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Wisconsin’s state Senate rebuked Gov. Tony Evers Tuesday, voting 18-13 to repeal his statewide mask mandate that has been in place since the summer amid coronavirus concerns.
Two Republicans joined all of the chamber’s Democrats in a failed effort to vote down the resolution, and nearly two dozen health care groups, including the Wisconsin Medical Society, had lobbied against it, arguing in favor of masks until the COVID-19 vaccines are widely administered.
MADISON, WISCONSIN – DECEMBER 14: Wisconsin Gov. Tony Evers, a member of Wisconsin’s Electoral College, casts his vote for the presidential election at the state Capitol on December 14, 2020 in Madison, Wisconsin. (Photo by Morry Gash-Pool/Getty Images)
“This is not about whether face masks are good or bad,” Republican state Sen. Steve Nass, said before the vote. “This is about repeatedly issuing emergency orders contrary to what the law allows.”
Nass, who wrote the resolution, added that, “It’s about the rule of law.”
DEMOCRAT GOV. TONY EVERS BEGS WISCONSIN GOP TO STOP FIGHTING MASK MANDATES
The mask mandate is also facing a challenge in the state’s Supreme Court, and Republican critics have argued that Evers overstepped the authority of his emergency powers by repeatedly extending it. They say the governor must seek legislative approval to extend an emergency order beyond 60 days.
The mandate was issued in August and doesn’t expire until March. Republicans have been fighting it for months as an overreach, but Democrats say it’s a necessary measure for public safety.
Evers has said that the ongoing pandemic justified new emergency declarations along the way.
The state’s Republican-controlled Assembly is expected to vote on the repeal within days. If the resolution passes there, the governor’s signature is not required for it to take effect.
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Separately, lawmakers are also at odds over a new coronavirus response bill that would allow churches to reopen and block employers from requiring workers to obtain vaccinations. Those measures would likely prompt a veto from Evers.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.
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