The Tiffany Telegram: August 28, 2020
Like you, I was troubled by the chaos and lawlessness that we saw unfold this week in Kenosha. We watched devastated business owners and families start to pick up the pieces in the wake of riots and property damage perpetrated by extremists looking for an opportunity to loot and destroy.
It was also disappointing to see some officials immediately attack the motives of local law enforcement – even while admitting that they do not know the details about what actually happened. This unfortunate lack of leadership and refusal to confront criminals is fanning the flames of unrest and leaving hardworking people to choose between becoming victims or taking drastic steps to defend their own homes and businesses.
Our thoughts and prayers are with the Kenosha community, and I hope that we can work together in the coming weeks to provide first responders and law enforcement with the resources they need to restore order and protect law-abiding Americans from senseless mob violence.
In this week’s Telegram we will take a look at:
- Bridging the digital divide in rural Wisconsin
- Working for Wisconsin dairy
- Protecting wildlife
- Central Wisconsin Airport improvements
- Supporting better services for veterans
- Our latest COVID update
- Data on lockdowns and school closures from across the pond
Bridging the digital divide
Expanding access to broadband has been among my top priorities for many years. This week I signed on to two bills designed to help bridge the digital divide in rural Wisconsin. The Gigabit Opportunity Act would establish opportunity zones in low income communities to provide tax incentives for investments of broadband projects to help expand broadband access. I also threw my support behind the Broadband Interagency Coordination Act, which would cut through red tape by directing federal agencies to coordinate resources for broadband deployment. Bills like this will help develop our rural broadband capabilities and will continue to explore ways to improve broadband access in our Northwoods.
Working for Wisconsin dairy
This week, I backed two important, bipartisan bills that will help support Wisconsin’s world-famous dairy industry. The first is the CURD Act, which will ensure that only cheese produced with animal milk or dairy ingredients can be labeled as “cheese,” making sure that consumers know they are getting the real thing – not a processed imitation – when they are shopping for our top-quality products. The other bill is the Whole Milk for Healthy Kids Act. This would allow schools that are part of the National School Lunch Program to serve whole milk to students. We produce great whole milk here in Wisconsin and allowing that to be served in schools not only benefits our dairy farmers but also schoolchildren.
Protecting Wisconsin wildlife
This week, I joined other members of Wisconsin’s congressional delegation in sending a letter to USDA in support of Wisconsin’s application for Chronic Wasting Disease (CWD) Management and Response Activities. CWD is something that has devastated deer herds in our state, both captive and wild, so it is important we take action to address this issue. I have also cosponsored bipartisan legislation to help state and tribal agencies manage the CWD issue and promote more research into this pathogen. Deer are a common sight here in our district and are a valuable resource for our state’s vibrant hunting industry, and it is important that we work together to protect it.
Central Wisconsin Airport improvements
This week we are pleased to announce a $13 million grant to CWA for taxiway upgrades. Maintaining dependable and reliable air travel facilities is a critical link that allows Wisconsin businesses and commerce to stay connected with their customers around the country and beyond.
Supporting better services for Veterans
We are working to reach out to all of our County Veterans Service Officers (CVSO) in the district to offer any support. So far we have heard back from a few of them and are helping to address concerns and improve access to federal Department of Veterans Affairs programs. My staff has been holding mobile office hours throughout the district and, in conjunction with the Price County CVSO, are planning an office hours session at the VFW Post in Phillips, WI on September 1, 2020 from 9:00 AM to 12:00 PM. Our veterans are an important and integral part of our communities and we are eternally grateful for their service and sacrifice. As we continue to work closely with the CVSOs, we can create a stronger support network for our veterans and make meaningful strides to ensure that those who have served receive the care and benefits they deserve. I encourage all veterans to reach out to their respective CVSO’s with any concerns you may have, and to contact my offices if we can help in any way.
Tom attends the Camp Victory Open House in Willard, WI.
