(WRN) - With roughly half its members present in the Capitol, and the other half participating via video conference, the Wisconsin Assembly on Tuesday passed a bipartisan COVID-19 relief package. It marked the first-ever “virtual” session in the history of the Wisconsin legislature.

Representatives present in the Assembly chamber practiced social distancing by sitting 6 feet apart. Some wore masks as did several staffers did.

The bill (AB 1038), passed on a 97-2 vote. Milwaukee Democrats, Representatives Jonathan Brostoff and Marisabel Cabrera voted no.

Speaker Robin Vos and Minority Leader Gordon Hintz each spoke for about 20 minutes, and were the only members to speak on a measure which under normal circumstances would have drawn hours of debate.

The bill now moves to the Senate where it’s expected to pass during a virtual session Wednesday.

Most of the package allows the state to spend more than $2 billion in federal aid coming to Wisconsin after President Donald Trump signed a federal stimulus bill last month.

It also allows the state to get more money for Medicaid, unemployment benefits and authorizes the Joint Committee on Finance to use $75 million for emergency purposes, if needed, 90 days after the public health emergency is lifted.


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