate elections may decide the fate of the United States Senate guarantees not only intense campaigning but also a flood of money from all around the country.
United States House
Both of Georgia’s competitive United States House races were won by the Democratic candidates. Incumbent Democratic Representative Lucy McBath beat Karen Handel handily in Georgia’s 6th Congressional District. The 6th District, former home to United States House Speaker Newt Gingrich, continues its trend towards Democrats.
In Georgia’s 7th Congressional District Democrat Carolyn Bourdeaux beat Republican Rich McCormick. Bourdeaux narrowly lost to formerly Congressman Rob Woodall in 2018 who declined to run for reelection.
Georgia Public Service Commission
With a few thousand ballots outstanding statewide, two seats on the Public Service Commission could also be headed for a runoff. Incumbent Commissioner for District 1 Jason Shaw currently has a four percentage point lead over challenger Robert Bryant but is sitting at exactly fifty percent of the vote. Similarly, Incumbent District 4 Commissioner Lauren McDonald is at fifty percent against challenger Daniel Blackman. As the final votes are tallied we will know whether we can add to PSC races or a separate state runoff on December 1.
Georgia State Legislature
While Democrats made serious enrodes into Georgia in the presidential and congressional levels, their efforts under the Gold Dome were less successful. With redistricting on the horizon, Democrats were optimistic about their chances to flip the State House and make incremental gains in the State Senate. In reality, the strength of down ballot Republicans largely prevailed.
In the House, as of this writing three incumbent Republicans are on track to lose as well as one incumbent Democrat, a net gain of two seats for Democrats. Accordingly, Republicans will maintain a majority 103 to 77. The Democratic incumbent who appears to have lost, is the current House Minority Leader, Bob Trammel. Therefore, there will be a race for Democratic caucus leadership in the near future. On the Republican side current Speaker, David Ralston will likely be re-elected, but he may face a challenge from the right wing of his party.
Democrats picked up two Senate seats with Democrat Nikki Merritt beating incumbent Republican PK Martin in the 9th District and Democrat Michelle Au filling the vacant seat in the 48th District. Republicans maintain a strong majority in the Senate 34 to 22.
Gwinnett County Commission
Democrats swept the three County Commission elections in Gwinnett County, a rapidly diversifying suburb of Atlanta. Democrat Kirkland Carden bested Republican Laurie McClain by about 10,000 votes for the District 1 seat while Democrat Jasper Watkins III beat Republican Ben Archer by about 22,000 votes for the District 3 seat. Additionally, the County Commission will be led by Democrat Nicole Love Hendrickson after handily defeating Republican David Post for Commission Chair.
The new Sheriff and District Attorney are also Democrats.
Cobb County Commission
In addition to taking control of Gwinnet County government, Democrats had an equally productive election cycle in Cobb County, a formerly Republican stronghold. Democrat Lisa Cupid beat Incumbent Republican County Chairman Mike Boyce by about 20,000 votes. The District 2 race was, and remains, much closer. At present Democrat Jerica Richardson is leading Republican Fitz Johnson by about 400 votes. While that is unlikely to change there are still outstanding votes. Monique Sheffield won the Democratic Primary and was unopposed for the District 4 seat. In all likelihood, the Cobb Commission will have 3 Democratic Commissioners and 2 Republican Commissioners.
Cobb will also have a new Democrat Sheriff and District Attorney.
The apparent narrow victory by Vice President Biden at the top of the ticket has Georgia Democrats smiling and down ballot State House races give Republicans some solace. Both parties, however, have little time to ponder the election’s meaning in the short run with high profile runoffs cranking up immediately and the first campaign runoff ads already airing.
The 40 day period after the end of the legislative session for the Governor to sign or veto bills ended on August 5th. After vetoing 14 bills in 2019, Governor Kemp only rejected four bills from the 2020 legislative session. Each veto received an accompanying statement describing the primary reason for disagreeing with the legislation which passed both houses of the Georgia Legislature.
The vetoes are as follows:
House Bill 935 which would have created the Recorder’s Court of Gwinnett County. The bill was vetoed at the request of the bill’s sponsor.
House Bill 991 which would have created the Healthcare Transparency and Accountability Oversight Committee. The Governor vetoed the legislation out of an apparent concern for the separation of powers. In part, he argued that the Committee would supplant the authority of the Board of Public Health and would blur the lines between the General Assembly and the Executive branch given such boards are considered to be part of the executive branch of government.
Senate Bill 306 which would have enacted the Audiology and Speech-Language Pathology Interstate Compact was vetoed by the Governor in part because the Georgia Occupational Regulation Review Council did not review and approve the legislation as is statutorily mandated and additionally, there was no fiscal analysis to determine associated costs.
Senate Bill 504, which would create a referendum in Glynn County on the question of whether or not to abolish the Glynn County Police Department was vetoed because the Governor signed a similar, binding bill calling a referendum on the same topic.
The Governor issued one signing statement on House Bill 105 concerning disagreements as to whether the bill would create a tax exemption for income received as payments from a federal disaster relief or assistance grant program. The Governor noted that it was not clear whether or not the bill passed both houses with the same language. As such, he is calling a special session to rectify the situation.
The Governor signed several significant pieces of legislation including Senate Bill 359 which limits most negligence suits related to COVID-19 as long as companies follow social distancing, disinfection and other safety protocols outlined by public health officials, House Bill 838 which grants police new protections related to “bias motivated intimidation,” and a bill that will allow for home delivery of alcohol. The Governor previously signed into law the Georgia Hate Crimes bill.
Finally, the Governor has stated that he intends to call a Special Session of the General Assembly to clear up any technical concerns over HB 105, which grants a state tax exemption on federal aid received by Hurricane Michael victims. Under the Georgia Constitution, a Special Session can only deal with those issues specifically cited by the Governor in his official call; however, there is speculation that the Governor may add additional issues to the list of items the General Assembly can address, in particular the Budget. Therefore, stay tuned!
After a COVID-19 induced hiatus the General Assembly returned to Atlanta for a two week sprint to Sine Die. While the main focus was passing a budget under significant revenue shortfalls the General Assembly was able to pass several other pieces of legislation including a historic hate crimes bill, surprise billing restrictions and two constitutional amendments among others.
Now that the 2020 session has officially ended legislators will start ramping up for what is sure to be a contentious election season.
The Georgia General Assembly temporarily adjourned in March without fulfilling its one constitutional obligation — passing a budget. They completed that task as the 2020 special session closed, a day before the start of the new fiscal year. Gov. Brian Kemp promptly signed the budget for Fiscal Year 2021 on Tuesday June 30th finalizing the state’s $26 billion spending plan which includes about $2.2 billion in cuts.
Some highlights of the updated budget include:
K-12 Public Education
$950 million cut from the Quality Basic Education program, the formula used to calculate state spending for K-12 public education
$142 million added for enrollment growth and teacher training
$8.8 million added to the Governor’s Office of Student Achievement
$242 million cut to schools in the University System of Georgia and $36 million cut to schools in the Technical College System of Georgia
12 percent cut to Adult Education
11 percent cut to agricultural programs including the Cooperative Extension Service
$11 million in cuts to Dual Enrollment expected from the 30-hour cap and limits on courses students can take created in HB 444
$1 million added to the REACH Georgia scholarship program, a needs-based mentoring and scholarship program; all other state-funded scholarships will see a 10 percent cut
Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities
$91 million cut to the Department of Behavioral Health and Developmental Disabilities budget
$22.7 million cut to child and adolescent mental health services, including prevention programs and supported education and employment services
$7.2 million cut to adult mental health services, including cuts to core behavioral health services, reductions in peer workforce training and services and cuts to housing vouchers for people with mental illnesses
$5.7 million cut to adult substance abuse services, mostly for funds that would expand residential treatment services
Total state funding increased by $178 million, mostly to account for higher projected growth for Medicaid
$19.7 million added to provide six months of Medicaid coverage for new mothers; this coverage extension must still receive federal approval
$12 million added to increase funding available for Rural Hospital Stabilization grants
$8.2 million in cuts to the Department of Public Health budget
Funding restored for grants to local health departments
$2.3 million reduction in funding for trauma center readiness and uncompensated care
$34 million cut to the Department of Human Services (DHS) budget
$46 million cut in Temporary Assistance for Needy Families (TANF) funds
$3.7 million in cuts to vacant positions in child welfare
$3 million in cuts to vacant positions at the state office for DHS
2. Hate Crimes Bill
On Friday June 26th, Gov. Brian Kemp signed a hate-crimes measure into law. As such, Georgia is no longer on the ever-shrinking list of states without hate crime legislation. The law allows for enhanced criminal penalties to be levied against those who target their victims on the basis of race, gender, sexual orientation, sex, national origin, religion, or physical or mental disability.
The bill cleared the final hurdle after Senate leaders abandoned efforts to treat police officers as a protected class.
The Hate Crimes Bill passed the legislature on a wave of public support led by Georgia’s most significant businesses and political leaders. The Dentons Public Policy team played a leading role in the effort as lobbyists for the Anti-Defamation League.
3. Safe Harbor Bill
Georgia will join a short list of states that are proactively protecting businesses from civil liability related to the COVID-19 virus. Senate Bill 359 passed both houses of the state legislature and now awaits the signature of the Governor.
The liability legislation would let Georgia businesses and hospitals waive liability for coronavirus-related claims so long as they post certain warning signs except in cases where the entity is found to have committed “gross negligence, willful and wanton misconduct, reckless infliction of harm, or intentional infliction of harm.”
4. Fee Dedication
This November, Georgia voters will decide on a constitutional amendment that would give lawmakers the power to require fees be spent for the purpose that they were originally dedicated. This issue is often referred to in the context of tire fees.
If you buy a new tire in Georgia, there’s a $1 fee that gets tacked onto the bill, called the Scrap Tire Management Fee. It’s supposed to go toward cleaning up illegal tire dumps in the state and other recycling and trash programs. But often, lawmakers have directed more than $50 million from the scrap tire fee to Georgia’s general fund, according to the Association County Commissioners of Georgia (ACCG), which is Georgia’s county association.
The same can be said about the fee that the state collects at landfills. The money is intended for hazardous waste site cleanup, but according to the ACCG, about $100 million from that fund has ended up in the general fund in the past 10 years.
The constitutional amendment, if approved by voters, would give lawmakers the power to specifically dedicate certain tax dollars to specific uses.
5. Sovereign Immunity
In addition to the constitutional amendment on fee dedication, Georgians will also vote on whether to make it easier to sue the state and local governments under a proposed constitutional amendment given final passage Tuesday by the state House. The lawmakers were reacting, in part, to a state Supreme Court decision that state and local governments can only be sued if they have waived a legal doctrine called sovereign immunity.
The amendment would allow Georgians to sue in state court to protect their rights and ensure governments follow the law, but would not allow judges to award damages or attorney’s fees. The amendment would also prohibit people from suing individual officials within a government.
Former Gov. Nathan Deal and Gov. Brian Kemp both vetoed previous legislative attempts to broaden the grounds for suits against the government. But the Governor has no authority to veto a proposed constitutional amendment.
6. Surprise Medical Bills
Lawmakers passed legislation that now awaits the Governor’s signature to limit unexpected medical bills. Gov. Brian Kemp is expected to sign after naming surprise billing reform as one of his top priorities for the 2020 session.
The legislation is intended to protect Georgians from unexpected out of network bills from physicians performing medical procedures at “in-network” facilities. Legislators and consumer advocacy groups say if House Bill 888 becomes law, it will lower health care costs for many patients, add pricing transparency, and remove patients from billing negotiations between insurance companies and health care providers.
Notably, the bill focuses strictly on services – both emergency and non-emergency – from an out-of-network provider at in-network facilities. It prohibits insurance companies from surprise billing for emergency services even if the health care provider is outside of the company’s coverage network. Patients are supposed to also receive an estimated cost for any procedure scheduled outside of their covered hospital system.
