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Republicans challenge Evers' extension of Safer at Home order

(WBKO)
Published: Apr. 21, 2020 at 2:15 PM CDT
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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald have filed a lawsuit against Governor Tony Evers regarding his extension of the Safer at Home order.

Evers' office announced an extension of the order last week, saying it would be extended through May 26th.

Court documents dated April 21 state the Legislature is requesting the Wisconsin Supreme Court issue an order temporarily enjoining enforcement of the Emergency Order extension.

Lawmakers say the order was improperly enacted due to Wisconsin Statutes, and because it exceeds the Department of Health Services' authority.

Andrea Palm, Secretary for the Department of Health Services, as well as other DHS executives must respond to the lawsuit by 4 p.m. on April 28.

That response will then be followed by response from petitioners by April 30.

Evers responded to the lawsuit Tuesday, calling it a "power grab".

"This lawsuit is something else. This is not an issue about who is in charge, this is an issue about people's lives," said Evers.

The governor also sounded off that it didn't mention how to keep people on the front lines safe, including doctors, nurses and first responders.

Evers went on to say that it was "outrageous", and that he is "looking forward tot he state supreme court to do the right thing."

When asked what it would look like if the lawsuit goes through, Evers said it was about power, it's not administrative rules, and if they win they get it and it will take a long time for our state to recover.

He added Sec. Designee Andrea Palm is "doing a great job - she's made very difficult and important decisions," and that "it's a sad day for Wisconsin."

Evers was also asked if he did anything to engage republicans, and he answered with "We waited weeks and weeks for republicans to act, if they win, it will take them weeks and weeks to come up with rules and orders."

He said he didn't regret extending the order.

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The Safer at Home order originally ended on April 24, however it was announced last Thursday the order would be extended for another month, and would end May 26.

Evers said he chose that date in order to allow enough time to meet the criteria outlined in state and federal plans.

When asked how he would say to people who are frustrated, Evers said that the plan from the get-go was to make sure we can get to a place where we can open the economy, can stay strong and keep everyone safe.

He then added the "sooner we can deal with the virus we all will be better off -- we still have a long way to go even if we have a political coup."

The order restricts non-essential business and travel in the state, and also means public and private K-12 schools will be closed for the rest of the year.

In addition, the document states the Legislature asks the court stay enforcement of its injunction for six days in order for the Department of Health Services to have enough time to enact a new emergency rule which is consistent with Wisconsin law.

to read the full document.

Speaker Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald issued a joint statement Tuesday afternoon announcing the lawsuit.

You can read their full statement below:

“The public outcry over the Safer at Home order continues to increase as positive COVID cases decrease or remain flat. There’s immense frustration regarding the extension, as it goes beyond the executive branch’s statutory powers. Wisconsinites are forced to sit by with no voice in the process. Other Midwestern states with more confirmed cases, like Ohio, have set firm dates to begin a phased reopening far earlier than the Evers administration. The governor has denied the people a voice through this unprecedented administrative overreach. Unfortunately, that leaves the legislature no choice but to ask the Supreme Court to rein in this obvious abuse of power. Wisconsinites deserve certainty, transparency, and a plan to end the constant stream of executive orders that are eroding both the economy and their liberty even as the state is clearly seeing a decline in COVID infections.”

Assembly Democratic Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh), also sounded off on the lawsuit Tuesday afternoon:

“The bold actions taken by Governor Evers have been successful in slowing the spread of COVID-19 in Wisconsin. These actions were made in the best interests of the state, not for politics or special interests. Tony Evers was elected governor to run our state and execute its laws. This is especially true during public emergencies of any kind. It’s unfortunate that Representative Vos is still not over the results of the election last November. We just had to overturn poorly thought out laws passed during the lame duck session that undermined this governor’s powers. Now, legislative Republicans are going to the courts to limit his emergency powers that are aimed preserving public health and saving lives during the COVID-19 crisis. I can’t imagine another group of elected officials more interested in power and politics than Wisconsin’s Republicans. This is not the time for partisan fights and ego. At a time when families and businesses across the state have made incredible sacrifices to preserve our public health and limit the death toll from COVID-19, Wisconsin Republicans are moving forward with a politically motivated lawsuit, but not a plan to safely reopen our economy.”