Republicans in the state Legislature said they will respond to the extension of the state’s Safer at Home order Thursday with legal and legislative options.
“People are frustrated and so are we,” they wrote. “Many citizens can’t get through to the governor’s office and have asked us to be their voice. While everyone shares the goal of protecting public health, the governor’s order goes too far.”
In an announcement Thursday, Gov. Tony Evers directed Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm to extend the state’s Safer at Home order until May 26.
Republicans in the Assembly said they were concerned about the effects the longer closure will have on the economy.
“The people of Wisconsin are owed a comprehensive, economic recovery plan,” they wrote. “We must begin to plan for an easing of restrictions and gradually, possibly through a regional approach, reopen the economy.”
Evers addressed these concerns in a call with reporters moments after the announcement.
“Believe me no one wants to reopen our economy more than I do,” he said. “But the bottom line is our businesses, our workers, and us as consumers can’t be confident if we’re not confident about our safety, and our health.”
Evers said he is working with governors from Michigan, Ohio, Minnesota, Illinois and Kentucky to coordinate reopening the state’s economy, but he said it will take time.
“We can’t think of this like flipping a light switch,” he said. “It’s like turning a dial. The more disciplined we are now, the faster we can turn it.”
Sen. Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, R-Juneau, also shared in the frustration of Assembly Republicans, saying in a statement that extending the order for another month without a plan for reopening or clear benchmarks for ending the order early is “simply unacceptable.”
“The Senate has not been part of this conversation and we are planning to look for legal or legislative relief to truly work with the governor to make these very serious decisions that will have long-term effects on our businesses, our children and our way of life,” he wrote.
Fitzgerald also criticized what he said was a “one-size-fits-all approach.”
“Rural counties of our state haven’t seen nearly the number of cases that urban and suburban areas have, yet are bearing the full economic impacts of this crisis,” he wrote. “While we all want to keep people safe, some regions of the state remain less affected by the virus than others – this order doesn’t recognize that.”
One Republican senator’s response to the extended order: https://t.co/AdonBWcSZp
— Amy Reid (@amyreidreports) April 16, 2020
Some Republicans went beyond calling for legislative relief. Sens. Duey Stroebel, R-Cedarburg, and Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, and David Craig, R- Big Bend, called for Palm to be fired.
“She must not be allowed to continually trample on the constitution or the state’s economy,” Craig wrote in a statement.