News of the Day

Governor Evers Signs Executive Order Advising Wisconsinites to Stay Home

Last night, Governor Tony Evers delivered a primetime address, calling for unity and working together in responding to the COVID-19 pandemic. The governor’s address comes as Wisconsin had yet another record-breaking day in COVID-19 cases, hospitalizations, and deaths.

As COVID-19 continues to surge across the state, Governor Evers announced Executive Order #94, which includes new measures to combat the spread of COVID-19. Executive Order #94 advises Wisconsinites to stay home, urges precautions Wisconsinites should take to stay safe if they have to leave their home, and encourages businesses to take additional steps to protect workers, customers, and the surrounding community

State Supreme Court to Hear Oral Arguments about Legislature’s Authority in Public Health Emergencies

The Wisconsin Supreme Court will hear oral arguments on November 16 regarding whether the state legislature can yield its power to the executive branch in the challenge to Governor Tony Evers’ Covid-19 emergency powers.

The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) has been granted time for oral arguments in the case of Fabick v. Evers, an original action before the state Supreme Court questioning whether Evers can issue multiple emergency orders for the same crisis, the continuing fight against the Covid-19 pandemic. According to WILL, the power to extend the emergency orders only belongs to the legislature.

Since the start of the Covid-19 pandemic, Evers has issued three emergency orders that have been challenged in court.

The first order was the shut down of bars, restaurants and other “non-essential” businesses earlier this year. The Evers Administration’s attempt to extended that emergency order was shot down 5-4 in a state Supreme Court decision in a lawsuit brought by WILL.

The emergency order that authorized the statewide mask mandate is before the Wisconsin Supreme Court now in Fabick v. Evers. WILL had filed their own separate lawsuit, but their case was put on hold and they were invited to file an amicus brief in the Fabick case.

A third emergency order limiting occupancy for bars and restaurants to 25% was defeated at the Appeals Court level on Friday. The order, which also expired on Friday, was placed on hold by the Appeals Court in October pending the final outcome of the case.

Pfizer’s Early Data Shows Vaccine is More Than 90% Effective

The drug maker Pfizer announced on Monday that an early analysis of its coronavirus vaccine trial suggested the vaccine was robustly effective in preventing Covid-19.

Pfizer, which developed the vaccine with the German drugmaker BioNTech, released only sparse details from its clinical trial, based on the first formal review of the data by an outside panel of experts.

The company said that the analysis found that the vaccine was more than 90 percent effective in preventing the disease among trial volunteers who had no evidence of prior coronavirus infection. If the results hold up, that level of protection would put it on par with highly effective childhood vaccines for diseases such as measles. No serious safety concerns have been observed, the company said.

Pfizer plans to ask the Food and Drug Administration for emergency authorization of the two-dose vaccine later this month, after it has collected the recommended two months of safety data. By the end of the year it will have manufactured enough doses to immunize 15 to 20 million people, company executives have said.

U.S. Department of Labor Announces Last Payable Week of Extended UI Benefits in Wisconsin is November 7

The Department of Workforce Development (DWD) was recently notified by the United States Department of Labor (USDOL) that Wisconsin has met the criteria for turning off the Unemployment Insurance (UI) Extended Benefits (EB) program. The last payable week of EB is November 7, 2020.

According to the USDOL, “Wisconsin’s 13-week insured unemployment rate (IUR) for the week ending October 10, 2020, was 4.87 percent, falling below the 5.00 percent threshold necessary to remain “on” EB. Therefore, the EB period for Wisconsin ended on November 7, 2020 and the State will remain in an “off” period for a minimum of 13 weeks.”

DWD expects to complete system programming for the EB program in December. Once complete, eligible claimants will be paid for the weeks in which they qualify for the benefit retroactively.

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State Supreme Court Won’t Weigh Reinstating Wisconsin Capacity Limits

Wednesday, the Supreme Court of Wisconsin voted not to consider whether to reinstate the governor’s order that limited indoor capacity and imposed gathering restrictions.

The order, which Gov. Tony Evers issued in October, is not currently in effect. Gov. Evers noted Wednesday that the back-and-forth is only hurting the state’s ability to get the virus under control.

Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul had asked the state’s highest court to consider reinstating the order, which caps indoor public gatherings at 25% occupancy or 10 people if an occupancy restriction is not in place.

The order was blocked by the 3rd District Court of Appeals in October after Pro-Life Wisconsin and a bar in Amery appealed a circuit court judge’s decision to uphold the capacity limit.

