Jessica Barrera, who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), lost her part-time job at Groome Transportation in Eau Claire, Wis., due to the pandemic. She filed multiple unemployment claims with the Wisconsin Department of Workforce Development, but was denied due to a state law barring the concurrent collection of federal SSDI and state unemployment insurance benefits. Courtesy of Jessica Barrera
Reading Time: 3 minutes

Disabled lose out on aid; MKE reflects on George Floyd killing; COVID-19 closings hobble bakery; dozen-plus dead in police incidents; voting barriers for tribal members


Of note: This week we highlight a story by Bram Sable-Smith of WPR. Sable-Smith found that because of a 2013 state law, people with disabilities in Wisconsin who lose their jobs cannot collect federal Pandemic Unemployment Assistance. Wisconsin is just one of two states in which workers on Social Security Disability Insurance — who are allowed to work part-time if they are able — cannot receive the same PUA payments that other unemployed workers get. Speaking of labor challenges, Jimmy Gutierrez of Wisconsin Watch’s News414 collaboration  brings us the story of a Milwaukee baker struggling to stay afloat amid the ongoing pandemic.

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Jessica Barrera, who receives Social Security Disability Insurance (SSDI), lost her part-time job at Groome Transportation in Eau Claire, Wis., due to the pandemic. Courtesy of Jessica Barrera

‘I cried for days’: Wisconsin blocks pandemic payments for federal disability aid recipients

WPR/Wisconsin Watch — June 1, 2020

A 2013 Wisconsin law prevents laid-off workers on federal disability from getting state unemployment. Now the state is denying them federal pandemic aid, too. Listen to Bram Sable-Smith discuss his story on WPR

Introducing Milwaukee entrepreneur and baker Adija Greer-Smith: ‘I’ve poured my life into this business’

WPR/Wisconsin Watch — June 2, 2020

Growing up on the northwest side of Milwaukee, Adija Greer-Smith saw plenty of lemonade stands but knew they weren’t for her. She was a baker. So she opened a cookie stand instead in her grandparents’ driveway. Now 40, and having just opened her bakery business in November 2018, Confectionately Yours, Greer-Smith was prepared for a lot of things to go wrong, but didn’t anticipate a pandemic. This is the latest installment in our Outbreak Wisconsin series in collaboration with WPR.

In their own words: Milwaukee reacts to death of George Floyd and protests

Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service — June 1, 2020

The death of George Floyd and the protests that have followed have forced yet another national conversation on race in America. Milwaukee Neighborhood News Service reached out to community members to hear their thoughts.

16 of the people who’ve lost their lives in police incidents in the past two decades in southeast Wisconsin Photo compilation courtesy of Milwaukee Journal Sentinel

Many people in southeast Wisconsin have lost their lives in police incidents. Here are 18.

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel — May 31, 2020

Southeastern Wisconsin has seen numerous high-profile officer-involved deaths over the past 20 years. Officers are rarely criminally charged for using force on duty. More often, cities are sued civilly, resulting in significant cost to taxpayers.

Electoral inequality for Native Americans detailed in expansive study

The Fulcrum — June 4, 2020

A new report sheds light on the barriers that Native Americans face in casting ballots. In northern Wisconsin, these voters sometimes find long drives and short hours at Division of Motor Vehicles offices to get licenses to meet the state’s photo ID requirement, the report found.

The nonprofit Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism (wisconsinwatch.org) collaborates with Wisconsin Public Radio, PBS Wisconsin, other news media and the UW-Madison School of Journalism and Mass Communication. All works created, published, posted or disseminated by the Center do not necessarily reflect the views or opinions of UW-Madison or any of its affiliates.

The byline "Wisconsin Watch" represents members of the Wisconsin Center for Investigative Journalism's editorial and public engagement and marketing staff.