7. Alcohol Delivery
A bill allowing home delivery of beer, wine, and liquor passed the Georgia legislature and will become law pending Governor Kemp’s signature. House Bill 879, would permit beer, wine, and liquor to be delivered directly to people’s homes from restaurants, bars, convenience stores, grocery stores and package stores.
The bills requires alcohol home deliveries to only be accepted by someone 21 years or older and with proper ID. The bill leaves the decision to allow for home delivery up to local municipalities.
Georgians are rightly examining closely the actions and inactions of its state and local governments this summer as we continue to seek ways to contain the COVID-19 pandemic, restart our ravaged economy, and address fundamental questions over race and proper law enforcement. The General Assembly attempted to address many of these concerns but more work will clearly need to be done when it returns six months from now for its 2021 session.
Between now and then, however, we have a spirited election in November. Georgia is clearly viewed by both parties as an electoral swing state. Not only is the state likely to be in contention on the presidential level but with two close US Senate races, three open Congressional seats, and Democrats looking to either narrow or erase entirely Republicans fifteen seat majority in the State House, a political battle royal lies ahead over the next few months.
The 2020 Georgia Primary is behind us. Unfortunately, in some respects, the administrative process has overshadowed the results. Adjusting to the new normal caused by the COVID-19 pandemic, problems with getting absentee ballots to folks wishing to vote by mail, a new electronic voting machine system, difficulties with training new poll workers, and long lines and delays at Primary Election Day precincts have led to finger pointing between the Georgia Secretary of State’s office and local county election boards. All of this will need to be worked out before the November General Election.
There are still thousands of absentee votes still to be counted statewide so many close races are still in play. With that said, here are some of the more interesting election results from Tuesday’s primary that we know at the present time:
As expected, Joe Biden won handily with 83% in the Democratic Primary. Still, Bernie Sanders received 10% despite having dropped out of the race and conceding in March.
US Senate — Democratic Primary
Despite a crowded seven way primary, Jon Ossoff has a commanding lead hovering back and forth at the needed 50% + 1 position to avoid a runoff against his second place rival former Columbus Mayor Teresa Tomlinson at 15%. If late returns cannot push him over 50%, he will be forced into an August 11th runoff against Tomlinson. The winner will take on incumbent Senator David Perdue in November.
Contested Supreme Court Races
Two Supreme Court appointees by former Governor Nathan Deal beat back challenges to win a full term. Justice Sarah Warren easily won with 78% while Justice Charlie Bethel beat back a strong challenge from former State Representative Beth Beskin 53% to 47%.
Georgia has three open congressional races — the 7th in Gwinnett and Forsyth Counties, the 9th in the mountains of North Georgia, and the 14th in Northwest Georgia. The 7th is most likely to be a close race in November given the fact that retiring Republican Rob Woodall only squeaked to re-election in 2018 by a few hundred votes. Woodall’s 2018 Democratic challenger Georgia State Professor Carolyn Bourdeaux holds a commanding lead in a crowded race over second place finisher State Representative Brenda Romero, 46 to 14%. A runoff between Bordeaux and Romero will be held August 11th. On the Republican side, former Army doctor Rich McCormick won his crowded primary with 55%.
In the 9th Congressional race, State Representative Matt Gurtler and Gun Store Owner Andrew Clyde, with 22 and 19% respectively, edged out a crowded Republican field for runoff spots on August 11th. The winner of the runoff will face Brooke Siskin in November in this historically overwhelmingly Republican district.
In the 14th Congressional Race, Tea Party favorite Marjorie Greene and Rome Doctor John Cowan are headed to a Republican Party runoff August 11th. There is no Democrat running in November.
One other Congressional race is likely to draw attention in November. Former Republican Congresswoman Karen Handel won her primary easily to set up a rematch against Congresswoman Lucy McBath in the 6th Congressional District. McBath defeated Handel in 2018.
State Legislative Races
Several incumbent legislators — including Democratic Senator Ed Harbison and Republicans Brandon Beach and Jeff Mullis, as well as House Minority Leader Bob Trammell — faced stiff primary opponents on Tuesday but appear to have beat back their challengers. However, Brunswick Republican Representative Jeff Jones was defeated by Buddy DeLoach, and five term Conyers Democrat Representative Pam Dickerson was beaten by newcomer Sharon Henderson. Also, three longtime Democratic Representatives Sharon Beasley-Teague and Michele Henson and Democratic Senator Horacena Tate were forced into runoffs for the first time in many years.
While many incumbents faced tough reelections, one veteran high profile legislator is making a return. Former State Representative and 2016 Gubernatorial Candidate Stacey Evans won a decisive primary victory in an Atlanta State House district. She has no Democratic opponent in the fall.
Fulton County District Attorney Incumbent Paul Howard, who has run unopposed for Fulton County District Attorney since 2000, is currently trailing to primary challenger Fani Willis. Neither of the two are likely to break the 50% mark, Willis with 41% of the vote and Howard with 34% of the vote, and will be headed to a runoff.
The Governor of the State of Georgia has signed an Executive Order that renews the Public Health State of Emergency that was set to expire on June, 12, 2020, so that it shall now terminate on July 12, 2020 at 11.59pm unless renewed by the Governor.
The Governor of the State of Georgia has signed an Executive Order that provides ongoing direction for reviving a healthy Georgia in response to COVID-19, including detailed orders for retailers, restaurant and dining services, general industry, and education facilities.
As of May 27th
Governor Kelly has reissued several Executive Orders following her new emergency declaration. Those EOs can be found by clicking here.
As of May 30th
The Governor of the State of New York has published an executive order authorizing business owners and building operators to deny entry to individuals who do not wear masks or face-coverings.
At least 27,793 people in North Carolina have tested positive for the coronavirus, and 929 have died as of Saturday afternoon, according to state and county health departments. The NC Department of Health and Human Services on Saturday reported an additional 1,185 cases of the virus, the largest single-day increase since the pandemic first struck the state.
Lawmakers Vote to Reopen Bars Despite Governor’s Order (WRAL) State lawmakers voted Thursday to allow bars to reopen in outdoor spaces, overriding Governor Cooper’s executive order that has closed them since March. The legislation would allow bars to serve patrons in outdoor spaces, permanent or temporary, at 50 percent of the capacity of their indoor area, with social distancing guidelines. House Bill 536 would also allow restaurants to set up temporary outdoor spaces to serve customers in the same way. Restaurants are currently limited to 50 percent of their capacity, and the outdoor seating could bring them up to 100 percent, or close to it. Governor Cooper said he would veto the bill.
Gym Owners File Lawsuit Against Governor Cooper (Raleigh News & Observer) A group of gym owners are suing Governor Cooper for not allowing them to reopen their businesses under Phase Two of the state’s reopening plan. The state has not specified whether gyms can reopen in Phase Three or earlier. Phase Three will lessen restrictions even further and allow most businesses to open. Phase Two is expected to last through at least June 26. Some gym owners said they don’t think it was fair that businesses such as ABC stores and restaurants were able to be open, but not gyms.
Utilities Panel Refuses to Make Duke Energy Raise Fees for NC Factories During Pandemic (Charlotte Observer) North Carolina’s Utilities Commission has denied a request that it order Duke Energy to temporarily waive fixed monthly charges affecting commercial and industrial customers during the coronavirus pandemic. The Carolina Utility Customers Association, a manufacturers’ trade group, had sought to waive fees by both of Duke’s N.C. utilities and by Dominion Energy North Carolina, which serves the state’s northeastern corner.
NC Unemployment Chief Replaced (Durham Herald Sun) There’s a new boss at North Carolina’s unemployment office. Governor Cooper didn’t say why the old boss, Lockhart Taylor, moved to a different job in state government “with separate duties and responsibilities.” But the move comes after numerous complaints about long waits that newly unemployed people having been facing — waits to get through to the office on the phone, or to get benefits at all.
Media Coalition Sues Cooper, Cabinet Agencies for COVID-19 Records (Raleigh News & Observer) A coalition of more than two dozen media outlets filed a lawsuit seeking the release of a list of records related to COVID-19 that the state had, so far, refused to provide. The lawsuit names as defendants Gov. Roy Cooper and two of his Cabinet secretaries, Dr. Mandy Cohen, secretary of the Department of Health and Human Services, and Erik Hooks, secretary of the Department of Public Safety. The complaint lists a total of 26 outstanding records requests — nine to DPS and 17 to DHHS — submitted by media outlets for records that could be helpful in reporting on COVID-19. All but one of the requests were submitted since the pandemic began.
RNC Sets Deadline for Response on NC Convention (AP) The Republican National Committee says it wants to hear from Governor Roy Cooper by June 3 on whether the state can fully accommodate the party’s national convention in August this summer. The letter sent Saturday by RNC Chairwoman Ronna McDaniel to Cooper comes a day after Cooper talked by phone with President Trump about the issue. The two disagreed about the viability of a full-fledged convention.
NC House Passes Funding, Rules to Prepare for Spike in Voting by Mail (Raleigh News & Observer) A bill making it easier for people to vote by mail in the 2020 elections passed with near-unanimous support Thursday in the N.C. House of Representatives. State officials have told lawmakers that normally, around 4% or 5% of North Carolinians vote by mail. But because of uncertainty surrounding COVID-19 and public health concerns, they expect that it could grow to as high as 40% this year.
NC Unemployment Triples in April to 12.2%, Worse to Come in May (Winston Salem Journal) North Carolina’s unemployment rate nearly tripled from 4.3% in March to 12.2% in April, a stark reflection of the COVID-19 pandemic’s impact on the state’s economy. By comparison, the state unemployment rate reached a 33-year peak of 10.9% in 2010 as the state and national economies began their slow recoveries from the Great Recession. Economists project the May jobless rate will be significantly higher since the US Labor Department collects employment data during the week that contains the 12th of the month.
Protesters, Police Clash at Raleigh Protest of Floyd’s Death; Buildings Damaged, Looted (Raleigh News & Observer) The streets of Downtown Raleigh were filled with protesters and police in riot gear Saturday evening. The event started peacefully, with protesters singing and chanting throughout downtown, but within an hour after the crowd began marching, police released tear gas and pepper spray. Protesters threw fireworks, rocks and water bottles at police and vandalized several downtown businesses. At least one protester was arrested.
GOP Campaigns Pick Up Steam Ahead of NC-11 Second Primary (The Mountaineer) For an election that early on garnered attention from national media and top-tier politicians, the second primary to see which Republican will advance to the general election for North Carolina’s 11th congressional district has fallen by the wayside. Overshadowed by the coronavirus pandemic the last few months, early voting for the contest is set to start in just a couple of weeks, and the candidates, Lynda Bennett of Haywood County and Madison Cawthorn of Henderson County, are planning their final push.
NC Lawmaker Accuses Multiple Senators of Abusive Behavior (WRAL) A North Carolina state senator accused multiple colleagues Thursday of abusive behavior. Sen. Erica Smith (D-Northampton), who ran this year for the US Senate, said three fellow Democrats made disparaging or sexual comments and that one of them – Sen. Paul Lowe (D-Forsyth) – was seconds away from physically assaulting her last year before colleagues stepped in.
The Legislature continued their virtual May Legislatives Days, with the House Committee Meetings largely focusing on specific policy areas impacted by COVID-19. Senate Committees will take place from June 1-5.
A special meeting of the House Business & Labor Committee will meet this Saturday at 9:00AM to ask questions of Oregon Employment Department Leadership. The meeting is a follow up to a meeting earlier this week, where lawmakers didn’t have a chance to ask questions of department leadership. The committee will also accept public testimony on this topic through Monday, June 1 @ 5PM. Meeting info can be found here.
Murmurs of potential special session continue to be floated, with rumors ranging from as early as the week of June 22, to late summer.
Earlier this week, Multnomah County released an update on reopening, announcing a goal to submit their plan on June 5 for a targeted June 12 Phase 1 reopening. While the county has met several requirements, they still need more contract tracing & testing sites.
Portland City Council held a work session on CARES Act funding prioritization for approximately $74 million in resources. During the work session, funding opportunities from bureaus, a decision-making process, and proposed high-level priorities were presented by the Office of Management and Finance. An Equity Toolkit was created to serve as a guide for city bureaus in the recovery and relief efforts. There was no Council consensus on high-level priorities for funding by the end of the work session.
Over the next week or two Council offices will try to find agreement on shared high-level priorities for city CARES Act funds. The desired timeline is to disburse CARES Act funds by mid-July, which means City Council would approve funding decisions at a City Council meeting mid-June (TBD).
Oregon now has 4,131 confirmed cases of COVID-19; There have been 151 deaths.
Masks will be required for anyone who is indoors in public, effective May 29.
Northern Virginia, City of Richmond and the Eastern Shore’s Accomack County will join the rest of the state in Phase 1 of the re-opening
All beaches in Virginia will be permitted to open for recreational activities on May 29.
All people entering indoor businesses and other indoor public spaces across Virginia will be required to wear a covering over their nose and mouth, starting on May 29, as part of Gov. Ralph Northam’s effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.
The mandate will not be enforced through the criminal justice system, although Northam left open the possibility that unruly or disorderly patrons who refuse to wear a mask could potentially face other charges related to their conduct in public.
Instead, Northam urged Virginians take the responsibility upon themselves to wear a face covering in public to protect themselves and others, and suggested business owners ask patrons without a mask to return when they have one, or for the business owner to offer to provide one.
The governor also will bring Northern Virginia localities, the City of Richmond and Accomack County into Phase 1 of the state’s reopening. Other localities across the commonwealth entered Phase 1 on May 15. Northam indicated the entire commonwealth would remain in Phase 1 until at least June 5 in order to collect more public health data.
Under Phase 1 guidelines, non-essential retail businesses and churches are permitted to reopen at 50 percent of indoor capacity. Personal grooming businesses such as salons and barbershops are able to serve customers by appointment only, and so long as staff and customers wear face masks, the governor said.
Teleworking and practicing social distancing remain recommended practices. Restaurants are permitted to serve customers at half the outdoor seating capacity; indoor dining remains prohibited.
After Virginia Beach successfully implemented a restricted plan for reopening its Oceanfront resort area for Memorial Day weekend, Northam said the rest of Virginia’s beaches may open for recreational activities on May 29, too, so long as there are no large gatherings, group sports, alcohol or tents on the beach.
NASCAR will be allowed to hold its June 10 race at Martinsville Speedway but without spectators, Northam said.
Entertainment and amusement venues, as well as overnight summer camps, remain closed. Public gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be banned. Under Phase 2, limitations will be further eased and the cap on public gatherings will be raised to no more than 50 people.
While Virginia DMV offices have reopened on a limited basis, individuals who have a driver’s license or identification card that expires before July 31 have until August 31 to renew, Northam said.
The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect until June 10, has been amended to inform Virginians that they are safer at home. Older Virginians and others at higher risk of developing complications associated with infection are encouraged to remain home.
Municipal elections scheduled for May 5 were rescheduled to May 19, and congressional primaries from June 9 to June 23. Public schools are closed for the rest of the academic year, and officials are having discussions about fall classes. Northam said he will have an announcement in early June regarding when and how youth sports can safely resume.
Initial unemployment claims have begun to recede but remain historically high. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, the 10 weeks ending May 23 yielded more than 100,000 claims greater than the number of claims filed during the Great Recession of December 2007 to June 2009.
As of June 1st
Updated numbers released over the weekend:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers over the weekend:
414 Current Hospital Admissions (133 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions reported decreased by 9 over the weekend (-9).
Hospital admissions went from 423 on Friday to 409 on Saturday (-14) to 414 on Sunday (+5).
The total number of ICU patients reported decreased by 11 over the weekend (-11).
The number of ICU patients was 144 on Friday and Saturday and then decreased by 11 on Sunday to 133 (-11).
Cumulatively there have been 268,506 COVID-19 tests in Wisconsin;
18,403 positive tests and 250,103 negative tests in Wisconsin (6.8% positive rate)
On Saturday there were 523 positive tests reported on 9,843 tests (5.3% positive rate)
On Sunday there were 173 positive tests reported on 7,368 tests (2.3% positive rate)
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 592 in Wisconsin (+24 for the weekend).
There were 20 deaths reported on Saturday
There were 4 deaths reported on Sunday
11,646 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (63%), 6,164 cases are still considered active (33%) and 592 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/31)
UpFront; Adrienne Pedersen interviews DHS Secretary-designee Andrea Palm
UpFront host Adrienne Pedersen interviewed Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm about the status of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
Sec. Palm was asked about the spike in positive test results and she responded that there are a number of things that may be contributing to that; one is the end of the Safer-At-Home order and people having more contacts with individuals outside of their family units and the other is the increased testing that the state is doing.
When asked if the increase can be connected to the lifting of the Safer-At-Home order, Sec. Palm said, “I think it is not easy to make a direct connection between the lifting of Safer-At-Home, but we know this virus is very contagious and our ability and the work we did as a state to flatten the curve was as a result of people limiting their contact with other people. It is not surprising, as the state opens up more, that we will see increases of infections as more people contact with each other.”
Wisconsin Public Television: Here & Now interview with Governor Evers
Here & Now anchor Frederica Freyberg interviewed Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers in their weekly segment with the Governor on the status of Wisconsin’s response to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
When asked about the spike in the numbers this week, the Governor noted that increase in numbers was concerning, but also noted that the state is also testing more and that Wisconsinites need to remain vigilant about keeping social distance and practicing good hygiene.
The Governor noted his disappointment in the photos he sees of people that are not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
Capital City Sunday: Rep. John Nygren (R-Marinette) on delayed state action on unemployment insurance
Capital City Sunday’s Emilee Fannon interviewed Joint Finance Committee Co-Chairman regarding the Legislature’s concerns over the Department of Workforce Development’s processing of unemployment insurance claims during this pandemic.
Of note in the interview:
Rep. Nygren said that there are 675,000 Wisconsinites who have filed UI claims that have not been processed yet.
When asked about delays caused by restrictions placed on DWD by the Walker Administration, Rep. Nygren said that the Evers Administration asked for one change in the COVID-19 Relief bill for DWD, the elimination of the 1-week wait change, which Rep. Nygren said the Republicans put in the bill.
Gov. Kemp held a press conference today at 4 p.m. The Governor will be extending the State of Emergency for a third time through July 12. Summer camps and schools can start May 31. Shelter in place for 65+ continues through June 12. From June 1, gatherings can have up to 25 people, 6 feet apart. Live entertainment venues will still be closed. Bars and nightclubs can open June 1 with many restrictions e.g. 35% total occupancy limit. Amusement parks can open June 12. Pro Sports can reopen June 1 if they are in compliance with their respective leagues.
As of 9:00 a.m. today, Georgia has 44,932 confirmed cases as compared to 44,638 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, with 7,746 hospitalized patients as compared to 7,745 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday, and 1,957 deaths as compared to 1,933 at 7:00 p.m. Wednesday. Over 523,000 tests have been administered.
Governor Kelly has reissued several Executive Orders following her new emergency declaration. Those EOs can be found by clicking here.
As of May 27th
The Governor of the State of Texas has issued an Proclamation expanding the enumerated list of covered services in Executive Order GA-23, including opening up waterparks, recreational sports, and food-court dining areas in malls.
As of May 26th
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Wednesday:
413 Current Hospital Admissions (139 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions reported decreased by 9 on Wednesday (-9) to 413, down from 422 reported on Tuesday.
-5 in SE WI, -4 in NW WI and -3 NE WI and +2 SC WI and +1 Western WI
The total number of ICU patients reported increased by 4 on Wednesday (+4) to 139 patients, up from 135 reported on Tuesday.
+7 in SE WI, +2 in SC WI, +1 Fox Valley and -5 NE WI and -1 NW WI
Cumulatively there have been 16,462 positive tests and 210,605 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 599 positive test results reported on Wednesday on 10,330 tests (5.8% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 539 in Wisconsin.
There were 22 deaths reported on Wednesday
9,405 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (59%), 5,940 cases are still considered active (3%) and 517 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/26)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard, and Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel held a briefing for the media today.
Governor Evers stressed in his opening remarks the importance of wearing a mask in public, especially when it is not possible to socially distance. The Governor said that he wears a mask while coming and going to the State Capitol, and that masks shouldn’t be a political statement.
Secretary-designee Palm in her opening remarks said that DHS is launching a new public awareness campaign with the message, “If you need a test, get a test” and encouraged people with any symptoms to get tested.
It was noted in the update that two new records were set; 599 positive cases (but 5.8% positive rate remained relatively stagnant) and the number of tests conducted in one day exceeded 10,000 for the first time.
Media questions of note:
Governor Evers was asked if he would be mandating that the public wear masks, and he said, noted the Supreme Court decision doesn’t allow for them to do that and is instead encouraging people to wear masks when they are out in public.
Governor Evers responded when asked about a lawmaker’s statement regarding some state employees who are not able to work from home and but are being paid to stay home, that he believes zero state employees are being paid to stay home and not work.
Secretary Palm said that she can’t say at this point whether new cases or the uptick in hospitalizations are tied to the Safer-At-Home restrictions being repealed two weeks, but the state will continue to monitor data.
Gov. Evers Announces $200 Million “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants” Program
Gov. Tony Evers today announced the launch of the “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants” program, a $200 million effort aimed at helping local leaders address some of their most urgent and unique COVID-19 recovery needs. Administered by the Wisconsin Department of Administration (DOA), Routes to Recovery Grants will be allocated to every Wisconsin county, city, village, town and federally recognized tribe.
The effort is funded by $200 million in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars and will be administered by the DOA. Of the $200 million, $10 million will be allocated to Wisconsin’s tribal nations, with the remaining funds being distributed to every Wisconsin county, city, village and town.
Routes to Recovery Grants for Wisconsin counties, cities, villages and towns will provide reimbursements for unbudgeted expenditures incurred this year because of the COVID-19 pandemic, in the following categories:
Emergency operations activities, including those related to public health, emergency services, and public safety response
Purchases of personal protective equipment
Cleaning/sanitizing supplies and services, including those related to elections administration
Temporary isolation housing for infected or at-risk individuals
Testing and contact tracing costs above those covered by existing State programs
FMLA and sick leave for public health and safety employees to take COVID-19 precautions
Meeting local match requirements for expenses submitted for reimbursement by FEMA, to the extent allowed by federal law
The determination of a local government’s Routes to Recovery Grant amount is a formula based on the jurisdiction’s population, as well as the priority of providing Wisconsin’s units of local government no less than $5,000, regardless of size of the population.
Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform informational hearing on UI
The Senate Committee on Labor and Regulatory Reform, chaired by Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) held an informational hearing on Unemployment Insurance during the COVID-19 pandemic. Among those who testified at the hearing were Department of Workforce Development Secretary Caleb Frostman. According to Chairman Nass today’s hearing will be one of many that will occur over the next several months on the UI program.
Following the hearing several committee members released statements on the status of the UI backlog;
Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) released the following statement:
“I appreciate Secretary Caleb Frostman and the other experts testifying today about the problems in the unemployment system,” said Senator Van Wanggaard (R-Racine). “The information we received was at times sobering and completely unacceptable, but it’s important that the information be publicized.”
Besides the unemployment claim backlog lasting for another 3-5 months, other discoveries at the committee hearing included:
The Department of Workforce Development unapologetic refusal to expand call center hours beyond 7am to 5pm
An apparent complete lack of communication between Governor Evers’ office and the Department of Workforce Development;
The Department of Workforce Development doing virtually nothing to prepare for the inevitable rise in unemployment benefits prior to Governor Evers’ “Safer-at-Home” order, and reacting slowly to add staffing capabilities;
The Department of Workforce Development stating they didn’t begin programming to administer the supplemental 13-weeks of unemployment payment prior to a couple of days ago;
“I’ve been saying it for weeks. People need help now. Not weeks or months from now. They need it today, now.” said Wanggaard. “Not clearing the unemployment backlog until August or October is completely unacceptable. How is anyone supposed to last that long without any income?”
