GOP calls for regional 'reopening' of state

The Brillion News

DARBOY/BUCHANAN - A group of Republican members of the Wisconsin State Assembly said it is time for regional relaxation of the emergency order that shut down thousands of businesses in the state as a reponse to the COVID-19 pandemic threat.

State Representaitve Ron Tusler, R-Harrison, and Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke, R-Kaukauna, spoke at the Lamers Dairy plant, just east of State 441 and south of College Avenue..

Members of the Assembly Republican caucus held three press conferences around the state on Thursday morning, May 7, to advocate for a regional approach to reopening Wisconsin. GOP representatives stood with business owners from Appleton, Wausau and Chippewa Falls to explain why the state needs to reopen gradually and safely by region, pointing out there are areas of the state that aren’t as impacted by the coronavirus as others.

“Today’s press conferences show a small representation of the neighbors, workers, business owners and community members who are asking us to find ways to reopen the state in a safe manner,” Steineke said. "We know that a regional approach allows us to take measured steps toward accomplishing this goal without sacrificing the health and safety of Wisconsinites.”

The GOP lawmakers said the state economy is taking a major hit. Families and small businesses are struggling; more than half a million people have filed for unemployment since the start of the pandemic. The state is already seeing a significant decline in state tax collections.

A recent study estimates the partial shutdown costs the state $178.9 million in lost GDP every day.

“A regional reopening strategy not only makes sense, it is what several states are doing, including Illinois,” said Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester. “You obviously shouldn’t treat Superior the same way you would treat Milwaukee.”

According to the Wisconsin Hospital Association dashboard, northwest and western Wisconsin have had roughly three percent of the state’s total cases and there are areas that continue to have few if any people hospitalized with COVID-19. Assembly GOP leaders have been calling for a bipartisan reopening plan.

Vos said he looks forward to continuing his discussions with Governor Evers to find a reopening strategy that is safe, gradual and regional.

“We shouldn’t have a Republican plan or a governor’s plan, we need a Wisconsin plan that the entire state can get behind,” said Vos.

Assembly Republicans have also been hearing directly from business owners. Many representatives have created videos to share these stories with a wider audience to allow people to understand the hardships that are occurring in their respective districts. The videos can be found on the Assembly Republican YouTube channel.

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