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Food Stamp Funding Concern Halts Override of Gov. Evers’ Authority

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Republicans in the State Assembly did not vote to overrule the governor on Thursday, largely because of questions about nearly $50 million a month in enhanced food stamp benefits. 

Nothing is changing about Wisconsin’s coronavirus emergency order or the state’s mask mandate. At least for the time being.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, on Thursday said not including a work-around for those benefits in the original override was a misstep.

Wisconsin’s Department of Health Services on Wednesday said ending Gov. Evers coronavirus emergency order would also end the state’s eligibility for enhanced SNAP benefit funding. DHS said those benefits totaled $49.3 million for 242,507 households this month alone.

Republicans in the State Senate approved the override Tuesday. Senators on Thursday added a fix for the food stamp mistake into the coronavirus relief package passed by the Assembly. But that too appears to be dead for now. 

“Unfortunately when our Senate colleagues passed it, they didn’t necessarily do the same due diligence, which is why we had to add that amendment to AB1 today. We do not want to repeat that mistake,” Vos told reporters at the Capitol.

Vos said he wants to double-check before taking the next step.

State Sen. Steve Nass, R-Whitewater, said Senators did what was necessary  “to preserve those funds going forward.”

Democrats in the legislature are satisfied to have the governor’s emergency order and mask mandate remain in place.

“I think the amendment that we worked with in the Senate probably fixes the issue but I don’t know that for sure,” Vos added. “Our job is to guarantee when we pass legislation we know what the ramifications are.”

Republicans in the Assembly and the Senate say overturning the governor’s emergency order and mask mandate is not about masks. They insist the move is about reining-in the governor who they say has overstepped his legal authority.

“I am both relieved and not surprised that we are here not taking up repealing the mask mandate,” Rep Gordon Hintz, R-Oshkosh, said during the Assembly debate. “I hope the extra time allows cooler heads to prevail.”

By Benjamin Yount | The Center Square
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Reposted with permission