Sen. Janis Ringhand (D-) released the following statement:
“Lowering protections for Wisconsin workers was a theme of the Walker administration.
The Republican legislature’s effort to make it more difficult for laid-off workers to navigate the Unemployment system has really been exposed by the COVID-19 pandemic.”
When Scott Walker lost, the Republicans quickly convened a lame-duck session to limit Governor Evers’ power, including a prohibition preventing him from loosening Unemployment Insurance eligibility rules.
“The Republican plan is working exactly as expected. There are now more trip wires for workers to jump over in order to get Unemployment. As a result, it is taking some people longer to get their benefits.”
DWD Secretary Caleb Frostman issued the following statement on Wisconsin beginning to issue PUA payments:
Due to PUA being a brand-new federal program and in order to ensure accurate payments, DWD conducted additional testing prior to deployment. While understanding the potential impacts of a minor delay in deployment, -we felt it prudent and responsible to prevent any widespread issues that could cause even greater delays and hardship. We understand many claimants have been patiently waiting for PUA. Please know that DWD is committed to paying out eligible benefits as fast as possible.
It is important to note that PUA is not like our normal UI process, so it takes much longer to process an application. Most claimants have probably heard all about our antiquated, inflexible base benefits system, but it is important to explain how it affects our payment of PUA: When you apply and enter all of your information in the online portal, our staff has to take the information you enter and then manually enter it into our benefits system. Then we can begin processing your application, which involves a DWD staffer manually assessing your PUA eligibility, reviewing your 2019 income, and creating your new PUA monetary and weekly benefit rate. Once your application is fully processed, your dashboard will be updated with “Your PUA application has been processed…” and present a link to file PUA weekly claims.
We have received over 80,000 PUA applications since April 21. Now that our PUA platform is deployed, we have staff dedicated to processing these determinations and will continue to onboard more over the coming weeks. It will take some time, but please know we are working to process your application and send out eligible benefits as quickly as possible.
43,730 confirmed cases as compared to 43,586 at 9:00 a.m. today
7,547 hospitalized patients as compared to 7,511 at 9:00 a.m. today
1,871 deaths as compared to 1,853 at 9:00 a.m. today
Over 514,000 tests have been administered.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order, increasing the capacity limit on outdoor gatherings to no more than 25 people, with various conditions.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of New York has published an executive order which modifies an earlier order, and now permits any non-essential gathering of ten or fewer individuals, for any lawful purpose or reason, provided that social distancing protocols and cleaning and disinfection protocols required by the Department of Health are adhered to.
North Carolina has 23,964 confirmed cases of COVID-19, the state reported Monday, representing a day-over-day increase of 742. The number of patients reported hospitalized with COVID-19 reached a new high with 627 people receiving in-patient care. State health officials reported Monday completing 8,034 more coronavirus tests, bringing the total of completed tests to 344,690. About 7 percent of all tests are positive. DHHS said the most recent day of testing saw 8 percent of tests come back positive. A total of 14,954 people are presumed to have recovered as of Monday – up from 11,637 on May 18.
Memorial Day Draws Crowds to Beaches, Heats Up Debate About Social Distancing (WRAL) After North Carolinians being cooped up with stay-at-home orders for months, Phase 2 of reopening lined up closely with Memorial Day weekend–a time when people traditionally travel and congregate at crowded pools and beaches. Photos of crowded beaches and lakes heated up debates on whether or not visiting the beach was safe during this time.
NC DHHS Recommends Testing All Long-Term Care Facilities for COVID-19, But Questions Remain (NC Health News) Dr. Mandy Cohen, director of the state Department of Health and Human Services, announced that North Carolina is heading in the direction of universal testing of North Carolina nursing home residents and staff. State health officials have issued guidance, or at least a recommendation, to follow the direction set out last week by the White House Coronavirus Task Force. The practice is up and running in the states of Washington, West Virginia, Maryland and South Carolina.
Election in a Pandemic: Bipartisan Election Bill Promised as Others Fight Over Ballot Rules (WRAL) House leaders are close to filing a bill, with bipartisan support, changing state election rules because of the pandemic. The measure has most of what the State Board of Elections asked for two months ago when it rolled out a laundry list of requests. There are key exceptions though: The bill won’t make Election Day a holiday, and it won’t cover postage costs on absentee ballots, both state board requests.
NC Solar Industry Weathering the Pandemic Better Than Most States (Energy News Network) The solar industry is weathering the pandemic better in North Carolina than in most states, data released today by the Solar Energy Industries Association show. The Tar Heel State will see 19% fewer solar workers than expected in June, according to the nonprofit trade group — hardly rosy projections but better than national predicted losses of 38%. A handful of states like New Jersey and New York will see cuts of more than 60%.
Judge Says NC Schools Need More Money. Sen. Berger Says COVID-19 May Limit That. (Raleigh News & Observer) The coronavirus pandemic could become the latest obstacle to North Carolina’s efforts to provide every student with their state constitutional right to a sound basic education. In January, Superior Court Judge David Lee signed a court order in the long-running Leandro school funding case ordering state leaders to “work expeditiously and without delay to take all necessary actions” to improve the state’s education system. But Senate leader Phil Berger warned at a news conference this week that the state expects to face a revenue shortfall of billions of dollars caused by the coronavirus shutdown.
NC Lawmakers Are Requiring Remote Learning Plans. Schools Warn There Are Limits. (Charlotte Observer) North Carolina public schools are warning that problems such as spotty broadband access will limit their ability to provide students with quality remote instruction next school year. The State Board of Education approved a new policy Thursday on the remote learning plans that the General Assembly is requiring schools to develop for the 2020-21 school year. But the plans will also include a section, requested by the districts, that will “describe the limitations that exist for implementation of quality remote learning based on each local context.”
NCDOT Orders Unpaid Leave for All 9,300 Employees (WRAL) Thousands of North Carolina Department of Transportation workers are bracing for furloughs as the department works to recover from a rapid loss of revenue. According to NCDOT leaders, less travel on North Carolina roads and stay-at-home orders have translated to a big cut in gas tax collections and fees from car sales, adding up to $300 million in projected revenue losses through June.
“Citizens Are Getting Poisoned”, NC Legislator Says of Chemicals (Carolina Public Press) N.C. Rep. Pricey Harrison and about three dozen co-sponsors have introduced a series of bills intended to demonstrate the range of steps the state could take in regulating a group of chemicals, per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances, or PFAS. Harrison acknowledged that none are likely to pass in their current form, but she was disappointed that after years of work, the legislature has been unable to move on further PFAS regulation.
As of May 23rd
The Governor of the State of Texas has issued an Executive Order terminating air travel restrictions related to the COVID-19 pandemic. This Executive order immediately terminates all restrictions contained in the Governor’s previous Executive Order (GA-20) that mandated temporary quarantines for air travelers arriving from the following areas of the United States: California; Connecticut; New York; New Jersey; Washington; Atlanta, Georgia; Chicago, Illinois; Detroit, Michigan; or Miami, Florida.
As of May 25th
The Governor of the State of Washington has published a proclamation that extends Proclamation 20-49 and executive order 49.1, regarding Garnishments and Accrual of Interest, until 27 March, 2020 or the termination of the state of Emergency, whichever occurs first.
As of May 26th
Updated numbers released over the Holiday weekend:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers over the Holiday weekend:
388 Current Hospital Admissions (121 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions dropped by 28 over the weekend (-28) to 388 on Monday, down from 416 reported on Friday.
The total number of ICU patients dropped by 13 over the weekend (-13) to 121 patients on Monday, down from 134 patients reported on Friday.
Cumulatively there have been 15,584 positive tests and 193,379 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 481 positive test results reported on Saturday on 7,107 tests (6.8% positive rate).
There were 400 positive test results reported on Sunday on 7,277 tests (5.5% positive rate).
There were 307 positive test results reported on Monday on 7,480 tests (4.1% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 514 in Wisconsin, +18 over the Holiday weekend:
There were 11 deaths reported on Saturday
There were 3 deaths reported on Sunday
There were 4 deaths reported on Monday
9,207 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (59%), 5,862 cases are still considered active (3%) and 514 patients have died (3%). (last updated by DHS on 5/25)
On Friday, May 22, at 7:54 AM, the Kansas Legislature concluded its 2020 Legislative Session. Like most legislative sessions across the country, the work done in Kansas was significantly disrupted by the COVID-19 pandemic. Specifically, most of the bills that lawmakers had worked on since January died during the legislative process because the number of days lawmakers had to work were significantly reduced.
Legislative leadership voted to return to Topeka on Thursday, May 21. This day was designated as “Sine Die” or the last day of the Legislative Session. Typically, Sine Die is ceremonial in nature and little business is addressed. This year, however, lawmakers decided they would finish all remaining items on that day. And, although there appeared to be mixed interpretations of legislative rules by lawmakers and staff, the general consensus was that all business for the Session must be finished by midnight on Sine Die (Thursday) or it would risk being declared unconstitutional. Due to delays in debate, the large number of items that were scheduled to be addressed in one day, as well as a multitude of other reasons, lawmakers did not finish their work on Thursday, but rather passed most of their bills Friday morning. Thus, any act passed on Friday could potentially be at risk of becoming null and void.
As of May 21st
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order, directing that certain recreational businesses or activities that were closed by paragraph 9 of Executive Order No. 107 (2020) are permitted to reopen to the public or their members, with conditions.
It took eight weeks for North Carolina to record its first 10,000 infections; however, going from 10,000 to 20,000 took only three weeks.
The North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services unveiled an updated COVID-19 Dashboard. The interactive dashboard provides an overview on the metrics and capacities that the state is following to inform decisions to responsibly ease measures that slow the spread of the virus.
New modeling from a group of researchers at the University of Washington has significantly cut the number of COVID-19 deaths expected in North Carolina through August.
Governor Cooper announced Wednesday that the state will move to Phase 2 reopening beginning at 5:00 pm on Friday, May 22 and lasting until June 26.
Governor Cooper announced today that the state will be moving to Phase 2 of the reopening plan beginning on Friday, May 22. The Governor described the next phase as a “more modest step forward than originally envisioned” and referred to the plan as “safer at home”. Phase 2 reopening continues the recommendation for teleworking and includes reduced capacity openings for dine-in at restaurants; personal care businesses such as barbershops and nail salons; swimming pools; and overnight and day camps. Childcare centers will be allowed to open at full capacity. The following businesses are not allowed to open during Phase 2: bars, nightclubs, gyms and indoor fitness facilities, indoor entertainment venues such as concert and event venues and public playgrounds. Mass gathering limits will be 25 or less at outdoor venues and 10 or less at indoor venues. Outdoor mass gathering requirements apply to parks, beaches, stadiums, etc. The Governor said that local governments may enforce more stringent requirements than the state order. The Governor also stated that Phase 2 will boost North Carolina’s economy, but only if citizens have confidence in their own safety.
While the state reported sharp increases in deaths and hospitalizations due to COVID-19 on Tuesday, the Secretary of NC DHHS said that the overall trends are stable enough to remove social restrictions on Friday. Dr. Mandy Cohen stated, “As we look at North Carolina’s numbers, we see them remain stable. We believe we can move forward to easing restrictions.”
New modeling from a group of researchers at the University of Washington has significantly cut the number of COVID-19 deaths expected in North Carolina through August. Projections from the Institute for Health Metrics and Evaluation now forecast 2,500 deaths from the disease through August 4. This projection is down about 40 percent from the group’s projection last week of 4,400 deaths. Daily deaths are still expected to peak in mid- to late-June, but at a lower rate of nearly 30 a day.
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Thursday:
398 Current Hospital Admissions (126 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions increased by 5 (+5) on Thursday
+3 in SE WI, +2 Fox Valley, +2 SC WI, +1 NE WI and -1 in NC WI, -1 NW WI and -1 Western WI
The total number of ICU patients decreased by 2 (-2) on Thursday
-1 in NE WI, -1 in Fox Valley and -1 in SE WI, and +1 in CE WI
Cumulatively there have been 13,885 positive tests and 163,238 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 472 positive test results reported on Thursday on 9,410 tests (5% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 487 in Wisconsin:
There were 6 deaths reported on Thursday
7,728 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (58%), 5,203 cases are still considered active (39%) and 481 patients have died (4%). (last updated by DHS on 5/20)
Wisconsin Governor Tony Evers, Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm, DHS Chief Medical Officer Dr. Ryan Westergaard, and Ryan Nilsestuen, Chief Legal Counsel held a briefing for the media today.
