MADISON, Wis. - The state Assembly passed a Republican-authored bill on Thursday, Feb. 17 that limits government officials’ ability to close select businesses in an emergency.
The legislation would block any government official from declaring a business essential or nonessential. It also would mandate that any regulation on businesses imposed during an emergency would have to be applied to all businesses uniformly regardless of the type of business or the product or service it offers.
The measure comes in response to an executive order Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ administration issued in March 2020 ordering nonessential businesses to close as the COVID-19 pandemic was taking hold. The conservative-leaning state Supreme Court struck down the order that May, but Republicans remain outraged over the mandate, saying no government official should have the power to shut down the entire state and declare a business nonessential.
The Assembly approved the bill on a 59-35 vote, sending it on to the state Senate.