MADISON – Gov. Tony Evers today again called for bipartisan legislative action to ensure Wisconsin is equipped to respond to the COVID-19 pandemic and provide relief and support to families, workers, and businesses affected by this crisis. Over the past few weeks, Gov. Evers has introduced two comprehensive pieces of legislation to address the needs of communities across the state during the COVID-19 public health emergency, including providing critical investments in health services, support for first responders, healthcare workers, and childcare providers, and assistance for Wisconsin families and businesses. The governor's legislation has not yet been taken up by the Legislature.
“I’ve said all along that time is of the essence in responding to this crisis. People are scared, and people need to know that we're not going to leave them in the lurch because we're asking everyone to make sacrifices here,” said Gov. Evers. “We need to get things done to make sure that we can respond to COVID-19, and that we have the resources to help support our families and neighbors who are worried about making ends meet, healthcare workers and first responders who are risking their lives each day, and our small businesses and farms that have been hit hard because folks are staying home and staying safe.”
Republican leadership has indicated they plan to draft their own legislation to address the COVID-19 pandemic. Legislative leadership provided an overview of their proposed legislation, which includes some provisions that were included in Gov. Evers' proposals; however, the summary of the legislation also includes a provision allowing the Republican-controlled Joint Finance Committee to unilaterally cut investments in healthcare, local communities, and schools, among other important priorities.
“I'm asking for the legislature to take politics out of this proposal so we can move forward on addressing the needs of our state,” Gov. Evers said. “We have work to do folks—we don't have time to play politics, and this provision won't do anything to help our state respond to COVID-19 or to help our families who are struggling during this crisis. It's time to get serious. We need to get to work and do our part to make sure our state is equipped to keep people safe and support the families, workers, and small businesses who need our help right now.”
Last month, Gov. Evers introduced LRB-6128, followed a few days later on April 1, 2020 by LRB-6105. Summary documents of those two proposals are available here: first legislative package and second legislative package.
In addition to providing these two comprehensive proposals, the governor called the Legislature to meet in special session to address needed changes to the April 7 spring election to protect public health and safety. Unfortunately, the Republican leadership gaveled out of that special session without taking any legislative action on the election or any other proposed legislation.