Assembly Republicans tell Gov. Evers they’re open to limited mask requirements

MADISON, Wis. — As Wisconsin’s state legislature prepares to throw out Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order issuing a statewide mask mandate, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is issuing a message to the governor: try it a different way.

In a letter delivered to the governor Friday morning before an Assembly floor session to vote on the resolution to throw out the emergency order, Vos and other Republicans in the Assembly said their resolution is not about eliminating a mask mandate in the state, but enforcing state law.

Republicans say the governor is well within his rights to issue an emergency order lasting for 60 days, but claim he violated the law by extending the order without the approval of the Legislature.

In the letter to the governor, Vos and Assembly Republicans say they’re willing to work with the governor on reinstituting a mask mandate through the legislative rules-making process. They note the Legislature does not have the power itself to introduce rules for adoption — only the governor does.

With that in mind, they proposed a set of rules to Gov. Evers they say they would be willing to consider:

1. Enact reasonable masking requirements in places in Wisconsin that are susceptible to transmission of the virus to those who are especially vulnerable, such as health care facilities, nursing homes, mass transit, state government buildings, assisted living facilities, public schools, universities, and prisons.

2. Allow any private or public entity in the state that would like to require face masking to be allowed to do so on their property.

3. Require the Department of Health Services to pay for COVID-19 tests that anyone may take, free of charge, paid for by the state of Wisconsin.

4. The rules would be in place and reviewed by JCRAR every 30 days for any necessary modifications and would stay in place until a majority of eligible Wisconsinites are voluntarily vaccinated.

“If you send the rules to our chamber, we give you our assurance that they will be reviewed fairly and judiciously,” Assembly Republicans said in the letter.

They say their goal would be to have the rules go into effect before the Assembly’s floor period this month so there is no gap when the governor’s emergency order is overturned.