Senate Republicans rebuff Vos’ fast-tracked COVID bill, Assembly to vote despite threats

    Speaker Robin Vos gives a speech at the 2021-22 inauguration.
    Speaker Robin Vos gives a speech at the 2021-22 inauguration.

    Thursday the Assembly is scheduled to meet to take up just one piece of legislation: the fast-tracked COVID-19 bill that Speaker Robin Vos introduced late Monday and was passed through committee on Tuesday.

    That plan hasn’t changed, despite potential threats from pro-Trump mobs that moved to state Capitols after rioters in Washington D.C. attempted to stop Congress from certifying the presidential election.

    Legislators coming to the Assembly floor face several heightened potential threats. Guns are permitted at the Wisconsin Capitol, including in the chambers. The public must be admitted into the Capitol and is free to carry guns. There are legislators who have come armed in the past and some representatives told others they may come armed to session.

    On top of that, there is no mask requirement for anyone, so there is an increased risk of catching the coronavirus for the public or elected officials. 

    It appears the risk will be all for nothing.

    Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said Wednesday that the Senate will not be taking up the Assembly version of the bill, even though Vos announced that the two had an agreement to do so. The Wheeler Report asked LeMahieu, “Speaker Vos said on the floor, and again in interviews yesterday, that you already have an agreement on that bill [COVID] and you guys are ready to go. Is that not the case?” LeMahieu replied, “That is not the case. There is a reason that was an Assembly bill and not a Senate bill.”

    Gov. Tony Evers stopped short of a promise to veto the bill on Tuesday, but there are elements such as giving businesses and other entities legal immunity against COVID-19 lawsuits even if they are refusing to comply with public health orders. And that is immaterial if it never passes the state Senate.

    Minority Leader Gordon Hintz said security is on the minds of many of his members and Capitol staff. Democrats have already been watching meetings remotely, because Vos has rejected their requests to be allowed to participate virtually.

    Department of Administration personnel are not commenting, giving only this comment, “For the safety and security of the Capitol Police, as well as members of the public, we do not share details regarding current or future security measures nor do we comment on potential threats.”


    Melanie Conklin
    Melanie Conklin is proud to be a native of the state of Wisconsin, which gave humankind the typewriter, progressivism and deep-fried cheese curds. Her several decades in journalism include political beats and columns at Isthmus newspaper, the Wisconsin State Journal and other publications. When not an ink-stained wretch, she served time inside state, local and federal government in communications. She is excited to be back at the craft of journalism as Deputy Editor of the Wisconsin Examiner. It’s what she’s loved ever since getting her master’s degree in journalism from the UW-Madison. Her family includes one husband, two kids, four dogs and five (or more) chinchillas.