COVID-19

On Wednesday, March 31, 2021, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ statewide mask mandate. The mask mandate previously applied to all enclosed spaces open to the public within Wisconsin. The Wisconsin Supreme Court said, however, that Governor Evers overstepped his authority by extending the public health emergency without legislative approval, thus making the statewide mask mandate invalid. While the statewide mask mandate is no longer in effect, employers should continue to monitor their local requirements as the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s decision does not affect local municipalities’ ability to institute their own mask mandates. Dane County, Rock County,…
In a 4-3 Decision written by Justice Brian Hagedorn, the Wisconsin Supreme Court struck down Governor Tony Evers’ mask mandate intended as a use of the emergency powers of a governor under Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 323 to combat the emergent threat of the Coronavirus. The Court held that Governor Evers violated state law by unilaterally issuing multiple emergency orders to extend the emergency declarations and mask mandate beyond an initial 60 day period. The Court found that the statute contemplates an end to such orders (60 days after the declaration) and that the decision to extend such orders resides with…
Today, the Wisconsin Supreme Court, in a 4-3 ruling, held that the Governor is prohibited from declaring successive states of emergency in regards to the same enabling condition without legislative approval. This means that Democratic Governor Tony Evers is prohibited from issuing any new public health emergency orders as it relates to the COVID-19 pandemic without the approval of the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature. The Court struck down Executive Order 105, and as a result, the statewide mask mandate has been eliminated. However, local mask mandates remain in place in counties, municipalities, on university properties, and on tribal lands…
In welcome news for renters across the country, the Centers for Disease Control have extended the current Eviction Moratorium, which was set to expire on Wednesday, until June 30th. Under the extended order, residential tenants cannot be evicted from their homes solely for non-payment of rent, provided they give their Landlords (or Landlord’s agent) a signed copy of the CDC Eviction Moratorium Declaration Form (link below). (Note also that tenants who previously provided their Landlords with the Declaration do not need to provide a second copy of the Declaration to take advantage of the “extended” Moratorium). According to some estimates…
On March 11, 2021, President Biden signed into law the next wave of COVID-19 relief, titled the American Rescue Plan Act of 2021 (ARPA). While ARPA’s $1.9 trillion in financial stimulus has taken the spotlight, the law also includes several changes that will impact retirement plans, most notably defined benefit pension plans. Funding Shortfall Amortization Extension ARPA permanently extends the shortfall amortization period from seven to 15 years. Additionally, ARPA permits plans to reamortize any previous funding shortfalls over the new 15-year window, which allows plan sponsors to decrease their near-term plan contributions. These changes are effective for the 2022…
  March 26, 2020 – COVID-19 vaccine eligibility now includes court system professionals, including judges, prosecutors, defense attorneys, victim witness coordinators, court clerks, and other individuals essential to in-person criminal court proceedings. However, according to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS), those who can work from home are asked to delay vaccination until May 1 or until supply is robust. The DHS website notes that public defenders were eligible March 1, because of their close contact with incarcerated individuals (who were eligible to receive vaccines March 1). How to Schedule a Vaccination Appointment Individuals who are interested in being…
The Internal Revenue Service is planning to delay the April 15 tax filing deadline as it grapples with a massive backlog of 24 million returns it has yet to process since the 2019 tax year. The agency is considering setting the filing deadline for either May 15 or May 17, but a decision has not been finalized. May 15 is a Saturday and the IRS typically delays filing deadlines that fall on a weekend or holiday to the next business day, so the final deadline for filers may be the following Monday–May 17. The filing extension would give taxpayers additional…
The American Rescue Plan Act of 2021, signed into law on March 11, 2021, establishes the “Restaurant Revitalization Fund” (RRF). The RRF earmarks $28.6 billion in grants to restaurants, breweries, bars, caterers and food trucks. The Small Business Administration (SBA) will administer the RRF and provide the grants, which are intended to cover a business’s total pandemic-related revenue losses. Timing Be ready to act fast: The SBA will award grants to eligible entities in the order that applications are received. Like the first round of the Paycheck Protection Program (PPP), there is expected to be a stampede of applicants when…
On February 25, 2021, Governor Evers signed 2021 Wisconsin Act 4, which became effective as of February 27, 2021.  In general, the new law takes a step toward modernizing Wisconsin’s unemployment system after more than a decade with no upgrades. In addition, the legislature took the opportunity to attach language as it relates to immunity for civil liability for COVID-19 exposure. The immunity-related language reflects compromises that were struck between the Evers administration and the legislature. Included in the new legislation is limited liability protection for businesses, schools, and churches when someone has been exposed to and contracted COVID-19. Now,…
On March 11, 2021, the Wisconsin Department of Health Services (DHS) announced the next eligible group for COVID-19 vaccinations. The group, designated Group 1c, extends vaccine eligibility to Wisconsin residents ages 16 and older with certain medical conditions that have a greater risk of severe infection from COVID-19. Such medical conditions include, but are not limited to, asthma, cancer, heart conditions, hypertension or high blood pressure, obesity (body mass index (BMI) of 30-39 kg/m2), overweight (BMI of 25-29 kg/m2), and Type 1 or 2 diabetes. The full list of medical conditions is available at: https://www.dhs.wisconsin.gov/covid-19/vaccine-about.htm. Group 1c is more…
Gov. Tony Evers signed Senate Bill 1 into law on February 26, 2021, which increases protection for Wisconsin employers from COVID-19-related civil liability. Specifically, the recently enacted law shields entities from civil liability for the death, injury or damages related to a COVID-19 infection of any individual, employee or patron who may have been infected because of an act or an omission through the entity’s performance of its functions or services. This civil immunity, however, does not extend to an entity’s “reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.” The law defines entities broadly to include partnerships, corporations, associations, governmental units,…
On February 25, 2021, Governor Tony Evers signed 2021 Wisconsin Act 4 (“Act”). The Act became effective on February 26, 2021. The Act, in part, created broad immunity to civil liability related to exposure of COVID-19 for companies under Wisconsin Statute section 895.476 (“Statute”). The full Act is available here. Worker’s compensation is still the exclusive remedy for employee claims against employers. The Statute provides civil immunity to companies for claims from individuals such as customers, vendors, and employee family members, related to death, injury or damages arising out of COVID-19 exposure. It protects schools and institutions of higher education…