Governor Evers noted in his opening remarks that now every county in Wisconsin has reported a case of COVID-19 with Taylor and Langlade county both reporting their 1st cases today. The Governor also requested diligence in continuing to stay “safer-at-home.”
The Governor also discussed his announcement of $100 million in federal funding from the CARES Act being distributed via grants to Long-Term Care, Home and Community Based Services, and Emergency Medical Services. (See more below)
The Governor was asked during the media briefing regarding a new lawsuit that has been filed challenging the local health authorities implementing the “Safer-At-Home” orders. The Governor’s legal counsel stated that they are engaging to have the lawsuit dismissed and believe the interim Attorney General opinion issued by Attorney General Josh Kaul last week provides clarity on the topic. (Link to State Journal story).
Gov. Evers Announces $100 Million for Long-Term Care, Home and Community Based Services, and Emergency Medical Services
Gov. Tony Evers today announced a grant program funded by the federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act. Totaling $100 million dollars, the funding will support providers most at-risk for financial hardship during the COVID-19 pandemic. The providers targeted for financial assistance include emergency medical services, home and community-based services, and long-term care providers such as skilled nursing facilities and assisted living facilities.
“We recognize the significant burden the COVID-19 response has placed on these providers,” said Gov. Evers. “We also recognize the integral role they play in ensuring the health and safety of some of our most vulnerable Wisconsinites and we want to support their efforts during this pandemic.”
The program will be administered in two parts: an initial release of funds to support immediate needs, and a second, targeted release for additional needs of individual providers. Both rounds of funding will be allocated to support expenses directly related to COVID-19 as well as expenses associated with the interruption of typical operations, such as overtime pay, changes to sanitation procedures, and disruption to the standard delivery of care.
Governor Lamont signs 43rd executive order to mitigate the spread of COVID-19
Yesterday, Governor Lamont signed another executive order – the 43rd since he enacted the emergency declarations. Executive Order No. 7PP enacts the following provisions:
Reopening Phase 1: Repeals several previously enacted executive orders to allow for the safe reopening of certain sectors of the economy on May 20, including for the reopening of outdoor dining, offices, retail and malls, museums and zoos, and outdoor recreation businesses.
Enforcement of sector rules governing the reopening of businesses: Modifies certain statues and regulations to permit the enforcement of sector rules as certain businesses reopen on May 20, including for local and district health directors and municipal chief executive officers
Extension of prohibition on large gatherings to June 20, 2020: Extends the prohibition of large gatherings in Executive Order Nos. 7D and 7N through June 20, 2020.
Extension of restrictions on off-track betting, indoor fitness, and movie theaters to June 20
Further clarification of limits on restaurants, bars, and private clubs – mixed drinks permitted for takeout delivery: Allows for the sale of mixed drinks for takeout and delivery by various liquor permittees under certain conditions.
Limitation on the operation of day camps: Prohibits day camps, which were not already operating as of May 5, 2020, from beginning operations for the season until June 22, 2020.
Enhanced health procedures for all day camps: Requires day camps to comply with the limitations on child group sizes and enhanced health procedure requirements placed on child care programs by Executive Order No. 7Q, and by orders of the commissioner of the Office of Early Childhood.
Cancellation of resident camp operations: Prohibits the operation of resident camps for the duration of the civil preparedness and public health emergency.
Limitation on the operation of summer and educational programs operated by local or regional boards of education: Prohibits summer school programs from beginning prior to July 6, 2020, unless earlier extended, modified, or terminated by the governor. The commissioner of the Department of Education is required to issue guidance on the limited operation of summer school programs that are permitted to engage in-person classes after that date.
Suspension or modification of regulatory requirements to protect public health and safety: Permits the commissioner of the Department of Education to temporarily waive, modify, or suspend any regulatory requirements as he deems necessary to reduce the spread of COVID-19 and protect the public health.
Data updates on COVID-19 testing in Connecticut
The following is a summary of the day-to-day newly reported data on cases, deaths, and tests in Connecticut.
Change Since Yesterday
Laboratory-Confirmed COVID-19 Cases
Patients Currently Hospitalized with COVID-19
COVID-19 Test Reported
As of April 18th
The Governor of the State of Florida has published an Executive Order that modifies 20-112, as modified by Executive Order 20-120, to bring all Florida counties into Full Phase 1.
As of May 19th
SPARK Taskforce Announced
Governor Laura Kelly today announced the Strengthening People and Revitalizing Kansas (SPARK) Taskforce. The taskforce is charged with leading Kansas forward in recovery from the effects of the COVID-19 pandemic. See the following press release for more information.
Phase II of the Plan to Reopen Kansas – Executive Order
We reported earlier today that Governor Kelly announced her plan to institute a modified “Phase II” plan as it relates to reopening the state. See the Executive Order that outlines that modified plan by clicking here.
As of May 20th
Governor Abbott conducted a news briefing at 2:00 pm today at the Texas Capitol and announced that Texas will enter the next phase (Phase II) of reopening in the coming days/weeks, except for the four counties around Amarillo, Texas (where there have been outbreaks among meat packing workers), and El Paso County. In those counties the May 22nd openings are delayed one week.
Governor Abbott and others implored Texans to continue to socially distance, hand-wash and take other precautions (especially for those 65+) even as Texas reopens further.
Today’s COVID Texas numbers per DSHS:
47,784 confirmed cases
25,570 estimated recovered
693,276 total tested
1,551 currently in TX hospitals
COVID+ cases in 222 of Texas’s 254 counties.
Today’s Phase II executive order and announcement open or further reopen:
Personal care services (including tattoo and massage and cosmetology) can open today.
Child care centers other than youth camps can open
Businesses located in office buildings can open today to 10 employees or 25% of capacity, whichever is greater.
Beginning Friday, May 22 (May 29 for Amarillo and El Paso areas):
Restaurants can move to 50% capacity (not including outdoor capacity)
Bars, wineries and breweries can open to 25% capacity
Bowling alleys at 25% capacity
Aquariums, natural caverns and rodeos can open to 25% capacity
Amateur sporting events with no general public access so long as participants have tested negative for COVID-19 prior to the event.
Beginning May 29:
Zoos can reopen outdoor areas at 25% capacity.
Beginning May 31:
Youth and summer camps, overnight camps, and professional sports can reopen with certain limitations.
Beginning June 1
Schools can offer summer school
Amusement parks and water parks remain closed.
Texans are still asked not to visit nursing homes, state supported living centers, assisted living facilities and long-term care facilities.
ALSO, in recent days Texas has made the following announcements:
May 15: Governor Abbott and the Texas Division of Emergency Management (TDEM) announced that local fire departments in Texas are partnering with local public health authorities to provide testing in nursing homes throughout the state. Costs associated with providing these tests are eligible for federal reimbursement.
May 14: Governor Abbott announced that Texas Health and Human Services Commission (HHSC) has received more than $3 million in federal funding to provide shelter and services to survivors of family and domestic violence during the COVID-19 pandemic. This federal funding will support the 78 HHSC-funded local family violence centers that provide survivors with immediate shelter, supportive services, and access to community-based programs. These funds are made available through the CARES Act.
May 13: Governor Abbott and TDEM announced that the federal government has extended seven community-based testing sites in Texas through June 30, 2020. These federally-supported, state-managed, and locally-executed sites include El Paso (1), Dallas (2), Houston (2), and Harris County (2).
May 13: Governor Abbott announced the Texas National Guard has activated Facilities Disinfection Teams to support Texans in nursing homes. Six teams have already been mobilized to facilities across the state with more coming online. Each team is equipped with unique supplies such as advanced personal protective equipment, ionized sprayers, and vital oxide. The teams received training from the Texas Military Department 6th Civil Support Team, who specialize in man-made and natural disaster assessment and rapid response in hazardous environments.
Governor Greg Abbott, Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick, and House Speaker Dennis Bonnen today sent a letter directing state agencies and institutions of higher education to each submit a plan identifying savings that will reduce respective general and general revenue related appropriations by five percent for the 2020-2021 biennium.
This has become standard operating procedure in recent years whenever Texas faces a recession or revenue challenges, such as the 2000-2001 dot.com bust and the economic crisis in 2008.
Texas has two-year budget cycles and the Legislature will not be back in regular session until January 2021, at which time they will pass a budget for 2022-2023.
The twin-hit of the COVID shutdown and oil crash has hammered state revenues. Texas is starting to reopen, but clearly the 87th Texas Legislative session – which begins January 12, 2021 – will be challenging.
As of May 18th
The Governor of the State of Washington has published a proclamation that extends Proclamation 20-49, which waives and suspends statutes and prohibits certain activities relating to garnishments of wages and other income to collect judgments for consumer debt throughout Washington State until the termination of the COVID-19 State of Emergency or 11:59 PM on May 21, 2020, whichever occurs first.
As of May 19th
Updated numbers released on Tuesday:
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Tuesday:
398 Current Hospital Admissions (130 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions increased by 19 (+19) on Tuesday
(+13 in SE WI, +3 in SC WI, +2 in NW WI and +1 in W WI and NC WI, -1 in NE WI).
The total number of ICU patients increased by 3 (+3) on Tuesday
(+6 in SE WI, +1 in Fox Valley, +1 in NW WI and -3 NE WI, -1 W WI, -1 SC WI).
Cumulatively there have been 12,885 positive tests and 148,237 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 198 positive test results reported on Tuesday on 3,933 tests (5% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 467 in Wisconsin:
There were 8 deaths reported on Tuesday
7,012 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (55%), 5,215 cases are still considered active (41%) and 459 patients have died (4%). (last updated by DHS on 5/18)
Gov. Evers Announces $1 Billion Statewide Effort to support COVID-19 Testing, Contact Tracing, Operations, and Resources for Local Communities
Gov. Tony Evers today announced a $1 billion statewide effort to support COVID-19 testing, contact tracing, acquisition of needed supplies, emergency operations, and resources for local communities throughout Wisconsin. The effort is funded by $1.17 billion in federal Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act dollars.
“As I’ve said before, regardless of the political overtones of the past week, we still know what we need to do to box in this virus and help keep people safe,” Gov. Evers said. “Our statewide approach to containing the spread of COVID-19 will continue with robust testing and contact tracing efforts in all corners of Wisconsin, resources that ensure our critical workers have the equipment they need to do their jobs safely, and direct investments in local communities and health providers. Wisconsin’s Safer At Home order may have ended, but our all-out war on this virus has not.”
How the $1.17 billion is slated to be allocated:
$260 million for testing efforts
$202 million to provide COVID-19 test collection kits to Wisconsin hospitals, clinics, nursing homes, local public health departments, and others at no cost to ensure that everyone who needs a test receives a test.
Approximately $3 million in funding (30,000 grants) to 96 local and tribal public health departments
$45 million in funding to local public health departments, occupational health providers, home health agencies, and health systems to conduct COVID19 testing in congregate, community and occupational settings.
$75 million for contact tracing
up to $50 million will be available to local and tribal public health departments to hire additional staff to perform disease investigation, contact tracing and monitoring.
$150 million for the acquisition of PPE.
$40 million towards the procurement of ventilators.
$445 million is being allocated to ensure Wisconsin hospital systems and communities are prepared to handle a surge of COVID19 patients over the summer and fall.
$200 million has been spent by state agencies across Wisconsin in support of getting emergency operations up and running and of providing important resources and assistance to local partners across the state.
Tuesday Media Briefing at the State Emergency Operations Center
Department of Health Services Deputy Secretary Julie Willems Van Dijk and Wisconsin National Guard Adjutant General Paul Knapp conducted their Tuesday Media Briefing from the State Emergency Operations Center.
