Assembly GOP releases COVID-19 relief measure ideas hours after Gov. Evers bill package proposal

Published: Nov. 17, 2020 at 2:59 PM CST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2020 at 6:44 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) - Assembly Speaker Robin Vos released ideas for COVID-19 relief measures Tuesday afternoon to be considered following Gov. Ever’s unveiling of his own relief package earlier on the same day.

Vos released the Assembly Republicans' proposal of ideas in a news conference, wanting to focus on increasing the number of contact tracers and rapid tests. Vos also pushed for the Wisconsin National Guard to continue to assist with COVID-19 testing.

The Assembly GOP also is asking to ensure areas where rapid tests are used to be deployed in a more “meaningful” manner. Vos explained they would like to start a pilot program where at-home COVID-19 testing is an option so that patients are not required to go to a testing location.

Vos explained he and his colleague’s proposal also called for a plan to curb unemployment in the state. The GOP Assembly proposed taking unemployment insurance recipients and pay them to be contact tracers, in addition to receiving unemployment.

Vos said that Gov. Evers sent Assembly Republicans a draft of his policy package on Monday and then released it Tuesday. The Republican Assembly said they did not draft a bill at that time because they wanted to sit down with the governor and draft one.

“We wanted to have the Assembly Republicans take some time to talk about the discussion that we have been having to make sure the people of Wisconsin know the fight against COVID is not partisan and it is something that we want to make sure we continue to engage in in a thoughtful process where both the Legislature and the Executive have an opportunity to put ideas forward,” Vos said.

Vos described many of the governors proposals in package of bills a “rehash” of things they had already done in the Spring, some the Assembly would want to renew.

Gov. Tony Evers released a package of 19 bills he wants the Republican-controlled Wisconsin Legislature to consider this fall in response to the surging coronavirus pandemic.

The bills released Tuesday by the governor would prohibit evictions and foreclosures through 2021 and continue the suspension of a one-week waiting period before people can collect unemployment. They would also allow workers, including in healthcare, to claim worker’s compensation benefits related to COVID-19 if they contracted the illness from their occupation.

Vos asked that citizens continue to follow CDC guidelines and restrictions by wearing a mask, staying socially distant from others and limiting their social gatherings.

In terms of a timeline, Vos said they will have to schedule a meeting with Gov. Evers first before finalizing a relief package. The governor’s office said they are willing to speak with Assembly Republicans, but still had not heard back since the Oct. 12 letter. The governor’s office also noted the Assembly has not responded to a request Monday to meet and talk about the bill. Gov. Evers had proposed to meet with the GOP members on Friday.

The governor’s office wanted to make the point Tuesday that the Assembly GOP have not drafted a bill of their own yet and Tuesday’s proposal were just to discuss talking points.

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