Evers' officially recalls lawmakers for special session,Vos says it's not happening

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MADISON, Wis. (WMTV) -- Wisconsin’s Assembly Speaker says the Assembly will not be on the floor next week, despite Gov. Tony Evers calling for a special session to invest in rural communities throughout the state.

Gov. Tony Evers delivers State of the State Address at the capitol, Jan. 22, 2020 (WSAW Photo)

Evers signed the executive order creating the special session, telling lawmakers to be back at the Capitol next Tuesday. He first announced his intent to call the session Wednesday night during his State of the State speech.

In the speech, he detailed the burdens rural communities face, including the loss of approximately one-third of the state’s dairy farms between 2011 and 2018.

Assembly Speaker Robin Vos announced Thursday Evers’ bills will be reviewed by committees before moving forward.

“The Assembly will not be on the floor next week,” said Vos. “The bills will be referred to committee and hearings will be held. We’re currently reviewing the legislation and gathering input from farmers, including farmers from our own caucus.”

Evers detailed his plan at various locations across the state Thurs., starting in Dodgeville. He said he called a special session because it allows lawmakers to focus on just the one topic being brought forward.

"At the end of the day we have to realize that this, none of these are the silver bullet, so it is important for us to get to work on this as quickly as possible," he said.

Kyle Levetzow, owner of Model Dairy Farms in Dodgeville, said he has personally struggled with low milk prices and seen the dairy market struggle. He said he just wants legislators to come together to get things done.

"I just hope to see some bipartisanship in this. It affects everyone equally and as a citizen I get tired of the Republican versus Democrat argument," he said.

Evers' Three-Pronged Plan

To combat the struggles farmers face, one of his bill aims to increase the state’s dairy exports 20 percent over the next four years. Additionally, he proposes expanding the Farm-to-School and Farm-to-Fork to increase the demand within Wisconsin as well.

Evers’ plan also works to expand mental health services into rural areas, noting that while the “farm center is doing important work in this area… we know folds need access to these resources closer to home.”

The final two prongs in the Governor’s rural initiative entails creating an Office of Rural Prosperity, within the Wisconsin Economic Develop Corporation and bringing together members of multiple industries for a “Blue Ribbon Commission on Rural Prosperity” that is meant to find long-term solutions.

The Bills

The legislature is asked to take up the following bills listed below, along with the descriptions Evers' office is using to describe them.

Here's the full statement from Assembly Speaker Robin Vos:


“The Assembly will not be on the floor next week. The bills will be referred to committee and hearings will be held. We’re currently reviewing the legislation and gathering input from farmers, including farmers from our own caucus.


“Assembly Republicans have a long track record of responding to the needs of our rural communities, which includes creating the Dairy Innovation Hub, fighting for local road funding, assisting our rural schools, allowing farmers to diversify crops and advancing many other farmer-driven initiatives.


“It’s important that we continue to listen to Wisconsinites who live in our rural communities before moving forward on anything.”