Of note in the briefing were;
Discussion regarding Governor Evers’ $1.17 billion spending announcement, noting that the announcement puts dollar figures around work that has already taken place as well identifying the amount that is being reserved to handle a potential surge in cases in the Fall.
One change of note is the discussion that DHS is having with local public health department officials about contact tracing and the state shifting from hiring the 1,000 contact tracers as state employees, to leveraging the existing local public health infrastructure helping reach the 1,000 additional contact tracers by growing out their capacity and having the state infrastructure and state contact tracers as backup.
General Knapp was asked about the Politico story on the National Guard’s currently scheduled June 23rd end of deployment. General Knapp noted that Governor Evers and other governors has asked for an extension for that end of deployment to the end of July. But General Knapp noted that they are in the mode of knowing that they will need to wind down the deployment at some point and hand off responsibilities back to the state and local health departments that they have been doing.
OCI Issues Notice to Insurers on Coverage for COVID-19 Testing
The Wisconsin Office of the Commissioner of Insurance (OCI) issued a notice to insurers today aimed at clarifying federal requirements detailed in the Families First Coronavirus Response Act (FFCRA) and the Corona Virus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security Act (CARES). Testing for COVID-19 must be covered by private health insurance, including cost-sharing like co-pays for office, urgent care, and emergency department visits, said Wisconsin Insurance Commissioner Mark Afable.
“We need folks to know that testing for COVID-19 is available and can be accessed without any out-of-pocket costs,” said Commissioner Afable. “Under federal law, most insurers cannot require cost-sharing like co-pays for office, urgent care, or emergency department visits. If you have symptoms of COVID-19 or have been exposed to someone with the disease, get tested.”
Based on news stories and the Wisconsin Association of Local Health Departments and Boards website, https://www.walhdab.org/general/custom.asp?page=DraftOrders, here is the current list of health orders that have been rescinded and those that are in effect. This list changes frequently, so please check in with your local public health department for ultimate clarity.
Local Authority Health Orders that have been rescinded:
The Governor of the State of Florida has published an executive order that the restriction in Section 2(A)(2) of Executive Order 20-112 which limited the opening of certain businesses no longer applies to Broward and Miami-Dade Counties with effect from May 18, 2020.
As of May 18th
Daily State Public Health stats
As of 1:00 p.m. today, Georgia has 38,081 confirmed cases as compared to 37,147 at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, with 6,916 hospitalized patients as compared to 6,735 at 1:00 p.m. Saturday, and 1,642 deaths as compared to 1,592 at 1:00 p.m. Saturday. Over 364,000 tests have been administered.
In-person advance voting begins today. More than 1.4 million Georgians have now requested mail-in ballots. R and D requests are much closer now.
The Falcons plan to reopen their facilities on Tuesday.
Election officials can begin opening absentee ballots eight days before Georgia’s June 9 primary, according to a State Election Board rule approved Monday to deal with a deluge of mailed-in ballots during the coronavirus pandemic.
The board voted unanimously to pass the emergency rule, which will help election officials handle record numbers absentee ballots. In previous elections, absentee ballots couldn’t be processed until election day.
Even though ballots can be opened in advance, election results in some races might not be known for several days after the primary because of the time needed to count absentee ballots.
As of May 18th
Termed the “Pandemic Session” by Speaker of the House Melissa Hortman, the 2020 Regular Session adjourned Sine Die at midnight Sunday. While the Minnesota Constitution requires the Legislature to adjourn today, the Constitution also prohibits the Legislature from passing any legislation on the last Monday of the biennial session. This resulted in a weekend of busy negotiations and attempts to resolve their priorities. The Minnesota Legislature technically won’t return until January 5th, 2021. However, the Governor’s Peacetime Executive Order, which grants him the authority for all other COVID-19 Executive Orders expires on June 12th. If the Governor wishes to extend that order for an additional 30 days, when the Legislature is not in session, he must call the Legislature back. The Legislature does not have to approve the order – but must be given the opportunity to reject the order. According to Senate Majority Leader Paul Gazelka, the Governor has indicated he plans to bring them back on the 12th of June to meet this obligation. At that time, it is likely the Legislature will also try to address a number of issues they were unable to resolve in the final days and hours of the Regular Session.
The 2020 Session, which started in mid-February, was initially focused on the passage of a bonding bill in excess of $1 billion, approval of state employee contracts, tax relief, federal tax conformity, investments in early childhood education and a handful of unresolved policy issues left over from the 2019 Session. In late February, it was announced the state had a $1.5 billion budget surplus and roughly $2.5 billion saved away in the state’s budget reserves. And then, COVID-19 changed everything. The Minnesota House initially pushed for remote hearings, an extended recess and the implementation of many of the CDC’s recommendations for limiting the spread of the Coronavirus. The Senate’s initial response was to try and maintain a working presence at the Capitol. As we learned more about the virus, the Senate also began to implement their own policies and procedures to address the virus’s spread. Zoom meetings, legislative participation in floor debates by phone and lengthy roll call votes made the process for considering legislation and passing bills extremely challenging and time consuming. Legislative negotiations were also impacted when the Governor and Leaders were unable to meet in person making the back and forth process all that more difficult.
Over the past few weeks, the legislative focus changed. Bills were passed allocating funds to address a number of COVID-19 challenges. The state’s surplus turned to a deficit. Money the Legislature had hoped to use to fund new programs and projects disappeared. The state’s financial uncertainty dramatically impacted the session’s early goals. While the Legislature was able to work in a bi-partisan manner early in the crisis, as the session drew near to an end partisanship returned. Over the weekend, the minority party in both bodies failed to provide votes necessary to reach the 3/5th vote necessary to commit the state to long-term debt and passage of a bonding bill. The GOP led Senate rejected the labor contracts negotiated by the Walz Administration, out of concerns related to the raises in the second year of the contract. Negotiations also broke down over a potential tax bill and legislation establishing a process for distributing the state’s $1.8 billion in federal CARES money.
As part of that Special Session, the Legislature will try once again to complete items they were unable to resolve before adjourning. The bonding bill, approval of state worker contracts, a tax bill and oversight of federal funds disbursement from the CARES Act are all on the list of potential bills. It is possible other items related to COVID-19 and policy provisions which were close to being resolved prior to the adjournment could also return.
Today, is typically reserved for retirement speeches from members of the House and Senate who will not return in 2021. As of this morning, 14 members of the Legislature have announced their retirement. Some of those retirements to seek other offices, others to return to their hometowns. The House has chosen to continue with the process on the floor this afternoon, however instead of a chamber packed with members and families, hugs and tears, members will address the body via ZOOM, over the phone and a few from the floor of the House Chamber. The Senate, initially planned to conduct today’s session from the South Lawn of the Capitol. Senator Gazelka hoped this would allow all members to be in attendance and participate. However, facing some pushback the Senate has decided to hold their retirement speeches when the Legislature returns in June for the Special Session. There are typically a few surprise retirements and we will provide a list in the coming days.
As of May 15th
The 100th General Assembly (that’s 200 years) has concluded. We have seen a lot of strange sessions over the years. We’ve seen the Senate shut down for the entire final week because of a PQ. We’ve seen a Speaker of the House resign in scandal. We’ve seen a Governor endure a four-month legislative investigation. But this COVID-Session has been more disruptive than any of those. Five critical weeks of the Session were erased as we all worked from home. One member of the General Assembly (Rep. Joe Runions) was diagnosed with the coronavirus. The legislature only ended up approving 51 bills. The General Assembly has averaged 133 bills passed for each of the last 10 years and 76 was their low output during that time.
Missouri has now reported 10,492 cases of coronavirus and 566 deaths. One week ago, we were at 9,410 cases and 449 deaths. All stay-at-home orders in Missouri will expire by the end of this weekend, although several local jurisdictions have social distancing guidelines that exceed those set at the state level. The Missouri Gaming Commission this week extended an order to keep riverboat casinos closed at least through May 31.
Following is the final outcome of the bills that shaped this Session.
TRULY AGREED AND FINALLY PASSED
Punitive Damages and Missouri Merchandising Practices Act
Sen. Bill White’s SB 591 would restrict punitive damage awards in personal injury cases and modifies provisions related to unlawful merchandising practices to limit frivolous lawsuits in those cases. The merits of this bill were brokered during a 20-hour filibuster of the asbestos tort reform bill.
Sen. Dan Hegeman’s SJR 38 will ask voters this Fall to decide whether they want to: Bring back the bipartisan commission that has drawn Missouri state legislative maps in the past; move the priorities considered by the redistricting commission back to their previous order; ban all lobbyist gifts, and; lower campaign contribution limits.
Broadband Internet Grants & 5G Deployment
This proposal by Sen. Dan Hegeman and Rep. Louis Riggs extends the sunset provision of the Broadband Internet Grant program from 2021 to 2027. This program provides grants to local internet service providers to extend broadband to unserved and underserved areas – which are mostly found in rural parts of northern and southern Missouri. Gov. Mike Parson originally asked the legislature to appropriate $10 million for this program for the next fiscal year, but it ended up with no funding in final appropriations bills. Expectations are that funding will rebound after the economy recovers next years. The bill also granted another four years to cell phone companies to deploy 5G technology.
Natural Gas Utility Infrastructure
HB 2120 will remedy a recent ruling by the Western District Court of Appeals that said that natural gas companies cannot recover costs for the replacement of bare steel and cast-iron pipes. The Missouri Public Service Commission had long held that those pipes met the definition of “worn out or deteriorated” and, thus, allowed natural gas companies to recover costs for replacing them.
The General Assembly has received a lot of criticism during these last three weeks of session for ballooning small, simple bills in to large, omnibus bills that contain provisions well beyond the scope of the original bill. HB 1854 is an example of this. When the bill passed, it contained a provision that will make it significantly more difficult to create a new Transportation Development District or Community Improvement District. Under current law, the creation of one of these districts requires a favorable vote of the residents who reside within its boundaries. This bill will require a favorable vote of all of the residents of the municipality of with which the district is contained.
This bill is a gesture meant to attract the development of Virgin’s Hyperloop test track to Missouri. The eventual goal would be the development of a track from Kansas City to St. Louis. This bill modifies provisions of the Missouri Public-Private Partnerships Transportation Act to include a tube transport system. The bill prohibits the hyperloop from ever utilizing eminent domain for its development or being placed in MODOT right-of-way. The State would not be able to expend money from the State Road Fund for its development.
Prescription Drug Monitoring Program
After eight years of failed attempts, Missouri remains the only state without a prescription drug monitoring program. The bill’s outlook looked promising when the Senate’s Conservative Caucus reached a compromise with Sen. Tony Luetkemeyer and HB 1693’s sponsor, Rep. Holly Rehder, to craft a proposal that would allow for a privatized version of the PDMP that only doctors and pharmacists will be able to access. Law enforcement and other government officials will not have been able to access the program. However, the House’s Conservative Caucus was not on board. They united with Democrats, who didn’t like the watered-down version, to vote down the bill on the House floor during the final week of session.
Grain Belt Express
A highly unusual coalition of Democrats and members of the Senate’s Conservative Caucus united to block an attempt to stop the development of the Grain Belt Express transmission line. Speaker Elijah Haahr made stopping this project his top priority for the last two years. This project has already been approved by the Missouri Public Service Commission and affirmed by the Missouri Supreme Court.
Online Sales Tax
Missouri and Florida remain the only states, with a state-level sales tax, that have not ratified an online sales tax. SB 648, sponsored by Sen. Andrew Koenig, would have required online vendors to collect and remit sales tax to the State if they have receipts from sales of at least $100,000 annually to Missouri consumers. The bill bogged down over Sen. Koenig’s proposal that would have offset the newly collected sales tax by adding a .11% reduction to the ongoing phase down of Missouri’s personal income tax – ultimately reducing Missouri’s personal income tax rate to 4.99%.
Video Lottery Terminals
This proposal would have legalized video lottery terminals in Missouri gas stations, truck stops, bars, and fraternal organizations. The proposal was opposed by the state’s casinos and legislators who don’t want to expand gaming.
