Wisconsin governor says he’s giving up on pushing for new coronavirus restrictions because GOP won’t allow it
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Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers said he’s given up trying to enact any more coronavirus restrictions after the Wisconsin Supreme Court last week struck down his “safer at home” order for overstepping its authority.
Evers, a Democrat, said he believed GOP legislators would stand in the way of new statewide restrictions.
“The Republicans made it very clear they don’t believe a statewide approach is the right way to go at this point in time,” the governor said. “It doesn’t make a lot of sense spending a lot of time doing something we know isn’t going to be successful.”
Local officials would be left on their own to decide how to maintain social-distancing mandates.
Last week, the Wisconsin Supreme Court ruled that Evers’ administration overstepped its authority by extending the lockdown order, which originally took effect in March, from its original end date of April 24 until May 26 without consulting legislators.
The 4-to-3 ruling essentially reopened the state, lifting caps on the size of gatherings, allowing people to travel as they pleased and allowing shuttered businesses to reopen, including bars and restaurants.
Patrons immediately flooded to bars within hours of the decision.
The decision let stand language that had closed schools, however.
In Dane County, home to the capital city of Madison, officials quickly imposed a mandate incorporating most of the statewide order. City health officials in Milwaukee said a stay-at-home order they enacted in late March remained in effect.
Wisconsin is one of a number of states where liberal governors have had their lockdown authority challenged. A judge in Oregon on Monday threw out the statewide coronavirus restrictions imposed by Gov. Kate Brown, saying she didn’t seek the state legislature’s approval to extend the stay-at-home orders beyond a 28-day limit. Brown said she would seek an emergency review by the Oregon Supreme Court immediately.
Governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana were among those who have seen a mix of legislation and lawsuits aimed at curtailing their power.
The Wisconsin Health Department released plans for a new statewide emergency rule the day after the court’s decision. The department announced the new rule may contain elements of the stay-at-home order and Evers’ phased business re-opening plan. Republicans accused Evers of trying to circumvent the court ruling and reinstate a stay-at-home order.
Republican state Sen. Steve Nass, co-chairman of the state legislature’s rules committee, demanded on Friday that the governor withdraw plans for a new rule. The DHS complied on Monday and scrapped them.
Nass said he had “great faith” that people would make the decisions necessary to fight COVID-19 on their own “without excessive government coercion.”
As of Monday, Wisconsin has faced 12,687 confirmed cases of COVID-19 and 459 deaths from the disease, according to DHS data.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.