LeMahieu comes out in support of oversight of vaccine distribution, a plan Hintz called, “dangerous.”
Incoming Senate Majority Leader Devin LeMahieu (R-Oostburg) told WKOW-TV’s “Capital City Sunday” that he supports having the Joint Finance Committee meet this month to discuss extending funding for COVID-19 testing and potential alternative care facilities, such as the field hospital at the Wisconsin State Park facility.
But other than that, LeMahieu said he doesn’t plan to reconvene until after the Legislature is sworn in on Jan. 4.
“It’s unfortunate, but it’s not surprising,” said Assembly Minority Leader Gordon Hintz (D-Oshkosh) later in the program in response to LeMahieu’s comments.
“The people are looking for leadership and direction,” Hintz said. “Like with legislature Republican through the whole COVID pandemic, there’s a lack of urgency. And it’s not just about funding; there’s things we can do to be proactive and to demonstrate that we can lead.”
When asked about Assembly Republicans’ proposed COVID-19 package, LeMahieu said there were some measures he agreed with and that some state senators were working on turning into proposed bills; Sen. Chris Kapenga (R-Delafield) is working on a limited liability proposal for businesses and nonprofits, and Sen. Van Wanggaard (R-Racine) is reportedly working on a bill regarding legislative oversight of vaccine distribution.
“I think we need to make sure that once [a COVID-19 vaccine] is available that we can make sure that we can have that spread throughout the state,” LeMahieu said. ”If state money is being used to distribute the vaccine I think it’s great that we have legislative oversight over that.”
Hintz said there were some measures in the proposal that he supported, such as hiring more contact tracers and local public health officials. But Hintz called proposed legislative oversight of vaccine distribution, “dangerous,” and emphasized that state Department of Health officials should be allowed to put together a plan based on their expertise.
“We don’t need this to be politicized or micromanaged by politicians, some of whom don’t even believe in vaccination,” Hintz said. “We need to let [DHS officials] do their job and this is too serious and too important to getting our state back on track to allow this kind of politicized process.”
LeMahieu said the Senate plans to reconvene in either the first or second week of January.
Sen. Ron Johnson Giving Spotlight to Anti-Vaccine Doctor
US Sen. Ron Johnson (R-Wis.) is inviting a prominent scientist known for discouraging vaccinations to testify before a committee he chairs, just as the nation’s health care leaders are seeking to boost public confidence in a coronavirus vaccine.
In a phone interview with the New York Times, Dr. Jane Orient said she will use her appearance to promote hydroxychloroquine, promoted by Johnson, President Donald Trump, and others despite the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) revoking an emergency authorization and warning it could actually harm COVID-19 patients.
Johnson’s announcement was immediate denounced by those who see it as giving credence to disinformation during a humanitarian emergency.
“At such a crucial time, giving a platform to conspiracy theorists to spread myths and falsehoods about Covid vaccines is downright dangerous and one of the last things Senate Republicans should be doing right now,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said in a statement on Sunday.
Johnson has previously been under fire for spreading false, Russian-driven conspiracies during the presidential election.
Trump Campaign Still Trying to Change Wisconsin Results
On WISN’s UpFront on Sunday, Attorney Jim Troupis, who is representing the Trump campaign’s efforts to throw out thousands of legally-cast ballots, accused the Wisconsin Elections Commission and municipal clerks across the state of not following the law.
Wisconsin Attorney General Josh Kaul later in the program called those allegations, “absolutely false,” pointing out that the suits are attempting to change the voting rules after ballots have already been cast.
“Once the election has happened and people have voted based on what those rules are at that time, we don’t subsequently go in and start removing validly cast ballots by voters,” Kaul said. “That would be disenfranchising Wisconsinites.”
The Wisconsin Supreme Court on Friday told the campaign it needed to file in the lower courts. Kaul said he was confident it would not get far.
“With all of these cases, the odds of success for the people challenging these are basically zero,” Kaul said. “There has not been a single vote that he has alleged in these suits that was cast by someone who was not an eligible Wisconsin voter. The claims that our system didn’t work well or that there’s no integrity to it are absolutely false and it promotes distrust in the system even though the system has worked really well.”