Wisconsin Republicans push to repeal state mask mandate

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MADISON, Wis. (AP) — The Republican-controlled Wisconsin Assembly is scheduled Thursday to vote on repealing the statewide mask mandate issued by Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, but the order will remain in effect until the state Senate concurs.

That could happen as soon as Feb. 16, although Senate leaders have not said yet when or whether the vote will happen. The Senate voted last week to repeal the measure, as Republicans who control the Legislature continue to defy doctors, nurses, hospitals, schools, chambers of commerce and scores of others who have begged them to keep the mandate in place.

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Republicans say the issue isn’t about masks, but whether Evers can legally issue multiple emergency health orders during the pandemic. The Legislature argues he can’t and must get their approval every 60 days. Evers contends the changing nature of the pandemic allowed him to issue multiple orders and mask mandates.

Even if current emergency health order is repealed, Evers could issue a new one and another mask mandate.

The Supreme Court could end the legislative back and forth with a ruling that says Evers must get lawmakers’ approval every 60 days. The court could also say he doesn’t need approval, which would then force the Legislature to repeal every order Evers issues if Republicans disagree with it.

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