Sen.Nass [email protected]

11:46 AM (3 hours ago)
to ZachSean*Legislative*Legislative

Mr. Madden:

Thank you for your response and I request you share my response with Governor Evers.

I hope the Governor and other officials in the administration understand the closing of 40 state parks for dubious reasoning at best is only one flashpoint in a growing revolt to how the Covid-19 response has been handled in Wisconsin.  This week has been a turning point in how the public now views some of the decisions made by this administration under the Governor’s Emergency Declaration and the uneven exercise of those emergency powers.  Let me summarize just a few of those actions from the last week:

-State Supreme Court blocks Governor Evers’ improper exercise of emergency powers to stop the spring election.

-Department of Health Services issues improper guidance to local public health agencies to intimidate churches and religious entities from legally following the options available under the actual wording of the Safer At Home Order.

-A state economist for DWD announces Wisconsin may already be at 27% unemployment and we hear the sound of crickets from administration officials regarding this economic calamity.

-Department of Health Services Secretary-Designee Palm continues to promote excessive levels of fear by utilizing state modeling to defend certain decisions rather than balance the state’s message with actual daily data that is significantly below state modeling.

-Department of Health Services officials in a meeting with legislators defended their desire to see emergency powers and Safer at Home restrictions extended for upwards of six months despite not having actual data to base such a request.

-Absolutely no indications from the administration of any planning for phases of re-opening Wisconsin’s economy.

We know that the Administration asked legislative leaders for an unlimited extension of the Emergency Declaration and powers even though the initial 60-day authority doesn’t end until early May.  That request was made about two weeks ago and with little justification based on the facts of the situation at that time.  Reasonably, any request from the Administration for extending the Emergency Declaration and powers must be accompanied by actual data and evidence of the risk we are attempting to mitigate.  To date, the Administration has failed to meet the justified evidence standard and some of its questionable actions are already undermining the level of trust necessary to authorize so few people to make life-altering decisions for every person in Wisconsin.  Based on these circumstances, I can’t support extending emergency powers for this administration as requested by Governor Evers.

There is time for Governor Evers and his administration to steady its decision-making process, provide a balanced response to both the public health challenges and the growing economic crisis, and work cooperatively to develop a phased plan to safely re-open Wisconsin’s economy.


Steve Nass


11th State Senate District

(608) 266-2635


From: Madden, Zach A – GOV <[email protected]>
Sent: Thursday, April 09, 2020 6:12 PM
To: Sen.Nass <[email protected]>
Cc: Rep.Wichgers <[email protected]>; Kennedy, Sean P – DNR <[email protected]>; *Legislative Senate Republicans – External Senders <[email protected]>; *Legislative Assembly Republicans – External Senders <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Update on State Park Operations

Senator Nass,

Thank you for your email regarding the Governor’s directive to the Wisconsin Department of Natural Resources to close certain Wisconsin State Parks, Forests, and Recreational Areas effective Friday, April 10.

This decision was not made lightly. Under the Safer at Home order, we must do all that we can to prevent the spread of the COVID-19 virus and protect the health and safety of the public. Unfortunately, unprecedented crowds, a lack of appropriate social distancing, litter, and vandalism made the continued operation of these properties untenable.

I can assure you that the DNR understands the public’s need to enjoy the benefits of nature during the COVID-19 pandemic. Although the Safer at Home order recognizes outdoor activity as an essential activity, people wishing to take a break outdoors are advised by public health officials to exercise in their community and maintain a social distance of 6 feet or more.

Warmer weather led to a drastic increase in visitors to state parks, posing a range of challenges relating to social distancing. According to the DNR, several parks experienced record attendance in recent weeks. Currently, ensuring public safety supersedes continuing operations at certain locations. In order to help minimize the transmission of COVID-19 at parks and protect the public, this was a necessary step.

The DNR will continue to closely monitor on-the-ground circumstances and adjust operations as conditions change. If the public does not follow social distancing guidelines, more state parks may have to close.

Thank you for your understanding.


Zach Madden

Legislative Liaison

Office of Governor Tony Evers

Email: [email protected]

Phone: (608) 266-7794 [office], (608) 279-6374 [cell]

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From: Rep.Wichgers – LEGIS <[email protected]>
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2020 12:47 PM
To: Madden, Zach A – GOV <[email protected]>
Subject: FW: Update on State Park Operations


Rep. Wichgers would request the information below is shared with the governor. Thank you for your time.

William Neville

Research Assistant
Office of State Representative Chuck Wichgers

83rd Assembly District

[email protected]

From: Sen.Nass <[email protected]>
Sent: Thursday, April 9, 2020 12:19 PM
To: Kennedy, Sean P – DNR <[email protected]>
Cc: *Legislative Assembly Republicans <[email protected]>; *Legislative Senate Republicans <[email protected]>
Subject: RE: Update on State Park Operations


Please share this with the department’s leadership.  I had hoped the leadership of the DNR would be able to maintain some semblance of reason and continue to operate our state parks based on facts, not fear.  To close 40 state parks based on litter and vandalism is outright ridiculous and raises serious questions regarding the decision-making capabilities of the leadership of your agency.

State employees are still being paid and have yet to face the same economic consequences of Governor Evers’ orders as many of my constituents now facing unemployment, furloughs or reduced compensation.  Picking up the garbage and increasing observation of state parks to reduce vandalism are all common sense steps that could easily be taken by state employees to avoid these closures, unless there is some other undisclosed agenda behind this decision.

Further, to suggest that these state parks must close now “out of an abundance of caution” over Covid-19 intentionally ignores the real data released every day by DHS.  DHS officials said three times last week that the “curve” in Wisconsin was flattening and this was done while these 40 state parks were open.  DHS’ modeling has been flawed and its projections grossly in accurate compared to real data being collected daily.

I strongly urge the department to reverse course and urge the Governor to rescind this needless order.


Steve Nass


11th State Senate District

(608) 266-2635



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