By SCOTT BAUER and TODD RICHMOND
MADISON, Wis. (AP) — Gov. Tony Evers warned Thursday of “massive confusion” after the state Supreme Court tossed out the Democrat’s stay-at-home order and Republicans said they may leave it up to local governments to enact their own rules for combating the coronavirus pandemic.
The court’s order threw communities into chaos, as some bars opened immediately while local leaders in other places moved to keep strict restrictions intact to prevent the further spread of the virus.
If Wisconsin is to have a statewide plan, Evers will have to work with the same Republicans whose lawsuit resulted in Wednesday’s Wisconsin Supreme Court ruling. After a meeting on Thursday with Evers, Republican Assembly Speaker Robin Vos said the two sides may not be able to reach agreement and that a statewide policy might not be needed.
“Apparently they believe that different rules are OK,” Evers said of Republicans. “I can’t imagine another state that is in this predicament.”
Vos downplayed the concern.
“We already know that local health departments have the ability to utilize their power, which is already there to deal with those situations if they feel it’s unsafe,” Vos said.
Wisconsin is one of several states where governors have run into increasing resistance from Republican legislators over coronavirus restrictions. Democratic governors in Pennsylvania, Michigan and Louisiana have faced a mix of legislation and lawsuits aiming to curtail their power. And in Kansas on Wednesday, Republicans resisted the Democratic governor’s request to extend a disaster declaration.
It’s not clear whether any of those states will see as thorough a move as in Wisconsin, where Republican legislative leaders have long been able to count on help from the conservative-dominated state Supreme Court.
Vos said he had faith that the “vast majority” of Wisconsin businesses would act responsibly and open with precautions, such as ensuring customers keep at least 6 feet (2 meters) away from each other.