The decision stemmed from a lawsuit filed against the state by the Tavern League of Wisconsin. The governor’s chief legal counsel, Ryan Nilsestuen, said he plans to appeal Wednesday’s outcome.

U.S. Enlists Pharmacy Chains to Vaccinate Against Coronavirus

More than a dozen retail pharmacy chains have agreed to partner with the federal government to serve as COVID-19 vaccination sites under a plan developed by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.

Walgreens Boots Alliance Inc., CVS Health Corp., Walmart Inc., Kroger Co., Publix Super Markets Inc., and Costco Wholesale Corp. are among the companies that have agreed to participate, according to the CDC plan issued Friday.

The information was contained in an updated “interim playbook” the CDC prepared for states, territories, and local governments readying vaccination programs.

The playbook sketches out how Covid-19 shots would get to hospitals, clinics, and other vaccination sites, starting with initial supplies for health-care workers and others at high risk of infection.

Pharmacies would become involved during a second phase of vaccine rollout. The pharmacies would order the Covid-19 vaccines from the federal government, which would then supply them, according to the CDC’s plan. The pharmacies’ involvement would help expand and accelerate the public’s access to the shots as supplies increase, the CDC said.

Evers Administration Petitions Supreme Court for Expedited Review of Limits on Indoor Public Gatherings Order

The Evers administration is asking the state Supreme Court to take over a challenge to the limits on indoor public gatherings, arguing the case involves “immediate, life-threatening public health conditions.”

The 3rd District Court of Appeals last week placed the order on hold as it reviews a circuit court judge’s ruling that had upheld the order.

At the heart of that case is a dispute over whether the Evers administration should’ve issued the limits on public, indoor gatherings through the administrative rules process, which gives lawmakers oversight of agency actions.

In May, the state Supreme Court in a 4-3 ruling overturned an extended stay-at-home order, finding it should’ve been issued through the administrative rules process.

But DOJ argued that ruling didn’t address a statute giving the DHS secretary the power to close “schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics.”

DOJ argued the limits on public, indoor gatherings were issued under that statute and the court needs to clarify whether its May ruling applies to that provision in state law as well.

It also argued the case would eventually end up before the justices anyway, regardless of what the 3rd District decides.


U.S. GDP Booms at 33.1% Rate in Q3, Better than Expected

Third-quarter gross domestic product, a measure of the total goods and services produced in the July-to-September period, expanded at a 33.1% annualized pace, according to the department’s initial estimate for the period.

The gain came after a 31.4% plunge in the second quarter and was better than the 32% estimate from economists surveyed by Dow Jones. The previous post-World War II record was the 16.7% burst in the first quarter of 1950.

Q3 growth came amid a resurgence in consumer activity, which accounts for 68% of GDP. Though most of the country remained in a cautious reopening, shoppers began returning to stores and the bar and restaurant industry entered the first tepid phase of resuming business despite restrictions on capacity.

Personal consumption increased 40.7%, while gross private domestic investment surged 83% amid a 59.3% increase on the residential side.

IRS Releases New Individual Income Tax Brackets for 2021

The IRS on Monday released the updated tax brackets for the 2021 filing season, which have been modified to reflect inflation.

Taxpayers fall into one of seven brackets: 10%, 12%, 22%, 24%, 32%, 35% and 37%. While those rates will remain unchanged in 2021, the tax brackets have been indexed to keep pace with cost-of-living adjustments.

These rates are in effect for 2021 and will be used to prepare your tax returns in 2022. You can find the tax brackets for 2020 here.

The IRS has also increased the standard deduction — a flat dollar amount that reduces the amount of your income that’s subject to taxes — for 2021. For individuals and married couples filing separately, the deduction rose to $12,550, up $150 from this year. For married couples filing jointly, the deduction jumped to $25,100, an increase of $300.

Heads of households will also see an increase in their standard deduction next year: $18,800, up $150 from this year.

Senate Confirms Judge Amy Coney Barrett to Supreme Court

The United States Senate voted 52-48 on Monday night to confirm Amy Coney Barrett to the Supreme Court in a move that makes the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals judge and Notre Dame law professor the third appointment to the high court by President Trump.

The last president to nominate three new justices to the Supreme Court was Ronald Reagan.

Monday’s vote marked the end of a confirmation process that lasted less than 40 days from when late Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg died to when her successor, Barrett, was confirmed.

Justice Clarence Thomas administered the Constitutional Oath to Barrett at the White House on Monday night, while Chief Justice will administer the Judicial Oath to her in a private ceremony at the Court on Tuesday.