MADISON — A number of bills are being considered in Wisconsin's legislature Tuesday. We have compiled them here based on reporting from the Associated Press.
Republicans delay veto overrides on COVID-19 bills
Republicans who control the Wisconsin Assembly have postponed voting on overriding vetoes by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers of bills that would prevent health officials from mandating the COVID-19 vaccine and prohibit the closing of churches during the pandemic.
Evers vetoed both bills last month, saying they limited his ability to respond to the pandemic. There are no statewide vaccination mandates in place, or statewide orders limiting capacity in churches or requiring them to be closed. Assembly Speaker Robin Vos didn’t say why the vote was postponed Tuesday, but said it could take place at a later date.
Wisconsin GOP-led Legislature approves election law changes
The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature is voting on bills that would make it more difficult to vote absentee.
The proposals being considered Tuesday were all but certain to be vetoed by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, but GOP lawmakers say they are needed to address issues that arose during last year’s presidential election. The measures are part of a national push by Republicans to change voting laws following former President Donald Trump’s defeat in November and his unfounded claims that there was widespread fraud and abuse.
Wisconsin Democrats say Republicans are perpetuating a lie. Republicans say they're trying to restore confidence in elections.
Wisconsin Assembly approves raising voucher school income
Wisconsin families who want to send their children to a private school using a voucher paid for by taxpayers would increase to three times the federal poverty level under a Republican-backed bill the state Assembly has passed.
Conservative supporters say the change is needed given increasing interest in sending students to private schools during the pandemic, which has led many public schools to reduce in-person classes. The change is opposed by the statewide teachers union and groups representing public school administrators, school boards and rural schools. The measure would loosen income cutoffs for the statewide voucher program, bringing them into line with the Milwaukee and Racine voucher programs.
Wisconsin Assembly calls for a Constitutional convention
The Wisconsin Assembly is calling for a convention of the states to consider making changes to the U.S. Constitution, an effort backed by Republicans and opposed by Democrats.
The full Legislature in 2017 passed a resolution that allowed for calling a convention to consider a balanced budget amendment. The latest proposal approved by the Assembly on Tuesday is more expansive. It allows for the convention to impose fiscal restraints on the federal government, limit the federal government’s powers and impose term limits for members of Congress and other federal officials. Democrats and other opponents argue that calling a constitutional convention could get out of control.
Wisconsin Senate passes first police reform bills
The Wisconsin Senate has passed the first police reform bills in the state since George Floyd died last year.
The Senate voted Tuesday on measures that would create a $600,000 grant program for police; require police to post use-of-force policies online; require the state Justice Department to gather more data on use-of-force incidents and produce an annual report; require police to share personnel files during the hiring process; and require Milwaukee and Madison's police oversight commissions to add union nominees.
The legislation now goes to the Assembly. The bills are non-controversial but their main sponsors, Republican Van Wanggaard and Democrat Lena Taylor, say they're a start toward accountability. They say other bills are coming, including a ban on choke holds.
Wisconsin Assembly calls on Evers to send help to border
The Wisconsin Assembly has passed a Republican-sponsored resolution calling on Democratic Gov. Tony Evers to send aid and support to help secure the Mexico border and enforce immigration laws.
The resolution approved Tuesday comes from a pair of Republican legislative leaders who recently visited the border in south Texas. Assembly Majority Leader Jim Steineke and President Pro Tempore Tyler August say the issue there is a national crisis that demands Wisconsin take action, even though the state is more than 1,300 miles from the border. The resolution is non-binding, meaning Evers is not required to take any action.
Wisconsin GOP leader cites bogus COVID info to nix request
The Republican speaker of the Wisconsin Assembly last month rejected an immunocompromised Democratic lawmaker’s request to be allowed to work virtually because the speaker erroneously insisted that COVID-19 can’t be transmitted through the air.
The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported Tuesday that Assembly Speaker Robin Vos and the Legislature’s human resources director each rejected requests from state Rep. Jodi Emerson to be allowed to participate in floor sessions and committee hearings from her office instead of in person.
Vos said in a statement that Emerson has been offered a number of accommodations “and has yet to respond to the Legislative Human Resources Office on the matter.” Emerson's lawyer wrote to Vos that the denial violated the Americans with Disabilities Act.
National anthem would be required under Wisconsin bill
The national anthem would have to be played before all sporting events held at Wisconsin venues that received any public funding under a mostly symbolic bill passed by the state Assembly.
The Assembly passed the proposal on a bipartisan 74-22 vote Tuesday. The measure now heads to the Senate. Democrats derided it as a political stunt that was unworkable. The requirement would apply at all levels of athletic events played on a field that ever received public money, from a bar league softball game at the local park to the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field.