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Wisconsin Assembly sends mask order repeal back to Senate

MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Wisconsin Assembly plans to send the question of whether the state’s mask mandate should be repealed back to the state Senate, which voted last week to end the requirement.

The Assembly delayed a vote last week amid concerns that repealing Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency order tied to the pandemic would result in Wisconsin losing about $50 million a month in federal money for poor people.

The Senate passed a COVID-19 response bill that included an amendment designed to allow Evers to issue a new emergency order to access the federal money, while still repealing the mask mandate.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos on Wednesday said that the Senate amendment would have the unintended consequence of expanding the governor’s emergency order powers.

Vos said the Assembly would approve a new amendment and its own resolution to repeal the mask mandate. That vote could happen as soon as Thursday. The Senate would then have to vote to approve the resolution again in order for the order to be repealed. It is next scheduled to be in session on Feb. 16.

Evers could always issue a new mask order after the current one is repealed, forcing the Legislature to vote on repealing the new one. The Wisconsin Supreme Court is also weighing a case challenging Evers’ authority to issue multiple emergency health orders.

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