Iron County Progressive


COVID-19 Update

I wanted to discuss the big news that has rocked our state—on Wednesday, the Wisconsin State Supreme Court tossed out the Safer at Home order. I'm disappointed in my Republican colleagues in the legislature. It's bad enough that they would bring this lawsuit forward at taxpayers' expense during a pandemic, but it's unconscionable that they would do so with absolutely no plan to safely reopen the state.

Right now, the science warns that prematurely opening up could lead to a second wave of infections, undoing the hard work and sacrifice we've all endured over the past two months. This is especially dangerous in our rural areas where we have limited hospital capacity and an older population. Safer at Home has prevented so many unnecessary deaths, and we must continue to be diligent and careful going forward.

So what does that mean for reopening? Right now, there is a lot of confusion, but I hope that we can come together and enact a smart, safe and proactive strategy. In the meantime, please check in with your local county or tribal health departments on updates in your community: 
For those living in counties with no Safer at Home order, continue to do the following:
  • Frequently wash your hands. 
  • Clean commonly touched surfaces.
  • Maintain a distance of at least 6 feet from other people outside your home. 
  • Wear a facemask if you're out in public. 
  • Continue staying home whenever possible.
  • Don't travel for nonessential purposes. 
For businesses who require guidance for safe reopening, please see the WEDC page for relief and recovery resources.

I can't stress enough how grateful I am for the continued generosity and cooperation across Northern Wisconsin as we weather this crisis. Now that there isn't a statewide plan, we need to depend on each other, common sense and a spirit of community more now than ever. Please take care of each other. 

Unemployment Updates and Assistance

Here's what the Supreme Court decision means for unemployment:
  • It does not impact applications submitted or claims pending. Benefits will be paid to eligible claimants, even if the person returns to work before their claim is deemed eligible.
  • It does not impact federal programs like Federal Pandemic Unemployment Compensation (FPUC), Pandemic Unemployment Assistance (PUA) or Pandemic Emergency Unemployment Compensation (PEUC).
  • It does not change work search. Governor Tony Evers waived work search March 12, 2020. Work search is still considered satisfied through the end of September 2020.
  • It does impact unemployment eligibility in this way: If an employer now has work for an employee who was laid off or furloughed and that employee refuses to return to work, that will cause an eligibility issue that must be adjudicated.
Unemployment benefits are available to individuals who are totally or partially unemployed due to no fault of their own. If the employee—not the employer—is choosing not to work, the employee is likely not eligible for UI benefits.

However, the facts of each circumstance are important. If you have any question about whether you are eligible for benefits, please apply. Individuals considered ineligible for unemployment may be eligible for PUA. For further questions on Unemployment Insurance, please visit the DWD Frequently Asked Questions page.

Are you having trouble getting your unemployment benefits? If it has been at least three weeks since you submitted your application and you have not received your benefits, my office may be able to help you. Email with the following information: 
  • Full name 
  • Phone number
  • Issue you want to be resolved (i.e. When will I receive my benefits?)
  • Status of your application
    • Did you apply online?
    • What date did you submit it? 
    • Are you awaiting a decision on something that had to be investigated? 
My staff will send this information to the Department of Workforce Development (DWD) and request that they promptly look into your case. I understand that this is a difficult financial time for many, and I am committed to helping you receive your benefits in a timely manner.

Testing Sites in Northern Wisconsin

Below is a list of publicly available community testing sites throughout Northern Wisconsin. There are ongoing efforts to expand and open new testing sites throughout the state, so please check out the DHS testing locations website for updates and new sites.

Price County
Prentice DNR Ranger Station, W5327 Granberg Rd, Prentice, WI 54556. Drive-thru testing available May 17th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Sawyer County
Sawyer Hayward Hospital, 10655 Nyman Ave, Hayward, WI 54843. Drive-thru testing available on May 15th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Oneida County
Rhinelander High School, 665 Coolidge Ave, Rhinelander, WI 54501. Drive-thru testing available May 20th from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Lakeland Union High School, 9573 WI-70, Minocqua, WI 54548. Drive-thru testing available May 21st from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Road Tests Waived

Starting Monday, parents now have the option to waive road tests for their 16- and 17-year-olds who have successfully completed all of the driver training requirements.

Eligible teens must complete a driver education class, behind-the-wheel training with a licensed instructor, and at least 30 hours of driving with their parent or sponsor. The waiver was put in place to cut down on the road test backlog and is expected to remain in effect until the end of 2020. In-person road tests will be available beginning May 26.

You can read more about this change, as well as other efforts the DMV is taking to address the backlog demand, here. 

COVID-19 Democratic Response Plan

This week, Legislative Democrats rolled out our plan to continue the necessary work of helping families and businesses in every corner of Wisconsin. While we passed legislation that took the necessary first steps to helping those affected by COVID-19, it simply wasn't enough.

We need to do more to address the health and economic devastation that has happened and will continue to happen. There are things only the legislature can do, and I for one am itching to get back to work in Madison and advocate for the people of Northern Wisconsin. I hope my colleagues on the other side of the aisle join us in crafting a plan to help us recover and thrive. 

As always, the best information on COVID-19 can be found at the Center for Disease Control and Prevention and the Wisconsin Department of Health Services. There is also great information to be found for all of the state of Wisconsin agencies at the governors website,

Important note: The information in this update is relevant as of May 15th at 10:30 am. Things are moving quickly and bound to change. 

Feel free to reach out to my office with any questions or concerns. Email me at or call at (608) 266-7690.

We are all in this together, and I have great confidence that the people of Wisconsin will rise and meet this challenge.

Be well, and thank you,