(The Center Square) – Nothing is changing about Wisconsin’s coronavirus emergency order or the state’s mask mandate – at least not for the time being.
Republicans in the State Assembly did not vote to overrule the governor on Thursday, largely because of questions about nearly $50 million a month in enhanced food stamp benefits.
Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services on Wednesday said ending Gov. Evers coronavirus emergency order would also end the state’s eligibility for enhanced SNAP benefit funding. DHS said those benefits totaled $49.3 million for 242,507 households this month alone.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Thursday said not including a work-around for those benefits in the original override was a misstep.
“Unfortunately when our Senate colleagues passed it, they didn’t necessarily do the same due diligence, which is why we had to add that amendment to AB1 today. We do not want to repeat that mistake,” Vos told reporters at the Capitol.
Republicans in the State Senate approved the override Tuesday. Senators on Thursday added a fix for the food stamp mistake into the coronavirus relief package passed by the Assembly. But that too appears to be dead for now.
State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Senators did what was necessary “to preserve those funds going forward.”
Vos said he wants to double-check before taking the next step.
“I think the amendment that we worked with in the Senate probably fixes the issue but I don’t know that for sure,” Vos added. “Our job is to guarantee when we pass legislation we know what the ramifications are.”
Democrats in the legislature are satisfied to have the governor’s emergency order and mask mandate remain in place.
“I am both relieved and not surprised that we are here not taking up repealing the mask mandate,” Rep Gordon Hintz, R-Oshkosh, said during the Assembly debate. “I hope the extra time allows cooler heads to prevail.”
Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate say overturning the governor’s emergency order and mask mandate is not about masks. They insist the move is about reining-in the governor who they say has overstepped his legal authority.
Benjamin Yount reports on Illinois and Wisconsin statewide issues for The Center Square. Reposted with permission.