Governor Makes Next Move in Allowing DHS to Craft New Emergency Rule

Less than 24 hours after the state Supreme Court quashed the Department of Health Services’ extension of the state’s ‘Safer at Home’ order, thereby ending all the restrictions it placed on residents and businesses, Gov. Tony Evers moved to restore the emergency powers to his health agency.

Evers took the first step Thursday, when he released the framework for the rule change, a so-called Statement of Scope, that will be put forth for public input starting Monday.

The agency is tasked with two goals, limiting the spread of COVID-19 to healthy Wisconsinites, i.e. the “boxing in” phase of the Badger Bounce Back plan, and reopening the business sector without jeopardizing long-term economic growth by risking a second wave of the virus.

Following the ten-day public comment period, DHS officials will take the feedback provided and draft its proposed rule.

Once that 10-day period is over, DHS can publish the rule, going into effect immediately. However, the legislature’s Joint Committee for Review of Administrative Rules does have authority to meet and make changes to it if they deem it necessary.

“Whether it will be a repeat of the ‘Safer at Home’ order or something that will be negotiated between the legislature and the department is yet to be seen,” said Republican Rep. Joan Ballweg, who co-chairs that committee.