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Legislature asks high court to block COVID-19 restrictions from being extended

The Brillion News

MADISON - The Wisconsin State legislature, with Republican majorities in both houses, filed an original action with the Supreme Court of Wisconsin challenging the extension of Governor Tony Evers' SaferAtHome order through May 26.

The suit, with an 80-page memo of supporting documents, seeks a temporary injunction blocking Evers or his administration from extending his emergency order. But it also calls for giving the Department of Health Sertvices an opportunity to come up with a new rule that is consistent with Wisconsin law.

The actual order extending SaferAtHome was promulgated by the secretary designee of the Department of Health Services, Andrea Palm.

She has yet to be confirmed by the state Senate as a cabinet member.

The legislature claims her order is illegitimate: "Purporting to act under color of State law, an unelected, unconfirmed cabinet secretary has laid claim to a suite of czar-like powers - unlimited in scope and indefinite in duration - over the people of Wisconsin."

State Senator Bob Wirch, D-Somers, blasted the lawsuit on health grounds.

"This is a real low for Republicans, playing politics with people’s lives. This is serious," he said, citing COVID-19 rates in Racine and Brown counties.. "The fact is that all of us want to see the economy opened back up, but we need to do it safely and responsibly."

The Republican challenge is on legal grounds. The legislative leaders, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald, argue that Evers ordered Palm to extend the strictures through May 26 because the governor cannot extend them without the consent of the legislature.

"The Legislature respectully requests that this Court issue an order temporarily enjoining enforcement of Emergency Order 28, because it is an improperly promulgated rule ... and because it exceeds the Detartment's authority ... and is arbitrary and capricious. The Legislature respectfully suggests that this Court stay enforcement of its injunction for a period of six days, to allow [the Department of Health Services] sufficient time to promulgate a new rule consistent with Wisconsin law."


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