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Wisconsin Assembly Republicans sworn in, Democrats skip ceremony citing COVID-19 concerns

Published: Jan. 4, 2021 at 10:20 PM CST|Updated: Jan. 4, 2021 at 10:30 PM CST
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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -The 105th Wisconsin assembly was sworn in Monday afternoon at the State Capitol, but most democrats weren’t in attendance.

The new session kicked off with Republicans in the Capitol and Democrats virtual. Both parties laid out their priorities for 2021.

Taking an oath for a two-year term is a standard practice, but this year there was a difference. Not everyone was present in the chamber.

“While we couldn’t accommodate everyone in the chamber this year, we know family and friends are here in spirit and many are watching on Wisconsin Eye,” Speaker Robin Vos, Republican said.

While some Democrats joined in person, others skipped the event citing inadequate covid precautions.

“With a start of each legislative session, we share a new hope to accomplish even more for this state,” Speaker Vos said.

Republicans kicked off the session with a new covid bill, in part, containing measures that go against Gov. Tony Evers’ proposed legislation.

“It was very disappointing that the governor walked away from the negotiating table last month,” Speaker Vos said.

Democrats were sworn in virtually last week, and held a session of their own on Monday morning.

“We’re here because legislative democrats are ready to get to work for the people of Wisconsin,” Rep. Gordon Hintz, Democrat said.

Democrats used part of their virtual session to introduce a covid relief bill of their own.

“The legislation that democrats are introducing is a bridge,” Rep. Elect Sara Rodriguez, Democrat said.

Democratic lawmakers said the main focus is families and small businesses, citing challenges that require swift action as the pandemic worsens.

“We must get to work to ensure people have the support they need to get through this pandemic. I encourage my colleagues on the other side of the aisle to join me in this critical piece of legislation,” Rep. Elect Rodriguez said.

Speaker Vos said the final bill will include many items from the bipartisan discussion.

“I want to thank our colleagues in the states that continued our negotiations,” Vos said.

The legislature has not passed a bill since April 2020.

Republicans said they hope to pass a covid-19 relief bill later this week.

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