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Wisconsin Assembly fails to override Gov. Tony Evers' veto of nursing bill

Wisconsin Assembly fails to override Gov. Tony Evers' veto of nursing bill

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Assembly Speaker Robin Vos, R-Rochester, and fellow Republicans in the chamber sought to override one of Gov. Tony Evers' vetoes Wednesday. 

Wisconsin Assembly Republicans kicked off their first floor session of 2020 by failing to override Gov. Tony Evers' veto of a bill that aimed to lessen the number of training hours needed to become a CNA. 

In order to have been successful, at least three Democrats would have needed to join their 63 GOP colleagues in backing the override. Three Democrats had previously supported the legislation on the floor: Reps. Don Vruwink, of Milton, Beth Meyers, of Bayfield, and Steve Doyle, of Onalaska — but the trio voted against the push Wednesday. 

The legislation, which passed the Assembly in May on a 66-31 vote and the Senate in November via voice vote, would have aligned the state's nursing assistants' training program requirements with federal standards.

Currently, programs in Wisconsin must include at least 120 hours of training. Federally, the requirement is a minimum of 75 hours. 

Ahead of the 63-36 vote Wednesday afternoon, Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the bill was a step toward helping address the state's nursing shortage and called on Democrats who previously backed the effort to do so again. 

"When you give your word to your constituents, when you change it, that’s called a lie," the Rochester Republican said. 

Doyle countered Vos' remarks didn't "help the discussion" and said he was opposing the override "because this is not a silver bullet."

"If we say we’re done, the governor’s veto is going to be overridden and that’s the end of the story, that’s going to be a tragedy," he said. 

Meanwhile, Vruwink on the floor said his stance has changed since the initial vote, a change he attributed to watching his older brother undergo hospital treatment over the last two years for bone cancer and other health complications. 

"I want the best care for him. He deserves it," Vruwink said. "And so I’m not going to get bogged down or feel guilty because from what I observed my opinions might change. Because what’s most important to me is that my loved ones have the best care that they can get." 

Wednesday's veto override attempt was the fourth the chamber has attempted this session. Republicans in November sought to undo three of Evers' budget vetoes, but all failed to receive the two-thirds support necessary. 

The votes comes after Republicans in the chamber last fall changed the rules to allow for unlimited veto override votes. Previously, veto override votes could only occur once, as they weren't subject to be reconsidered. 

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Briana Reilly covers state government and politics for the Cap Times. She joined the staff in 2019, after working at WisPolitics.com. Follow her on Twitter at @briana_reilly.

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