FILE - Wisconsin State Capitol

The Wisconsin State Capitol in Madison, Wisconsin.

(The Center Square) – There appears to be no hope for a coronavirus relief package at the Wisconsin Capitol. Assembly Republicans on Wednesday made it clear they will not agree to the package supported by both Senate Republicans and Gov. Tony Evers. 

“To my dismay, the Senate voted to give unelected bureaucrats the ability to close schools, businesses and places of worship, and removed many important provisions that protect individual rights, such as the prohibition on mandatory vaccinations,” Rep Cindi Duchow, R-Delafield, said. “With its actions [Tuesday], the Wisconsin Senate sided with Governor Evers over their constituents.”

The Republican controlled Senate approved a coronavirus relief package that provides legal protections for some businesses in the state to reopen. The plan also includes a number of technical changes that Gov. Evers wanted, including an extension for federal unemployment benefits. 

Rep. Jim Steneke, R-Kaukauna, is the second highest ranking Republican in the Assembly. He said the Senate package leaves out dozens of things that the Assembly included in its coronavirus relief package; namely those that would have allowed churches and schools to reopen, and would have limited the power of local public health officers to shut down businesses across the state. 

“Things like providing assistance to hospitals, first responders, and frontline medical workers, giving parents and students more flexibility and accountability when it comes to open enrollment and virtual learning, and protecting schools and businesses from certain liabilities to reduce the possibility of frivolous lawsuits were all included in our bill – issues that we know are important to countless Wisconsinites,” Steineke explained. 

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, told News Talk 1130 WISN’s Jay Weber on Wednesday he has no plans to support the Senate plan. Vos’ decision is the first public acknowledgement of a split between Assembly and Senate Republicans. New Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, drove the Senate’s coronavirus relief package. 

Wisconsin Democrats, for their part, don’t like either of the Republican plans. 

“It’s time for Wisconsin’s Republican legislators to stop playing games with people’s lives and construct a COVID relief package that includes meaningful, substantive relief like rental assistance, small business grants, and hazard pay for healthcare workers rather than providing for blanket immunity from liability and forcing workers and consumers into unsafe situations by prematurely returning to business as usual which will likely result in community spread of the virus and an increase in deaths in Wisconsin,” Marisabel Cabrera, D-Milwaukee, said Wednesday.


The Center Square Correspondent

An industry veteran with two decades of experience in media, Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square.