(The Center Square) – Neither of the top Republicans in the Wisconsin legislature want a one-size fits-all coronavirus response dictated by Gov. Evers, but they also want to see businesses across the state freed from overzealous coronavirus regulations.
Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and incoming Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, told a crowd on a call for Wisconsin Manufacturers & Commerce that there needs to be a balance in state and local coronavirus regulations.
“I think it’s good to give some autonomy to local health departments to make sure this emergency can be addressed,” LeMahieu said. “That being said, this emergency has been going on for months now, and businesses have had time to adapt their business models. When we’re this far into a pandemic, having local health officials crackdown on businesses is, to a certain, extent is very problematic.”
LeMahieu said he is open to looking to “tighten-up” Wisconsin’s laws for local health department regulations.
Speaker Vos said he is not in a hurry to take away control from local health departments. But also said there needs to be some recognition that a handful of local health regulations are going too far.
“It seems like the decisions being made, again by well-meaning folks who are trying to control the virus, really aren’t based in science or data, and don’t take into account the economic reality,” Vos said.
Vos was quick to add that any move away from local control means more power at the Capitol in Madison and with Gov. Evers.
“I guess I’m a little more pessimistic, seeing where Gov. Evers has been” Vos said, adding the governor “would be significantly more draconian that what is currently allowed under state law.”
Both Vos and LeMahieu said their top priorities for any coronavirus relief package from the state would be to ensure that businesses are protected from lawsuits if their employees or customers test positive for the virus. They also want to fix the state’s broken unemployment system, and pay for more testing to allow businesses in the state to get back to normal.
WMC Executive Vice President Scott Manley said the liability protections are a must if Wisconsin is ever going to fully reopen.
“The predatory litigation that’s going on out there couldn’t come at a worse time for businesses,” Manley said. “Many businesses are certainly struggling financially and are dealing with all kinds of things that nobody ever expected they’d have to deal with.”
Vos and the Assembly have presented 50 different suggestions for a state-based relief package. LeMahieu said Senate Republicans will meet to talk about those ideas on Thursday.
By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission