Government

On July 30, 2020, Governor Tony Evers issued Emergency Order #1 (the “Order”) requiring every individual in Wisconsin, aged 5 and older, to wear “Face Coverings” except in limited circumstances. This mandate, effective August 1, 2020, and continuing through September 30, 2020, requires Face Coverings be worn in Wisconsin when an individual is both: Indoors or in an Enclosed Space (excluding private residences), and Another person or persons is present (who are not members of individual’s household or living unit) in the same room or Enclosed Space. The Order applies to public and private places of employment. There are a…
Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers on July 30, 2020, issued an Emergency Order (Order) requiring every individual in the state of Wisconsin, age five and older, to wear face coverings when indoors. As discussed below, some exceptions, however, may apply to employees in certain situations. Specifically, individuals covered by the Order must wear a face covering when: They are indoors or in an enclosed space (as defined in the order), other than a private residence; and Another person or persons who are not members of the individual’s household or living unit are present in the same room or enclosed space. Employees…
A power of attorney is a document that allows someone to appoint an agent to act on their behalf in the event that they become incapacitated or unable to make decisions on their own. These documents relate to financial and healthcare matters. One of the greatest benefits of a power of attorney is that it allows the agent to act quickly in a crisis. Having your college-age children sign a power of attorney for healthcare and finances is a simple way to prepare for an emergency. During the particularly grim months of the COVID-19 pandemic, we are so often reminded…
Beginning on Friday, July, 24, 2020 at 11:59 p.m., face coverings must be worn in Minnesota by all persons at indoor businesses, indoor public settings, and by workers outside when social distancing practices cannot be followed. Businesses are required to update their COVID-19 Preparedness Plans to include this requirement, inform their workers of this update, and make the revised plan available. Additionally, businesses must post one or more signs that will be visible to all workers, customers, and visitors instructing them to wear a face covering. Specific industry guidance is available at the Stay Safe Minnesota website. Businesses must provide…
July 20, 2020 – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled in favor of healthcare providers who challenged a Wisconsin Department of Health Services’ (DHS) Medicaid recoupment policy, restricting DHS’s ability to recoup payments for imperfect records. Medicaid provides free or low-cost healthcare for vulnerable populations, including the elderly, people with disabilities, and pregnant women. The federal government provides financial assistance to Wisconsin’s Medicaid program. DHS must reimburse providers “for medically necessary and appropriate health care services … when provided to currently eligible medical assistance recipients.” Under federal law, DHS must audit provider records, if necessary, to ensure proper payments. DHS…
Last week, the DOL announced new Family Medical Leave Act forms were available on its website. (Note these forms are not applicable to the “Expanded FMLA” available under the Family First Coronavirus Response Act. Please don’t tell me you have no idea what I am talking about… ) The Department clarified, as with the previous forms, that these forms are optional. However, this writer strongly recommends using these forms to make sure you are not seeking more information than authorized by federal law. Also, the new forms are easier to read and drafted so that health care providers can quickly…
July 9, 2020 – After former Gov. Scott Walker’s 2018 election defeat, the legislature enacted – and Gov. Walker signed – two major laws impacting the power and authority of the legislative and executive branches. Today, the state supreme court largely upheld them. Several labor organizations and individual taxpayers facially challenged 2017 Wisconsin Act 369 and 2017 Wisconsin Act 370, which require legislative approval of settlements by the attorney general and limits rulemaking authority, among many other provisions. Today, in SEIU v. Vos, 2020 WI 67, the Wisconsin Supreme Court issued two majority opinions, with concurrences and dissents…
In Milwaukee Block 10 Properties v. City of Milwaukee, the Wisconsin Court of Appeals reaffirmed two key principles in its reversal of a circuit court decision which ordered the City of Milwaukee to revise its property tax assessment for the Aloft Hotel. First, Wisconsin affords substantial deference to property tax assessments prepared by municipalities. Property assessments enjoy a presumption of correctness which can rebutted only if the challenging party can present significant contrary evidence or is able to demonstrate that the municipality failed to apply the principles of the Property Assessment Case Manual.[1] Second, when a stream of…
