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Thursday, November 18, 2021
Long Lake, Washburn County •  Reader photo by Joe Hoy
 
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Gov. Tony Evers, in a video released Thursday, holds up freshly vetoed Republican-authored legislation that would have enacted gerrymandered maps. (Screenshot via Gov. Tony Evers/YouTube)

Evers Vetoes GOP's Gerrymandered Maps. Next Stop: the Courts.

  • Gov. Tony Evers on Thursday vetoed Republicans’ proposed gerrymandered electoral maps that could have given the GOP enough power to override Evers’ vetoes in the future.
     
  • “These gerrymandered maps will not become law,” Evers said in a video message released Thursday in which he vetoed the maps. The veto means the process of drawing new maps will be left up to the courts, which have drawn maps in the past. Three separate lawsuits have been filed to try to get the case in front of different courts that could either lean toward allowing the GOP gerrymander to stand or to strike it down.
     
  • New maps must be drawn every 10 years to account for population changes, but politicians have historically used a process called gerrymandering to either pack the opposite party’s voters into a few districts or dilute them across many. Wisconsin’s gerrymandering is among the nation’s worst; in 2018, Republicans received 44.8% of the vote statewide but still won 63 of 99 seats in the Assembly.
     
  • In an almost 10-hour hearing last month, more than 150 members of the public spoke against the GOP maps, and no one except GOP leadership spoke in favor of them. Evers’ nonpartisan People’s Maps Commission presented fair maps earlier this fall that would have reduced Republicans’ advantage, but all Republican state lawmakers and 18 Democrats voted them down, with Democrats saying they feared the maps would reduce minority representation.
Read more from Jonathon Sadowski at our website, or watch an excerpt of Evers' veto message at our Facebook, Instagram, and Twitter.
Dr. Ryan Westergaard, Wisconsin's top infectious disease specialist, said the state's current COVID-19 trend looks similar to last fall's surge. (Graph by Wisconsin Department of Health Services)

COVID Is Getting Bad Again. Really Bad.

  • Wisconsin's struggle against COVID-19 has continued to deteriorate, with reports of around 3,000 new cases of the disease per day over the past week. On Monday, the state recorded the highest number of new cases of the year—over 4,000, according to the state Department of Health Services (DHS).
     
  • Hospitalizations due to COVID-19 are increasing across most of the state. More than 90% of both intensive care and general hospital beds are in use throughout the state. There are now over 1,000 patients in Wisconsin hospitals needing treatment for the respiratory disease. Unvaccinated individuals are more than 10 times more likely to be hospitalized with the virus, DHS data shows.
     
  • "With so many hospitals and healthcare workers already overburdened caring for COVID-19 patients, it becomes increasingly more difficult to treat patients who come in for all the other reasons that people need hospitals and other healthcare settings," said Dr. Ryan Westergaard, DHS' chief medical officer with the Bureau of Communicable Diseases. He added that the data is looking similar to last fall’s COVID surge, which saw daily new cases reach nearly 8,000 on several days.
     
  • While deaths due to COVID-19 have not yet seen the same surge, according to state data, experts have cautioned that deaths tend to lag behind hospitalizations. Since March 2020, the disease has killed at least 8,812 people in Wisconsin. The state has averaged 14 deaths per day due to the disease over the last week in a coronavirus pandemic that has now killed 767,515 Americans, according to data tracked by Johns Hopkins University.
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(Graphic by Morgaine Ford-Workman)
I'll take "bill breakdown" for $500, Alex.

Not sure what's in President Biden's proposed Build Back Better legislation that Congress is currently debating? Here's a summary of some of the top items.

 
See graphics like this first on our Facebook and Instagram accounts.

Rep. Pocan: Build Back Better Could Be a Game-Changer for Families 

  • The childcare provisions in the Build Back Better bill currently being negotiated in Congress could put an average of $1,000 back into the pockets of American families with small children, US Rep. Mark Pocan (D-Town of Vermont) said this week. 
     
  • Pocan spoke to UpNorthNews about the sweeping measure, which would ensure that even families who make up to two-and-a-half times an area’s median income—that’s up to $154,367 in Wisconsin—will pay no more than 7% of their monthly income on child care. 
     
  • “The savings—especially in a place like Wisconsin—are going to be about $8,500 a year for a family who has a single child in child care. That, on top of the [expanded child tax credit] that is also in the Build Back Better bill, adds up to over $1,000 a month in savings for the average American family,” Pocan said. “That’s a game changer. That’s vacation. That’s putting aside money for college. That’s being able to buy more clothes and things for your family.”
     
  • In addition to helping families afford quality child care, Pocan said the bill would also provide grants to daycare providers to help them retain and hire professional childcare workers by being able to offer better wages and benefits
Watch an excerpt of Cara Spoto's interview with Pocan on our Facebook or Instagram page.

Wisconsin Families Continue to Struggle With Poverty After COVID. Lawmakers Want to Address It.

  • One in 5 Wisconsin households with children is having trouble covering household expenses as the state continues to grapple with the economic fallout of the COVID-19 pandemic, according to a recent study of the pandemic’s impact on poverty. The study’s findings have spurred Wisconsin legislators and social organizations to push for a comprehensive approach to fighting poverty.
     
  • “We have been nibbling along the edge [of the issue] for so long,” said Rep. Lisa Subeck (D-Madison). “We need to think big and think bold.”
     
  • According to the report, from the Center on Budget and Policy Priorities, a progressive think tank, nationwide employment has not reached pre-pandemic levels, and millions of households reported they are still struggling to make ends meet. In Wisconsin, 6% of households with children reported the children weren’t eating enough because the family couldn’t afford enough food, 10% of households were still behind on their rent, and 21% reported having trouble covering household expenses. All this is happening even though Wisconsin’s unemployment rate is at 3.9%.
     
  • Subeck said in a Tuesday press conference that she and other Democratic legislators plan to address food security, housing security, access to transportation, “good-paying jobs," and child care. She said the plan is not yet finalized.
Reported by Christina Lieffring

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