The legislature also failed in its attempt to legalize sports betting. This bill bogged down in a fight between casinos and some of the professional sports leagues who wanted to mandate that the casinos purchase official statistics from the leagues. The proposal also received opposition from legislators who don’t want to expand gaming.
This proposal would have required diesel fuel sold in Missouri to contain at least 20% biodiesel blend – commonly made from soybean oil. This was a top priority of the Missouri Soybean Association and the Missouri Farm Bureau. Conservative members of both chambers fought against this proposal based on anti-free market principles.
Rep. Ron Hicks and Senate President Pro Tem Dave Schatz both had proposals that would have lifted the residency requirements for St. Louis City police officers. The House expanded the bill to lift residency requirements for police officers throughout Missouri. This is legislation failed to garner the support of the many Saint Louis City and County legislators which ultimately kept it from making the proposal to the Governor’s desk.
The House also considered a proposal that would have created a fund for police departments to use for witness relocations in murder cases. This legislation was intended to ensure that witnesses could be protected while waiting for a trial. Rep. Jon Patterson, the sponsor of the legislation, was hopeful that this would encourage more witnesses, especially in St. Louis and Kansas City, to come forward in violent crime cases.
Charter School Expansion
This proposal would have expanded charter schools to all counties with a charter form of government (St. Louis County, St. Charles County, Jackson County, and Jefferson County) and all municipalities with over 30,000 residents. The legislation would also have closed charter schools that have underperformed for three out of five years. The legislation moved swiftly through the Senate’s committee process but was unable to gain traction after the legislature recessed for the Coronavirus outbreak.
Charter Funding Equity
This proposal would have made the public funding available for charter schools equal to the funding for district schools. Under the current funding formula, charter schools are underfunded because the definition of “local effort” in the funding formula has not kept up with what is actually considered “local effort.” This bill would have redefined “local effort” to ensure that all local dollars intended for charter schools do in fact go to charter schools. Currently in Kansas City, more than half of the students in public schools are in charter schools. This has resulted in a funding discrepancy based on the way funding flows from the state to the charter schools. While this is not yet a problem in St. Louis, it likely will be in two or three years. These two issues have resulted in a roughly $1,100 difference between a child educated in a Kansas City public school and a child educated in a Kansas City charter school. The Kansas City Public School District has publicly agreed that there is a discrepancy and that it should be addressed. However, KCPS did not support Rep. Richey’s legislation. It is expected that this legislation will be a priority during the 2021 session.
529 Savings Accounts Tax Credit
Sen. Mike Cierpiot’s SB 581 would have created a fund in the State Treasurer’s office to start Missouri MOST 529 accounts for low income students. Under this legislation, individuals and corporations that donated to the fund would have received a 100% tax credit for their donation. The funds would have then been used to establish Missouri MOST accounts for children who were living in a household earning up to 200% of the free and reduced-price lunch calculation.
Low Income Housing Tax Credits
Former Gov. Eric Greitens shut down Missouri’s Low Income Housing Tax Credit program in 2017 in an effort to force compromise on reforms to the program. The legislature tried, and failed for the second year, to reform the program to entice Governor Parson to turn it back on. This bill would have placed a cap on the program equal to 72.5% of the amount of federal Low Income Housing tax credits annually allocated to Missouri, among other reforms. Gov. Parson could ask the Missouri Housing Development Commission to administratively institute reforms and turn the program back on at any time.
Sen. Andrew Koenig had sought to reform (and reduce) the use of tax increment financing. SB 570 would have required third-party verification of a TIF district’s qualifications, limit the use of TIFs in retail developments, and prohibit TIF use in greenfields and floodplains – unless the floodplain is located within a port district or a levee drainage district created prior to the enactment of this law. The prohibition on floodplain use would not have applied to floodplains within Jackson, Clay, and Platte counties and the cities of Springfield and St. Joseph. All TIF usage would have been prohibited in floodplains located within St. Charles County. Ambulance districts, fire protection districts, and certain governing bodies operating a 911 center would have received a reimbursement from the TIF special allocation fund. The bill also would have allowed the City of St. Louis to deposit a portion of TIF revenues into a fund for infrastructure projects. The bill also contained language that would have allowed school districts to exclude their operating levy from TIF proceeds.
Sen. Lincoln Hough tried to create the Targeted Industrial Manufacturing Enhancement Zones Act. This program would have allowed cities or counties to redirect withholding taxes generated by the creation of new jobs to be used to fund public infrastructure associated with the attraction of those jobs. The program had a $5 million cap and a 2024 sunset.
As of May 16th
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order stating that beaches, boardwalks, lakes, and lakeshores in the State may be open to the public as long as these spaces are used and maintained consistent with various restrictions and recommendations.
All restaurants, cafeterias, dining establishments, and food courts, with or without a liquor license, all bars, and all other holders of a liquor license with retail consumption privileges located on the public and private beaches, boardwalks, and lakeshores, including concessions, snack bars, and food trucks, remain limited to offering only food delivery and/or take-out services.
The Governor of the State of New Jersey has published an executive order permitting the resumption of non-essential construction, curbside pickup at non-essential retail businesses, and gatherings in cars.
As of May 15th
The Governor of the State of New York has published an executive order that directs, amongst other provisions, that the previous Executive Orders which together constitute “New York On PAUSE”, are continued until 11:59 p.m. on May 28, 2020, unless later amended or extended by a future Executive Order.
However the reductions and restrictions on the in-person workforce at non-essential businesses or other entities no longer apply to Phase One industries in regions that meet the prescribed health and safety metrics.
North Carolina Churches Meet After Pandemic Restrictions are Blocked (Raleigh News & Observer) Much of the debate in the last week over Gov. Roy Cooper’s stay-at-home order centered on religious gatherings. His office sought to clarify the order limiting indoor services to 10 people, but Republican state senators objected, some county sheriffs said they would not enforce the rule, churchgoers rallied in protest, and a federal lawsuit was filed. Governor Cooper’s office did not appeal the ruling.
NC Budget & Tax Center: COVID-19 Could Impact Economy for Decades (WWAY) The NC Budget and Tax Center predicts North Carolina could see economic impacts from the coronavirus for years. The NC Budget and Tax Center hosted a briefing Friday on the state’s economic outlook ahead of the General Assembly’s session on Monday. Presenters discussed unprecedented job losses, disproportionate impacts on marginalized communities, and the likelihood of a prolonged downturn.
Poultry Producer Closes Two Plants for COVID-19 Deep Cleaning (WRAL) A poultry producer is temporarily closing a North Carolina plant for cleaning amid the COVID-19 outbreak. Tyson Foods spokesman Derek Burleson said one of two fresh meat plants at its Wilkesboro complex was closed from Thursday to Tuesday. A second fresh poultry plant at the site will continue limited operations. The closure, following another temporary closure for cleaning, will allow “additional deep cleaning” due to sick workers and quarantine-related absences.
NC Senate Committee Will Meet on Unemployment Oversight (North State Journal) When the General Assembly returns on Monday, one closely watched committee hearing will be concerning unemployment benefits in North Carolina. Senator Harry Brown (R-Onslow) tweeted a link to a legislative website to provide comments from the public on experiences when filing for unemployment benefits. Brown’s tweet says “Have an unemployment insurance horror story? The N.C. Senate is holding an oversight meeting on Monday to hold Gov. Cooper’s unemployment insurance office accountable.”
New COVID-19 Restaurant Training Expected to Roll Out This Week (WRAL) The training is the result of a partnership between the North Carolina Restaurant and Lodging Association, NC Department of Health and Human Service, Visit North Carolina and North Carolina State University and will address things like safety protocols, cleaning protocols, how to accomplish social distancing, how to move tables apart, how to correctly put on, take off and store facemasks.
Burr Decision Sends Shockwaves Through the Senate (The Hill) Sen. Richard Burr’s (R-NC) decision to temporarily step down as chairman of the Intelligence Committee sent shock waves through the US Senate. The announcement, made in a statement by Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell visibly shocked several of Burr’s colleagues, who appeared to be learning the news as reporters asked them about the decision.
“Never Trumpers” Plan to Hold Their Own GOP Convention in Charlotte in August (Charlotte Observer) Former NC Supreme Court Justice Bob Orr and former NC House Member Charles Jeter plan to join other Republicans at a convention in Charlotte this August — but not the one that will renominate President Donald Trump. Instead they’ll join a group called “Republicans for a New President.” Organized by Evan McMullin, a former CIA officer who ran an independent campaign for president in 2016, the gathering is expected to bring together groups disaffected by the president, including Republicans for the Rule of Law and The Lincoln Project.
Should NC Lawmakers Turn Over Their E-mails in Voter ID Case? (Raleigh News & Observer) State legislators accused of passing a 2018 voter ID law for racist reasons are now fighting efforts to force them to turn over documents like emails that could show what they discussed while writing that law. New voter ID rules were originally supposed to go into place for this year’s elections. But they were blocked during the March primaries after judges both in federal court and in state court found that lawmakers may have written the law with “racially discriminatory intent.”
Auditor Wood Blasts NCDOT’s Spending, Says Problems Date to Earlier Governors (Business North Carolina) Were the pandemic not dominating the news, North Carolina’s newspapers would be filled with stories about the mismanagement at the N.C. Department of Transportation. Yet, State AuditorBeth Wood’s new report showing that NCDOT overspent its $5.9 billion budget by $742 million, or 12%, last year raised few ripples. The agency’s track record, coupled with sharp declines in gas tax revenue caused by the heavily shuttered economy, has major ramifications for the state’s construction industry.
As of May 15th
In this week’s update:
Oregon’s counties have started to re-open. This week, 31 of Oregon’s 36 counties were approved to enter Phase 1 of reopening. Learn about what that means below.
The Legislature’s Joint Emergency Board met again to make general approvals of federal COVID-19 funding placements.
The City of Portland held its first and only public hearing on the Mayor’s proposed budget.
As we head into the final few days of voting in Oregon, turnout remains on track with higher turnout years in the Metro area. Will the trend hold now that we’ve passed the mail-in deadline?
Last week, early ballot returns were tracking just ahead of the historical averages in Multnomah County. After a slight mid-week dip, we’re heading into the final weekend with turnout just shy of 30%. That’s similar to 2008’s figure on the Friday before election day, and ahead of 2016’s (Clackamas County is pacing ahead of 2016, too).
Will we stay on pace with 2008 and hit 60% turnout? Or—now that the mailing deadline has passed—will there be a drop-off in voters who turn in a ballot on Monday and Tuesday? We’re predicting the latter but would love to be proven wrong.
Statewide, turnout is tracking close to 2016’s pace; that primary ended up just shy of 54% turnout.
Find a dropbox here (even though Multnomah County libraries are closed, the 24-hour book drop boxes are still collecting ballots). Get those ballots in by 8pm on Tuesday!
Of those, all but two—Polk and Marion Counties—were approved to enter Phase 1, which allows limited reopening of businesses like restaurants and bars, and personal services.
Across the state, most retailers were also allowed to reopen, under specific guidelines. Guidelines for other sectors, like summer day camps, gyms, and restaurants have also been issued.
Three more counties—Clackamas, Multnomah, and Washington County—have not yet applied to enter phase 1. See the local section, below, for more background on the metro counties’ timelines.
The Legislature will hold May Legislatives Days virtually this year, with the House Committees happening from May 22-29. Senate Committees will take place from June 1-5.
The Oregon Legislative E-board met today and adopted two reports on how state and local governments allocate federal CARES Act funds. These report adoptions are largely for administrative purposes in order to disperse previously allocated federal funds.
The first report outlined an agreement made by the Governor, the President of the Senate, and the Speaker of the House on a high-level distribution of the state’s portion of the Coronavirus Relief Fund from the CARES Act into three distinct priority categories: State Expenses, Local and Tribal Governments, Reserves. A quick overview of this report can be found here.
