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Legislatively Speaking

Lena C. Taylor

Today, there is a collective concern about a recent decision rendered by the Wisconsin State Supreme Court. In ruling on the legality of the “Safer at Home” order issued by Gov. Tony Evers, the sitting justices voted 4-3 in declaring the extension of the order “unlawful” and “unenforceable.”

Whether you believe that many of the court’s conservative justices were practicing judicial activism, or that the Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm had exceeded her authority in issuing the order, we have a mess on our hands.

Much like the efforts of the Trump administration to dismantle the Affordable Care Act (ACA), there is NO PLAN!! Republicans on the national level want to strip healthcare from 25 million people and have nothing to replace it. Never mind that we are in the middle of a health pandemic. The sickness ravaging the nation has not skipped Wisconsin. With more than 11,000 people having tested positive for COVID-19 in the state, we are in this up to our face masks.

However, until the Republican-controlled legislature and Evers can reach an agreement on how to move forward, local municipalities are left to make up their own rules. In a matter of hours, some businesses threw their doors wide-open. Not a mask or social distancing anywhere to be found. Scary as that sounds for some, there are bigger issues to think about. I know because I was inundated with calls.

Many residents wanted to know, so what does the court ruling mean? Do they have to report immediately to work? What are they supposed to do about child care, with schools remaining closed? Can they be forced to return to a workplace that has taken no precautions to minimize COVID-19 outbreaks? When will the orders end that protect residents temporarily from eviction and utility cutoff? Can anything be done to help me not lose my home, while I wait for my eight-week old unemployment claim to be processed? Will the federal government continue to provide the additional unemployment benefit to Wisconsin residents since the state is back open for business?

I would love to say the questions stopped there, but they became increasingly alarming. What is the plan for dealing with a spike in cases? Are nursing homes safe for my mom? With no vaccine or understandable treatment plan, aren’t we still in danger? Is it safe for my children to go back to school in the fall? Are the Republicans and governor able to reach a timely consensus that will minimize the loss of human life? Are companies going to be required to do anything to make their workplaces safe? When does the rights of others infringe on my rights?

Some people simply said, “I’m afraid”, “I don’t want to lose a family member” or “I don’t want to die.” In acknowledging the importance of the economy, they wondered aloud whether their lives or the lives of their family or children, were equally as important to anyone. They wanted to know why the efforts to safely re-open the state has become partisan, red vs. blue, us vs. them? The Supreme Court decision did little to answer their questions.

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