Wisconsin Senate Republicans vote to repeal state mask mandate

The resolution moves to the state assembly where it is likely to pass

MADISON, Wis. (WKBT) — The Wisconsin State Senate has voted to repeal Gov. Tony Evers’ mask mandate, but don’t unmask  just yet. 

Despite warnings from dozens of health care organizations that repealing the governor’s mask mandate would hinder the state’s effort to end the coronavirus pandemic,  the Republican-controlled State Senate voted 18 to 13 to repeal it. 

During the debate that lasted hours, Senate Democrats said doing away with the mandate would put lives at risk. “Frankly, I’m pissed. I’m pissed my neighbors are dying. I’m pissed I haven’t been able to hug my family in nine months now, and the people suffering the most are not able to be here and speak and see what’s going on.”, said State Senator Chris Larson.

Republicans argued the governor exceeded his authority by issuing multiple emergency declarations, which allowed him to extend the mask mandate beyond the 60 days allowed under the law,   without getting the Legislature’s approval. “This is not about whether facemasks are good or bad. This is about repeatedly issuing emergency orders contrary to what the law allows.” said Sen. Steve Nass.

The mask mandate is also being challenged in the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which could issue a ruling at any point.  Meantime, the Senate resolution moves to the State Assembly, where the GOP also has control, and will likely pass it later this week.

Don’t put your mask away yet. If the state ordered is repealed, local orders would remain in effect, and private business will still be allowed to enforce their own mask policy. Check back with News 8 Now for future updates.