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27 Wisconsin Republicans Back Resolution To Throw Out Mask Mandate

Joint Resolution Would Nullify Gov. Tony Evers' Latest Emergency Order

The statue on top of the Wisconsin State Capitol
Wisconsin state Capitol. Angela Major/WPR

More than two dozen GOP lawmakers have signed on to a resolution that would end Wisconsin’s statewide mask mandate.

The resolution, which was introduced Thursday, could be voted on as early as next week. It echoes a familiar refrain from Republican state lawmakers over the past several months: Gov. Tony Evers has overstepped his executive powers by continuing to issue statewide mandates during the COVID-19 pandemic.

“It is incumbent upon the three branches of government to act as checks on one another’s power … so as to protect the governed from abusive government,” the resolution reads.

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The measure was introduced by Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and Sen. Julian Bradley, R-Franklin.

“These overreaching mask mandates from @GovEvers must stop,” Bradley said this week in a tweet. “I’m ready to vote to end them now.”

Other notable sponsors of the proposal include Senate President Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, and the chair of the Senate health committee, Sen. Patrick Testin, R-Stevens Point. The leaders of the Senate and Assembly, Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, and Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, are not listed as co-sponsors.

The leaders did not immediately respond to requests for comment about the resolution’s prospects in either chamber.

Republicans have filed lawsuits, including one currently pending before the state Supreme Court, to limit and strike down the governor and his administration’s emergency powers during the pandemic, but they have thus far stopped short of using legislative powers to halt public health orders.

Under state law, a joint resolution approved by both the state Senate and Assembly has the power to overrule any emergency declaration from the governor. Republicans hold a 60-38 majority in the Assembly and a 20-12 majority in the Senate.

Evers issued the first state emergency declaration related to the pandemic in March and has since issued four more emergency declarations.

The governor’s office was quick to denounce the proposed resolution Friday.

“While Gov. Evers works to keep Wisconsinites healthy and safe and distribute vaccines across our state, Republicans continue their efforts to hinder our state’s response,” said Evers’ spokesperson Britt Cudaback. “Republicans haven’t taken COVID-19 seriously from the beginning, and they still aren’t now more than 280 days since they last sent a bill to the governor’s desk.”

The Assembly and Senate approved competing COVID-19 response bills earlier this month. They have not been able to agree on compromise legislation that wouldn’t face a likely veto from Evers.