Empower Wisconsin | May 16, 2020
By M.D. Kittle
MADISON — One state senator wants Gov. Evers to withdraw his embattled health secretary’s looming rule that could shut down Wisconsin again, while another is asking the secretary to step down.
Sen. Steve Nass (R-Whitewater) issued a statement Friday asserting Department of Health Services Secretary-designee Andrea Palm has failed to see the writing on the Wisconsin Supreme Court wall. Palm and her staff were busily working on a new agency rule that would replace the emergency order she signed last month extending Evers’ lockdown order. The Wisconsin Supreme Court earlier this week struck down the emergency rule, ending Evers’ stay-at-home order.
“Now, most rational public servants would get the message that the rule of law and the constitutional limitations on government are not optional or mere suggestions,” Nass said. “The DHS Scope Statement leaves little doubt that Secretary-Designee Palm is no longer acting in a lawful capacity by circumventing the Supreme Court ruling and once again trying to improperly take control of the daily lives of every Wisconsin citizen.”
As Empower Wisconsin reported, Evers on Thursday sent notice to his agency heads that he approved an “emergency statement of scope” by the Department of Health. The statement gives DHS authority “to establish protections for Wisconsin citizens by maintaining appropriate social distancing or other measures to slow and contain the spread of COVID-19 and protect health and safety.” The statement also is supposed to, as the governor puts it, turn the dial to reopen Wisconsin’s economy.
Actually, what it does is layout the broad powers Team Evers and his DHS Secretary-designee, Andrea Palm, believe they have under Wisconsin’s public health emergency statutes. And, while the agency just began the process of promulgating “new emergency rules to address” COVID-19, it seems clear they want control back.
Outgoing state Sen. Tom Tiffany (R-Hazelhurst) said it’s time for the secretary-designee to step down.
“Secretary-designee Andrea Palm must immediately resign from her appointment as Wisconsin Department of Health Services Secretary,” he said in a statement. Tiffany easily won Tuesday’s election for the 7th Congressional District, filling a seat long left empty by Evers’ political maneuvering.
“The recent Supreme Court ruling confirmed that Ms. Palm’s power grab exceeded her authority. Her shotgun approach to lock down Wisconsin has produced disastrous consequences.”
Evers sounded indignant when asked by reporters what he thought of Tiffany’s comment.
“Senator Tiffany, please, you just won an election. Just relax. This is an insane statement. We talk about trying to tone down the rhetoric, and I’ve done everything I can to do that, and to make a statement about someone who’s dedicated her life to saving lives. Please sir, give us a break,” Evers said at a press conference Thursday.
The governor’s record, however, doesn’t reflect his words. Was Evers’ toning down the rhetoric when he tweeted that a legal challenge to his lockdown by Republicans in the Legislature was tantamount to homicide?
“Today legislative Republicans told the 4,600+ people in the state of Wisconsin who have contracted COVID-19 and the families of the 242 people who have died, we don’t care about you —we care about our political power,” he wrote late last month.
And the idea that Palm has “dedicated her life to saving lives” is more than a stretch. The former Obama administration official has committed much of her professional life to the political advancement of the left’s health care agenda.
Tiffany isn’t the only one calling for Palm’s resignation, but it seems unlikely the Republican majority in the senate — which just increased to 19-13 after Minority Leader Jennifer Shilling’s (D-La Crosse) resignation — will hold a confirmation vote on Palm in the foreseeable future.
Nass has been a vocal critic of the DHS secretary-designee. The co-chair of the Joint Committee on Administrative Rules says the panel’s powers to suspend emergency rules like the one DHS is promulgating “are not in doubt.”
“DHS is needlessly creating a political fight that does nothing to move the state forward on the legal and proper path of fighting COVID-19,” the senator said.
“I call on Gov. Evers to withdraw the Scope Statement and end this needless confrontation before it escalates and leads to greater public discontent with the public health officials in the state,” Nass added.