On February 4, the Wisconsin State Assembly voted to end Governor Tony Evers' public health emergency declaration under Executive Order #104 on a vote of 52-42
, with seven Republicans joining all Democrats in voting against passage. This action also rescinds a related statewide masking order that was issued under Executive Order #104.
According to Wisconsin law, a public health emergency declared by the governor can be overturned by a joint resolution passed by the state Senate and state Assembly. The action takes effect once the resolution is signed, which GOP leaders announced they intend to do on Friday, Feb. 5.
The Wisconsin Hospital Association (WHA) joined nearly 60 other health care, business and local government organizations in opposing
such a move, citing the need for continued vigilance by the public to control the spread of COVID-19.
In a letter
sent the same day from GOP members of the state Assembly to Governor Evers, lawmakers said they do not necessarily oppose a statewide masking order. They said they take issue with the way the Governor has issued his orders, which they feel did not take adequate input or consideration from the Wisconsin State Legislature. They requested the Governor instead allow for this input by submitting emergency orders that would accomplish similar goals but allow for legislative oversight and input.
Shortly after the vote, Governor Evers issued a new public health emergency
as Executive Order #105 and new statewide masking order
, appearing to signal that he does not intend to use the emergency rule process as outlined by Assembly Republicans earlier in the day.
While all of this action is occurring between the governor and the Legislature, the Wisconsin Supreme Court has before it a case (Fabick v. Evers) challenging the very authority being used by the governor to issue Executive Order #104 and Executive Order
#105. The court held oral arguments in this case on Nov. 16, 2020, but the court has yet to issue a decision.