GOP Hasn’t Interfered With Mask Mandate
They've criticized it, but for now they've left it alone.
It’s been two weeks since Gov. Tony Evers issued his statewide mask mandate — and at least so far, there’s been no effort to repeal it.
Evers issued the order on July 30 using a state law that grants Wisconsin governors the power to declare public health emergencies. Wisconsin Republicans attacked the move almost immediately, calling it an abuse of power.
Under the law Evers used, a public health emergency lasts up to 60 days unless it’s repealed by a simple majority vote by the full state Legislature. It’s a different law than the one the Evers administration used to issue Wisconsin’s stay-at-home order earlier this year. That order, issued by Department of Health Services Secretary Andrea Palm, was struck down by conservatives on the Wisconsin Supreme Court.
Soon after Evers issued his order, state Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, called on GOP leaders to reconvene the Legislature to repeal it. The next day, Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, said Republicans “stand ready to convene the body to end the Governor’s order, which includes the mask mandate.”
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, said public health decisions should be left to local governments, and said he thought the governor’s mandate would face legal challenges “from citizen groups.”
Two weeks later, neither house of the Legislature has met to vote on the governor’s order, and spokespersons for Fitzgerald and Vos did not respond to emails Wednesday about whether the Legislature would meet.
There’s also been no lawsuit filed against the order.
The conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty, which has often taken Evers to court, believes the governor’s order is illegal, but said it had “no update” when asked Wednesday if it was planning litigation.
While there’s no shortage of topics for voters to consider in the 2020 election, repealing the mask mandate could have political implications as Republicans look to expand their majorities in the Legislature and Democrats try to stop them. A poll released this week by Marquette University found 69 percent of Wisconsin voters favor mandatory masks, including 71 percent of self-described independents.
Listen to the WPR report here.
Two Weeks Later, Wisconsin’s Mask Mandate Remains In Place was originally published by Wisconsin Public Radio.
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