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Evers Administration Withdraws Coronavirus Rule Plan

Governor Makes Decision Amid Opposition From GOP Lawmakers Who Control Rulemaking Process

Wisconsin state capitol
A file photo of the state Capitol Building’s rotunda. Joseph (CC-BY-NC-SA)

Gov. Tony Evers’ administration has withdrawn its outline for a new emergency rule to manage the coronavirus pandemic in Wisconsin, which was attacked by Republicans last week.

One day after the state Supreme Court struck down an extension of the Evers administration’s statewide “Safer at Home” order, the state Department of Health Services proposed an outline for a new rule using a process that effectively gives the GOP-controlled state Legislature veto power.

The outline stated the rule could “re-articulate” parts of the stay-at-home order on a statewide level.

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The Legislature’s rules committee has final say on any emergency rule. Last Friday, committee co-chairman Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, demanded Evers withdraw the outline.

“The DHS Scope Statement leaves little doubt that Secretary-Designee Palm is no longer acting in a lawful capacity by circumventing the Supreme Court ruling and once again trying to improperly take control of the daily lives of every Wisconsin citizen,” Nass said in a statement.

DHS, led by DHS Secretary Andrea Palm, notified legislative leaders Monday it was pulling the outline. On a call with reporters Monday, Evers said it was obvious that the plan would not be adopted.

“The Republicans made it very clear that they don’t believe a statewide approach is the right way to go,” he said.

Evers added that withdrawing the scoping document does not mark “the end of conversation” between his administration and Republicans.

“It just doesn’t make a lot of sense doing something that we know isn’t going to be successful,” Evers said. “Do I wish we had a different outcome? Hell yes. The Supreme Court took care of that, and they’re the court of the land and we will move on in an appropriate way.”

Evers said his administration would focus on contact tracing and testing going forward.