Graham Kilmer

Evers Vetoes GOP COVID-19 Bill

Senate abandons bipartisan legislation and includes provisions Evers promised to veto.

By - Feb 5th, 2021 05:12 pm
Governor Tony Evers addresses the media on April 16th. File photo from the Department of Health Services.

Governor Tony Evers addresses the media on April 16th. File photo from the Department of Health Services.

Since the start of the legislative session, Governor Tony Evers signaled to Republican lawmakers that he would veto any legislation aimed at repealing powers currently being used to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic, calling these provisions “poison pills”, and on Friday he did.

The legislation was a $100 million COVID-19 bill and it was the first piece of legislation sent to the Governor’s desk in more than 290 days. It represented a last minute reversal by the Republican-controlled Wisconsin State Senate after previously passing a compromise bill with bipartisan support.

In early January, COVID-19 related legislation was introduced in the Senate and Assembly that would have limited the powers of the Secretary of the Department of Health Services to respond to the COVID-19 with restrictions on public gatherings and made it illegal for employers to require their employees to receive the vaccine. Evers had indicated these provisions were a non-starter.

In order to secure adoption of the legislation, senate leadership compromised with the Evers administration on a bill which then passed on a bipartisan vote on January 12th. 

Then, after assembly Republicans amended the bill, restoring provisions that Evers was sure to veto, the Senate called an extraordinary session Friday morning and passed that version of the bill, reversing the effort at compromise.

“I am vetoing [the legislation] in its entirety because I object to the provisions in the bill that would make it more challenging to mitigate the impact of COVID-19 in Wisconsin,” Evers wrote in his signed veto of the bill, saying the legislation took away “existing tools available to public health officials and employers.”

Evers said the version of the bill that garnered bipartisan support was a “good faith effort at finding common ground.” And said, “While that version did not contain every provision that each side would have liked, it would have nevertheless moved Wisconsin forward in addressing many critical issues, including flexibilities for unemployment benefits.”

Republicans said Evers’ veto would cause the state to lose federal funds intended for reimbursing unemployment insurance claims. A provision of the bill contained a waiver of the one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits, and the Legislative Fiscal Bureau estimated that, without this waiver, the state would lose $1.3 million in federal reimbursement per week.

Prior to Evers’ veto, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu released a statement saying, “I don’t think the Governor could or would veto an issue of this magnitude. This is a true consensus bill that will greatly help the people of Wisconsin.”

Evers, in announcing his intention to veto the bill Friday, said “Wisconsinites know a compromise when they see one, and this isn’t it.”

Democrat and Senate Minority Leader Janet Bewley called the Senate’s actions Friday an “extraordinary failure.”

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Categories: Politics, Weekly

One thought on “Evers Vetoes GOP COVID-19 Bill”

  1. GodzillakingMKE says:

    Republicans created a political talking point for their blame Evers platform after trying to starve people and wanting to add to the 6000 + dead WInites.

    All to satiate their 30 % QOP base in the state.

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