Assembly Speaker Robin Vos slammed Gov. Tony Evers for “acting like a dictator” by declaring health emergencies to address COVID-19 without support from the Legislature.
The Rochester Republican said in a WisPolitics.com virtual event Thursday the guv’s decision to keep reissuing emergency orders every 60 days without getting approval from the Legislature was illegal. He said the Legislature has been asking “since last June, to be able to work with us and do it in the process that’s legal, as opposed to one where you kind of take the law into your own hands and act like a dictator.”
He also said the recent Senate Joint Resolution 3 was not intended to eliminate the mask mandate, but to reduce Evers’ power with emergency orders.
“I believe wearing a mask should be something that isn’t a political statement. It should not be something that requires the government to mandate it in a way that the governor seems to say that’s the only way that’s effective,” he added.
He said the laws around requiring legislative approval of an emergency order after 60 days were intended to create a more inclusive process for legislators and give them a chance to have a say on how tax dollars are spent.
“It was never meant that one person gets to make every decision without input. That’s why I was so deeply disappointed in their process where you get to spend federal CARES dollars without consultation,” he said.
Vos said Evers continued the practice as he attempted to issue executive orders that would allow health officials to close businesses and places of religious worship.
He said those executive orders would have “extremely negative” consequences on the economy, closing many businesses permanently.
“Luckily, we went to the Supreme Court, they agreed that no one should serve as the czar of Wisconsin, and that’s why we have a pretty good budget, we have a pretty healthy climate, we’ve seen our [COVID-19 infection] numbers declining,” he said. “So we’re definitely heading in the right direction.”
Also during the luncheon, Vos said he wants to examine “indefinitely confined” and other absentee ballot procedures from the last election.
He said he believes many of the Wisconsinites who marked themselves “indefinitely confined” on their absentee ballots in the November election should never have been able to vote absentee because they didn’t meet the “statutory definition” and were given “bad information.”
“I wouldn’t say it was fraud, but I would certainly say that those votes weren’t cast legally. There’s a difference in my mind,” he said yesterday.
He also said tougher regulations on the indefinitely confined votes could prevent people with dementia from casting ballots, something he said has happened around Wisconsin.
Legislators need to figure out how to make laws that “better clarify what it means to be indefinitely confined so that somebody who’s really in a nursing home or is immobile can get to keep the ballot and they keep getting it sent to them,” he said. “I support that.”
He also knocked the advice given clerks by the Wisconsin Election Commission on fixing issues with absentee ballots. “They have somehow taken this position that they have the ability because of whatever situation to waive the law, that is incorrect,” he said.
Vos said there are already statutory limits on ballot curing by election workers and they should be enforced.
Vos also said “Wisconsin needs to keep its end of the bargain and fulfill our contract” with Foxconn.
Vos, who represents the Racine County area where Foxconn’s manufacturing facility is located, said the electronics giant has been creating jobs and investing in infrastructure despite setbacks from the pandemic, foreign competition and “the Evers’ administration’s attitude.”
“But luckily we had an ironclad contract where even the Evers administration couldn’t screw the fact up that if they didn’t create the jobs or make the investment, they didn’t get the revenue in return,” he said as part of his explanation for why he appointed himself to the WEDC board.
“We know that they have made that, they are making that. Which means the state of Wisconsin needs to keep its end of the bargain and fulfill our contract.”
Wisconsin Economic Development Corp. Secretary Missy Hughes said earlier this month she’s optimistic the Foxconn and WEDC will reach a new agreement through their “fruitful” conversations.
The group determined in October last year that Foxconn was ineligible for billions of tax incentive dollars under the contract signed by former Gov. Scott Walker.
Hughes in early January gave no timeline for a new pact.