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0709, 26 Sep 21

Permanent State of Emergency

In a press release about a law that allows people to drive an unregistered vehicle during a state of emergency, Senator Marklein shares this fact with us:

Since 2019, there have been 19 State of Emergency declarations by the Governor that have applied to at least some part of the state under Wisconsin Statutes Chapter 323. These declarations have covered more than 710 of the last 982 days, or more than 72% of the time. In addition, there have been countless local emergency declarations.

These State of Emergency declarations have ranged from closing state office buildings due to cold weather, to preparing an emergency management response due to elevated wildfire conditions, to COVID-19 related measures. While some of these declarations are only necessary for a few days, under state law, emergency declarations last 60 days, unless revoked by the Governor via an executive order or by the legislature by joint resolution

It is remarkable how easy, and how often, our government officials suspend inconvenient rules by issuing a state of emergency. Why do we bother with a representative government and all of the apparatus of making and enforcing laws if they are suspended at the drop of a hat whenever the governor finds them onerous?

The legislature should take a hard look at revising the parameters of what is, and what is not, an emergency and who gets to decide.

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0709, 26 September 2021

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