Gov. Tony Evers moved quickly yesterday to declare a new public health emergency shortly after the Assembly voted to overturn one he issued earlier this year. The governor’s new order also includes a mask mandate similar to the ones he's put in place since late summer. Yesterday afternoon, the Assembly voted 52-42 to overturn the public health declaration Evers issued last month. With the vote finished, GOP legislative leaders need to sign the resolution before it takes effect. The signing is expected to happen today. State Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) called for court intervention, “…we urge the Supreme Court of Wisconsin to end this constitutional crisis.” The last case to be asked to be heard by WI Supreme Court was an issue of Dane County’s order 11 restricting inside gatherings to 10 and outside to 25. WI Supreme Court did not take up the matter. As such, parties need to take it up at the circuit court level first.
Republicans in the Assembly initially held off on taking action on the Joint Resolution because termination of the public health emergency would have jeopardized enhanced federal funding for the FoodShare program. To alleviate these concerns, the Assembly passed an additional amendment to Assembly Bill 1, the COVID-19 relief bill, and then sent it back to the State Senate.
State Senate to Meet Today on AB 1 - COVID-relief and Liability Protection:
Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) announced the State Senate will convene today to concur in the change the Assembly made to AB 1. Therefore, AB 1's current legislative saga will draw to a close and the bill will be sent to Governor Evers' desk. AB 1 contains COVID-related death or injury liability protection for entities, which is one of WBA's top priorities for this session. The bill creates immunity from civil liability for a COVID-19-related injury or death, except in the case of reckless or wanton conduct or intentional misconduct.
Local Programs, Mental Health included in Evers’ Agricultural Budget Priorities
Early this morning, Governor Evers announced his plan to invest $43 million in Wisconsin’s agriculture as part of his 2021-23 biennial budget proposal. His budget is “aimed at expanding market opportunities, supporting new and innovative farming practices, strengthening the agricultural workforce, and connecting local producers to food banks and pantries, and supporting farmer mental health and wellbeing.” The state Governor’s Budget Address is scheduled for Tuesday, February 16.