Governor Evers signed the bill Wednesday just one hour after it passed the Senate 32-0 and a day after it passed the Assembly on a 97-2 vote.
It lifts a one-week waiting period for unemployment insurance in Wisconsin and requires health insurers to cover COVID-19 testing. It also bars insurers from discriminating against people who have or have had the virus.
The new law will also clear the way for Wisconsin to qualify for additional federal Medicaid funding made possible by the $2 trillion U.S. CARES Act that passed Congress last month.
“My pen has been waiting for weeks to sign legislation that guarantees Wisconsin will capture our fair share of federal dollars under the CARES Act and ensures workers experiencing unemployment and underemployment won’t be forced to wait an extra week for needed benefits to kick in,” Evers said in a statement Wednesday. “This bill is finally a step in the right direction, but there is much more work to be done.”
Senators debated the bill briefly Wednesday morning during a virtual session of the Senate. Most lawmakers participated over webcams, either from home or from their Capitol offices.
“This bill isn’t perfect and it might be the first bill of a number that we are going to have to pass in the Legislature, but it is timely, and I think it’s been well thought out and I think it will help,” said Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau. “Wisconsinites have endured great sacrifice and the measures that we have taken and that the governor has taken so far are working.