At the January 2023 meeting of the Advisory Council, the Department presented the public testimony from the November 2022 public hearing. As has happened in the past, there was no discussion or examination of that testimony.

Note: Examination of the last three unemployment public hearings and the testimony provided in 2020, 2018, and 2016 are available: Recap of the 2020 public hearing, Advisory Council meeting — 17 Jan. 2019, and Winter work search concerns.

Here is what the official minutes of the January 2023 Advisory Council meeting state:

Ms. Knutson stated that the Public Hearing was held by WebEx on November 17, 2022, in afternoon and evening sessions. An email box was available for comments. Comments could also be sent by US mail.

Ms. Knutson stated that 40 people attended the WebEx meeting. Ms. Knutson stated that a summary of attendees’ comments can be found in members’ packets.

Mr. Gotzler asked if there were common themes.

Ms. Knutson stated common themes included UI benefit increases, the decrease of the duration of benefits, what constitutes a valid work search, and benefits for migrant workers.

The actual testimony of 47 pages and a summary table indicate that there were numerous, detailed concerns raised in this public testimony.

For instance, Barbara Santiago raised questions about why job centers were being closed rather than kept open in order to provide essential in-person claim-filing and job assistance to claimants. Ms. Santiago even pointed out the statutory requirements for keeping those job centers open. And, Ms. Santiago pushed for mis-classification penalties for workers to be expanded to all occupations from just construction trades right now.

Ann McNeary pointed out how job search requirements as implemented right now are ineffective and cumbersome. Harry Richardson explained that the claim-filing process is too confusing and complicated, that in-person support and hearings need to be re-instated, and that contracted out claim-filing support was more than problematic.

Jason Childress of Foley and Lardner and others from Spaulding Clinical pushed for laboratory test subjects to be excluded as employees (that the subjects in a laboratory test are NOT performing any services for pay for the laboratory).

An administrative law judge even pushed for the number of initial determinations, especially in concealment cases, be reduced so that filing an appeal is easier to do and understand. At present, not all initial determinations are being appealed, which is leading to conflicting decisions/issues that cannot easily be resolved.

Legal Action of Wisconsin presented lengthy and detailed concerns on numerous issues involving migrant workers, including work search requirements for workers expected to return to their same employer (see Winter work search concerns), access barriers to claim-filing are not computer problems at all, and denials of over-payment waivers where there is no claimant filing fault.

There were also complaints from a few employers — G&G Lumber, Greenscapes, State Theaters, and an astroturf entity called Wisconsin Independent Businesses — about job search requirements needing to be enforced more rigorously in order to push people from unemployment into the labor force. As noted for a group of bills again being proposed, these requirements already exist; the problem employers are having with hiring has nothing to do with unemployment — claim-filing set a new record low in 2022 and is on pace for another record low in 2023 — but with a labor force that is shrinking.

As with the prior public hearings, however, none of this testimony will apparently have any impact with the members of the Advisory Council. Sigh.