Gov. Evers calls for special session on farm bills, talks plans for executive orders in State of the State address

Gov. Tony Evers announced many changes coming to the state this year in his annual State of the State address, calling for a special session and new commissions.

The special session is part of a three-part plan on rural and agriculture revitalization.

“We have not forgotten those who have shared the harvest and bounty, feeding our families, our communities, our state, and our country for more than a century,” Evers said. “Tonight, we say that we are ready to be a partner in the promise of posterity.”

He expects lawmakers to take up a package of bills on dairies and farms, though Republicans said they have not seen the details.

“We’re all looking at ways to do better when it comes to ag,” said Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald. “There’s been a number of proposals in the legislature, but I’m all ears on what the governor has to offer.”

Evers called for a new program to get farmers access to mental health services, as well as expansions to the Farm Center, increased staffing at University of Wisconsin Extension, a Farm-to-Fork program to connect farmers to buyers and the creation of an Office of Rural Prosperity in the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation. Evers also said he would “make good” on his campaign promise to create a blue-ribbon commission on agriculture and rural economic prosperity.

The governor announced he will sign two executive orders, one creating a task force on student debt, and the other creating a nonpartisan, citizen-filled redistricting commission.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, questioned the constitutionality of the latter order.

“The constitution requires the legislature to actually have a process,” he said. “We will do that when the time is right, but … Governor Evers is trying again to find a way to draw divisions in our state rather than bringing people together by actually sitting at the table and working together.”

Read what other lawmakers thought of the governor’s State of the State address here.