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One Emergency After Another: Wisconsin Governor And Legislators Battle Over COVID-19

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Photo by Morry Gash AP

Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, seen last year. Lawmakers repealed his executive order declaring a coronavirus emergency. He issued a new one.

Republican lawmakers in Wisconsin approved a joint resolution Thursday overriding Gov. Tony Evers' most recent COVID-19 state of emergency, abolishing a state-wide mask mandate. In response, Evers declared a new state of emergency. Effective immediately, Wisconsinites must again wear masks in public places.

The legislature approved Joint Resolution 3 Thursday in a 52-42 vote in the Assembly, Wisconsin Public Radio reported. Democrats were joined by seven Republicans, but it wasn't enough. The resolution terminated Evers' Executive Order #104, calling the emergency declaration "unlawful."

Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, told lawmakers to stand up against the governor. "I don't know when legislators became comfortable with delegating their authority to the executive branch, creating an office where he can do whatever he wants," Steineke said. "That's not how this was set up."

Steineke argued the pushback wasn't about masks, which were mandated in July by Evers' second public health emergency declaration. That said, Republicans also shot down an amendment introduced by Democratic lawmakers Thursday that would have implemented a statewide mask mandate, WPR reported.

Shortly afterward, Evers countered with Executive Order #105 and Emergency Order #1, complete with another mask mandate. In a statement released by the governor's office Thursday, Evers said his efforts to contain the coronavirus have been met with lawsuits and obstruction.

"Wearing a mask is the most basic thing we can do to keep each other safe," Evers said. "If the Legislature keeps playing politics and we don't keep wearing masks, we're going to see more preventable deaths, and it's going to take even longer to get our state and our economy back on track."

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