Capitol Notes

Chuck Quirmbach

The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to hear a lawsuit brought by Republicans in the state Legislature, challenging Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ safer-at-home order. Republicans cried foul when Evers extended the order to May 26, amid concerns over the spread of the coronavirus.

They’re demanding that he lift the order and take steps to reopen the state’s economy. Interested parties filed briefs last week and the court, which holds a 5-2 conservative majority, will hear arguments on Tuesday. 

Maayan Silver / WUWM

Police estimate that 1,500 people rallied at the State Capitol on Friday, demanding that Gov. Tony Evers lift his safer-at-home order, so non-essential businesses can reopen. Evers recently extended the order about a month to May 26 because of the continued spread of the coronavirus.

Many people at the event carried signs — some of them read "End The Tyranny" and "All Jobs Are Essential." Most of the protesters stood next to each other, not wearing masks or practicing social distancing.

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Gov. Tony Evers has extended his safer-at-home order to May 26 due to fears over the coronavirus. He also announced that schools will be closed through the academic year. Republicans who control the Legislature are opposed to the extension, saying they want the economy to reopen, and have threatened to file a lawsuit with the Wisconsin Supreme Court.

In this week’s Capitol Notes conversation, JR Ross of wispolitics.com tells WUWM's Marti Mikkelson that there's growing frustration with the governor’s order among the GOP.

The results of Wisconsin’s presidential primary, state Supreme Court race, and spring local elections will be released Monday, under unprecedented circumstances related to the coronavirus.

It won’t be your typical election night, with victory gatherings and supporters watching returns come in over the course of a few hours.

In this week’s Capitol Notes conversation, WUWM's Marti Mikkelson spoke with JR Ross of wispolitics.com, about what this unusual “election night” might look like.

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Wisconsin appears to be moving ahead with Election Day on Tuesday, April 7, despite multiple lawsuits to move the date because of the coronavirus – and an 11th-hour plea from Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. He called the Republican-controlled Legislature into a special session to push the date to late May and conduct an all-mail election. The GOP went into special session Saturday as required, and then immediately adjourned without taking up Evers’ proposal.

Gov. Tony Evers and the Republican-controlled Legislature are still working on an agreement that would provide state assistance to those affected by COVID-19. Evers asked lawmakers Saturday to approve more than $800 million, according to wispolitics.com. The sweeping bill would halt enforcement of Voter ID, ban evictions, and prevent layoffs of school employees during a public health emergency.

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It was another week of major changes in lifestyle and in the workplace because of the coronavirus. Gov. Tony Evers ordered bars and restaurants in Wisconsin to close, except for pickups and deliveries. He also directed salons, barbershops, spas and tattoo shops to shut their doors. Now, the Democratic governor and Republican leaders say they're working together on a legislative aid package to help small businesses and employees who are out of work.

The Democratic Party of Wisconsin has taken some dramatic steps to curb the spread of the coronavirus.  Chair Ben Wikler says the party is following guidance from health officials to practice social distancing, so it's replacing its traditional door-to-door canvassing operation with a digital model ahead of the April 7 spring election and presidential primary.  

Wisconsin's presidential primary will be held next month. When voters go to the polls, they'll notice the landscape has changed dramatically. In a matter of days over the past week, the field of Democrats running for their party's nomination narrowed to only two major contenders: former Vice President Joe Biden and U.S Vermont Sen. Bernie Sanders. It happened after poor showings for the other top-tier candidates in South Carolina and on Super Tuesday.  

It appears the Republican-controlled state Legislature is unwilling to enact tougher gun laws this year — even in light of a mass shooting that left six employees dead at Molson Coors Brewery in Milwaukee. Just hours before the shootings, Democratic Gov. Tony Evers re-stated his commitment to adopting stricter legislation. At the same time, Republican Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald voiced his opposition.

The Republican-controlled state Legislature has passed a $250 million income tax cut and has sent the bill to Democratic Gov. Tony Evers. Republicans want to pay for the tax cut via a projected $600 million budget surplus. 

But, Evers wants to pour some of the money into public schools and lowering property taxes. He's also left the door open for a compromise with the GOP, meaning some money would go toward an income tax cut and some would go to the public schools. Or, he could veto the income tax cut outright.

The Republican-controlled state Assembly has passed a slew of tough-on-crime bills. One would allow extended supervision to be revoked, for someone who commits a felony while on release. Another would expand the list of crimes that could land a child in a youth prison.  

Republicans say the bills are necessary in order to keep communities safe. But Democrats have blasted the plan, arguing that many states instead have taken steps to reduce the prison population.  And, it's likely that Democratic Gov. Tony Evers will veto the measures.  

Gov. Tony Evers wants the Republican-controlled Legislature to spend a chunk of a state budget surplus on the public schools. He's calling for a special session on the topic to begin this week. Republican leaders immediately dismissed the idea, saying they want to put surplus money toward a tax cut instead. Evers says the GOP could do both — cut taxes and spend more on schools.

In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, JR Ross of wispolitics.com tells WUWM's Marti Mikkelson that it's hard to say how this will play out.   

Republican Vice President Mike Pence apparently went where no other sitting Vice President has gone — he held a rally inside the Wisconsin State Capitol last week. He touted private school voucher programs as an alternative to public education at the rally. U.S. Education Secretary Betsy DeVos appeared with him.  

President Trump narrowly won Wisconsin in 2016. In this week's Capitol Notes conversation, JR Ross of wispolitics.com tells WUWM's Marti Mikkelson there are several reasons why Pence chose the liberal stronghold of Madison to bring his message.

Althouse

Gov. Tony Evers is calling lawmakers into special session to pass a package of bills designed to help struggling farmers and rural communities. The idea drew mixed reviews from Republican leaders after the Democratic governor announced it in his State of the State address. Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald says he's "all ears" on the plan and seems open to a special session. But, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos appears wary, saying Evers has ignored rural Wisconsin until now. 

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