On Tuesday, March 23, the Legislature advanced a series of bills related to COVID-19, including many policies that were originally part of Assembly Bill 1 (AB 1). In February, Gov. Evers vetoed AB 1, an omnibus COVID-19 response package, after he and the Legislature failed to reach a compromise. We covered the story of AB 1 here, here, and here.
One bill, Assembly Bill 148, includes a series of COVID-19 provisions from AB 1 that were supported by healthcare providers, such as ensuring hospitals are adequately compensated under the state’s Medicaid program and that licensed, out-of-state healthcare providers are able to quickly begin providing care in Wisconsin. Both houses passed the bill on voice votes on March 23. Both houses also passed Senate Bill 183, which would give the Legislature’s Joint Committee on Finance the ability to review Gov. Evers’ plans to spend federal aid related to COVID-19. The bill, authored by Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg), cleared the Senate 18-12 and passed the Assembly 59-36. Gov. Evers has publicly stated that he will veto the bill.
The Assembly also passed three bills authored by Representative Jeremy Thiesfeldt (R-Fond du Lac) relating to public health emergency powers and vaccine mandates:
- AB 23: Prohibits state and local health officials from requiring individuals to receive a COVID-19 vaccine (passed Assembly, March 23, 60-33)
- AB 24: Prohibits local health officials from closing or forbidding gatherings in places of worship as a means of controlling COVID-19 (passed Assembly, March 23, 61-33)
- AB 25: Prohibits employers from requiring an individual to receive or show evidence of having receive a COVID-19 vaccine (passed Assembly, March 23, 59-35)
The bills have been messaged to the Senate, where they are available for scheduling. These policies were part of AB 1 as originally introduced and were among the reasons that Gov. Evers vetoed that bill.