Evers calls on Legislature to pass his COVID-19 bill, Vos announces separate relief bill

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 8:53 AM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers called on the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to pass his proposed COVID-19 relief bill before any other in the session that begins Monday.

Evers renewed his request to lawmakers to take up his proposed compromise, first floated on Dec. 21, saying it would be “inexplicable” to take up anything else first.

“The Legislature must move forward to find consensus and pass this bill expeditiously,” Evers wrote to lawmakers.

The Senate and Assembly met Monday afternoon to swear in new members.

Republicans return with 60-38 majority in the Assembly and a 20-12 advantage in the Senate.

There is one vacancy in each chamber, with special elections scheduled for April 6.

Republicans last month rejected the COVID-19 bill Evers asked lawmakers on Monday to pass before any other.

Evers had been meeting with GOP leaders trying to reach agreement but could not.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said in December that he hoped to have agreement on a proposal with the GOP-controlled Senate in early January, and on Monday, he announced a COVID-19 relief bill, titled 2021 Assembly Bill 1. He says is currently being circulated for co-sponsors.

The Assembly Committee on Health has scheduled a public hearing and executive session regarding the bill on Tuesday, and an Assembly floor vote is intended for this week.

Vos says the bill includes the following provisions:

  • Coverage of vaccinations under SeniorCare
  • Continued collection and reporting of public health emergency data
  • Civil liability exemption for schools, local governments and nonprofits relating to COVID-19 claims
  • Full-time open enrollment application extension
  • School board reports on virtual instruction
  • School board requirements for virtual instruction
  • Requirement for an Unemployment Insurance plan to address claims backlog
  • Legislative oversight of federal COVID-19 funds
  • Nursing home or assisted living facility visitation by an essential visitor
  • Prescription order extensions
  • Practice of emergency medical services personnel and providers with credentials from outside the state
  • Practice by health care providers from other states
  • Coverage of COVID-19 testing and vaccination without cost sharing
  • Coverage limits on certain prescription drugs
  • Transfer of moneys from sum sufficient appropriations up to $100 million
  • Authorizing first- and second-year pharmacy students to administer vaccines
  • Authorizing dentists to administer COVID-19 and flu vaccines
  • Optional registration of third-party logistics providers

CLICK HERE to read the bill, which Vos says will pass later in the week. However, the measure got a lukewarm response from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers on Monday.

Evers’ spokeswoman Britt Cudaback did not say whether Evers would sign or veto the measure, but she called it “disappointing” that lawmakers weren’t taking up what Evers proposed.

The bill Evers proposed made some concessions to Republicans, like extending hours at the state’s unemployment call center, as well as measures the GOP opposes such as continuing the suspension of a one-week waiting period for unemployment benefits that began in July.

Evers in November originally proposed a $541 million plan, which Republicans rejected as too costly.

Copyright 2021 The Associated Press. All rights reserved.