(The Center Square) – A growing number of Republican lawmakers are demanding the legislature come back to Madison and strike down Gov. Tony Evers’ latest coronavirus order.
The governor on Tuesday extended his mask requirement into late November.
“We are seeing an alarming increase in cases across our state, especially on campus,” the governor said in a statement. “We need folks to start taking this seriously, and young people especially – please stay home as much as you are able, skip heading to the bars, and wear a mask whenever you go out. We need your help to stop the spread of this virus, and we all have to do this together.”
Evers’ new order lasts another 60 days, and expires Nov. 21.
Republican lawmakers say that’s a step too far.
State Sen. Chris Kapenga, R-Delafield, said on Tuesday lawmakers need to act quickly to check the governor’s misuse of his power.
“Governor Evers just issued his second illegal health emergency order,” Kapenga said. “The Supreme Court ruled that he is required to work with the legislature after his first 60-day Emergency Order expired. He has again ignored the Supreme Court ruling.”
Kapenga isn’t the only lawmaker calling for action.
Sen. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, said the legislature must meet to overrule the governor.
“A single emergency order at the onset of this situation may have been appropriate, but Governor Evers ongoing desire to exercise unilateral control is unlawful and must be ended,” Stroebel said. “A statewide approach to COVID-19 has always been a bad idea. The situation continues to vary greatly from region to region. I firmly believe local governments, businesses and families will achieve better results if they are able to evaluate their needs and act accordingly rather than following a one-size-fits-all directive.”
Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Assembly Speaker Robin Vos is complicit in the latest order, because as Nass said, Vos didn’t overrule the governor back in July.
“I fear that some Republican leaders will now hide behind a court challenge to avoid taking an up-or-down vote on rescinding the governor’s third Covid-19 emergency declaration,” Nass said. “A court challenge could take weeks or months to get a final decision, but citizens would still be under the dictatorial rule of an incompetent governor. We can vote to rescind the emergency declaration in extraordinary session and still commence court challenges to the governor’s abusive actions to prevent future illegal conduct.”
Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, didn’t go as far as to call for an extraordinary session, but did say Tuesday that Evers overstepped his bounds.
“Governor Evers’ disregard for the state constitution and the role of the three branches of government is mind-boggling. The governor’s order is not valid and is not worth the paper it’s printed on," Fitzgerald said. “The Wisconsin Supreme Court made it clear that if Gov. Evers wishes to continue to impose sanctions, mandates, and restrictions on the citizens of this state, he must work with the legislature to do so. That has not happened.”
Fitzgerald said he is sure the governor’s latest order is headed for “litigation.”
There is already a lawsuit against the governor’s mask requirement. The Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty filed a challenge last month that essentially says Evers does not have the Constitutional authority to impose a second emergency order on the state without input from the legislature. That case is still pending.