The Wisconsin Court of Appeals recently held that Wisconsin law precludes enforcement of a provision in an insurance policy that purported to limit underinsured motorist (“UIM”) coverage to only those insureds who sustain bodily injury or death. Ryan Johnson died from injuries sustained in a collision involving an underinsured vehicle. Johnson’s minor son, Elliot Brey, filed a claim against State Farm—his mother’s automobile insurance carrier—seeking to recover damages resulting from his father’s wrongful death. State Farm refused to compensate Elliot, relying on a clause in the policy’s UIM provision that limited damages to bodily injury suffered by an insured. State…
Title VII is the portion of the federal Civil Rights Act that prohibits employers from discriminating on the basis of race, color, religion, sex, and national origin. It was first adopted by Congress in 1964. Last week, in a 6-3 ruling, the U.S. Supreme Court interpreted Title VII to prohibit discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and transgender status. The Court’s ruling in Bostock v. Clayton County, 590 U.S. (2020), consolidated three decisions from different federal Courts of Appeals involving claims brought by employees fired either because of sexual orientation or transgender status. The Court’s analysis began with…
Last week Governor Evers announced a $200 million program for local leaders entitled “Routes to Recovery: Local Government Aid Grants.” The program intends to address Wisconsin communities’ urgent and unique situations surrounding COVID-19 recovery. Funded by federal CARES Act dollars, these grants are in addition to the $1 billion in state-wide COVID-19 related aid that includes free test kits, personal protective equipment, contact tracing, public testing sites and other resources. Routes to Recovery grants will be allocated by the Wisconsin Department of Administration. Of the $200 million, $10 million will be directed to Wisconsin’s tribal nations, and the remainder will…
During the Covid19 pandemic, there is uncertainty as to what will happen with the start of the 2020-21 school year in approximately three months. Parents may have unease about their children returning to a classroom as we wait for the development of a vaccine. Wisconsin offers the option of attendance with a virtual charter school. Charter Schools in Wisconsin All charter schools in Wisconsin are “public, nonsectarian schools created through a business-like contract of ‘charter’ between the charter governance board and the sponsoring school board or other chartering authority.”1 Charter schools are created with the best elements of regular…
Recently the Court of Appeals released an opinion holding that municipal pier regulations enacted pursuant to Wis. Stat. § 30.13(2) cannot be applied to a pier that qualifies for a state permit exemption under Wis. Stat. § 30.12(1g)(f).  As a result, the Court of Appeals reversed the trial court’s decision in order to rule in favor of the pier owner.  In this case, the pier owner was represented by Stafford in conjunction with Attorney Adam Jarchow of Jarchow Law, LLC. The case arose when Sunflower Properties (“Sunflower”) built a pier on Tomahawk Lake in 2015, after consultation with the County. …
The Seventh Circuit has weighed in on the highly publicized advertising dispute between beer giants Molson Coors and Anheuser-Busch.  See Molson Coors Beverage Company v. Anheuser-Busch Companies, LLC, Nos. 19-2200, 19-2713, 19-2782, 19-3097 & 19-3116 (7th Cir. May 1, 2020). In early 2019, Anheuser-Busch began advertising that Miller Lite and Coors Light use corn syrup as a source of sugar that yeast ferments into alcohol, whereas Bud Light uses rice.  Molson Coors (then MillerCoors) claimed the ads created the false impression that its beers actually contain corn syrup.  As a result, Molson Coors brought suit in federal district court…
On May 1, 2020, Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul reversed his predecessor’s opinion prohibiting the Department of Natural Resources (“DNR”) from considering the cumulative impacts of high capacity wells[1] on waters of the state.  The events leading up to this reversal are critical to understanding the current and future effects of this new Attorney General Opinion. Wisconsin’s Constitution mandates that the state has jurisdiction over all navigable waters in the state and that navigable waters shall be “forever free.”  Wis. Const. Art. 9 § 1.  Courts applying this constitutional principle have imposed upon the state an affirmative duty to…
State and local governments have a variety of powers. They can take private property for public use, but they have to fairly compensate the property owner. They can also use their police power—a broad array of authority to protect public health and safety—to regulate the use of property. The Wisconsin Court of Appeals’ recent decision in United America v. Wisconsin Department of Transportation, 2018AP2383 (Wis. Ct. App. April 28, 2020), illustrates the limited damages available to property owners when governments exercise police powers. The state, local governments, and certain corporate entities may use eminent domain (also known as condemnation)…