Wisconsin Republicans to challenge extension of 'Safer at Home' order; interest in rally explodes

MADISON -- Gov. Tony Evers' emergency powers last 60 days. After that, the state legislature would need to extend any action.

Gov. Evers' powers run out on May 11, but the administration's new Safer at Home extension runs past that now -- to May 26. Now, state Republicans will challenge the extended order.

Alberta Darling

"We are going to the Supreme Court," said State Sen. Alberta Darling (R-River Hills). "People are really desperate, we're losing jobs. There's so many people who file for unemployment. It's just very, very frightening. We have to get Wisconsin back to work."

While Gov. Evers' powers run out on May 11, the secretary of health services has separate powers with no defined time limit. Wisconsin law says the Department of Health Services "may close schools and forbid public gatherings in schools, churches, and other places to control outbreaks and epidemics."

Conservatives say, if there is no longer a public health emergency, then the DHS loses its legal foundation. They also bring up the constitutional protections for the right to assemble, free speech and religion.

"No bureaucrat has the right or authority to do this to us," said Darling.

President Donald Trump outlined three phases to re-open the country, leaving it up to governors. And Wisconsin's says Safer at Home should go on.

Gov. Tony Evers

"No one wants to reopen our economy as much as I do, but the bottom line is that our businesses, our workers and us as consumers can't be confident if we are not confident about our safety and health," Gov. Evers said.

The controversy continues outside of the Capitol, too.

Interest in a rally at the Capitol calling for the state to re-open has exploded following Gov. Evers' extended order.

The rally scheduled for Friday, April 24 had about 700 people who said on Facebook they planned to attend just before Evers announced the order extension on Thursday. As of Friday morning, more than 2,400 said they were attending.

Wisconsin State Capitol, Madison

One of the organizers of the rally, Madison Elmer, said Friday that a group of people got together to put it on out of frustration over how Evers has handled reaction to the pandemic. She said they have been approached by special interest groups that want to get involved, but they've declined their involvement.

“We didn’t want them hijacking it or turning it into something political to fit their agenda," said Elmer, 33, who said she lives in southeast Wisconsin but declined to say where. She said organizers have been deluged with threats and "people saying they hope we die, people calling us murderers.”

“My personal goal of the rally is to start bringing people together that have common goals in mind, which is to get rid of the stay at home order," Elmer said. "Lots of us want us to demand Gov. Evers and (the Department of Health Services) come up with a plan for ending this. There is no plan in place. He’s not reassuring us this is going to end.”

Evers and state health officials have said their actions have been guided by the science and what steps are most appropriate to save lives.