The number of cases we are seeing in the Northwoods has begun to decline with fewer cases being reported each day even as testing capabilities increase. Additionally, the number of fatalities in Northern Wisconsin continues to remain in the single digits for nearly every county in our congressional district. Our hospitals are seeing decreased numbers of COVID patients requiring ICU care, and the availability of ICU beds continues to remain adequate should there be an unexpected uptick of patients in the future. We currently have five community testing sites in the district, four of which are located at Marshfield Clinic facilities. We are grateful to our providers across the Northwoods who have worked to expand their services to provide drive-thru testing and rapid response testing to those who require more immediate care.
Data on school closures and lockdowns from across the pond
A recent study conducted by Public Health England (PHE) is the latest study to make the case for returning to in-classroom instruction. The PHE analysis found that just 0.01% of “open educational settings” had an outbreak of coronavirus, that children were less likely to contract the virus at school than at home, and that transmission between students was rare. The results prompted England’s Chief Medical Officer to note that kids are more likely to be “harmed by not going [to school] than by going, even during this pandemic”. You can read more about the PHE study here.
In another report from the U.K., Dr. Mark Woolhouse, an infectious disease advisor to the British government admitted that wide-scale, government-imposed closures have been a mistake. “Lockdown was a panic measure and I believe history will say trying to control Covid-19 through lockdown was a monumental mistake on a global scale, the cure was worse than the disease,” Woolhouse said. “I never want to see national lockdown again…We absolutely should never return to a position where children cannot play or go to school. I believe the harm lockdown is doing to our education, health care access, and broader aspects of our economy and society will turn out to be at least as great as the harm done by Covid-19."
Here at home, there are steps Congress can take to help with a speedy and safe reopening of our classrooms, and I am committed to doing my part to support that effort. As you know from prior newsletters, that includes proposing legislation to prioritize federal resources for schools that re-open for in-person instruction, and support for common-sense liability protections to prevent trial lawyers from targeting our community schools with junk lawsuits during the pandemic.
Tom discusses school reopening plans with Hayward Community Schools Superintendent, Craig Olson, in Hayward, WI.
In case you missed it…
Last week we saw a great story out of Wausau that we wanted to share about a photographer who noticed that kids aren’t seeing people smile anymore thanks to the mask mandate. So she is snapping photos of people’s grins and putting them into buttons folks can wear. You can read more about that project here. We hope it makes you smile.
This month, my office is holding mobile office hours across the district. One of our office representatives will be available to answer questions and assist with constituent casework. Our next office hours will be held:
Monday, August 31, 2020
10:00am to 12:00pm
Our Place Café
1233 2nd Ave
Cumberland, WI 54829
In addition to my Wausau and Washington, DC offices, you can reach my staff located in various parts of the district by phone in the location most convenient to you (Note: These lines have 202 area codes as they are connected directly through the US House of Representatives system in Washington, DC):
Hayward: (202) 510-2790
P.O. Box 586
Hayward, WI 54843
Hudson: (202) 510-8993
Tomahawk: (202) 738-6508
Coronavirus Response Resources
The USDA continues to make resources and assistance available to agricultural producers and working families to ensure access, safety and stability for food markets and supplies.
The USDA also continues to accept applications for assistance under the Coronavirus Food Assistance Program (CFAP) through September 11, 2020 to assist farmers and ranchers who have been adversely affected by price instability, supply-chain problems and cost spikes. You can learn more about how this program applies to soybeans, dairy, corn, livestock and a variety of other agricultural products here, and a useful fact sheet on the program can be viewed here.
Small businesses can also apply for assistance through the Economic Injury and Disaster Loan program. This program provides economic relief to businesses that are currently experiencing a temporary loss of revenue as a result of the pandemic.
And once again, remember to make sure that you and your family are counted in the census. Please be sure to visit 2020census.gov to learn more.
If a friend forwarded you this newsletter, and you would like to receive it in the future, you can sign up here, and don’t forget to connect with me on Twitter, Facebook, and Instagram.
As always, you are welcome to visit my website or to contact my offices in Washington, DC or Wisconsin, which remain open for service, if you have any questions or need assistance.
Member of Congress