MADISON – Following Governor Tony Evers’ annual State of the State address, Rep. Katrina Shankland (D–Stevens Point) released the following statement:

“We cannot begin a new year and open a new legislative session without taking stock of where we are today. This past year, including the COVID-19 pandemic, has brought serious challenges and hardships for so many individuals and families across our state. Today, we are still facing many of the same challenges, and there is a tremendous amount of work to do in order to fight this virus, support our communities, and get our economy and our state back on track. I appreciate that in tonight’s address, Governor Evers honored the difficulties folks are facing while underscoring our collective resiliency and charting a positive path forward together.

“I am especially glad that Governor Evers highlighted the need for broadband expansion, improvements to our unemployment system, and fair maps. I have worked on all three of these issues extensively in the Legislature, and I am eager to get to work to advance these shared priorities.

“This pandemic has made it exceedingly clear that we need reliable internet for communication, healthcare, work, education, and commerce now more than ever. I introduced legislation last session to increase funding for state broadband expansion grants, prioritize direct service to farmers, and improve our broadband mapping accuracy. I appreciate Governor Evers’ response to this urgent need for internet connectivity by declaring 2021 the Year of Broadband Access. His commitment to a significant investment in the state budget will be transformational to our quality of life.”

“Last year’s unprecedented spike in unemployment claims illuminated the urgent need for updates to our state’s unemployment system. I introduced a package of legislation with my Democratic colleagues last summer to make it easier to apply for unemployment insurance and help people access their benefits quicker. I strongly support Governor Evers’ attention to this need in calling a special session to modernize our unemployment system and prevent these issues from happening again.”

“Finally, everyone deserves the confidence of fair maps and fair representation. I have coauthored nonpartisan redistricting reform legislation every session I have served, and I am steadfast in my belief that voters should choose their representatives, not the other way around. I am pleased to see Governor Evers continuing to lead on this issue and appreciate his commitment to fair maps.”

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