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Economy & Business

Wisconsin Business Group Adds Its Concerns About Proposed COVID-19 Legislation

Jack Hurbanis
A sign reads Mask Up West Allis at West Allis City Hall.

The leader of the state's largest business group is giving thumbs down to parts of Gov. Tony Evers's latest proposal for legislative action to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic in Wisconsin.

Kurt Bauer of Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce (WMC) said one item he doesn't like is the governor's proposal to make COVID-19 cases eligible for workers' compensation. Under workers' comp, people hurt on the job can be compensated for lost wages and medical payments.

But Bauer said Wednesday, "We oppose this for the same reason that we oppose the release of businesses names who have had COVID-19 positive employees. Namely that, there is no way of knowing where the employee contracted the disease. Plus, the cost to businesses would be substantial and debilitating."

Bauer said he also opposes Evers' plan to drop some job search requirements in order to receive unemployment benefits. 

>> Gov. Evers Unveils Package Of Proposals To Tackle Surging Pandemic

The business leader does back a few of the governor's ideas, including expanding COVID-19 testing.

But just when state lawmakers will come back into session to pass anything is unclear. Evers noted Wednesday the legislators came to the Capitol in December 2018 to reduce the powers of the governor, before he even took office.

"Two years ago they made it back in December to do a lame duck session. I see no reason why we can't do it to save lives here in Wisconsin,” Evers said.

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce has released a statement asking elected leaders to work together on the COVID-19 crisis.

The statement reads:

A thriving democracy is critical to a free market economy. To serve the citizens of our local, state and federal governments, we applaud those who entered the arena for public office. In Wisconsin, with the election behind us, the validation process underway and the peaceful transfer of leadership in front of us, the task now turns to finding ways to advance a stronger Milwaukee Region, State of Wisconsin and United States. The public discourse in elections and the robust give and take of the legislative process are both hallmarks of our democracy. But this year, of all years, differing policy views must find the common ground needed to make progress. The pandemic wave continues to swamp our health care system, drowning the resurgence of our economy, its small businesses, and the jobs of those who rely on consumer activity. We want our duly elected leaders working together on this crisis for the benefit of Wisconsin’s economy and the health of our citizens.

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