Wisconsin Senate Votes to Repeal Governor’s Statewide Mask Mandate

January 26, 2021 Updated: January 27, 2021

The GOP-controlled Wisconsin Senate on Jan. 26 voted to repeal the statewide mask mandate put in place by Gov. Tony Evers as part of measures to curb the transmission of the CCP virus.

In a 18-13 vote, the Senate voted in favor of repealing the emergency declaration that allowed Evers, a Democrat, to issue the statewide mask mandate.

GOP Sens. Dale Kooyenga and Robert Cowles, alongside their Democratic colleagues, voted in opposition to the joint resolution to throw out the mandate, which had been cosponsored by more than two dozen Republicans in the state.

Both legislative chambers have to pass the resolution in order to overturn the mask mandate in the state. The governor’s approval is not required to overturn the measure, which he had put in place statewide until at least March 20.

If successful, it would effectively remove the only remaining measure implemented statewide as part of efforts to limit the spread of COVID-19, the disease caused by the CCP (Chinese Communist Party) virus.

The Assembly, controlled 58-30 by Republicans, scheduled it for a vote Thursday.

Robin Vos, the speaker of the Wisconsin State Assembly, did not say Tuesday how much support the measure to repeal the mask mandate has in the chamber. It hasn’t been sponsored by Republican leaders in the Assembly.

The vote followed hours of debate between Democrat and Republican senators, as members of the health care community statewide warned that removing the mandate would impair efforts to combat the CCP virus pandemic.

“We ask all of our government leaders to support physicians and other front-line health care workers by promoting mask-wearing as an effective tool against COVID-19,” CEO Bud Chumbley, MD for the Wisconsin Medical Society said in a statement.

reopening businesses
Rich’s Barber Shop in Waukesha, Wis., on May 14, 2020. (Morry Gash/AP Photo)

No groups registered their support backing removal of the governor’s mandate.

According to the National Academy for State Health Policy, 41 U.S. states have a mask mandate in place.

COVID-19 can be contracted from people who are or aren’t wearing masks, but mask proponents have repeatedly portrayed transmission as more likely if people aren’t wearing masks.

Authors of a study published by the Heritage Foundation in December last year suggests that there may be more effective interventions to control the spread of the CCP virus in the United States and elsewhere than government-ordered mask mandates.

The 25 U.S. counties with the highest number of officially reported CCP virus cases have rigorous mask mandates in place, as do 97 of the top 100, according to the study.

The study was based on data supplied by USA Facts, a nonpartisan data compiler used by the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC), among other federal agencies.

The study’s authors claimed that “these findings do not deny the efficacy of mask-wearing per se. Nor should they discourage the practice. Instead, they point to the inadequacy of public health strategies that rely predominantly on lockdowns and mask mandates.

“Governments should undertake more effective interventions. These include adopting better measures to protect nursing home residents, enabling nationwide screening through the widespread use of rapid self-tests, and establishing voluntary isolation centers where infected people can recover, rather than exposing their families to infection.”

Wisconsin Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu said in a statement that the chamber on Tuesday “took a stand for liberty and the rule of law.”

“Governor Evers has abused his limited authority for far too long by repeatedly issuing unlawful orders beyond his 60-day emergency powers,” he said. “The Senate voted to end the executive overreach and restore our constituents’ voice in the legislative process.”

Sen. Stephen Nass, a Republican who authored the joint resolution, said overturning the mandate “is not about whether face masks are good or bad.”

“This is about repeatedly issuing emergency orders contrary to what the law allows. It’s about the rule of law,” Nass said.

The governor’s administration has backed issuing multiple emergency orders to extend the state’s mask mandate as necessary to adjust to the ongoing pandemic.

Mark Tapscott contributed to this report.