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."
SIOUX FALLS, S.D. - President Donald Trump will begin his Independence Day weekend on Friday with a patriotic display of fireworks at Mount Rushmore, an event expected to draw thousands where masks and social distancing aren't required as coronavirus cases spike across the country.
Trump is expected to speak at the event, which has issued 7,500 tickets to watch fireworks that he says will be a "display like few people have seen."
MADISON, WI - Cigarette smoking rates have dropped since Wisconsin's Smoke-Free Indoor Air Law went into effect 10 years ago.
In 2008, before the law passed, 20% of Wisconsin adults smoked cigarettes. By 2018, the rate had dropped to 16%. High school youth cigarette smoking rates dropped from nearly 21% in 2008 to nearly 5% in 2018.
State cigarette taxes were also increased during this time period and contribute to this reduction.
"Wisconsin is breathing easier today thanks to this law, but we know there are many people in our state who still smoke," said DHS Secretary-Designee Andrea Palm. "We urge smokers to take advantage of the programs available to help them to quit, especially now during the COVID-19 pandemic, as people who smoke are believed to be more susceptible to the virus, and can become severely ill with it."
- The U.S. headed into the Fourth of July weekend with many parades and fireworks displays canceled, beaches and bars closed, and health authorities warning that this will be a crucial test of Americans' self-control that could determine the trajectory of the surging coronavirus outbreak.
With confirmed cases climbing in 40 states, governors and local officials have ordered the wearing of masks in public, and families were urged to celebrate their independence at home. Even then, they were told to keep their backyard cookouts small.
CRANDON - The Forest County Humane Society works around the clock to help animals find forever homes. But taking care of those animals during their stay doesn't just take a lot of time; it takes a lot of money, too.
The shelter got a helping hand, thanks to a $35,000 grant from the ASPCA. It's part of an initiative to help brick-and-mortar shelters improve their animals' quality of life.
Shelter director Angie Schaefer says that money paid for 20 new cat-condos, fencing for two new dog yards, and several other much-needed supplies.
"We're small, we're in a small community, so to raise that kind of money to get these items would have been quite a task. For them to step in and do that for us is amazing," said Schaefer.
Schaefer said the extra yards will allow dogs to spend more time outside and socialize with each other.
If you're interested in volunteering or donating to the humane society, visit its website for more information.
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