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Tony Evers assigns Legislature 'homework' in the new year

Tony Evers assigns Legislature 'homework' in the new year


Democratic Gov. Tony Evers, a former schoolteacher, on Thursday assigned “homework” to Republican legislative leaders, requesting that they pass a number of bills in the new year.

“I am a teacher-turned-governor, so to that end, I am assigning the legislature some homework to complete before adjourning later this year,” Evers wrote. “The assignment begins with the issues that a majority of people in our state support and on which I think we should be able to agree.”

The letter drew a quick rebuke from Senate Majority Leader Scott Fitzgerald and other Republicans, nonplussed by what they viewed as an inappropriate and patronizing request. Fitzgerald is also running to replace outgoing U.S. Rep. Jim Sensenbrenner, R-Menomonee Falls, who isn’t seeking re-election this year.

“I thought I had a good meeting with the governor last week where we discussed priorities,” Fitzgerald wrote on Twitter. “But giving a coequal branch of government ‘homework’ in a condescending letter won’t help him grow support for an agenda with Senate Republicans. The tone of this letter is ridiculous.”

The letter asks the Republican-controlled Assembly and Senate to approve legislation that would cap the price of insulin; improve the processing of sexual assault evidence; and implement and enforce standards for containing the class of contaminants known as PFAS, among other things. It was sent to Fitzgerald, R-Juneau; Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester; Senate Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling, D-La Crosse; and Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz, D-Oshkosh.

The majority of the bills Evers highlighted have passed one chamber and are awaiting approval by the other.

In the letter, Evers highlighted the bipartisan work he said he and Republican leaders accomplished in his first year in office, including income tax reductions, expanding high-speed internet access, and increasing funding for K-12 public education and transportation.

But in 2020, Evers said he wants the Legislature to do more by passing a number of Democratic and Republican bills that have already been introduced this session. Among other things, those bills would cap the price of insulin at $100 for a 30-day supply and address sex trafficking by prohibiting the state from prosecuting people under the age of 18 for prostitution. The sex trafficking bill has already cleared the Senate.

The bills Evers highlighted would also seek to improve the processing of sexual assault evidence and prevent backlogs; increase spending to address homelessness; and reimburse local governments for the administration of special elections. The Senate has approved the bills addressing sexual assault evidence backlogs and special elections, while the Assembly has approved the homelessness package.

The bills would also seek to close the so-called “dark store” loophole, which big-box retailers like Walmart, Target and Menards can use to reduce their property taxes by assessing active stores as if they were vacant.

Another bill would direct the Department of Natural Resources to establish and enforce standards for per-and poly-fluoroalkyl substances, collectively known as PFAS, which are industrial chemicals found in common household products and firefighting foams that are connected with adverse human health effects.


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