The second report increased the Federal Funds expenditure limits established for the Department of Administrative Services by $215,000,000 for funding made available to states through the Coronavirus Relief Fund. $100,000,000 of the Federal Funds expenditure limitation increase will be held and released as on a rolling basis for COVID-19 response costs eligible for reimbursement to local governments and tribes in Oregon, outside of the boundaries of Multnomah and Washington counties. A quick review of the report can be found here.
Oregon’s next revenue forecastwill be on May 20, delivered virtually to the House and Senate revenue committees. We are expecting to see a shortfall between $2 and $3 billion, out of a $23.7 billion combined General Fund and Lottery Fund biennial budget.
Multnomah County Chair Deborah Kafoury pledged to share weekly updates on the County’s progress toward reopening; Currently, constrained fiscal resources mean the County can’t yet meet benchmarks for contract tracing or supplies of PPE that underpin a monitored and controlled approach to reopening. Clackamas and Washington Counties are in a similar spot.
Virtual public hearings on Mayor Ted Wheeler’s proposed budget started this week, with Portlanders who participated calling for more resources for renters and immigrants, and less for the Portland Police Bureau—specifically the gun violence reduction team, school resource officer program and transit police division.
The Council’s first hearing before a budget vote is slated for June 10.
Council also adopted labor agreements with the firefighters and police commanding officers’ unions this week, after both were amended to reduce costs to the city. A third union, representing 911 operators, did not agree to similar late-hour concessions; negotiations will continue.
Upcoming Virtual Town Halls
Many of our partners have been asking about the best way to connect with and engage elected officials right now. Many are moving engagement to virtual town halls; We’ll be keeping a running list of upcoming events here.
Rep. Chris Gorsek will hold a virtual constituent coffee on Saturday, May 16th @ 1PM. Email email@example.com to RSVP and receive the zoom link.
Portland City Commissioner Jo Ann Hardesty will hold a virtual townhall to talk about the mayor’s proposed 20-21 fiscal year budget. Reserve your spot through Commissioner Hardesty’s Facebook page.
Oregon now has 3,541 confirmed cases of COVID-19, as of 8:00am today, 5/15. There have been 137 deaths.
UNEMPLOYMENT: The Tennessee Department of Labor and Workforce Development is now processing Pandemic Extended Unemployment Compensation (PEUC), in addition to Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA), and Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC). PEUC provides an additional 13 weeks of unemployment compensation to eligible claimants. Individuals who have exhausted their Tennessee Unemployment Compensation claim, or their benefit year has ended, need to refile at www.Jobs4TN.gov to obtain the additional weeks of benefits provided through PEUC.
REOPENING: On Friday of this week, restaurants and retail businesses in 89 of 95 counties can return to full capacity as long as social distancing guidelines are adhered to, including 6 feet between tables. Also effective this Friday, large attractions like racetracks, amusement parks, waterparks, theaters, and large museums may reopen if they can effectively practice social distancing. Six counties – Shelby, Madison, Davidson, Hamilton, Knox and Sullivan – may continue to follow individual, county-specific reopening plans created in consultation with State and local health departments. Restrictions on social gatherings of more than 10 people remain in place for the time being.
MEMPHIS: Officials in Shelby County, which includes Memphis, announced today the beginning of Phase 2 which authorizes the reopening of “close contact” businesses such as spas, tattoo parlors, sports facilities and for “purposeful” gatherings of under 50 people. The move to Phase 2 of the reopening comes two weeks to the day after the first phase began countywide. The re-openings in Phase 2 come with specific measures for social distancing and capacity limits, such as dining facilities maintaining 50% capacity limit from Phase 1. Gyms and other physical fitness facilities can move from 25% capacity in Phase 1 to 50% of capacity in Phase 2.
MORE RESOURCES: Visit the Unified Command’s data dashboard HERE.
GUIDELINES: The Economic Recovery Group continues to issue both general and industry-specific guidelines to safely reopening HERE. They include manufacturing, office building, retail and restaurants, among others.
As of May 15th
Total cases: 28,672
Non-essential businesses began opening Friday in areas of Virginia outside of Northern Virginia, City of Richmond and the Eastern Shore’s Accomack County.
The first phase of opening will last at least two weeks, and beaches will remain closed, except for fishing and exercising.
The governor said he will make an announcement about beach access next week ahead of the Memorial Day weekend.
Non-essential businesses began reopening on a limited basis on Friday throughout much of Virginia under Phase 1 of Gov. Ralph Northam’s reopening plans. In certain localities where officials requested more time to control the spread of COVID-19, Northam ordered non-essential businesses to remain closed.
While Northam had previously indicated Northern Virginia would remain closed until May 29, the governor faced increasing criticism from Richmond Mayor Levar Stoney and members of the Virginia Legislative Black Caucus, who argued reopening too quickly would jeopardize the health of minority communities disproportionately affected by the virus.
Shortly after 5 p.m. Thursday, Northam issued an order prohibiting non-essential businesses from resuming activities on Friday in the City of Richmond and the Eastern Shore’s Accomack County, where an outbreak has affected workers at poultry processing facilities. Those localities were placed on the same delayed schedule as the Northern Virginia localities.
At a press conference on Friday, Northam explained his decision as deferring to local leaders’ requests and changing circumstances, and said he also would be willing to consider requests from localities that want to move quicker into the state’s Phase 2 of reopening. He also said he is in talks with local beach communities and anticipated making an announcement soon about the status of Virginia’s beaches for the upcoming Memorial Day weekend.
Under Phase 1 guidelines, non-essential retail businesses and churches will be permitted to reopen at 50 percent of indoor capacity. Personal grooming businesses such as salons and barbershops will be able to serve customers by appointment only, and so long as staff and customers wear face masks, the governor said.
Wearing face masks, teleworking and practicing social distancing will remain recommended practices. Restaurants will be permitted to serve customers at half the outdoor seating capacity; indoor dining will remain prohibited. Beaches will be open for fishing and exercising only. Entertainment and amusement venues, as well as overnight summer camps, will remain closed. Public gatherings of more than 10 people will continue to be banned.
The governor has said this phase would last at least two weeks.
Under Phase 2, limitations would be further eased and the cap on public gatherings would be raised to no more than 50 people.
The current restrictions on non-essential businesses, including restaurants and indoor recreation and entertainment businesses, will remain in effect in Northern Virginia, where local leaders requested the governor maintain tight restrictions. The state’s stay-at-home order, in effect until June 10, is being amended to inform Virginians that they are safer at home, Northam said. He encouraged older Virginians and others at higher risk of developing complications associated with infection to remain home as the state begins to reopen.
Public schools remain closed for the rest of the academic year. Municipal elections scheduled for May 5 were already rescheduled to May 19, and congressional primaries from June 9 to June 23.
Initial unemployment claims have begun to recede but remain historically high. According to the Virginia Employment Commission, more than 390,000 continued week unemployment claims had been filed in the week ending May 9. About two-thirds of the workers who’ve filed initial unemployment claims during the pandemic continued to file in the week ending May 9.
As of May 18th
The Wisconsin Department of Health Services and the Wisconsin Hospital Association released updated numbers on Friday:
364 Current Hospital Admissions (131 patients in ICU)
The total number of hospital admissions increased by 5 (+5) on Saturday and by 3 (+3) on Sunday.
The total number of ICU patients increased by 3 (+3) on Saturday and by 3 (+3) on Sunday.
Cumulatively there have been 12,543 positive tests and 139,764 negative tests in Wisconsin:
There were 502 positive test results reported on Saturday on 6,051 tests (8.3% positive rate).
There were 356 positive test results reported on Sunday on 5,824 tests (6.1% positive rate).
Deaths from COVID-19 now total 453 in Wisconsin:
There were 8 deaths reported on Saturday
There were 0 deaths reported on Sunday
6,786 patients who have tested positive for COVID-19 and are listed as having recovered (54%), 5,303 cases are still considered active (42%) and 453 patients have died (4%). (last updated by DHS on 5/17)
Over the weekend half of Governor Tony Evers’ Badger Bounce Back gating criteria are now showing red, indicating the gating criteria is not being met for 3 indicators;
Downward trajectory of influenza-like illnesses (ILI) reported within a 14-day period.
Downward trajectory of COVID-like syndromic cases reported within a 14-day period.
Downward trajectory of positive tests as a percent of total tests within a 14-day period. (the new one)
All of the indicators are displaying a downward trend but DHS analysis suggests it is not statistically significant.
Weekend News Shows and COVID-19
Governor Evers on UpFront with Adrienne Pedersen
UpFront with Adrienne Pedersen hosted Governor Tony Evers on their Sunday program. Of note from the interview;
The Governor said that he and Legislative leaders will meet this week, but wanted to be clear that the Administrative Rule process is a long and “archaic” process, and said it will be at least two weeks before we see something.
He said the meeting with lawmakers last week was “friendly,” but didn’t envision that there would be a “grand bargain.” He said Republicans control the process and can remove any provisions that they don’t agree with.
When asked something that would be positive coming out of the Administrative Rule process, the Governor suggested that having a communications plan, in the event of a surge, would be a positive, but didn’t envision any restrictions being reinstated through this process.
When asked if requiring everyone to wear masks was a good idea, the Governor responded that he believed it would be, but said that the Supreme Court made it “abundantly clear” they don’t have the power to require anyone to do anything. He suggested that businesses and individuals look to the WEDC Reopen Guidelines.
When asked about how long it will take Wisconsin to get back to normal, Governor Evers suggested at least half a year, or as some economists suggested a full-year, but that normal won’t be the old normal.
Maj. Leader Steineke and Gov. Evers on Here & Now-WI Public Television
Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steinke (R-Kaukauna) was interviewed by Fredericka Fryberg. Of note from the interview;
Majority Leader Steineke expressed disappointment that things got to this point, that the Supreme Court had to get involved, would have preferred to have negotiations.
When asked about the Governor’s Scope Statement and its similarity to the original “Safer-At-Home” order, and Steineke expressed concern that it continues to appear to be a statewide approach and not a regional approach. He hopes that the Governor changes that approach in the rules that are proposed.
When asked about the local authority health orders, Steineke said its well within the authority of those local governments and would rather see that approach than the statewide.
Governor Evers also appeared on the episode, of note from his interview was the following:
Governor Evers was disappointed in the decision of the Supreme Court and concerned about the gatherings that happened immediately after the ruling.
When asked about the Administrative Rule process, he reinforced that there isn’t going to be a grand bargain, because Republicans are happy with what now exists.
When asked about Joint Committee for Review Administrative Rules Co-Chair Steve Nass’s reaction to the scope statement, he said that he should wait to see the draft rule before commenting, because this is just a scope statement, however he noted that the Republicans have already said they don’t want any infringements on what has already opened up.
Governor Evers said he is hopeful that people continue to remain at open and limit their going out.
Gov. Evers and Maj. Leader Steineke on Capital City Sunday
Of note in Governor Evers’ interview with Emilee Fannon were the following:
Gov. Evers said reopening the schools in the Fall should be the goal, but there should also be a plan A, B and C. They are looking at potential plans of staggering in-person attendance, whereby students spend a limited amount of time in the classroom in smaller class sizes and the rest of the time attend online.
Regarding reopening UW campuses, he said that is more complicated than K-12 schools, and that they will need to make a decision soon on that.
When asked whether to host the DNC Convention, which was rescheduled to take place in Milwaukee in August, in person or virtually, Gov. Evers said it is probably a smarter decision to host it virtually.
He is encouraging that businesses that are re-opening or who are considering to re-open to utilize the WEDC re-opening guidelines.
Of note in Majority Leader Steineke’s interview with Emilee Fannon were the following:
Maj. Leader Steineke was hoping what happened with going from no restrictions to wide open would have been avoided if the Governor would have negotiated with the Legislature prior to the Supreme Court ruling.
He noted that the original of the “Safer-At-Home” order was to ensure hospitals were not overwhelmed and operating in crisis capacity, and since that has been established, businesses should be able to start re-opening, using the CDC guidelines to keep their customers and employees safe.
Leader Steinke said that everyone is expecting an increase in positive cases associated with reopening the economy, said that is to be expected at any point, whether it was on May 26th or now, but the point of the order was to prep the hospitals to be able to be ready for that surge.