MADISON, Wis. — The Wisconsin Senate was poised to pass a scaled-down COVID-19 relief package today, continuing a monthslong fight over the legislation.
The Republican-controlled Legislature passed a COVID-19 relief deal in April but did nothing to address the pandemic all summer and fall. Democratic Gov. Tony Evers and Republican legislative leaders began talking with each other about a second package late last year but couldn't come up with an agreement.
Assembly Republicans went ahead and passed their own package last week. Evers said he opposes it. Senate Republicans have taken the Assembly proposal and pared it back, removing numerous provisions Democrats and the governor opposed.
The changes include eliminating a provision that would have prohibited local health officials from closing businesses for more than two weeks at a time, allowing employers and health officials to require workers to be vaccinated and eliminating a requirement that schools boards vote every two weeks on whether to continue all-virtual learning.
But the Senate version of the bill still contains proposals that Evers and other don't like, including limiting liability for COVID-19 claims against businesses, schools, governments and health care providers. It also extends the waiver of a one-week waiting period to receive unemployment benefits only until March 14. Evers wants the waiver extended into July.
Evers has not said whether he supports the Senate version of the package.
The Senate was expected to vote on the bill during a floor session set to begin late this morning. Senate passage would send the bill back to the Assembly. Kit Beyer, a spokeswoman for Speaker Robin Vos, didn't immediately respond to a message inquiring about the revised package's chances in that chamber.