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Wisconsin Republicans oppose extension of extra federal help for workersSubmitted: 06/12/2020
Wisconsin Republicans oppose extension of extra federal help for workers
Maya Reese
Maya Reese
Reporter/Digital Content Director
mreese@wjfw.com

MADISON - The ongoing response to the COVID-19 global health pandemic from Donald Trump and his administration plunged the nation into an economic crisis, leaving many Wisconsinites to deal with layoffs and job losses.

Now the state Republican Congressional delegation, led by U.S. Senator Ron Johnson, is opposing an extension of enhanced unemployment benefits, even as the recession drags on and unemployment rates remain at historically high levels.

"Wisconsin workers who've been laid off or lost their jobs shouldn't have to pay for the Trump administration's failure," said A Better Wisconsin Together Executive Director Nicole Safar. "That's exactly what Senator Johnson and the rest of the Wisconsin Republicans in Congress would do by refusing to extend extra federal help for unemployed workers during a recession."

As part of federal COVID-related "Paycheck Protection Program" relief legislation adopted in March, unemployed workers have been eligible for an additional $600 per month in federally funded unemployment insurance benefits. The authorization for the enhanced benefits expires in July. With unemployment remaining in double digits, an extension through the end of the year has been proposed by Democrats.

Safar noted that the crisis is even worse in communities of color, who've been disproportionately impacted by the COVID pandemic. Black unemployment and unemployment in other communities of color is significantly higher than the national and state average.

In an opinion piece authored by Senator Johnson, he claimed the additional benefits being provided to workers were "a glaring example" of the need to "reform" the program to prevent undeserving entities from receiving help. He went on to disparage Wisconsin workers, suggesting they are choosing to "stay unemployed" because of the temporary extra help they are eligible for.

Republican U.S. House Representatives from Wisconsin are following Johnson's lead. In a recent news report, they all indicated they were opposed to extending enhanced federal unemployment benefits beyond July.

Safar concluded, "It didn't have to be this way. Donald Trump dismissed the threat of COVID and delayed responding to the global health pandemic, triggering a recession that's left millions of workers unemployed or laid off. Wisconsin Republicans would make a bad situation even worse by taking help away from these same workers and their families."

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WISCONSIN DELLS - Noah's Ark Water Park at the Wisconsin Dells announced on Wednesday that the park is going to stay closed for the rest of the season.

Their Facebook page says the park is trying to keep their guests, employees and the Dells community safe from COVID-19.

According to NBC in Madison, the park did close on Aug. 1 after two employees tested positive for the virus.

People who have single day passes and season passes for 2020 can use them for 2021.

The water park will use the remainder of this year to prepare for the 2021 season.

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THREE LAKES -

Students and parents have been patiently waiting to hear from local school districts on what classes will look like in the fall.

Last night, the Three Lakes School District flipped the script, they instead took questions from community members to hear their concerns.

Educating is a stressful job, now imagine trying to plan a school year around a global pandemic, and combine that with answering questions from nearly 130 parents in one night. That's a day in Teri Maney's shoes.

"It was truly a listening session...this was laying the groundwork so people have an idea of what we're planning and thinking about at the district," Maney said. 

 Those plans primarily aim to have students back in the classroom full time.

 "That would be our goal to return on site five days a week," she added. 

But with COVID-19 showing no signs of letting up in the U.S. backup plans will be in place for any changes.

"Our next level would be a blended approach," Maney added, "We're keeping our primary focus on elementary students being on site and that might mean for our junior high and high school, a little shift of scheduling."

Three Lakes would then approach any positive cases in the district through guidelines from Oneida and Vilas county health officials.

"We also have a plan for if we would have a positive identification in a grade level, or a teacher, or if there's a teacher. We would not want to shut down the entire district," Maney explained. 

But if things don't go as planned, Three Lakes will be fully prepared for online classes.

"The last level, level four, that would be fully remote instruction."

The school board will vote on Monday night at 6:30 whether or not they will continue with the district's plan. 


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NEW YORK - The day after Donald Trump's election in November 2016, the American Civil Liberties Union posted a message to him on its website: "See you in court."

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WASHINGTON - Nearly 1.2 million laid-off Americans applied for state unemployment benefits last week, evidence that the coronavirus keeps forcing companies to slash jobs just as a critical $600 weekly federal jobless payment has expired.

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