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Wisconsin Senate votes to end statewide mask mandate

The joint resolution now heads to the Republican-controlled state assembly.

The Wisconsin Senate voted to overturn the state’s mask mandate Tuesday and end the state’s public health emergency declaration.

The resolution passed the Republican-controlled Senate 18-13. The legislation would restrict Democratic Gov. Tony Evers’ emergency powers, including a declaration that mandated mask usage in indoor public spaces.

Evers issued the mask mandate last summer, shortly after Minnesota put a similar measure into place. Evers recently extended the mandate into March.

Lobbying groups including the Wisconsin Academy of Family Physicians, Wisconsin Assisted Living and the Wisconsin EMS Association registered against the legislation.

Republicans in favor of ending the mandate have long been critical of Evers for his use of emergency powers during the pandemic.

“[Evers] does not have limitless power and today the Wisconsin Senate reminded the governor that he is not above the law and his endless string of emergency declarations will not stand,” Republican Sen. Duey Stroebel said on Twitter Tuesday.

The legislation now goes to the Republican-controlled state Assembly, where the Democratic caucus has already criticized the proposal.

Because the legislation was presented as a joint resolution, it does not require Evers’ signature if passed.

According to the Wisconsin Department of Health Services, the state has seen more than 535,000 cases of COVID-19 since the beginning of the pandemic. 

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