Thursday, January 28, 2021

Assembly pause isn't able to mask just how dumb WisGOP is being

Today, the gerrymandered WisGOP Legislature was planning to revoke Governor Evers’ emergency declaration on COVID-19 and its related mask mandate because of….FREEDUMM!!?? And it led to a farce across both houses at the Capitol.

Trying to get rid of the mask mandate and hamper the Governor's ability to act against COVID is bad enough, but on the eve of the vote in the State Assembly, the WisGOP found out that more than public health would be hurt if they made the move.
Republican state lawmakers plan to end Wisconsin's health emergency order on Thursday, which would prevent nearly 243,000 households from collecting $49.3 million in assistance a month, according to the nonpartisan Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

Republicans introduced their plan a week ago and rushed it to the Senate floor without holding a hearing on it. Until late Wednesday, they had given no indication their effort could take away food assistance in the middle of a pandemic that has forced thousands of people out of work.
OOPS!!! How did that happen?

Let’s wind this back to go into how ending a COVID-19 emergency could take away food stamp benefits from hundreds of thousands of Wisconsinites.Start with the state law that explains how Governor Evers was able to declare a public health emergency. And how it can be continued or revoked by the Legislature.
323.10 Declaration by governor. The governor may issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency for the state or any portion of the state if he or she determines that an emergency resulting from a disaster or the imminent threat of a disaster exists. If the governor determines that a public health emergency exists, he or she may issue an executive order declaring a state of emergency related to public health for the state or any portion of the state and may designate the department of health services as the lead state agency to respond to that emergency. If the governor determines that the emergency is related to computer or telecommunication systems, he or she may designate the department of administration as the lead agency to respond to that emergency. A state of emergency shall not exceed 60 days, unless the state of emergency is extended by joint resolution of the legislature. A copy of the executive order shall be filed with the secretary of state. The executive order may be revoked at the discretion of either the governor by executive order or the legislature by joint resolution.
As the gerrymandered Legislature has done nothing after April, Evers has felt the need to do a series of 60-day emergency declarations as COVID has lingered. But that last sentence does give the Legislature the ability to end such an emergency, so that’s what they were planning to do.

And here's how that move would have taken away Food Stamp benefits, based on this guidance from the US Department of Agriculture.
States that have already received [Food and Nutrition Service] approval for EA (the extra SNAP benefits) issuance in March and April, or April and May, are approved to continue issuing EA benefits each month. This approval to extend these EAs will remain in place until such a time as the Secretary for Health and Human Services rescinds the public health emergency declaration that was issued on January 27, 2020, under section 319 of the Public Health Service Act or the State-issued emergency or disaster declaration expires.
This was continued in the next COVID stimulus bill that became law at the end of December. And you can see where the problem kicks in, because if the Legislature revokes the emergency declaration, families can’t get the extra SNAP benefits.

And that $49 million isn’t just a one-time loss of benefits – it’s how much that would be lost a MONTH in 2021. With the possibility of SNAP funds being cut now being known, the Assembly GOP backed down this afternoon...for now. But wait, Steve-nASS and other Senate Republicans have a solution to this quandry! "Hey Guv, we don't want to allow you to say it's an emergency or have any authority. But we do want you to tell DC it's an emergency, so we can get more money from them." Yeah, I don't think that's how it works out, guys.

That meaningless amendment is attached to the Assembly GOP's piece of garbage COVID bill that includes provisions like this.
[1.] Bar employers and health officials from requiring people to get COVID-19 vaccinations.
[2.] Bar local health officers from closing places of worship to curb the spread of the virus.
[3.] Give the Legislature’s state budget committee oversight of how federal COVID-19 stimulus funds are spent.

Yeah, I can't see Evers signing that one, guys.

Will the GOP’s belief in handcuffing Evers on COVID-19 stop their whole anti-science idiocy, now that it will actually cost Wisconsinites money for food? Don't count on it, as it is symptomatic of a Republican Party that cares more about AM radio talking points than governing and policy. And because that's the case, you get the foolishness that we've had in the last 24 hours at the Capitol.

1 comment:

  1. Do they really believe the Nass amendment is a workable solution? Why would DC approve the money when their requirement for qualifying for the money is eliminated? So, the only allowed emergency is not getting the money? And of course Nass adds his belief that an Evers veto would allow the Reps to blame him for turning down the money because they are repealing Evers authority to declare an emergency. My head spins.