Assembly Off to Rough Start

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Michelle Phillips

MIDDLETON–The Wisconsin State Assembly seemed to get off to a rough start last week after Representative Treig Pronschinske (R-Mondovi), chair of the Assembly Committee on Sporting Heritage, Small Business and Rural Issues called for in person hearings offering no remote option and Assembly Speaker Robyn Vos refused to pass a state COVID-19 bill after Gov. Tony Evers and the Wisconsin State Senate reached a compromise.

Dianne Hesselbein (D-Middleton), who represent the 79th Assembly District said she saw no reason that she should have to appear in person during the pandemic when the Senate is allowing a call in option. She said this inhibited assembly members’ ability to ask questions and added that those that appear in person were not wearing masks, further endangering their colleagues. 

“I had to watch the hearing on Wisconsin Eye,” Hesselbein stated.

In addition, Hesselbein said Capitol Police sent an email asking legislators to work from home if possible due to concerns over unrest surrounding the Presidential Inauguration.

Vos made the decision to meet in person up to the committee chairs, and Hesselbein noted that the legislators and their staff have been working remotely and questioned why committees were different.  

“I’m safer going to Target or Metcalf’s,” Hesselbein said.

As for the COVID-19 bill, the senate came to a compromise with the governor, but Vos refused a vote on the compromise and doesn’t want to support the senate bill, passed on Jan. 12, Hesselbien said. 

The Assembly bill, which was voted on Jan. 7, has several items that seemed to be sticking points when they were left out of the compromise. Some of those measures were, release businesses from liability if employees become infected at work, giving legislative control over COVID-19 funds and disbursement and making it harder for schools to offer remote learning options. 

The Assembly bill would also prohibit employers from requiring vaccines and mandatory vaccines for the public and require state employees to return to work in person, none of which were included in the senate’s amended version. 

The Senate bill requires Medicaid to cover vaccines and testing and removed a provision that prevents health agencies from closing businesses for more two weeks. 

“It’s not perfect, but it is a compromise,” Hesselbein said of the amended Senate bill. 



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