TMJ4 will stream today's 9 a.m. meeting of the Assembly live below:
MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin State Assembly is expected to take a vote on Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate Thursday. It could strike down the mask mandate across the state, but won’t have much effect in cities where local mandates already exist.
The vote follows the state Senate, which voted 18 to 13 to strike down the mandate Tuesday. Two Republicans, Dale Kooyenga of Brookfield and Robert Cowles of Allouez, voted against the move to strike down the mandate.
Kooyenga said his main objective has and will be to get students back into the classroom, and he doesn’t want this to be a setback. “I have to support the healthcare workers in my district. And really want to do everything I can to message our schools should be open,” he said.
Assembly members who spoke with TMJ4 News and will take up the issue Thursday morning believe the mask mandate will have the votes to be struck down.
Milwaukee Representative Christine Sinicki said, “I do believe, unfortunately, by tomorrow afternoon, the mask mandate will be repealed. It’s political, it’s unconscionable, they want so badly to flex their political muscles they don’t care who they are hurting,” Sinicki said.
Representative Adam Neylon of Pewaukee says the vote is not about masks, but what he sees as an overreach by Gov. Tony Evers.
“It’s not about saying 'don’t wear a mask.' I think there are a lot of situations where you should and it makes sense. We are not anti-mask, but we did take an oath to uphold the constitution, and when the governor is in violation of that, it is our duty, it is incumbent upon us to say so,” said Neylon.
Milwaukee Mayor Tom Barrett says the legislature’s inaction on COVID-19 until now led the state to this point. Barrett says regardless of what happens in the Assembly, Milwaukee’s mask requirement will remain. “It does not supersede Milwaukee’s order, and our plan is to have our local order in effect, from a health perspective, until we decide it’s safe to lift it,” said Barrett.
Thursday’s vote is veto-proof because state law allows the legislature to end the governor’s emergency order. The issue of the mask mandate is also being taken up by the state Supreme Court, which hasn’t issued a decision.