Going Forward Toward Normality

After Wisconsin completed two months under Governor Evers’ “Safer at Home” order, the state’s Supreme Court struck down the Department of Health Services (DHS) Secretary-designee Andrea Palm’s continuation of the order, known as Emergency Order 28. Although some people may not like the ruling, a majority of my constituents indicated their desire to safely and responsibly reopen Wisconsin.

Under State Statute 323.10: “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.” The Statute continues: “A state of emergency shall not exceed 60 days, unless the state of emergency is extended by joint resolution of the legislature.”

On April 16th, Governor Evers’ unelected DHS bureaucratic Secretary-designee Palm extended Wisconsin’s “Safer at Home” order through Memorial Day by claiming she had the power to do so through Wisconsin State Statute 252.02.

The Wisconsin State Legislature disagreed with Governor Evers administration on whether the “Safer at Home” extension was a rule or an order. The Evers’ administration insisted it was an order, while the legislature asserted it was a rule requiring Secretary-designee Palm submit it via the emergency rule-making process with legislative oversight.

Wisconsin’s Constitution ensures 3 co-equal branches of government. According to state law, an emergency declaration order cannot exceed 60 days without an extension voted on in a legislative joint resolution. Governor Evers’ administration circumvented the constitutional authority of the legislature and granted a political appointee more power than even the governor himself.    

Specifically, the Wisconsin Supreme Court’s overall majority opinion stated: “We conclude that Emergency Order 28 is a rule under the controlling precedent of this court, Citizens for Sensible Zoning, Inc. v. DNR, 90 Wis. 2d 804, 280 N.W.2d 702 (1979), and therefore is subject to statutory emergency rulemaking procedures established by the Legislature.”

Now that Emergency Order 28 has been found unenforceable by the Supreme Court, the authority for COVID-19’s safety measures and precautions will shift to local health officers in deciding what methods work best for their specific regional communities. Local public health officers derive their power through the local elected officials from their individual municipalities.

According to State Statute 252.03(2): “Local health officers may do what is reasonable and necessary for the prevention and suppression of disease; may forbid public gatherings when deemed necessary to control outbreaks or epidemics and shall advise the department of measures taken.”   

Although COVID-19 is still a factor, I trust Wisconsin’s proprietors will continue adhering to guidelines provided by the Wisconsin Economic Development Corporation by opening their businesses in a safe and responsible manner. And I am confident people will continue following good practices of social distancing, hand washing and sanitizing, staying home when sick, and telecommuting.

Even with increased testing for COVID-19, the percentage of positive tests have decreased. Wisconsinites can once again decide what is best for themselves, their families, and their businesses. Anyone with compromised health, or people who feel uncomfortable leaving their homes can remain sheltered. Wisconsin though, is going forward toward normality.