State Senate Unveils Pared-Back COVID-19 Response Legislation

State Senate Republicans on Monday unveiled their own plan to address COVID-19, keeping many bipartisan provisions from the Assembly and governor’s proposals, stripping out some controversial parts, but leaving in business liability protections, which Democrats oppose.

The bill, which is expected to receive a floor vote on Tuesday, received a public hearing Monday morning and was approved by the Senate Committee on Organization 3-2 along party lines.

Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu, R-Oostburg, told WISN-TV’s “Upfront” over the weekend that the Senate’s goal with its COVID-19 package is getting it signed by the governor.

“The bill that the Assembly brought forward is a good bill, but what we’re looking to do in the Senate is find a bill, and this is our goal all along, is to find a bill that we’re confident that the governor will sign so that way we can get that bill done for the state of Wisconsin,” LeMaheiu said.

The Senate bill scraps some of the most controversial aspects of the Assembly’s bill that would bar mandatory vaccinations, prevent local health officers from issuing coronavirus restrictions for more than two business days unless extended for up to 14 days by the local governing body, temporarily relax restrictions for K-12 students seeking open enrollment at another school district and require two-thirds approval by school boards in order for schools to offer virtual instruction.

Despite nixing some controversial aspects of the bill passed by the Assembly, the Senate version still includes some provisions included in the Assembly version, such as COVID-19 liability protections.